The Competition

Da Vinci's Disciples

Book 2
Diversion Books
1
Free sample

Donna Russo Morin returns with a follow-up to Portrait of a Conspiracy, called “a page-turner unlike any historical novel, weaving passion, adventure, artistic rebirth, and consequences of ambition,” by C.W. Gortner.

In a studiolo behind a church, six women gather to perform an act that is, at once, restorative, powerful, and illegal. They paint. Under the tutelage of Leonardo da Vinci, these six show talent and drive equal to that of any man, but in Renaissance Florence they must hide their skills, or risk the scorn of the city.

A commission to paint a fresco in Santo Spirito is announced and Florence’s countless artists each seek the fame and glory this lucrative job will provide. Viviana, a noblewoman freed from a terrible marriage and now free to pursue her artistic passions in secret, sees a potential life-altering opportunity for herself and her fellow female artists. The women first speak to Lorenzo de’ Medici himself, and finally, they submit a bid for the right to paint it. And they win.

But the church will not stand for women painting, especially not in a house of worship. The city is not ready to consider women in positions of power, and in Florence, artists wield tremendous power. Even the women themselves are hesitant; the attention they will bring upon themselves will disrupt their families, and could put them in physical danger.

All the while, Viviana grows closer to Sansone, her soldier lover, who is bringing her joy that she never knew with her deceased husband. And fellow-artist Isabetta has her own romantic life to distract her, sparked by Lorenzo himself. Power and passion collide in this sumptuous historical novel of shattering limitations, one brushstroke at a time.
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Additional Information

Publisher
Diversion Books
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Published on
Apr 25, 2017
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Pages
296
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ISBN
9781682308059
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Language
English
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Genres
Fiction / Historical
Fiction / Mystery & Detective / Historical
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Read Aloud
Available on Android devices
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Eligible for Family Library

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Book 1
One murder ignites the powder keg that consumes a Florence under the iron rule of the powerful Medici family. Amidst the chaos, five women and one legendary artist weave together a dangerous plot that could bring peace, or get them all killed.

Seeking to wrest power, members of the Pazzi family draw blades in church and slay the beloved Giuliano. But Lorenzo de’ Medici survives the attack, and seeks revenge on everyone involved, plunging the city into a murderous chaos. Bodies are dragged through the streets, and no one is safe.

Five women steal away to a church to ply their craft in secret. Viviana, Fiammetta, Isabetta, Natasia, and Mattea are painters, not allowed to be public with their skill, but freed from the restrictions in their lives by their art. When a sixth member of their group, Lapaccia, goes missing, and is rumored to have stolen a much sought-after painting before she vanished, the women must venture out into the dangerous streets to find their friend. They will have help from one of the most renowned painters of their era—the peaceful and kind Leonardo Da Vinci.

It is under his tutelage that they will flourish as artists, and with his access that they will infiltrate some of the highest, most secretive places in Florence, unraveling one conspiracy as they build another in its place.

Historical fiction at its finest, Donna Russo Morin begins the Da Vinci’s Disciples series with a novel both vibrant and absorbing, perfect for the readers of Sarah Dunant.

“...a page-turner unlike any historical novel, weaving passion, adventure, artistic rebirth, and consequences of ambition...a masterful writer at the peak of her craft.”—C. W. Gortner, author of THE CONFESSIONS OF CATHERINE DE’ MEDICI

“A 15th-century Florence of exquisite art, sensual passion and sudden, remorseless violence comes vividly to life in Donna Russo Morin's new novel.”—Nancy Bilyeau, author of THE CROWN

“In PORTRAIT OF A CONSPIRACY, Russo Morin's rich detailing transports the reader to the heart of Renaissance Italy from the first page.”—Heather Webb, author of BECOMING JOSEPHINE

“Illicit plots, mysterious paintings, and a young Leonardo da Vinci all have their part to play in this delicious, heart-pounding tale.”—Kate Quinn, author of THE EMPRESS OF ROME SAGA

“This riveting book is filled with art, assassinations, retribution, and a sisterhood of fascinating women who inspire as well as entertain.”—Stephanie Dray, author of AMERICA’S FIRST DAUGHTER

“In PORTRAIT OF A CONSPIRACY, Russo Morin's prose is as sharp as a Medici dagger...Thwarting danger, finding love, and creating masterpieces, [these women] remind us just how powerful the bonds of womanhood can be.”—Marci Jefferson, author of THE ENCHANTRESS OF PARIS
Donna Russo Morin
To the casual observer, Battista della Paglia is an avid art collector, or perhaps a nimble thief. In reality, the cunning Italian is an agent for François, the King of France, for whom he procures the greatest masterpieces of the day by any means necessary. Embroiled in a power struggle with Charles V, the King of Spain, François resolves to rule Europe's burgeoning cultural world. When he sets his sights on a mysterious sculpture, Battista's search for the elusive objet d'art leads him to a captivating woman on a mission of her own. . .

Having spent her life under the controlling eye of her protector, the Marquess of Mantua, Aurelia longs for freedom. And she finds it in Battista. Together, they embark on a journey to find the clues that will lead him to the sculpture-- a venture so perilous it might have spilled from the pen of Dante himself. From the smoldering depths of Rome to a castle in the sky, the harrowing quest draws them inextricably together. But Aurelia guards a dark secret that could tear them apart--and change the course of history. . .

Praise for the novels of Donna Russo Morin

"Morin has created a wonderful heroine and painted a brilliant portrait of a neglected court, which will interest fans of the Tudor era."--Publishers Weekly on To Serve a King

"History comes to life as Morin recreates the lush and dangerous world of the Murano glassmakers. . . Her story swirls together colors of political and religious intrigue, murder, and romance." --Romantic Times, (4 Stars) on The Secret of the Glass

"As opulent and sparkling as Louis XIV's court and as filled with intrigue, passion and excitement as a novel by Dumas. . .a feast for the senses." --Romantic Times (4 stars) on The Courtier's Secret

Reading Group Guide Inside
Donna Russo Morin
The Murano glassmakers of Venice are celebrated and revered. But now three are dead, killed for attempting to leave the city that both prized their work and kept them prisoner. For in this, the 17th century, the secret of their craft must, by law, never leave Venetian shores. Yet there is someone who keeps the secret while defying tradition. She is Sophia Fiolario, and she, too, is a glassmaker. Her crime is being a woman. . .

Sophia is well aware that her family would be crushed by scandal if the truth of her knowledge and skill with glass were revealed. But there has never been any threat. . .until now. A wealthy nobleman with strong connections to the powerful Doge has requested her hand in marriage, and her refusal could draw dangerous attention. Yet having to accept and cease her art would devastate her. If there is an escape, Sophia intends to find it.

Now, between creating precious glass parts for one of Professor Galileo Galilei's astonishing inventions and attending lavish parties at the Doge's Palace, Sophia is crossing paths with very influential people--including one who could change her life forever. But in Venice, every secret has its price. And Sophia must decide how much she is willing to pay.


Praise for Donna Russo Morin's The Courtier's Secret

"As opulent and sparkling as Louis XIV's court and as filled with intrigue, passion and excitement as a novel by Dumas. . .a feast for the senses." --Romantic Times (4 stars)

"Vivid, delightful, spirited. . .a page-turner as smooth as fine cognac."
–Steven Manchester, author of The Unexpected Storm

"A wonderfully spun gem of a story." --Armchair Reviews

Reading Group Guide Inside
Book 1
One murder ignites the powder keg that consumes a Florence under the iron rule of the powerful Medici family. Amidst the chaos, five women and one legendary artist weave together a dangerous plot that could bring peace, or get them all killed.

Seeking to wrest power, members of the Pazzi family draw blades in church and slay the beloved Giuliano. But Lorenzo de’ Medici survives the attack, and seeks revenge on everyone involved, plunging the city into a murderous chaos. Bodies are dragged through the streets, and no one is safe.

Five women steal away to a church to ply their craft in secret. Viviana, Fiammetta, Isabetta, Natasia, and Mattea are painters, not allowed to be public with their skill, but freed from the restrictions in their lives by their art. When a sixth member of their group, Lapaccia, goes missing, and is rumored to have stolen a much sought-after painting before she vanished, the women must venture out into the dangerous streets to find their friend. They will have help from one of the most renowned painters of their era—the peaceful and kind Leonardo Da Vinci.

It is under his tutelage that they will flourish as artists, and with his access that they will infiltrate some of the highest, most secretive places in Florence, unraveling one conspiracy as they build another in its place.

Historical fiction at its finest, Donna Russo Morin begins the Da Vinci’s Disciples series with a novel both vibrant and absorbing, perfect for the readers of Sarah Dunant.

“...a page-turner unlike any historical novel, weaving passion, adventure, artistic rebirth, and consequences of ambition...a masterful writer at the peak of her craft.”—C. W. Gortner, author of THE CONFESSIONS OF CATHERINE DE’ MEDICI

“A 15th-century Florence of exquisite art, sensual passion and sudden, remorseless violence comes vividly to life in Donna Russo Morin's new novel.”—Nancy Bilyeau, author of THE CROWN

“In PORTRAIT OF A CONSPIRACY, Russo Morin's rich detailing transports the reader to the heart of Renaissance Italy from the first page.”—Heather Webb, author of BECOMING JOSEPHINE

“Illicit plots, mysterious paintings, and a young Leonardo da Vinci all have their part to play in this delicious, heart-pounding tale.”—Kate Quinn, author of THE EMPRESS OF ROME SAGA

“This riveting book is filled with art, assassinations, retribution, and a sisterhood of fascinating women who inspire as well as entertain.”—Stephanie Dray, author of AMERICA’S FIRST DAUGHTER

“In PORTRAIT OF A CONSPIRACY, Russo Morin's prose is as sharp as a Medici dagger...Thwarting danger, finding love, and creating masterpieces, [these women] remind us just how powerful the bonds of womanhood can be.”—Marci Jefferson, author of THE ENCHANTRESS OF PARIS
Donna Russo Morin
To the casual observer, Battista della Paglia is an avid art collector, or perhaps a nimble thief. In reality, the cunning Italian is an agent for François, the King of France, for whom he procures the greatest masterpieces of the day by any means necessary. Embroiled in a power struggle with Charles V, the King of Spain, François resolves to rule Europe's burgeoning cultural world. When he sets his sights on a mysterious sculpture, Battista's search for the elusive objet d'art leads him to a captivating woman on a mission of her own. . .

Having spent her life under the controlling eye of her protector, the Marquess of Mantua, Aurelia longs for freedom. And she finds it in Battista. Together, they embark on a journey to find the clues that will lead him to the sculpture-- a venture so perilous it might have spilled from the pen of Dante himself. From the smoldering depths of Rome to a castle in the sky, the harrowing quest draws them inextricably together. But Aurelia guards a dark secret that could tear them apart--and change the course of history. . .

Praise for the novels of Donna Russo Morin

"Morin has created a wonderful heroine and painted a brilliant portrait of a neglected court, which will interest fans of the Tudor era."--Publishers Weekly on To Serve a King

"History comes to life as Morin recreates the lush and dangerous world of the Murano glassmakers. . . Her story swirls together colors of political and religious intrigue, murder, and romance." --Romantic Times, (4 Stars) on The Secret of the Glass

"As opulent and sparkling as Louis XIV's court and as filled with intrigue, passion and excitement as a novel by Dumas. . .a feast for the senses." --Romantic Times (4 stars) on The Courtier's Secret

Reading Group Guide Inside
Donna Russo Morin
The Murano glassmakers of Venice are celebrated and revered. But now three are dead, killed for attempting to leave the city that both prized their work and kept them prisoner. For in this, the 17th century, the secret of their craft must, by law, never leave Venetian shores. Yet there is someone who keeps the secret while defying tradition. She is Sophia Fiolario, and she, too, is a glassmaker. Her crime is being a woman. . .

Sophia is well aware that her family would be crushed by scandal if the truth of her knowledge and skill with glass were revealed. But there has never been any threat. . .until now. A wealthy nobleman with strong connections to the powerful Doge has requested her hand in marriage, and her refusal could draw dangerous attention. Yet having to accept and cease her art would devastate her. If there is an escape, Sophia intends to find it.

Now, between creating precious glass parts for one of Professor Galileo Galilei's astonishing inventions and attending lavish parties at the Doge's Palace, Sophia is crossing paths with very influential people--including one who could change her life forever. But in Venice, every secret has its price. And Sophia must decide how much she is willing to pay.


Praise for Donna Russo Morin's The Courtier's Secret

"As opulent and sparkling as Louis XIV's court and as filled with intrigue, passion and excitement as a novel by Dumas. . .a feast for the senses." --Romantic Times (4 stars)

"Vivid, delightful, spirited. . .a page-turner as smooth as fine cognac."
–Steven Manchester, author of The Unexpected Storm

"A wonderfully spun gem of a story." --Armchair Reviews

Reading Group Guide Inside
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