Thursday, July 27, 2017

Review: The Competition by Donna Russo Morin

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 church, the city, and the law.

A commission to paint a fresco in the church of Santo Spirito is about to be 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 able to pursue her artistic passions, sees a potential life-altering opportunity for herself and her fellow 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. The very public commission belongs to them.

But with the victory comes a powerful cost. 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 even put them in physical danger.

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

Publication Date: April 25, 2017
Diversion Publishing
eBook & Paperback; 268 Pages
Series: Da Vinci's Disciples, Book Two
Genre: Historical/Mystery

The Competition is the second book in the Da Vinci's Disciples Series by Donna Russo Morin. I have read the first book and highly recommend doing that first, even though this one could work as a stand alone it's nice to understand references to previous events. I got to know who these women, their past and present situations which I feel enhanced my reading of this book.

One of the things I loved about The Competition is how it was steeped in time.  With vivid descriptions of Florence, the culture was brought to life.  Add the world of art it wasn't hard to get a clear sense of how seriously the men felt that it was a man's world.  These women were brave enough too risk so much to break into their domain.

There were times I found myself frustrated with the obstacles put before them as well as the treatment they received. The author did a great job of portraying these events and I think it's great when a writer can make her reader feel the frustration, anger and disappointment along with her characters..

I found this book to be entertaining and a series I highly recommend.  Thanks to Netgalley for a copy of this book and HFVBT for the opportunity to be part of this tour.

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Donna earned two degrees from the University of Rhode Island. In addition to writing, teaching writing, and reviewing for literary journals, Donna works as a model and actor; highlights of her work include two seasons on Showtime’s Brotherhood and an appearance in Martin Scorsese’s The Departed.

Donna is the proud mother of two sons, one a future opera singer, the other a future chef.

Donna's titles include The Courtier's Secret, The Secret of the Glass, To Serve a King, The King's Agent, Portrait of a Conspiracy, and The Competition. Donna enjoys meeting with book groups in person and via Skype chat.

Visit her website at

You can also connect with her on Facebook and Twitter.

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