Title: Portrait of a Conspiracy
Author: Donna Russo Morin
Series: Da Vinci’s Disciples #1
Publication: May 10th 2016 by Diversion Books
Genre: Historical Fiction
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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.
I’m a big fan of books set in 15th century Florence. Anything that’s related to Leonardo da Vinci, the de’ Medici family or anything at all about the Renaissance has my full attention.
I definitely liked Portrait of a Conspiracy. It was a quick read and throughout the whole book I just kept thinking oh I’ll just read one more chapter and before I knew it I had finished the story.
However, I couldn’t give the book more than three stars. Some of the plot twists I just didn’t particularly liked and some of the characters’ actions didn’t sit well with me either.
I do think that the story had some great and powerful female characters that were really strong. This I did like a lot because we definitely need more of this in books.
I also liked how atmospheric the writing was and how it made me feel as if I was actually in 15th century Florence.
Overall, I wish I had loved Portrait of a Conspiracy by Donna Russo Morin more but I did enjoy the story in general. The writing was great and the characters, especially the female ones were fascinating and amazing to read about.
About the author:
Donna Russo Morin was born in Providence, Rhode Island. Her writing endeavors began at age six and covered such timely topics as The Pink Pussy Cat for President and The Numbers 2 and 4 are in Love.
Traveling through adolescence on the wings of the ‘60s gave Donna a lot of grist for her writing mill. Feminism, civil rights, the Vietnam War were all a disturbing yet highly motivating muse. Donna found her voice in fiction and with the appearance of a new horror writer on the book scene, a little known author named Stephen King, she turned her pen to the gruesome and the grotesque.
After graduating from the University of Rhode Island, Donna worked in marketing and advertising for large corporations and small non-profit arts organizations. When she had her children, she knew with a certainty that she needed to show them, by example, that if you believe in yourself, anything is possible.
In addition to writing and teaching writing (in the classroom and online, Donna is a professional author consultant/editor with more than thirty years of experience. She’s also worked as a model and actor since the age of seventeen when she did her first television commercial for Sears. Since then she has appeared in more than thirty television spots and print ads, everything from changing the oil in her car (that was acting) to modeling fur coats. She also appeared in three episodes of Showtime’s THE BROTHERHOOD, as well as in Martin Scorsese’s THE DEPARTED. She is currently at work blending her two careers and is now writing for the screen as well.
Donna lives peacefully, close to the beautiful shoreline of Rhode Island that she loves so much. Her two sons–Devon, an opera singer and Dylan, a trained chef–will always be her greatest works.
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