Wednesday, July 20, 2016

PORTRAIT OF A CONSPIRACY: Davinci's Disciples Book One by Donna Russo Morin

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. 


My initial gut reaction is "Wow, what a book!" It appeals to me on many levels: my preference for Italian historical fiction set during the Renaissance, great writing, and stories that border a bit on the dark side. From its first page to last, I throughly loved the story. It is a tale of 5 women who are artists and who must secretly hone their talent. Enter Leonardo da Vinci who befriends the women and becomes their secret tutor. 

The story opens with attempted murder of L|orenzo de Medici and the murder of Giuliano de Medici. Donna Russo Morin brings this opening scene to life with vivid, shocking detail. She also does not shy away from describing the brutality of the ongoing aftermath when the de Medici family seek revenge against the Pazzi loyalists and conspiracies. The five women soon find themselves surrounded by danger as one of them goes missing with an important painting. Together, they band together to save their friend.

I love great women's historical fiction and Donna Russo Morin does a wonderful job with describing the plight of women during this very dangerous era. At the end of the book, she describes what was fact and what was fictional in the story. And there's a wonderful Reader's Guide that is great for book clubs. This is a five star read and I highly recommend it to avid lovers of history.   

Thank you to the author and publisher. I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Thank you for visiting my blog,, where the greatest historical fiction is reviewed! For fascinating women of history bios and women's fiction please visit

No comments: