Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Donna Russo Morin's The Competition - #Review & #Giveaway #TheCompetitionBlogTour

My thoughts
This book comes at a time, even more so than the first book Portrait of a Conspiracy, when the triumph of the female spirit needs to be heard. Women have made so much progress in the world (in my country, the U.S.), but in recently, we have begun to feel subjugated once more. The very real progress women have made seems to be reverting back, or stagnating. It is stories such as this that can work to inspire women that the fight for equality is well worth it.

I always enjoy Russo Morin's books. She really knows how to tell a story while bringing vividly to life the real historical figures and events surrounding her characters. These women, these Da Vinci's Disciples, are the lifeblood of the story. Each woman is unique and even when brought together as a whole with the group, their individuality shines. I like to think that there really were women such as this. In fact, I'm quite sure there probably were. Perhaps they did not take on a large commission as depicted in the book, nor bid for commissions during that time period, but I like to think there was a hidden studio with women secretly working, defying society's strictures on women and what they were allowed to do.

Having Leonardo Da Vinci as an important supporting character works very well with these stories. Of what I've read on Da Vinci, I believe that he had very progressive attitudes. For him to be mentoring a group of women artists does not seem impossible to me. I love that the author used real quotes from him throughout the book. This one is my favorite and really captures the spirit of the book:

"I love those who can smile in trouble, who can gather strength from distress, and grow brave by reflection. 'Tis the business of little minds to shrink, but they whose heart is firm, and whose conscience approves their conduct, will pursue their principles unto death."

However, a quote from Viviana, the central and most endearing character, in my opinion, is what spoke to me the most. It is a personal motto of mine. "We all deserve to be loved, but our first love should always be for ourselves. Without self-love and self-respect, we show others how they may treat us."

And that is the crux of this story. These women believed in themselves, believed in their talent, enough to defy society's views of what women can and cannot do. It's an inspiring work of historical fiction that should not be missed.

The Competition by Donna Russo Morin

Publication Date: April 25, 2017
Diversion Publishing
eBook & Paperback; 268 Pages

Series: Da Vinci's Disciples, Book Two
Genre: Historical/Mystery

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.

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Google Play | iTunes | IndieBound | Kobo

For a limited time pick up both books in Donna Russo Morin's Da Vinci's Disciples series are on sale for Kindle!

Portrait of a Conspiracy (Book One) is only $.99
The Competition (Book Two) is only $1.99

Amazon Link:

Praise for The Competition

"THE COMPETITION is a page-turning, provocative romp through a fascinating time and place―15th-century Florence. Donna Russo Morin has given us a novel for our time, a book featuring strong female characters fighting the odds to break the “glass ceiling,” and reminding us that this battle is not new: women have been waging it for centuries. ―Sherry Jones, author of The Sharp Hook of Love: A Novel of Heloise and Abelard

“...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

"In elegant prose, Morin paints a captivating tale of courageous women painters who battle against prejudices in Renaissance Florence. Featuring strong women characters, each with distinctive personalities, this is exactly the type of historical novel I enjoy. Exhilarating and compassionate, The Competition sings a beautiful tribute of women's talents and underscores Morin's masterful storytelling. Delightful!"―Weina Dai Randel, author of The Moon in the Palace and The Empress of Bright Moon

“An inspiring tale of determined women, empowered by undeniable talent, in the male-dominated art world of Renaissance Florence. In The Competition, Ms. Morin delivers a captivating story rich with historical detail and beautifully woven through with atmosphere.”―Diane Haeger, author of Courtesan

About the Author

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.

Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, June 26
Interview at The Book Junkie Reads

Tuesday, June 27
Review at A Bookaholic Swede

Wednesday, June 28
Spotlight at Passages to the Past

Thursday, June 29
Spotlight at The Lit Bitch
Spotlight at A Holland Reads

Monday, July 3
Review at Pursuing Stacie

Wednesday, July 5
Guest Post at Books of All Kinds
Review at The True Book Addict

Thursday, July 6
Spotlight at The Writing Desk

Saturday, July 8
Review at Svetlana's Reads and Views

Monday, July 10
Review at History From a Woman's Perspective
Spotlight at The Never-Ending Book

Tuesday, July 11
Spotlight at A Literary Vacation

Friday, July 14
Interview at Dianne Ascroft's Blog

Monday, July 17
Review at Let Them Read Books

Tuesday, July 18
Guest Post at Bookfever

Thursday, July 20
Spotlight at What Is That Book About

Monday, July 24
Review at Ageless Pages Reviews

Wednesday, July 26
Spotlight at CelticLady's Reviews

Thursday, July 27
Review at Oh, for the Hook of a Book!

Friday, July 28
Review at Just One More Chapter


During the Blog Tour we will be giving away a paperback copy of The Competition & a Key Pendant necklace! To enter, please enter via the Gleam form below.

Giveaway Rules

– Giveaway ends at 11:59pm EST on July 28th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
– Giveaway is open to residents in the US only.
– Only one entry per household.
– All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspect of fraud is decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion.
– Winner has 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.

The Competition


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Thank you for visiting and taking the time to comment. It means so much.

I apologize for word verification, but as soon as I changed the settings from only users with Google accounts, I started receiving a ton of spam comments...within one hour of changing the settings. The bots are on high alert apparently.

  1. I can't thank you enough for this insightful, well-written review. It is very rare that a reader--any reader--knows or precisely understands what an author hoped to portray in any given book. But you have done it. It is a marvelous thing to be understood. Thank you!

    1. You're welcome, Donna! Thank you for writing such a wonderful book/series.

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