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Publisher's Summary

Seeking to wrest power, members of the Pazzi family draw their blades in a church and slay the beloved Giuliano. But Lorenzo de' Medici survives the attack and seeks revenge on everyone involved, plunging the city into 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 flourish as artists and with his access that they infiltrate some of the highest, most secretive places in Florence, unraveling one conspiracy as they build another in its place.

©2016 Donna Russo Morin (P)2016 Tantor

Critic Reviews

"[W]eaving passion, adventure [and] artistic rebirth." (C. W. Gortner, author of The Vatican Princess)

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Do Not Waste a Credit

What would have made Portrait of a Conspiracy better?

This book is disjointed, not interesting and almost impossible to follow. I could follow nor listen to it after about an hour of trying.

What didn’t you like about Cassandra Campbell’s performance?

The story line was the problem, but she was not a good reader for this book.

You didn’t love this book... but did it have any redeeming qualities?

No

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Great story!

This is a great story! Especially for fans of historical fiction. It has everything: mystery, murder, romance, an abundance of Leonardo Da Vinci, and wonderful descriptions of a very unique time & place in history. The author has the quite unusual talent of painting a portrait of the era (pun intended). I especially enjoyed learning that much of Da Vinci's dialogue came from his actual writings, adding a pleasing sense of authenticity to his character.

I imagine it's not often one can write a sex scene AND a torture scene with equal proficiency, but Russo seems to have no problem working at both ends of human emotion. Carnal amusements aside, where the author really shines is her ability to transport you not only to a historical moment, but also inside the characters. While culture and technology of the period may provide the canvas, it's the people (particularly the women) and their stories that provide the color and prove to make this work memorable. Russo's talent seems to live at the crossroads of in-depth research, finely crafted skill, and what one can only assume is her own experience in life. This rare ability should be applauded. Simply stated, I'm a fan!