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The Secret Life of Sofonisba Anguissola
by Melissa Muldoon

Publication Date: December 8, 2020
Matta Press
Hardcover, Paperback, and eBook

Genre: Historical Fiction

 

 

Set in the sixteenth-century, The Secret Life of Sofonisba Anguissola tells the story of a woman’s passion for painting and adventure. In a world where women painters had little to no acknowledgment, she was singled out by Michelangelo and Vasari who recognized and praised her talent. Gaining the Milanese elite’s acclaim, she went on to become court painter to Spanish King Philip II and taught his queen to paint. One can’t live such an extraordinary life without having stories to tell, and tell them Sofonisba does to Sir Anthony Van Dyke, who comes to visit her toward the end of her life. During their meeting, she agrees to reveal her secrets but first challenges the younger painter to find the one lie hidden in her tale. In a saga filled with intrigue, jealousy, buried treasure, unrequited love, espionage, and murder, Sofonisba’s story is played out against the backdrop of Italy, Spain, and Sicily. Throughout her life, she encounters talented artists, authoritative dukes, mad princes, religious kings, spying queens, vivacious viscounts, and dashing sea captains—even a Barbary pirate. But of all the people who fell in love with Sofonisba, only one captured her heart. The painter may have many secrets but the truth of her life is crystal clear from the beginning. Always a strong, passionate woman with a dream, she was an intelligent artist who knew her self-worth and in the end, as Michelangelo had done for her, Sofonisba passed her brush to a new generation.

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Praise

“Through meticulous research and a deep affinity for art and its creators, Melissa Muldoon spins a captivating tale of a Renaissance woman whose melodious name–Sofonisba Anguissola–should be far better known. Mentored by Michelangelo, esteemed as one of Europe’s finest portraitists, Sofonisba comes to life as a charming, intelligent, passionate and talented woman who defied the conventions of her time to follow her heart and make her living by her brush. Through Melissa Muldoon’s vivid storytelling, we get to know Sofonisba as if she were a friend who shares her innermost secrets and feelings with us.The Secret Life of Sofonisba Anguissola transports readers to a long-ago place and time where we can immerse ourselves in a life lived fully and creatively. This richly woven tapestry will delight lovers of art, history, Italy–and romance! Brava, Melissa!” – Dianne Hales, author La Bella Lingua and Mona Lisa: A Life Discovered

“Melissa deftly combines fact with fiction to weave an intriguing tale about the personal life of a top female Renaissance artist and her interactions with important figures and artists of the period. The Secret Life of Sofonisba Anguissola is a very enjoyable work of historic fiction, enhanced by Melissa’s expertise in art history and Italy. I’d say it’s excellent.” – Martha Bakerjian, Italy expert and author the website Martha’s Italy

“In Melissa Muldoon’s The Secret Life of Sofonisba Anguissola, a gifted female artist leaps from the obscurity of 16th century history and into vibrant life. Humorous, adventurous, ambitious, and an acute observer – but also honest, hard-working and loyal to a fault – Sofonisba is a character to fall in love with. Muldoon has woven a compelling and action-filled story: from Sofonisba’s upbringing in Cremona, east of Milan, to her life in Madrid as a court painter and confidente of Isabel de Valois, wife of Philip II of Spain, and beyond. This is a novel rich in description, romance, and adventure that combines detailed research with excellent characterization. Put simply, it’s everything a historical novel should be.” – Kat Braithwaite, author of Charlatan, The Road to Newgate

About the Author

Melissa Muldoon is the author of four novels set in Italy: “Dreaming Sophia”, “Waking Isabella”, “Eternally Artemisia”, and “The Secret Life of Sofonisba Anguissola.” All four books are set in Italy and tell the stories of women and their journeys of self-discovery to find love, uncover hidden truths, and follow their destinies to shape a better future. For more information visit: MelissaMuldoon.com

Melissa is the author also of the Studentessa Matta website, where she promotes the study of Italian language and culture through her dual-language blog written in Italian and English (studentessamatta.com). “Studentessa Matta” means the “crazy linguist” and has grown to include the podcast “Tutti Matti per l’Italiano”, and the “Studentessa Matta” YouTube channel, Facebook page, and Instagram feed. Melissa also created Matta Italian Language Immersion Programs, which she co-leads with Italian schools in Italy to learn Italian in Italy while immersing in language and culture. Through her website, she also offers Homestay opportunities to live and study in Italy in the private home of a teacher.

Melissa has a B.A. in fine arts, art history and European history from Knox College, a liberal arts college in Galesburg, Illinois, as well as a master’s degree in art history from the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana. She has also studied painting and art history in Florence. She is an artist, and professional book designer, and designed the interiors of all three of her books as well as illustrated their covers. Melissa is also the managing director of Matta Press.

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Tuesday, March 30, 2021

K.D. Alden on Blog Tour for A Mother’s Promise, May 17-28

Posted By amy @ 8:25 am | No Comments

A Mother’s Promise
by K.D. Alden

Publication Date: January 19, 2021
Forever/Grand Central
Paperback & eBook; 384 pages

Genre: Historical Fiction

 

 

Based on the true story behind a landmark U.S. Supreme Court Decision, K.D. Alden’s debut is a rich and moving story of one woman’s courage and strength at a pivotal point in America’s history.

Virginia, 1927. A chance to have a family. That’s all Ruth Ann Riley wants. But because she was unwed and pregnant, she was sent away and her baby given to another woman. Now they’re trying to take Ruth Ann’s right to have another child. But she can’t stand the thought of never seeing little Annabel’s face again, never snuggling up to her warmth or watching her blue eyes crinkle with laughter. Good thing she has a plan.

All the rich and fancy folks may call her feeble-minded, but Ruth Ann is smarter than any of them have bargained for. Because no matter how high the odds are stacked against her, she is going to overcome the scandals in her past and get her child back—and along the way, she just may find unexpected friendships and the possibility of love in the most unlikely of places.

A Mother’s Promise is a powerful, heart-wrenching, ultimately uplifting novel about the bonds of family and one woman’s courage in the face of adversity. K.D. Alden brings history to life with rich storytelling and deep emotion.“―V.S. Alexander, author of The Magdalen Girls

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About the Author

K.D. Alden is the pseudonym of an award-winning author who has written more than twenty novels in various genres. She has been the recipient of the Maggie Award, the Book Buyer’s Best Award, and an RT Reviewer’s Choice Award. A Mother’s Promise is her first historical novel.

K.D. is a graduate of Smith College, grew up in Austin, Texas, and resides in South Florida with her husband and two rescue greyhounds.

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Tuesday, March 30, 2021

Becky Michaels on Blog Tour for Lady August, May 3-June 4

Posted By amy @ 6:56 am | No Comments

Lady August
by Becky Michaels

Publication Date: March 30, 2021
Mildred Press
Paperback & eBook; 310 pages

Genre: Historical Romance/Regency

 

 

August Summer thinks she is a nobody until a London solicitor barges into her employer’s drawing room, revealing not only is she the daughter of an earl but a wealthy heiress as well. Optimistic about a new life, she travels to her ancestral home of Linfield Hall, only for her brother to banish her to London to live with her aunt, a dowager duchess with a reputation.

When Lord Bolton asks him to fetch his illegitimate daughter, solicitor Samuel Brooks does not expect himself to become so invested in the young woman’s debut after wanting nothing to do with dinners and balls before. But as August navigates her way through this new world of the British aristocracy, Brooks is the one who is most dazzled by her unexpected charms.

Since society demands every young girl must marry, August decides she will accept nothing less than someone’s heart in exchange for possession of her newfound fortune. Forced to reexamine his negative views of love and marriage or lose August forever, Brooks soon realizes his heart is the only thing in danger of becoming possessed.

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About the Author

Becky Michaels is a historical romance author and self-proclaimed Anglophile. After graduating from Boston University with a degree in English, she reluctantly decided to get a day job but never stopped writing—or dreaming. THE LAND STEWARD’S DAUGHTER, a Regency romance set in 1815 England, is her debut novel. Despite the cold winters and high rent, she still lives in the Boston area with her boyfriend and cat.

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Right Back Where We Started From
by Joy Lanzendorfer

Publication Date: May 4, 2021
Blackstone Publishing
Paperback; eBook, & Audiobook

Genre: Historical Fiction

 

 

If misfortune hadn’t gotten in the way, Sandra Sanborn would be where she belongs–among the rich and privileged instead of standing outside a Hollywood studio wearing a sandwich board in the hope of someone discovering her. It’s tough breaking into the movies during the Great Depression, but Sandra knows that she’s destined for greatness. After all, her grandmother Vira crossed the country during the Gold Rush and established the Sanborns as one of San Francisco’s most prominent families, and her mother Mabel grew up in a lavish mansion and married into an agricultural empire. Success, Sandra feels, is in her blood. She just needs a chance to prove it.

In between failed auditions, Sandra receives a letter from a man claiming to be her father, which calls into question everything she believes about her family–and herself. As she tries to climb the social ladder, family secrets lurk in the background, pulling her down. Until Sandra confronts the truth about how Vira and Mabel gained and lost their fortunes, she will always end up right back where she started from.

Right Back Where We Started From is a sweeping, multigenerational work of fiction that explores the lust for ambition that entered into the American consciousness during the Gold Rush and how it affected our nation’s ideas of success, failure, and the pursuit of happiness. It is a meticulously layered saga–at once historically rich, romantic, and suspenseful–about three determined and completely unforgettable women.

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Praise

“In Right Back Where We Started From Joy Lanzendorfer has crafted a terrific first novel, one brimming with energy, wit, and emotional resonance. Sandra Sanborn is a wonderful character, very much alive on the page. And, the novel captures, vividly, some of the crazier times in California’s crazy history. Highly recommended!” –Peter Orner, author of Maggie Brown & Others

“Joy Lanzendorfer’s thrill of a novel, Right Back Where We Started From, tells the story of an engaging young woman, eager to be discovered in 1930s Hollywood. But as she looks to the future, a letter from a man who claims to be her father pulls her to the unknown past. This is a novel of California dreaming, from the Gold Rush to the Hollywood Hills. Lanzendorfer writes with charm, style, and great energy.” –Ellen Sussman, New York Times bestselling author of four novels: A Wedding in Provence, The Paradise Guest House, French Lessons, and On a Night like This

“From the California Gold Rush to the San Francisco earthquake, through the Great Depression and World War II, Joy Lanzendorfer artfully weaves a beautifully textured saga. Yearnings, secrets, and shame shape the lives of three generations of American women as they dare to question the rigid societal expectations that confine them to proscribed roles and stifle ambition. Gripping prose and complex and memorable characters make this shining debut novel a pleasure to read.” –Liza Nash Taylor, author of Etiquette for Runaways and the forthcoming In All Good Faith

About the Author

Joy Lanzendorfer’s work has appeared in the New York Times, the Washington Post, The Atlantic, NPR, Smithsonian, Poetry Foundation, and many others. She was included in The Best Small Fictions anthology and was a notable in The Best American Essays 2019. She has been awarded grants and residencies from the Discovered Awards for Emerging Literary Artists, Wildacres Residency Program, and the Speculative Literature Foundation.

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