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Passion Blue (A Passion Blue Novel) Hardcover – November 6, 2012

69 customer reviews
Book 1 of 2 in the Passion Blue Series

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Giulia’s late mother was the “favorite mistress” of a count in 15th-century Milan, and when Giulia’s noble father also dies, his jealous wife arranges to send the illegitimate 17-year-old girl to a convent. Feeling like she is “falling down a well that has no bottom,” Giulia asks a sorcerer to make her a talisman, hoping it will help her find a husband instead. At the convent, Giulia begins to contemplate her true “heart’s desire” after she is invited to train as a painter under a talented maestra. The maestra tells Giulia she could run the workshop one day if she takes her vows and becomes a nun, but Giulia is falling for a craftsman repairing a fresco. Strauss (Guardian of the Hills) takes great care to illustrate Giulia’s complicated world fully, including the limited choices available to women during the Renaissance, convent life, and painting techniques of the time. Giulia’s path may not surprise readers, but her unusual story is sure to capture their attention. --Publisher's Weekly October 22, 2012

From School Library Journal

Vividly set during the 15th-century Italian Renaissance, Strauss’s novel has a strong and thoroughly likable heroine who is only one of many well-developed female characters. Artistically brilliant, 17-year-old Giulia Borromeo is desperately searching for her heart’s desire–a husband. She is so desperate that she makes a bargain with a sorcerer for a talisman to aid her. He warns her, “Be very sure you know what [it] is. Or you may find yourself surprised by what you receive.” As the illegitimate daughter of a nobleman, she has no security regarding her future. When her father dies, Giulia is forced into a convent by her father’s jealous wife. From the moment she is dragged through Santa Marta’s door, she plots her escape. She is surprised to learn of the beauty within, and that nuns and novices have vocations. When her extraordinary talents are discovered, Giulia is offered a place in the famous painting workshop. Her world expands as she learns the tools, materials, and techniques of great Renaissance painters. By chance, she meets a young male artisan repairing a convent masterpiece. They begin a clandestine romance. Her two desires–painting and a husband–war within as she contemplates her future. In a time and place when women were excluded from nearly every realm of life, Giulia and the other members of Santa Marta excel in spite of gender and cultural restrictions.–School Library Journal November 2012, Lisa Crandall, Capital Area District Library, Holt, MI

Product Details

  • Series: A Passion Blue Novel
  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Skyscape (November 6, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0761462309
  • ISBN-13: 978-0761462309
  • Product Dimensions: 8.4 x 5.8 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (69 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,319,229 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Victoria Strauss is the author of nine novels for adults and young adults, including the WAY OF ARATA duology (THE BURNING LAND and THE AWAKENED CITY), and a pair of historical novels for teens, PASSION BLUE and COLOR SONG. She has written hundreds of book reviews for magazines and ezines, including SF Site, and her articles on writing have appeared in Writer's Digest and elsewhere. In 2006, she served as a judge for the World Fantasy Awards.

An active member of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA), she's co-founder, with Ann Crispin, of Writer Beware, a publishing industry watchdog group that tracks and warns about literary fraud. She maintains the popular Writer Beware website (, Facebook page (, and blog, for which she was a 2012 winner of an Independent Book Blogger Award. She was honored with the SFWA Service Award in 2009.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Myra VINE VOICE on March 10, 2013
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I didn't have very high expectations for this book. The combination of teen romance and historical fiction made me nervous that I would be cringing the whole way through. Fortunately, the author did her research and the result is a fairly accurate portrayal of life in a convent in Renaissance Italy, with a splash of magical realism. The romance elements don't really kick in until the halfway mark, leaving most of the book to focus on other aspects of the protagonist's life, what romance there is isn't overbearing or unrealistic. A plot twist 3/4 through helps keep things fresh with an unexpected change of setting for the final act. The book is largely well-written, but there are some poor descriptive techniques scattered about ("as cold as January" was a particularly bland simile that stuck in my mind).

Where the book disappoints is in the drama. Most elements of the plot had me wondering why these characters care even half as much as they apparently do. The protagonist is a 17-year-old illegitimate daughter of a recently-deceased nobleman who's been sent by her step-mother to live in a convent. This is problematic for our hero because the only thing she wants on this world is to find a man to marry. A more charitable reviewer would say that she's realistically very focused given the options for those in her situation, but her one-track-mind struck me as obsessive and overly dramatic. The aforementioned plot twist is fairly transparent (if you're expecting a twist), and the while the MacGuffin around which the twist is centered may be historically accurate in terms of its importance, it seemed fairly trivial to me and fed into the overall feeling of unnecessary drama.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By E. M. Griffith VINE VOICE on January 18, 2013
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Although categorized as a "teen" or "young adult" book, Passion Blue is an exceptionally well-written novel for all ages in this reviewer's opinion. As the story opens, Giulia, an orphaned, illigitimate daughter of a nobleman and housemaid, learns from her father's wife that she's to be sent to a convent to live out the rest of her life. Arrangements have already been made, her dowry already promised in payment to the convent. There's no recourse available to the teenaged girl, who'd always hoped to fulfill her mother's wishes of eventually marrying, having children and (as she is convinced) "belonging". Marriage, Giulia believes, is the only way of avoiding her mother's fate, but she was also told as a child (by an astrological birth chart) that marriage isn't in the stars for her.

Determined to change her own destiny if possible, on the day before leaving for the convent, Giulia seeks the help of a sorcerer who makes a tailsman for her that is supposed to give her her heart's desire. The Sorcerer warns her to be very sure she knows herself what her heart's desire is. Giulia believes she does, yet how can she at such a young age, having spent her childhood in one household?

It's a coming-of-age story set in 1400s Italy... a time when women didn't have many choices, especially among the lower classes. Vivid scenes of the convent and (especially) the art studio within its walls allow the reader to follow Giulia realize things aren't always as we expect they'll be, and sometimes it's best to open our eyes to possibilities we'd never considered or didn't know were there.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By J. Lesley TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on December 30, 2012
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
It was very interesting to read this novel which actually takes a chance and moves away from the more usual subject matter that I notice when I read YA fiction. There are no vampires, werewolves, changeling creatures of any kind here. There are also no best friends who have a spat over a hunky boy and vow to hate each other forever. Instead PASSION BLUE is a coming-of-age story filled with information regarding the artistic calling of painting. Giulia Borromeo is a seventeen year old living in Milan in 1487, who exhibits a true talent as an artist. However, due to the circumstances of her illegitimate birth she has been assigned the same servant role as her mother, seamstress. Unfortunately for Giulia her father never acknowledged her legally, but he did allow her to be educated much beyond the usual standards for a servant. Now he has died and Giulia's life has taken a turn she never expected. She has been sent to a convent to become a nun.

This novel concentrates on the role women artists were allowed to play during the Italian Renaissance. I had no idea before reading this novel that the greatest freedoms female artists had were most likely found within the walls of a convent. I also didn't know how non-restrictive some of those lives could be. I understand that author Victoria Strauss states in her Author's Notes that PASSION BLUE is a complete work of fiction, but she did base the story on research into the time and subject. I think this novel will appeal to a more contemplative reader especially in the target category of ages fourteen and above. The beginning of the novel, in fact fully half of the novel in my case, seemed to move rather slowly.
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