Book Review: The Ruby Ring: A Novel by Diane Haeger

From critically acclaimed historical novelist Diane Haeger comes The Ruby Ring, an unforgettable story of love, loss, and immortal genius . . .

Rome, 1520. The Eternal City is in mourning. Raphael Sanzio, beloved painter and national hero, has died suddenly at the height of his fame. His body lies in state at the splendid marble Pantheon. At the nearby convent of Sant’Apollonia, a young woman comes to the Mother Superior, seeking refuge. She is Margherita Luti, a baker’s daughter from a humble neighborhood on the Tiber, now an outcast from Roman society, persecuted by powerful enemies within the Vatican. Margherita was Raphael’s beloved and appeared as the Madonna in many of his paintings. Theirs was a love for the ages. But now that Raphael is gone, the convent is her only hope of finding an honest and peaceful life.

The Mother Superior agrees to admit Margherita to their order. But first, she must give up the ruby ring she wears on her left hand, the ring she had worn in Raphael’s scandalous nude “engagement portrait.” The ring has a storied past, and it must be returned to the Church or Margherita will be cast out into the streets. Behind the quiet walls of the convent, Margherita makes her decision . . . and remembers her life with Raphael—and the love and torment—embodied in that one precious jewel.

In The Ruby Ring, Diane Haeger brings to life a love affair so passionate that it remains undimmed by time. Set in the sumptuous world of the Italian Renaissance, it’s the story of the clergymen, artists, rakes, and noblemen who made Raphael and Margherita’s world the most dynamic and decadent era in European history

“The Ruby Ring” is a love story about Raphael the famous Renaissance Painter that falls for a peasant woman. He has many outstanding commissions all over Rome that he is running behind in and Michelangelo and his protégé Sebastiano are constantly on his heels with envy and jealousy. He is in need of a muse he finds that in Margherita. At first she declines the offer to be his model because it is well known that Raphael is a philanderer and more times than not seduces his models she has a higher image of herself (her mother’s influence) and does not want THAT for herself. Of course as in all romance novels the chase for Raphael is more intense because she will not agree to become his model. After he repeatedly offers money, comes to her father’s bakery sends her a (respectful) piece of art — so that she is able to understand he just wants her to model for him ONLY she agrees. Raphael is engaged to a Cardinals niece so there is a lot of political pressure on him constantly not only to complete his commissions but to honor his betrothal. Time goes by he becomes obsessed with her, they fall in love he desperately tries to get out of the betrothal, his enemies are against them at every turn. This book didn’t have a lot of detail about their surroundings as you normally find in a romance novel much of the book took place at 4 locations his studio, his home, the bakery and a number of places that he was working on the art. Leonardo Da Vinci makes a few appearance and for the most part Michelangelo is in Florence not in Rome where this book takes place. Raphael becomes so consumed with Margherita that he seems never to pick up the pace when it comes to his commissions I found that frustrating because it was obvious these men didn’t want him with her and kept reminding him that she was a distraction to him, I would have thought that he would have made sure to complete his jobs in a timely manner since at every turn they were constantly reminding him of his DUTIES to THEM. Granted you understand that for Raphael SHE became his duty and all else was irrelevant to him….

Diane H. is unquestionably one of the most gifted writers of Historical Romance Fiction out there. Her books are so involving that after you read the pages you still fill like there is more to learn of the individuals in the story. I should know because after reading this book I did some research of my own on the web regarding Raphael as well as Margherita to see what she really looked like in all of the paintings. The one thing that I realize in reading nearly most of Diane books is that very rarely is there a Happy Ending… but since largely what she writes is actual Historical events the reader has to understand that’s the way it is, no matter how much “filler” she puts in it she always brings it back to the factual ending. I also recommend if you like this type of tale “The Girl with the pearl Earring” (a fictitious story inspired by a real work of art) or even perhaps the movie “The Kings Whore” starring Timothy Dalton and Valarie Golino (the story of a woman that unwillingly gains the attraction of a King and becomes the love of his life – everyone including family and her husband telling her she MUST become his mistress).

My Gemstone Rating:


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