Author: Fiona Paul
Status: 1st book in the Secrets of the Eternal Rose Trilogy
Release Date: October 30th 2012
Synopsis (from Goodreads):Cassandra Caravello is one of Renaissance Venice’s lucky elite: with elegant gowns, sparkling jewels, her own lady’s maid, and a wealthy fiancé, she has everything a girl could desire. Yet ever since her parents’ death, Cassandra has felt trapped, alone in a city of water, where the dark and labyrinthine canals whisper of escape.
When Cass stumbles upon a murdered woman—practically in her own backyard—she’s drawn into a dangerous world of courtesans, killers, and secret societies. Soon, she finds herself falling for Falco, a mysterious artist with a mischievous grin... and a spectacular skill for trouble. Can Cassandra find the murderer, before he finds her? And will she stay true to her fiancé, or succumb to her uncontrollable feelings for Falco?
Beauty, love, romance, and mystery weave together in a stunning novel that’s as seductive and surprising as the city of Venice itself
I fixed my blog guys! I'm so happy, you don't even understand. Now, I can fianlly review two of my favourite books that I (personally) think haven't been getting enough recognition: Venom and Belladonna by Fiona Paul. The books are the first and second book of the Eternal Rose trilogy, with the third and final instalment, Starling, coming out on March 2014. I am a huge fan of the series, and I have been waiting pretty much FOREVER to review them.
I read Venom back when it was first released last year, and recently got a hard copy of Belladonna last week. I finished Belladonna the same day I got it, but my laptop broke, I had no access to a computer for DAYS (posting on mobile is TERRIBLE), and my blog had a few glitches. So, I decided to do a double review on the books. And I'll try my best to steer clear of any spoilers.
This book was pretty...steamy, to say the least.
As the first book of the series, I wasn't expecting it to be full of action or anything, since most first books in series (ESPECIALLY trilogies) do a lot of world-building book 1. I knew that there was going to be romance (as hinted by the book), and that it would either be a hit or a miss.
The beginning was a little slow with the funeral, and I found myself flipping through the pages and a little upset that there was so much description that I nearly put the book down. Then BAM! The romance that I said that would either be a hit or miss just made me want to read more.
We are immediately introduced to Cass, our protagonist, at her friends funeral, and throughout the ceremony we get a lot of description of how her life is, the people around her, etc., and her love interest, Falco da Padova, the swoon-worthy bad-boy artist from Padua. While sneaking out one night to the graveyard beside her aunt's place (very Haunted Mansion like) and discovers a dead person in her friend's grave. She and Falco go around Venice looking for the killer and her friend's dead body. They discover that not everyone is who they seem, and it's the last people they would ever expect to be behind the deaths of numerous girls floating up in the canals of Venice.
I liked the suspense that came with trying to solve the murders, but I found that the mystery behind Livi (Cass's dead best friend) and her missing body to be predictable. I like how we got to see Cass slowly come out of her shell and realize that serene Venice isn't as serene as she thought it would be, and I liked the historical accuracy that came with how some households (mainly Dubois's estate) did function (I'm a history geek).
I found it enjoyable, but I felt like I was reading to see where Cass and Falco would end up. Since I already had a good idea as to what happened to Livi's body and who stole it, I really did stick around to see who WAS the murderer and how the two would end up when all the secrets of the book exploded in their faces.
What I didn't expect though, was the return of Cass's long awaited fiance, Luca da Peraga, and I enjoyed that alot. And near the end of the book, when we got to learn about his family history, yeah, that threw me off! I was left wondering how it would affect the last two books in the series.
Overall, the book was enjoyable, but there were times (mostly in the beginning) that I found a little slow. But the book picked up pretty fast and I couldn't stop reading till I finished the book. There was a lot of romance and relationship in this book, but there was also a lot of development with these relationships as well, something that I found very interesting (most book 1's don't change relationships as drastically as Venom), but I know that it will lead to more devlopment in the future books of the trilogy.
There was mention of the Order of Eternal Rose in the book, and it did play a sneaky, background role. It wasn't the centre of it, and there was a lot of holes pertaining as to what it was, and what they did exactly but I guess that's what's going to make the other books very enjoyable.
I'll have to rate this book a 4.3 out of 5 stars. There's a lot of action, a lot of romance, a lot of suspense and mystery that WILL hook you and make you want to continue the trilogy!