Title: Venom (The Secrets of the Eternal Rose #1)
Author: Fiona Paul
Release Date: October 30, 2012
Source: ARC from Publisher
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 wave together in a stunning novel that's as seductive and surprising as the city of Venice itself.
The Italian Renaissance is without a doubt my favorite period of history. So when I first heard about Fiona Paul's Venom, I just knew that I had to read the book. Not only does it take place during the Renaissance, but it is also set in Venice which is an amazing city. And then I started reading and I found myself being carried away to another time and place.
Cassandra Caravello has always had everything she needed, being part of the elite of Renaissance Venice. But lately, Cass has wanted to escape the future that has all been planned out for her, especially her marriage to reliable Luca da Peraga. While out wandering the cemetery next to her aunt's villa, Cass meets Falco, a mysterious artist who makes Cass believe she might be able to escape her future. But then dead bodies start appearing all over town, and Cass decides to investigate with Falco's help. Though Cass may not be completely safe, and even the people she thinks she can trust might not be who she thinks they are. And the more time she spends with Falco, the more Cass wants to believe she can have a future different from the one that has been all laid out for her.
I absolutely love the Renaissance. It is not a period I would have liked to live in at all, but it is by far one of my favorite periods of history to study. And I love Italy, especially Venice. I've been lucky enough to visit the city and it was amazing. So when I heard about a YA novel set in Renaissance Venice, I knew I had to get my hands on it. And when I started reading, I immediately felt myself transported to another world. I found myself getting carried away reading, picturing the city alongside Cass. And to make things better, the story had that element of mystery that I absolutely love. Fiona Paul kept me guessing about who the guilty party was the throughout the entire story. But that wasn't all. The writing itself was was magical, and all the little details are what allowed me to be transported to another time and place. I can only assume an incredible amount of research went into the writing of Venom and that was made the story so believable while I was reading it. And that still wasn't all. The romance in Venom was sensual in a way that fit perfectly with the Italian Renaissance. Lust was everywhere, but love wasn't instantaneous. Instead, I got to see Cass's relationship with Falco and Luca as more of a courtship, again, fitting in perfectly with the time period. But what made the romance as great as it was are the characters themselves.
Cass was so different from what I expected. Knowing this was a book set in the Renaissance, I expected a typical Renaissance young lady. But that was not at all who Cass was. Sure, on the outside that's how she portrayed herself, but then below the surface there was this rebellious and adventurous girl who was just dying to come out. And that's the side of Cass I loved so much. I have to admit I also loved the side of Cass that came out whenever Falco was around. Around him, she was someone who wasn't afraid of saying what was on her mind, or doing whatever she wanted to do. And I think Falco's personality had something to do with that. Falco was definitely rebellious, but as an artist he was also a bit of a dreamer. And though he had his flaws, I could see what Cass saw in him. But there was also Luca, Cass's fiancé, and he was just as mysterious and intriguing as Falco. And he had this fiercely protective streak, willing to do anything to keep Cass out of danger. And Cass was torn between Falco and Luca, and I can see why.
Fiona Paul's Venom was a magical read. The writing took me to another time and place and as I was reading I could picture Venice in all of its Renaissance glory. This was a story that mixed mystery and romance in just the right doses, making it difficult to leave the story. My only wish is that I already had Belladonna, the sequel, to read.