Friday, January 24, 2014

Belladonna by Fiona Paul

Title: Belladonna (Secrets of the Eternal Rose #2)
Author: Fiona Paul
Publisher: Philomel
Release Date: July 16, 2013
Source: From publisher
Buy the Book: Amazon / Book Depository / Indigo
Cassandra Caravello is trying to forget Falco, the wild artist who ran off with her heart, as she grows closer to her strong, steady fiancĂ©, Luca. 

But Luca seems to have his own secrets. When he's arrested by soldiers in the middle of the night, Cass's life is once again thrown into chaos. She must save Luca, and that means finding the Book of the Eternal Rose--the only evidence that will prove he's innocent.

So begins her journey to Florence, a city haunted by whispers of vampirism, secret soirees and clandestine meetings of the Order of the Eternal Rose. And home to Falco, who is working for the Order's eerily stunning leader, the Belladonna herself. 

Can Cass trust her heart to lead her to the truth this time?

Nothing is as it seems in this seductive thriller, where the truth may be the deadliest poison of all.

Other than with a few exception, I do this thing with series where I'll read the first book and then promptly forget that there are more books to come. And that's why Fiona Paul's Belladonna had been sitting, unread, on my shelves for the last six months. After having now read it though, I remember why I love this story and these characters so much.

Cassandra is determined to forget Falco, the artist who ran to Florence and took part of her heart with her. After everything that's happened, Cass is ready to start the calm and stable life she had been promised when she was engaged to Luca. But things once again go off course when soldiers come to her aunt's palazzo in the middle of the night to take Luca away. Now it's up to Cass to do what it takes to save Luca before it's all too late. To do so, Cass must travel to Florence in the hopes of finding the Book of the Eternal Rose, the one thing that can help prove Luca's innocence. But in Florence, Cass can also find Falco, but after everything can she really trust him. And will her heart survive it all?

I said this back when I reviewed Venom, but I love the Renaissance. It's always been one of my favourite periods of history to study. So it's almost guaranteed that I'll read any story set in Renaissance Italy. And reading Belladonna, I was reminded of why I love those stories so much. The way Fiona Paul writes, it's almost as if the setting comes to life. As I'm reading, Renaissance Venice and Renaissance Florence take form and I was able to picture both cities as if I were right there. It allowed me to completely lose myself in the story, allowing me to enjoy it that much more. Beyond just the vivid setting, what kept drawing me back into the story was the intrigue and the mystery. This is the kind of story that constantly makes you question everything you know, and everything you're being told. Every step of the way, I felt like I just kept getting more and more confused. Until it was all laid out in front of me, and even then I still didn't trust what I was being told. I guess I'll just have to read the third book, Starling, to find out how it will all end.

Cass has always been a surprising character to me. She's not exactly what you have in mind when you think "Renaissance" and "teenage girl." Basically, Cass is the total opposite of what you would expect. She isn't afraid to do what it takes when it comes to the people she cares about, even when that means putting herself in harm's way. But still, I admired her bravery and her determination. What could use help sometime, is Cass's heart. After Venom, I would have said I was all for Cass being with Falco, but I'm not so sure about that anymore. But that's not to say that I'm completely sold on Luca either. Each boy definitely had his own merits, but it seemed like neither one of them was ever fully honest with Cass. It will be interesting to see how it will all play out in Starling. And hopefully, I'll finally get to see more of Luca. 

If you like intrigue and historical fiction, I strongly recommend you try reading Fiona Paul's Secrets of the Eternal Rose series. I loved reading Belladonna and I can't wait to see how the story will come to a close in Starling.

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