Belladonna is the second of three books in the Secrets of the Eternal Rose series written by Fiona Paul. If you haven't read the first book, Venom, I recommend you grab it and read it ASAP. It's amazing! Go on, read it. I'll wait for you to come back ;)
And for those who need a little refresher
Venom by Fiona Paul
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.*
Belladonna by Fiona Paul
In Renaissance Italy, love, lust, intrigue and secret societies converge to stunning results!
the second in the stunning Secrets of the Eternal Rose series,
Cassandra Caravello is trying to forget Falco, the wild artist who ran
off with her heart, as she grows closer to her strong, steady fiancé,
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.*
Belladonna picks up a short while after the completion of Venom. We continue to follow Cass through her adventures that often lead her into dark and mysterious places. Cass is quickly thrust into a dangerous plot to try and save Luca from being wrongfully accused. As Luca rots in jail, Cass sets out to Florence, to try and find the mysterious Book of the Eternal Rose to clear Luca's name. With her trip to Florence, brings talk of vampires, the stunningly beautiful and young Belladonna, and Falco who is now working under her employ. Cass must determine who she can trust to help her discover the truth of the Order of the Eternal Rose, so ultimately she can be reunited with Luca, assuming she doesn't fall for Falco's charms again.
Despite all the crazy, Cass is by far one of the strongest women of her time, and I love that. A lot of the things she does would be considered improper but she does them anyways because she does what she thinks is right. Despite the danger presented, Cass is determined to uncover the the truth and she won't let anyone stand in her way.
The story not only
continues with the beautiful backdrop of Venice, but we also get to see
the contrast of Florence enter into the story as well. Although the two
cities have their similarities, it's interesting to watch how the threat
of vampirism affects Florence while Venice is seemingly unaware. As Cass struggles with whether or not vampires really exist, she is thrown into numerous uncomfortable situations that require her to continue to find strength and carrying on.
I have to say I lost some of my love for Falco in this book. He seemed very stubborn and opinionated, and without some of the mystery from the first book surrounding him, he felt like a guy who was rough around the edges. And despite that, I still really enjoyed his character because it fit the story and his new position as artist working for the Belladonna. His new life changed him but he still maintained his love for Cass, and I loved watching her wrestle between wanting Falco and wanting to help Luca.
On the other side, I grew to love Luca more in this book. He has a sense of maturity and nurturing quality that Falco sometimes lacks. Luca wants whats best for Cass and you can tell that even though he doesn't have the fiery passion Falco carries, Luca truly loves Cass in the deepest sense of the word. And although he spent large chunks of the book in a cell, he always tried to protect Cass and was with her throughout her journey.
This sequel did not disappoint. I enjoyed the many surprises and twists that supported the faster pace of the second book. Throughout the story there were many reminders of things that happened in Venom. I felt some of them slowed the pace a little, but this might have been because I read Venom and Belladonna back to back. Had I waited until it's actual release, I would have found the reminders refreshing and helpful. There were so many wonderful things that kept me turning the pages and wanting to see what came next. I loved following Cass and she learned more and more about the Order of the Eternal Rose. I enjoyed the mystery surrounding the group and how integral to the plot it became. My one complaint, if you can even call it that, is I now have to wait so long to find out how Cass's adventures come to a close.
5 stars for Belladonna!
*synopsis taken from www.goodreads.com