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Saturday, September 22, 2012
Venom (Secrets of the Eternal Rose, #1)
Fiona Paul
Publisher: Philomel
Release Date: October 30, 2012
Source: Publisher
Goodreads | Purchase
Cassandra Caravello is one of Renaissance Venice’s lucky elite: with elegant gowns, sparkling jewels, her own lady’s maid, and a wealthy fiancĂ©, 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 fiancĂ©, 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 don't read a lot of historical fiction. And usually, when I do, it has magic thrown in at one point or another. As a general rule, historical fiction is not my favorite. Yet somehow, Venom defied all those odds and found its way into my heart. I just…I can't even. This book totally resonated with my and made my heart pound. It was wild and crazy and insane and fun, and I loved every single second of it. It amazed me and it thrilled me. In other words, it was sheer perfection.

I liked Cass. I had a hard time connecting to her, a the reason for that is mentioned below. Even so, she's an awesome heroine who is a genuinely good role model. She's courageous but not foolish, and clever but not overly so. She's strong enough to do what she needs to do most of the time but she also has a vulnerability that really made me connect truly with her.

I'm Team Luca, you guys. Luca is not boring at all. He's sweet and kind, and he doesn't have serious problems. But at the same time, it's pretty clear that he's keeping secrets, too. And he's always, always, very good to Cass, even when she's being difficult. Even more than that, he's funny; there's more than one moment where he's making Cass smile and just being there for her.
Falco is definitely swoonworthy, don't get me wrong. But he seems like more of the fling type, at least to me. He's described as a rather dark character, riddled with all sorts of dangerous secrets. He's clearly the rascal type, and though I think he's hot, sure, I also don't want him to end up with Cass. Yes, he has his good points. And I do love him. But Luca is better.

This was probably one of the plots with the most insane plot twists that I've ever read. I would be positive that the plot was going to go in one direction, and nothing could have convinced me otherwise. And then the plot would branch off in the exact opposite way! It was shocking, really. It didn't bother me at all, either; it was too exciting to be frustrating!

The whole murder especially was totally brill. I couldn't tell what or who it was, even when the clues were right in front of me. It was definitely a hide-under-the-covers-and-shiver intense type of thing. Seriously. I don't get creeped out that easily, but when I do…

Everyone is keeping secrets. Everyone. So you just never know what to expect next. As soon as you think you have everything figured out, you don't. Prepare to be surprised in a world where nothing is as it seems.

Italy also has a special place in my heart since Italian is my second language, so I LOVED that this was set in Italy. It was completely awesome the way the setting was really involved with this book, too, not just a background.

This book drew me in with its magnificent plot and so far had refused to let me go. It's the kind of thing that's stuck with me and has been constantly on my mind. It was thrilling, beautiful, and it refuses to be ignored.

Oh, the romance. *swoons* This book is absolutely full of romance, in a wonderful way. I loved the soft and subtle chemistry between Cass and Luca. All bias aside, it seriously does remind me of what one of my aunts and my uncle has. No grand gestures or anything. Just an unspoken agreement to be there. Cass and Falco just…didn't work for me. Yes, they have some seriously sizzling chemistry. I'm not blind. But I also think that it isn't enough for a lifetime. (Even though, sadly, I think it's pretty obvious who Cass is going to end up with, alas.)

Fiona has some awesome writing. Really. The description is lush and gorgeous, and the banter and dialogue is always witty but knows when to be serious. One thing that did bother me: the third person made it really, really, really hard to connect to Cass. I'm not sure why, since usually I actually prefer third person to first. But for some reason, in this case, the third person didn't work for me as well as I wanted it to.

The ending was…wow. I mean, talk about a major cliffhanger! Not only that, but I was absolutely shocked. I could never have seen that ending coming. Nothing prepared me for it. It was wholly unexpected and yet it also made perfect sense. When I thought about it more, I realized that everything had been perfectly arranged so that the book would end in just that way. It was artful and gorgeous, and I was very, very impressed.

I absolutely loved this book, which is a huge compliment coming from me, the non-historical-fiction reader. Cass' world was a joy to live in, and I immersed myself completely in this wonderful world. I cannot wait to return in Belladonna and again in Forbidden to see where everything goes next and how everything is going to work itself out! This is a highly recommended book from me, so order your copy today! Prepare to be thrilled beyond your wildest dreams.


*****FINAL RATING: 4.60 RED ROSES*****



  1. Oh now you have made me more excited for this nov than I already was!!!!
    great review and Luca sounds fantastic

    Juhina @ Maji Bookshelf-

  2. I've have been PSYCHED for this book for months!!!! I can't tell you how much I NEED THIS BOOK! Lol. :D Honestly your review made me more excited and mad that I still have to wait more than a month...unless I can get the Publisher to accept my requests! :( Your review as always was fabulous! So happy you liked this! Totally upped it in my book. :D

    <33333 Inky @ Book Haven Extraordinaire

  3. No Annabelle! Team Falco! LOL I don't think Luca is boring and he is nice but I also hated his secrets. I know Falco kept his "job" a secret but that didn't put Cass at risk like Luca did. I just don't like arranged marriages either. I feel like Cass feels forced into him. I don't think Falco is a fling at all. I think he is fully committed to Cass for forever! I'm pretty sure she will end up with him since she will be running into him in the next book. The ending shocked me! I was almost going to lower my rating! I was so mad! But I guess it worked out the right way for Cass and Falco to grow and then meet up again later.

  4. I am so excited to read this one, especially since you said that it had great plot twists because it has seemed like in my opinion most plot twists in young adult are usually easily guessed now, I really can't wait!

    Kristin @ Young Adult Book Haven

  5. I am so excited to read this one. gr8 review

  6. I don't usually read that much historical fiction either, but now after your review I am so much more excited to read Venom! xD The characters, plot and writing all sound so amazing and I can't wait to experience it all for myself!
    Awesome review! ^__^

  7. This book is amazing! I absolutely loved it too, and I don't usually read a lot of historical fiction either. I do love Cass for reasons you mentioned, BUT I am definitely Team Falco! It will be interesting to see how the triangle progresses in the next installment. Great review! :)

    ~Sara @ Forever 17 Books

  8. Your review got me all excited for Venom now. I love historical fiction and throw in some intriguing mystery and romance? Sign me up please! ;)

  9. Good article.I really think what you said is right,in modern society,we have so many troubles,if you feel nothing to relax yourself,I suggest you to play the wow and some other games,and you can come to my page to find more information about and

  10. Hmm... I wonder why, when it comes to Historical fiction Italy is one of the commonly used setting... Anyway, the cover looks so beautiful... Falco sounds very interesting... And lastly, I really hate cliffhangers... It makes me want to move the hands of time just to let me have a copy of the next book... Hope I will have a chance to read this!!! Thank you for this!!!

  11. Wow, now I'm really intrigued by this book after hearing all of the twists and great romance! Thanks for your thoughts!

  12. Woah your bird kept on sitting in the middle of the page! OH! Here it comes again! SHOO!
    Anyway, all ramblings aside, this sounds quite intriguing. The last historical fiction I read was Luxe and I couldn't finish it. :/
    The twists sounds a bit soap-operish but that's what I love about historical fictions, haha! I'll definitely pick it up next time I have enough money, and my TBR list moves up and...
    Well. I'll pick it up. Thank you!
    Kim @ Snuggle

  13. Oh no, cliffhangers, love triangles! Two of my least favorite parts of YA fiction authors that seem to try and follow the triangle-trend that (in my opinion) should be over by now. I will probably skip this one. I have developed a new habit where I wait until the series is over, and then read the entire thing (exceptions are the good ones). Like the Nightshade series by Andrea Cremer (AWFUL series by the way. Hated Book 1. Hated Book 2. Could not read Book 3. Will not read Rift or Rise). Anyway. Great review!

  14. I just finished this book tonight and really enjoyed it. I thought it was a bit too long and overly descriptive, but it made up for it by being thrilling and exciting and romantic. There was so much intrigue and mystery and I was definitely surprised by how things turned out too! I waffled between Falco and Luca throughout the book and I'm still not 100% sure who I'd choose, although I think you're right about Falco being more of a fling than a long-time mate. Great review! :-)

  15. Wow, thanks for the very in depth review! Sounds like a great book, especially the historical fiction part of it. You've got me definitely wanting to read it, especially with the teaser about the ending!

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