Tuesday, July 2, 2013

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Title: Belladonna
Author: Fiona Paul
Series: Secrets of the Eternal Rose, book #2
Publisher: Philomel
Publication Date: July 16, 2013
Source: ARC received from publisher
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble

In Renaissance Italy, love, lust, intrigue and secret societies converge to stunning results!

In 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.

Much like it's predecessor, Belladonna got off to a bit of a slow start for me.  But knowing that the author takes her time building the story, trying to catch her stride, I knew that I'd get to the middle and practically be unable to stop reading.  And that's exactly what happened.

Fiona Paul has done it again.  She's taken Renaissance Italy and made it even more beautiful and picturesque, but she's also lent an air of mystery and creepiness to the story by setting part of it in Florence, where there have been reports of vampires.  Vampires!  I know, right?  But that aspect is all about perception and what one believes.  Though, I suppose much of this story is, considering a major underyling theme is religion versus science.  But I'm not about to get into that debate here.

So, Cass is all set to start her life with Luca after the events of Venom.  She's forsaken Falco for the life she is supposed to have, the one that would make her parents proud.  But she still can't stop thinking about him.  I'm not going to lie, I'm not the biggest fan of Falco.  Even more so after the thing at the end of this book, but that's not the biggest factor.  He's pompous and a bit obscene, and though he genuinely seems to care for Cass, his heart is not always in the right place with regards to her.  I mean, it seems that every tête-à-tête between them results in him trying to bed her.  Not cool...especially considering what that would do to her reputation as a noble woman.  And he has nothing to offer her.  I understand that forbidden love is exciting, and normally I could get on board with it, but Falco just doesn't do it for me.  Cass is still charmingly innocent in the ways of love -- despite being a bit of a voyeur! -- and I hope she remains so.

Now, Luca...that's a man.  He provides.  He protects.  He is the antithesis of Falco in every way.  Sure, he's not as passionate, but he's respectful and shy, and Luca is just what Cass needs to calm her adventurous spirit before she finds herself in more danger than she can escape from.  And he has a history with Cass.  One that they both need to dig deeper into in order to figure out what happened to her parents and determine what role the Order of the Eternal Rose and Joseph Dubois played in their deaths.

I must admit, the love triangle is not as central to the story in this second installment, which might have something to do with why the pacing picked up sooner and I found myself glued to the pages.  Falco is absent for a large part of the novel, and Luca spends a lot of his time in a dungeon this time around.  For the most part, Cass is on her own.  But that was probably for the best since she's got her own investigation to undertake.  The mystery of the Order of the Eternal Rose, the ageless Belladonna, the strange Dottor Piero...these are what intrigued me most this time around.  That, and figuring out what it all had to do with Renaissance vampires.

I wouldn't say that the story is predictable, though I did guess the direction the story was taking fairly early on.  Like I said, it's all about what one believes or perceives to be true.  I'm open-minded but I also take everything with a grain of salt.  Somehow, my wild, hair-brained theories always pan out.  But the journey to seeing those theories come to fruition is still fun in this case, so it didn't hinder my enjoyment of the novel one bit.  In fact, I was rather excited to see how everything played out.

Though I enjoyed Venom, Belladonna marks a surprising improvement upon the first book and has guaranteed that I absolutely must pick up Starling when it releases next year.  After the ending in this book, I'm not sure what the future holds for our heroine, but I know that she won't give up until she knows all of the Order's secrets.  I just hope she nabs them before they nab her.

Rating:   photo 4-1.png

the Secrets of the Eternal Rose series
Venom (Secrets of the Eternal Rose, #1)Belladonna (Secrets of the Eternal Rose, #2)Starling (Secrets of the Eternal Rose, #3)

About the author:

Fiona Paul lives in St. Louis, MO where she's managed to persuade fancy universities to award her degrees in psychology and nursing. Between her studies, she traveled around five continents and spent time living in Thailand and South Korea (which is probably why she finds the idea of wearing shoes in the house a little weird).

In addition to writing, Fiona is somewhat obsessive about coffee, music, and adventure sports. Her future goals include swimming with great white sharks and writing a whole slew of novels, not necessarily in that order.

Find Fiona:

WebsiteTwitter | Facebook | Goodreads

And because I loved the book and because I love you guys, I'm giving my ARC away!  =)

  • This giveaway is for US residents only
  • One entry per household.
  • Entries will be verified.  Any entry found to be falsified will result in disqualification of all entries for that participant.
  • Winner will be notified via email.  Winner will then have 48 hours to respond before another winner will be selected.  Please check your SPAM folders!!!
  • We are not responsible for lost packages.


  1. I wasn't huge fan of the first book because of Cass and the love triangle, but it pleases me to see that she grows as a character and gets to undertake the investigation on her own. One thing I truly loved about Venom was the atmospheric setting (and if I remember correctly, I think there was a mention of vampires even then that I thought added a real nice touch), and it's especially good to hear that that continues and that that also plays a role in how the mystery unfolds. :)

    (PS - I am also Team Luca :D).

  2. I don't know which side I'm on yet! I have my copy of Venom patiently waiting for me to read it. I can't wait to read this series - I've heard nothing but amazing things about it. Great review & thanks for the giveaway!!

  3. I love the covers in this series. I totally obsess about matching covers, and these are just great. I haven't heard of this series before. I'm happy to see you enjoyed it so much! :)

  4. Ya know, it's really the back and forth that I love, but if I had to pick... Falco.

    Thanks for the giveaway!


  5. I actually havent read it yet.. I just picked up Venom last week and will be starting that coming soon!! thanks for the giveaway!!

  6. I haven't read this series yet so I'm not sure which team I am yet but am excited to read the first book soon! Thanks!

  7. Haven't read it yet, but it looks AMAZING :D

  8. I haven't read Venom yet, so I'm not sure which team I'm on--but I know people from both sides, so I think it's a controversial love triangle :)

  9. I'm not sure yet...I haven't read the book yet. But I am DYING to read them!! I'm so excited to read this series because it's not my usual genre to read but the story line sounds so good!! I've read a lot of GREAT reviews on the first book. And I just HAVE to read them!!! THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR THIS AWESOME GIVEAWAY!!!


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