Author: Fiona Paul
Category: Young Adult
Release Date: 7-16-13
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. – Goodreads
I did not expect this book to so drastically change my opinion of both Falco and Luca, but it did. Cassandra is trying to move on with her life and accept that she will be married to Luca, and she does a pretty good job until Luca is put in jail for heresy. As everything starts to unravel, the Order of the Eternal Rose seems to be in the middle of it once again. While the graveyard scenes in Venom were very chilling, I think that some of the detective work that Cas has to do was even creepier. There are some very dark and strange nee characters in this book, and the are all tied back to the Order. Once again, the descriptions of Venice and Florence really helped bring me into the story. The conditions of the prisons in Venice were terrifying and the “vampire” scare in Florence both made my skin crawl. Belladonna was a much darker book than Venom, but that was something that I really liked about it.
If I have a frustration with this series, it is in the pacing. I can always appreciate a slow build, but this seems to go in spurts. Nothing happens for several pages/chapters and then there is a series of heart-pounding action scenes. While I love those scenes, it is hard to keep reading when they are over and things grind to a halt, once again. Despite that I did enjoy this book. I felt that Cass has shown a lot of growth. She is certainly braver in Belladonna and that made her more likable to me. I also started to have much kinder feelings toward Luca. Falco is in this book, but a shroud of mystery continues to follow him. It’s going to be very interesting to see what happens to his character in the last book. Overall, Belladonna was an entertaining read that took me to a very different place and time with rich descriptions and intriguing mystery. If you are a fan of historical fiction, I definitely recommend giving this series a try.
I received this galley in exchange for my honest review.