Venom by Fiona Paul has always been on my radar, and when I was able to pick it up cheap, I decided to give it a go.
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.
The two things I loved most about this story was the setting and the mysterious plot. It’s set in renaissance Venice and includes murder! I loved the descriptions of the architecture and the gondola rides, and I’m always a sucker for stories about girls oppressed by their position in society that get to wear fabulous clothes. If only I could wear something like that today! Cassandra was a very likable character. She’s a free spirit with a sense of adventure but still knows what is right and wrong. Falco was so endearing. He was dark, sensual which made him dangerous but he’s really just a sweetheart trying to find his way in the world. Throughout the book, I questioned some of Cassandra’s decisions but each one led to some exicting plot point so I guess it’s justified.
The only thing that didn’t sit well with me was how the plot seemed pieced together, like it was a few stories put into one. By the end of the book, the plot was so incredibly different than what the beginning portrayed, and the problem with that was the story didn’t lead into it as well as I would have liked. I was also a bit disappointed in the ending. There was all of this momentum and it ended in a fizzle. I understand this is the first book in a series, but it was obvious that the author was trying to end it so that she could write a second book.
Regardless, I really enjoyed this story. There was a lot of excitement and romance. It didn’t completely blow me away but I’ll be reading the next book, Belladonna, which comes out on July 16, 2013. I have high hopes this sequel will really solidfy this series as a winner.
STARS: 3 out of 5