Belladonna (Secrets of the Eternal Rose #2) by Fiona Paul
Hardcover, 352 pages
Expected publication: July 16th, 2013 by Philomel
Source: Gifted by another blogger
This review was first featured at Candace's Book Blog in June, 2013.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.
I love, love, love the setting and time period of these books! But that's not all, I also love the characters and the mystery. The books tend to suck me in immediately and don't spit me out until the end. The first book takes place in Venice in it's entirety and this one brought us to Florence for a good chunk of it. I do love Venice but it was interesting to see a bit more in this one, to have some new scenery and some new characters for awhile.
The book starts out with a bang and Cass is immediately needing to save Luca from certain death. This lends a sense of urgency to the book as we are with her as she makes the journey to Florence where she's sent on a wild goose chase to try to figure things out. While in Florence she starts unraveling some mysteries, and discovering some new ones. She also 'runs into' Falco, her love interest from the first book (not a spoiler). Cass is extremely determined to save Luca and will do anything. This leads to some not-so-smart choices but also some extremely brave ones. At times I was torn about whether I wanted to shake her for this, or wanted to hug her for her bravery. I did feel that there were a few things she should have figured out and maybe avoided, like she was a bit too trusting of people that she originally knew not to trust. However, this was a very minor issue for me and one I got over quickly. I admired Cass for her strength and determination and the lengths she would go to for a man she cared for but wasn't sure whether she loved (at least romantically).
I had some mixed feelings about the romance in this one. I loved Falco in the first book though he was a bit TOO mysterious at times, I really loved his character. In this one I felt like I really wanted more from him but he just wasn't very present and he didn't give much to Cass. He seemed more like he was into her more physically and that's more where his love for her lay, in her body and not so much just for HER. Luca on the other hand, while not on the page real often, was definitely a character I loved when he was there. I wasn't a big Luca fan in the first one but now I'm more mixed up inside. While I'm not a love triangle fan, this is a love triangle that I think actually works. It's realistic and I 'get' why Cass likes each of them. I think her heart belongs to one, and I think I know which one, but I do have mixed feelings about it and get how and why things may or may not work for each of them.
The mystery of it all still has a ways to go. We uncovered a lot of stuff but this is a complicated thing and there's no rushing it. It's secret society secrets and takes some digging for things to come together. I am VERY anxious to see where things go in the next book. Don't worry about a cliffhanger though, the main issues in this book are resolved (at least enough for now).
This book is pretty dark. There's lots of death and scary things happening. It wasn't depressing though and never seemed heavy to me. I read the book quickly and shed a tear or two before I finished. I recommend this book to mature YA readers that enjoy historical fiction.
Candace is a wife and mother to two. She’s blogged at Candace’s Book Blog since November 2008. She enjoys a variety of genres including anything and everything young adult, some adult urban fantasy, a little bit of adult paranormal romance, some historical fiction and reads lots of childrens books. You can find her on her blog at http://www.candacesbookblog.com, twitter @candacemom2two and on goodreads.