Venom By Fiona Paul

Cassandra Caravello is part of Venice′s wealthy elite. Her world is one of fabulous gowns, society parties and privilege, yet she longs for something more. While her fiancĂ© is away studying in Paris, she has a chance meeting with an artist called Falco. He is attractive, audacious... And highly unsuitable.

When Cass stumbles upon the body of a murdered woman, with a bloody X carved across her heart, she′s drawn into a dangerous world of secret societies, courtesans and killers. Falco is quick to offer his assistance, but then another body is found and Cass starts receiving death threats... Is Falco more involved than she imagined? And will she be able to stay true to her fiancĂ©, or succumb to her uncontrollable feelings for someone she′s not even sure she can trust?

Cassandra Caravello was once a wealthy aristocrat, but now lives on the tiny San Domenico island after her parents dies. While listening to the service of Liviana, her friend and fourteen year old contessa of one of Venice's most prominent families, she is reminded that her aunt Agnese is the only family she now has, besides her best friend Madalena and her lady's maid Siena. Cass's life is not her own, she is set to marry Luca, a man she hasn't seen since he left to study years ago, she needs to be chaperoned whenever she travels, even if it is only to visit the intimate church cemetery that leads onto her aunts crumbling villa. In a moment of grief, Cass flees from the funeral and finds herself walking along the Venice canals, and stumbles across a group of Artists, losing her footing and being pinned under a boy no more than a few years older than she. Now, she can't shake the imagine of his bright blue eyes or his muscular form disappearing through the huddle of street merchants.

Cass is a writer, a dreamer and wants to live her life, not succumb to the standards that young ladies should upheld. So when she wanders into the church cemetery to investigate strange noises in the middle of the night, she discovers that Liviana's family tomb has been disturbed... And Liviana is missing, the body of a young courtesan encased within the tomb instead. As Cass notices a gruesome cross slashed over the girl's heart, she flees, right into the arms of Falco, the artist she found along the Venice canals, but she can't shake the feeling that the two of them are being watched. Falco convinces Cass not to alert the guard, that they have no details of who she is, who would care about a murdered prostitute? For all she knows, they may be next on the list, and after receiving an anonymous note Soon, bella, it will be your turn, signed with an X, she now too is in danger.

Rather than hide away, Cass and Falco decide to investigate on their own, his constant references to Cass as a caged bird are starting to wear thin, but living your life as a noble young woman has Cass wanting to break free of her confines. With a ring that Falco found inside the tomb and a lead on the same symbol adorning an abandoned building, and judging from the bruises on the victim, they are dealing with a girl who was ultimately slashed and strangled. But the warehouse isn't abandoned, it houses a sadistic house of horrors, with bodies and body parts stored in large troughs. But when heavy footsteps approach, the two escape barely, before ending up as the next victim.

Cass has enough to deal with, without being pressured to prepare for her pending nuptials. But how can she marry a man that she hasn't seen in three years when she is falling for a common artist? As they continue to search for clues, at the infamous masquerade ball, bars and brothels, one thing becomes abundantly clear, Venice is a city of secrets that she holds close to her chest. But for Cass, being determined to seek answers may just get her killed.

Venom for me has been the surprise of the year. I'm not sure what I had expected, but not only was it entertaining, it was a true thriller in every sense of the word. Set in an era where ladies should be just that, expected to maintain the upkeep of their household, and rely on their Lady's Maid to run their errands, but Cass isn't your average girl. Her sense of adventure far outweighs her density, and she is far too accepting of others. 

Fiona Paul has created a lush and lavish world, made realistic by the seedy underbelly of murderous crimes and forbidden love. The storyline will keep you guessing from start to finish and I had no clue where the plot was heading. Suspenseful and thrilling, it's sure to keep you on the edge of your seat.

 (Secrets Of The Eternal Rose: Book One)
Written By Fiona Paul
Published 06 / 12 / 2012
435 Pages
Thank you to Netgalley and Harper Collins Australia

1 comment

  1. Oooh the premise of this book sounds great, I love that lavish world aspect and glad it was a true thriller. Great review Kelly!

    Jeann @ Happy Indulgence


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