Monday, February 4, 2013

Review: Venom by Fiona Paul

Venom by Fiona Paul
Book One of the Secrets of the Eternal Rose Series
Publisher: Philomel
Publication Date: October 30, 2012
Rating: 3 stars
Source: ARC from a giveaway

Summary (from Goodreads):

Cassandra Caravello is one of Renaissance Venice’s lucky elite: with elegant gowns, sparkling jewels, her own lady’s maid, and a wealthy fiancĂ©, 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 fiancĂ©, 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.

What I Liked:

I absolutely love historical fiction, so the setting of the Italian Renaissance something about which I was looking forward to reading. For the most part, I thought the setting was intriguing and enrapturing, and it definitely felt like I could place myself there. The Renaissance is one of my favorite historical time periods, and I am happy to say I was not too disappointed.

The plot was pretty straightforward. Girl finds dead body. Girl wants to know who, what, where, when, why, how. Girl gets help from hot but poor boy. Girl and boy think they fall in love. Boy helps girl, but keeps things from girl. Fast forward a lot. All is revealed at the end. Girl must make a choice. Again, straightforward. Predictable. Which is not bad (obviously, I liked it), because I could follow the plot very easily.

The romantic interests: Luca and Falco. That is not a secret, so I am not spoiling anything for anyone. I cannot believe I am saying this, but I am Team Luca. Usually, I would be on Team New Guy, the new, hot, rugged guy that does not seem perfect for the heroine. But I really, really like Luca. A LOT more than I like Falco. I was not completely taken it by Falco. 

Cass is an okay heroine. She tries to be a strong person, but in my opinion, she is not. Which is how it is supposed to be in Renaissance Italy: women are not supposed to think for themselves like that, and gallavant all over town. The fact that she does bothered me a lot.

What I Did Not Like:

There is a lot for this category. I am going to try and condense it.

First, Falco. My goodness, I did not like that boy. I can see Ms. Paul attempting to make him seem "sexy" and "forbidden" because he is of a lower class than Cass, but I really did not buy it. He just seemed dark and mysterious, but not in the usual yummy way. 

And Cass. Oh my gosh. Is she kidding me? She has spent all of like, a few weeks knowing Falco, and suddenly her heart is being ripped into two? WHAT? No. I do not buy Falco and Cass loving each other. I believe they love each other because each of them are forbidden to the other. They love the IDEA of each other. So, this romance sucked. I prefer Cass with Luca, but then, I am not a huge fan of Cass, so maybe Cass should end up with no one. 

Oh yeah, love triangle. You know how I feel about those. EW. This one is especially ridiculous, since Cass is already engaged to Luca, a steady, stable, handsome, RICH man that she knew when she was younger.

I also wish we could have discovered more about the Secrets of the Eternal Rose (I believe it is a book? I am not sure). There is barely any mention of it, besides those random pages in between chapters. I did not pay attention to them as I was reading. They just distracted and confused me. 

And here is my biggest sticking point: ANACHRONISMS.

This book is filled with anachronisms. Every time I saw one, I would cringe and get a little annoyed. For those of you that do not know, anachronisms are things that do not belong in the time period in which they are presented. 

For example, hydrogen bombs in the American Civil War. Not happening. 

Anyway, anachronisms are present in this book. The speech, for one. Sometimes Cass says things that really only apply to today's speech. One example I can think of is "Deal". "Deal" as in, "yeah, let's do that." People in Renaissance Italy did NOT say that, I am sure of it. There are others too, like "sure". NO. Just... no. 

Cass's entire being is anachronistic. Girls of Renaissance Italy did not think or act as she did. The only non-anachronistic thing she did was at the end (not telling). 

I am sure I am forgetting things, but I will stop here.

Would I Recommend It:

Probably. If you like historical fiction, go for it. Overall, this book did not impress me. I liked it, but I am not sure I will read it again. I will definitely continue the series though.


2.5 stars (I am rounding up to 3 stars. But honestly, the 3-star rating is pretty generous).

Was this review helpful? Please let me know in the comments section!


  1. Well, Luca sounds great even if you didn't enjoy many things about this one.
    Happy reading,
    Brandi @ Blkosiner’s Book Blog

    1. He is! I enjoyed his role, and hope to see much more of him in future books :)

  2. I love historical fiction and the setting for this is amazing but I'm not sure if I can deal with a love triangle and anachronisms. Both really annoy me!

    1. Me too! But hey, this series actually ended up being a favorite of mine, and the anachronisms decrease with each book. The love triangle - well, that was resolved in the final book, but I was pleased with the way it ended. It just made SENSE. If you know what I mean?


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