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346 pages, Hardcover
First published July 16, 2013
[Cass and Falco's] whole relationship was based on secrets and lies. Even if Falco had stopped stealing dead bodies...did that mean he wouldn’t turn to crime again the next time he needed more than his art could provide? She didn’t know.We do not prefer such an overwhelming dickwad over someone like her fiancé, Luca, a gentleman, who is a dream come true.
He was handsome and kind and smart, a good man, from a well-established Venetian family. And he loved her. He loved her so much, he would die for her; he had proven that already.You see, while Luca was in prison, his erstwhile fiancée was off on something she calls a "rescue mission," under the cover of a clandestine romance. While Luca was rotting in prison, Cass has been out doing the tonsil tango with the starving artist/criminal/grave robber/asshat/douchebag guy on the side.
Her fiancé had spent the night alone, in a cramped cell, possibly being starved or tortured while Cass had been drinking ale with Falco.We would not think that it is destiny that we were meant to be with someone besides you. Someone, who is, with her knowledge, DANGEROUS.
What was the matter with her?
Fate. Once again, the entire universe seemed to be aligning in a manner that brought her and Falco together. Either that or he had an uncanny ability to find his way straight to the heart of everything evil.We would not choose a starving artist over a lawyer. Someone who WOULD PAINT HER LIKE ONE OF HIS FRENCH GALS.
He had insisted on painting her. His soft hands had seemed so purposeful as he arranged her body, as if his growing feelings had determined the tilt of her head and just the way a lock of damp hair should fall over the bare skin of her throat.
9 out of 10
" But was that what love was supposed to be? Pain? Madness? Or was love something... that motivated a person to be selfless and even self-sacrificing."
"Luca’s freedom was at the tips of her fingers."
"Typical Falco—get angry first and then think later."
“Sit down. Have a drink. I promise to escort you safely back to your satin sheets once we’ve gotten reacquainted.”
"For the thousandth time, she was struck by the differences between herself and Falco. The two of them had lived in the same city, but in completely different worlds. Cass was foolish to ever dream they could be together."
"Cass trusted Luca with her life. With her heart."
“You owe no debt to me. Have your aunt arrange another match, perhaps with someone of your own choosing. Go be happy. It’s what I want for you.”
"Luca was the same as she was, when it came to the things that mattered."
"Cass tried to imagine Luca gone, but couldn’t. Even when he had been in France studying, he had always lingered in the back of her mind, his letters arriving with almost mechanical regularity. Even though Cass had spent most of her life away from him, she couldn’t fathom being completely and utterly without him. He was her future, a promise left to her by her parents: a life that was safe, steady, dependable."
Falco’s jaw tightened. “I feel sorry for you, Cass. But eventually you’re going to have to accept the fact that da Peraga is going to die.” His eyes flashed dark in the flickering candlelight. “Sometimes I wish that day would hurry up and get here, so that I could have my starling back.”
— Venom (Под маской любви) #1/3
— Belladonna (Белладонна) #2/3
— Starling (Скворушка) #3/3
Actual rating: 3.5
“The truth is often different from what is perceived as truth, but only the latter is of any consequence.”
—THE BOOK OF THE ETERNAL ROSE
Mystery, danger, love, duty are back with some reinforcement in the second installment of Secrets of the Eternal Rose series. The playground is changed: this time we'll explore Florence's dark alleys and learn its mysteries. Once again reality and illusion will bland in one and there's no telling truth from myth. Did I mention I absolutely love the way Fiona Paul builds her story brick by brick, letting us decide for ourselves what we want to believe in? Every superstition is based on facts. Right? Or not? Who can tell the difference? Belladonna will seriously mess with your mind, trust me.
I can 100% say that this book gave me what I craved: the internal mechanism of secret society's operational system. I finally found out how it works from the inside; but at the same time I've got more questions I hopefully will get answers to in the last installment.
I won't tell you much about the plot, because, dah, spoilers, and if you haven't read the first book, just GO NOW and read it! Our heroine Cassandra is getting older and wiser, she grows as a person and learns to understand her heart. Still, the choice is hard to make for her between two men (not that it was hard for me, you know) but she is slowly getting there... Are you sure, Nastassja? Um, yes? *says with uncertainty in her voice* I think my favorite (if you remember, I am still in training to be a serial killer) Book of the eternal rose is correct:
“Lust, love, madness: the holiest trilogy of all.”
Honestly, I was tossing between giving this book 4 stars or 3.5 as I did with the previous one. Don't get me wrong: I like almost everything about this series. But the choice Cass must make just couldn't let me breath full chest, torturing me, and partly depriving from enjoying this book completely. The angst level is high! Though I still believe this book has a decent love triangle I haven't met in a long time. I don't know whose team you are or if you haven't decided yet, but I am sure you can feel the weight of that decision hanging above Cass' head. Poor girl!
Bottom line: some aspects of Belladonna were better explored than in Venom, some not. I'd say both books have their pros and cons, but one thing for sure: they will give you a hell of a ride and afterwards you'll ask for more.
Update: adding half star to my initial rating, because it was such a great time reading this book together with my girls: our reading sessions alone deserve all the stars))
“Her fiancé had spent the night alone, in a cramped cell, possibly being starved or tortured while Cass had been drinking ale with Falco.
What was the matter with her?"