Goodreads Summary: 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.
Series: Secrets of the Eternal Rose #1
Author: Fiona Paul
Release Date: 30th October 2012 hardcover and 1st December 2012 Kindle
Source: NetGalley via HarperCollins AU
This is a brilliantly written Renaissance period story that is set in Venice. Cassandra Caravello is a typical young lady living with her Aunt and waiting until her fiancé has finished his studies in order to marry. One of Cass’s friends had passed away and Cass is trying to deal with the grief of yet another person she cared about leaving her. Her parents died when she was younger and has been living with her Aunt ever since.
The night of her friend Liviana’s funeral Cass was awoken by strange noises coming from the graveyard next to her Aunt’s estate. She couldn’t sleep once awake and went wandering to the graveyard to visit Livi’s mausoleum. She saw the door ajar and went in to discover that her friends’ crypt had been disturbed and the lid pushed aside. Cass took a deep breath and worked up her courage to peek inside to make sure Livi was still there. What Cass saw stole her breath as it wasn’t her friend at all, but some woman that had been murdered. The murdered woman had strangulation bruising and an X carved into her chest. Cass took off running in case the murderer was still there and had seen her. Reaching the graveyard gates she barrelled into Falco, an artist she bumped into at Livi’s funeral. Cass showed Falco what she had seen. This was the first of many excursions between Falco and Cass. As Cass was a young lady, it was considered improper for her to be traipsing around the countryside with a young man or even at night unchaperoned.
Cass would sneak out at night with Falco to find more clues to the mysterious woman in Livi’s crypt. Cass is now in danger as she was discovered at the graveyard. They discover so many possibilities and there are many suspects and now Cass doesn’t know who to believe or trust. Everybody is keeping so many secrets!
What happened to Livi’s body? Will Cass be able to keep her feelings in check and be faithful to her fiancé? Who is the murderer? Will Cass get caught sneaking around? Will she be cast out by her Aunt for an improper ladylike behaviour? What about her fiancé, will he ever return for a visit from abroad? What is the ring with the flower in a circle?
This was an extraordinary suspenseful read with so many details of the surroundings, gowns, hairstyles, characters and Venice itself. You could picture the scenes so clearly you were almost there with Cass. It has romance, humour, intrigue, suspense, mystery and is thrilling. The way Cass grows to a Lady and has to make tough decisions in order to be loyal to her friends and the romance that could never be were a couple of the best parts I enjoyed about this book. Fiona has a wonderful way with putting the story line together that you can’t put it down. This highly addictive series is going to be a must read for all young adults that like historical fiction. I cannot wait for book 2 Belladonna, to be released and find out more about the Secret of the Eternal Rose.
My favourite quote: “Madness weakens the mind and disease weakens the body, but nothing destroys the spirit like the loss of true love.” – THE BOOK OF THE ETERNAL ROSE
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