Author: Fiona Paul
Format: Hardcover, 432 pages
Genre: YA, Historical, Mystery
Publication Date: October 30, 2012
Published by: Penguin, Razorbill
Series: The Secrets of the Eternal Rose #1
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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.
First off I would like to thank Giselle (Booknerd Canada) and Brenna (Ever After Esther) for the recommendation, because I honestly don't know if I would have picked it up if they didn't. And I am very glad they did suggest it because I was in for a treat from the very first line.
Fiona Paul has a way with words, especially when it comes to describing the inner workings of historical Venice. Page after page I was transported to a place I had never set foot into in real life, yet felt i was a part of during the novel. Her descriptions of the historical buildings and the copious amounts of people that populate this amazing city. I loved the setting because it gave way to mysterious and suspicion that crawled through this novel from beginning to end.
What I loved most was the realism of the characters and their societal duties. It was very clear that there was a class divide right from the beginning, and that Cass's romantic feelings for Falco were frowned upon by her family and society. I thought it was extremely realistic that the portrayal of prostitutes in that time were idealized because of their freedom and blaze attitude. I know some may think that glorifying something that serious and dangerous should make readers dislike this book, but I very much disagree. I believe that back in the time that Cass's character existed, she longed for her freedom and watching these women take control of their lives and their lovers made it seem like good existence in comparison to the "cage" that she was in at the time.
Cass herself is an amazing character to read. She is curious and strong--even though at times she doesn't think she is--and she is determined in a way that many women in that time were not. Yet she is naive and stubborn and a little bit paranoid, but all of these characteristics make her a very humble and believable character. Her relationship with Falco made my heart melt and their chemistry (as Giselle kept telling me...and was right!) was palpitating and made me crave for more scenes of them together!
And the mystery! The mystery was amazing and made me read chapter after chapter and kept me up at all hours wanting to figure out who done it. But alas, I am not that smart and was quite surprised at how the killer was in the end. Speaking of the end, I really liked the way the book ended, not with a cliffhanger but a satisfactory ending that leaves intrigue for the next installment. Amazing read!