Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Review: Belladonna (The Secrets of the Eternal Rose #2) by Fiona Paul

This review should have been up ages ago (the blog tour was well over a month ago LOL) but it's taken me yonks to write because I suck. BUT HERE IT IS FINALLY!

Firstly, thanks to HarperCollins Australia for providing a copy of review as part of the Belladonna Australian blog tour <3

Belladonna (Secrets of the Eternal Rose, #2)

Date Read: June 27th – July 2nd 2013
Release Date: July 1st 2013
Publisher: HarperCollins Australia
Source: Review copy via publisher
Genre: Historical
My rating: 

Synopsis: "Cassandra Caravello is trying to forget Falco, the wild artist who ran off with her heart, as she grows closer to her strong, steady fiancĂ©, Luca. But Luca seems to have his own secrets. When he′s arrested by soldiers in the middle of the night, Cass′s life is once again thrown into chaos. She must save Luca, and that means finding the Book of the Eternal Rose -- the only evidence that will prove he is innocent.

So begins her journey to Florence, a city haunted by whispers of corruption, secret soirees and clandestine meetings of the Order of the Eternal Rose. And home to Falco, who′s working for the Order′s eerily stunning leader, the Belladonna herself.

Can Cass trust her heart to lead her to the truth this time?

Nothing is as it seems in this seductive thriller, where the truth may be the deadliest poison of all..."


“No man can achieve greatness without risking his life for it.”

I think I’m in the minority with regards to my overall opinion of Belladonna. I wasn’t as fascinated by it as I was Venom and I think I had extremely high expectations going in. For the most part though, I was satisfied with what I got.

With Luca accused of treason, our protagonist Cassandra Caravello, ventures to Florence to try and clear Luca’s name and find out about the mysterious Order of the Eternal Rose which everybody seems to be tangled in. One thing I was really looking forward to was Cass’s growth from the impulsive, slightly immature girl in Venom. And although she did show signs of some growth, it was not to the degree I wanted to see that is usually customary over the course of a sequel. On the other hand, I can understand why Paul has kept the impulsive streak in Cass – it makes her stand out amongst the other 15 year-old girls of that era and really highlights the theme of women being trapped. I admired Cass’s dedication to her cause and her resilience. Despite those around her disagreeing with her desire to free Luca, she persists, even when it seems like the world is against her. With everything happening around and her conflicting emotions, Cass was determined to find the Book of the Eternal Rose.

“Luca had saved her once. Now it was her turn to save him.”

Resident sexy artist Falco makes his reappearance, but under the employ of the very owner of a certain book Cass is after. Personally, I was immensely happy to see Falco again as I love the chemistry between him and Cass. Although their encounters were much fewer, it made them all the more precious and definitely heightened emotions. I love how Paul has created Falco to be the very antithesis of Luca and the conflict this causes Cass.

“Falco grabbed her without warning. He spun her around him so that her body was pressed up against the wall. Cass’s heart leapt into her throat.”

Where Falco is volatile, passionate, a radical and free thinker, Luca is the constant in Cass’s life. He’s the calm and mature one but also the cause of Cass’s troubles in Belladonna. What I realised about Belladonna was that Luca is again in the background like with Venom. I thought it was interesting that although he’s a large part of the story and one-third of the love triangle, we don’t see much of him – that being said his presence is overarching and shares much of Cass’s thoughts along with Falco. I loved Luca’s selflessness. I’m not really sure how I feel about the love triangle and which boy I prefer. Tis a hard choice they’re both loveable and have their own distinct traits.

“Go be happy. It’s what I want for you.”

For me, the plot wasn’t as thrilling as Venom and I think I’m the black sheep here. In Paul’s defence I really think it’s an “it’s not the book, it’s me” thing as I’d gone into Venom not knowing what to expect and I came out all giddy. I had no idea Venom would be slightly macabre so I was really surprised, thus going into Belladonna I technically already knew Paul’s level of writing thrilling scenes and didn’t end up being wow’d as much as I sort of already knew what to expect – does that make sense? I don’t think it really did but oh wells. I still enjoyed the mystery though, and Paul takes the reader on a journey right into the grand home of the Belladonna herself. And from that moment we’re transported into the Order’s world and their intriguing proceedings which somehow tie in Cass’s past, present and future. I loved how Paul incorporated a paradigm shift of that era – the emergence of the Renaissance movement in art and thinking, combined with the scientific exploration of the anatomy of the human body. However, I do think that with these tools the plot could have been stronger than what was presented – at times it was predictable and a bit flat for my liking.

“The Order’s existence must remain a secret, and new members selected prudently and ardently.”

I could really see an improvement in Paul’s writing in this sequel; Venom and I got off to a rocky start as the first few chapters had noticeably short sentences that really got on my nerves. Therefore, I was extremely happy that Belladonna flowed a lot better. I think the pace was satisfactory and overall Paul has done a good job with a sequel. Excited for Starling next year!

“New life. New beginnings.”


  1. Is it weird that I find 'yonks' absolutely downright hilarious? My friend said yonky donks the other day and I cracked it. Nearly died of laughter. Eh... maybe it's just me.

    Anywho... there are so many mixed thoughts on this series- I'm not sure if I should start it or not.

    Fab review, Jaz! <33

    1. Now I'm dying of laughter at the way you said 'yonks' LOL. It was just you... I don't know lol I love the word :P

      I like this series! I find it really enjoyable. Definitely worth checking out

  2. I actually thought Venom and Belladonna were equally as good as each other! The only thing is that Falco was so damn frustrating in Belladonna. WHY DID HE NOT TELL CASS STUFF?! ARGH!
    So..if I said you had to choose between Falco and Luca, who would you choose?
    p.s. I'm Team Falco hehe

    1. I really liked the intrigue of Venom :o I just wasn't expecting something like that!

      I THINK I'm Team Falco? I'd be fine with whoever though :D

    2. Good choice, good choice.
      And actually I think I'd be okay with Luca too. We'll see what happens in Starling I guess :)

  3. Wow, I really like this cover for Belladonna. Sucks this wasn't as good as Venom. Still looking forward to reading it tho! Great review!

    AKA Vi3tBabe
    Deity Island

    1. I know aye! For once an Aussie cover that's nicer than the US one :P

      I think most people actually thought this was better than Venom or the same! I'm just the black sheep.

      I still enjoyed it though and I hope you do too <3