Venom by Fiona Paul
Summary: Cass’ closest friend has just died. While visiting her tomb, Cass notices that her friend’s body has been replaced by another—a dark-haired girl with an X slashed across her chest. As she flees the scene, Cass stumbles into Falco, an artist who is also curious about the murder. Cass and Falco grow close as they try to unravel the mystery together, but Cass can’t let herself get too attached—after all, she’s engaged to be married.
My thoughts: Venom has everything I want in a historical novel: a gutsy heroine, a decadent setting, and a fiery romance that almost transcends the time period. Venom also brings mystery to the table, but it’s not as edgy as I would have expected. Rather, the mystery develops slowly in the background, allowing the reader to focus on the setting and romance instead. I would have loved to see the mystery brought to the forefront of the novel, but Venom still satisfied me because of all of its other wonderful parts.
After reading Venom, I am even more inspired to somehow make my way to Italy. Fiona Paul nearly transports you there with her writing; I could picture the canals and gondolas while reading! Venice provides an excellent backdrop to Fiona Paul’s story, and I loved that she sprinkled bits of Italian throughout her writing (I’ll admit to asking my roommate what certain words meant, because I was so curious!).
The main focus of Venom, as I said earlier, is the romance. I wasn’t instantly smitten with Falco, since he seemed a little sketchy, but I eventually grew to love his passion and sense of humor. I liked that Fiona Paul didn’t present Falco as a 100% good person—the uncertainty that came with him made reading all the more fun. I loved all the scenes that Cass and Falco shared, because they were the ones in which Cass’ personality comes through the strongest. Cass seems fairly passive throughout most of the novel, but Falco helps bring out her more memorable qualities.
If you’re a fan of historical fiction—and especially if you’re a fan of romances set in exotic locations—pick up a copy of Venom! Fiona Paul’s debut definitely deserves its label of “breathless read”.
For those who like: historical fiction, mystery, romance
Comment question: Would you travel to historical Italy if you could?