Venom by Fiona Paul

Synopsis:
Cassandra Caravello has everything a girl could desire: elegant gowns, sparkling jewels, invitations to the best parties, and a handsome, wealthy fiancé—yet she longs for something more. 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 the body of a murdered woman—with a bloody X carved across her heart—she’s drawn into a dangerous world of secret societies, courtesans, and killers. Soon, she finds herself falling for Falco, a poor artist with a mischievous grin . . . and a habit of getting into trouble. Will Cassandra find the murderer before he finds her? And will she stay true to her fiancé or succumb to her uncontrollable feelings for Falco?

Review:
Cass lives in a historic Venice where status and reputation are everything in society. But Cass feels stifled in her refined life of privilege and lack of freedom. She’s engaged to a young man she barely knows, but feels she has no other choice in her future as women do not have the same liberties as men. The author does an amazing job of conveying the feeling of being trapped and repressed. And when Cass meets Falco, he opens up a whole new world of possibilities to her. It’s no wonder she feels an immediate pull and attraction to him.

Cass and Falco investigate the murder of a young courtesan, which brings the two together yet exposes that Falco has been holding back a dark secret. This lush, historic backdrop to a thrilling mystery and romance is impossible to put down. Packed with suspense, drama, secrets, and a heart-tugging love triangle – Venom is the first in a new trilogy. This impressive debut is beautiful, emotional, and intense. Fans of historical fiction and romance shouldn’t miss this one.