I am very excited to be apart of the Venom Blog Tour. I loved this book (as you can tell from my review posted yesterday) and hope you do to.
This tour includes something a little special. Fiona Paul has written a short story to accompany the upcoming release of Venom. Be sure to check out all the tour stops for the full story.
A Secrets of the Eternal Rose short story
By Fiona Paul
The year is 1600 and the streets of Venice, Italy are ripe with intrigue and danger. In this introduction to the world of Venom, eighteen-year-old Mariabella has recently elevated herself from the rank of common prostitute to the status of courtesan, a respected high-class escort for those men in Venetian society who can afford them. Mariabella steps out to attend a party on the arm of her powerful new patron, certain that the night will be filled with glamour, secrets, and adventure.
If you missed the last part of the story, check it out on Lauren's Crammed Bookshelf.
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Back inside, Joseph is guzzling wine at an alarming rate as he chats with Donna Domacetti, the host of the party. She is a broad-shouldered obese woman and the large farthingale she wears beneath her skirts make her take up the space of three or four people. I smile briefly at her and try not to stare at the taut fabric of her bodice, at the seams threatening to split open if she makes any sudden movement. Everything about her disgusts me, from her stack of chins to the raucous manner in which she speaks. She seems to revel in being crass.
"It is more than just idle chatter, Signore." She gestures with her hands as she talks. "Several have told me about Don Vittorio's predilections."
"So he makes his courtesans cut their hair." Joseph shrugs, umimpressed. "Unusual, but so what?"
"Not just cut their hair," the donna says. "They say in private he dresses them as men, breeches, doublets, even boots. Why, I hear he once requested that his favorite wear a false moustache."
She stares triumphantly, as though daring me to react. I smile, as she expects me to. Her story is probably true, but how she discovers these things, I'll never know. Besides, what concern is it of hers?
I lean in close to Joseph to speak directly in his ear. "Signore. A moment please?"
He turns away from Donna Domacetti to regard me. Unsurprisingly, his wine glass is empty again.
"What is it, Mariabella?" he asks.
"Since you do not wish to see me later, I'm going to take my leave it it's all right."
He regards me coolly. "Do you have other plans I do not know about?"
"Of couse not. I---"
"Are you not enjoying yourself?" he inquires. His voice is as smooth and sharp as a sword.
"I've had a wonderful time." I direct this comment to both Joseph and Donna Domacetti. "But my mother has been feeling ill and I thought I might go out to the Giudecca to visit her."
It's partially true. My mother does live on the Giudecca. And she's old, so it stands to reason she might be feeling ill. I wouldn't know because she stopped speaking to me once I became a courtesan. I don't know if she is jealous of me or simply angry that I proved her wrong by becoming more than she ever thought possible, but she refuses to unbolt the door when I come. Each week I leave her a small bundle of coins. Each week, I hope the door will be unlocked.
"Would you like one of my men to accompany you?" Joseph asks.
It's a thoughtful gesture, but it would mean getting out on the Giudecca and then finding another boat to get to San Domenico, the tiny island where I'm supposed to meet Batista.
"That's all right." I lean in close and brush my lips against his. "I'll come by tomorrow afternoon as we planned."
He kisses my hand and then turns back to Donna Domacetti, who is now talking to a thin blond woman with a cheek full of smallpox scars. The woman is standing with her head tilted awkwardly, as if she's trying to keep the disfigured side of her face out of Joseph's field of vision. Feeling sympathetic, I flash her a smile but she looks straight through me.
"No, Hortensa." Donna Domacetti's chins waggle back and forth as she shakes her head at the blonde woman. "There really are certain herbs from the Orient that increase a man's abilities. I know of a certain senator who swears by them."
"I wish my husband swore by them," Hortensa says. "If he did, I might be less inclined to enjoy myself with his cousin while he's away."
Both women erupt into laughter. It's definitely time to leave.
For the next part of the story, visit The Elliott Review on Monday 10/22.
Cassandra Caravello is one of Renaissance Venice's lucky elite: with elegant gowns, sparkling jewels, her own lady's maid, and a wealthy fiance, 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 fiance, 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.
Preorder your copy now:
And now for the giveaway.......