*****FINAL RATING: 4.65 STARS*****CATCHALLI am a huge, huge fan of Venom. Everybody knows that, because I literally Never. Shut. Up. About it. Which is fine by some of you. It probably annoys others of you, but you love me anyway. It was a fantastic, wonderful book, and in my humble opinion Belladonna was even better in more ways than one. The writing has improved immensely, and I found the plot much more entertaining. The characters are also more mature and developed and overall it was a wonderful sequel that did not seem to suffer obviously from Second Book Syndrome.THE HEROINECASSI don't make a secret of the fact that I thought Cass was really, REALLY immature in the first book. I liked her, but part of me couldn't get past her naivety. Her behavior was also really anachronistic. To be fair, it still is, but if it wasn't we wouldn't have a story, so, you know. I get why it's necessary. Anyway, I really felt that Cass matured in this book. She's stronger, and a lot less whiny, and though she's still impulsive she's also grown up a lot and better knows how to control her feelings as well. She does take one action in particular that I didn't like at all, but sometimes that's just how it is!THE LOVE INTERESTSLUCAI love Luca because he's sweet and protective but he also has secrets of his own. He has definitely made mistakes, and I don't like that he hid the truth before, but he's somewhat more forthcoming in this book, and yet he still has that brooding aura I adore. He's also a lot more than I realized in the first book, and his character depth really increases. He's no longer just the old fiancé, but he has a personality in his own right.FALCOAt lease one person will come after me for this, but while I did love Falco at one point, I'm kind of over him now. I don't like his behavior in this book at all, and I just think that there is absolutely no excuse for it. He does some things that I find absolutely despicable. I want to keep this particular review spoiler-free, so I won't put any of those actions here, but they were awful enough to permanently turn me off of him. I suppose there is a slight chance he could redeem himself, but it's highly unlikely.THE PLOTI liked the plot of Belladonna better than that of Venom, actually. I'm kind of an adrenaline junkie, so I loved the rush and more thriller-like feel of this book as opposed to the first one. Where Venom moved a bit slowly for my taste, this book moved quickly enough that my heart definitely pounded from anticipation more than once.I didn't like the way some of the transitions were. I like when books move quickly, but I don't like when they gloss over things that I think should be included, like some moments that felt awkwardly short or cut out entirely. To be fair, I didn't come across a lot of these, but they existed. But this is really the only fault here, so I wanted to get it out of the way.One thing I love a lot about this book was Cass's independence. Not just that, but the way she really exemplified and used that independence. There are other people around her who are important to her, and yet while she works with them and needs them on occasion she also isn't afraid to do some things herself. She really pulls herself together in this book and learns that she has to do what needs to be done, and that really is what moves the story along.There was also a relatively realistic feel to it. It felt more like it could have actually happened in comparison to the first book, and I like that in historical fiction. I liked the details, too, that really helped to develop the story.There was also a (relatively, arguably major) death that I wasn't expecting and left me feeling a bit disoriented. But I think it was a very good place for a character death, because it's super annoying when there's supposed to be a danger in a book and nobody on the "good side" dies. I'm not kidding. It's like the thing I hate the most.THE ROMANCEThere's a lot of distinguishing between different types of love in this book. Cass loves Falco, but he's gone, and so she's starting to open her heart up to Luca. I like the way she flashes back and remembers, but I appreciate even more than that the way she's not completely hung up. Without being too spoilery, I like the way Cass really matures in her romantic life and makes a choice that I truly believe is right for her, regardless of my personal feelings. The romance in this book is among my favorite, and maybe one of the best executions of a love triangle I have ever seen.Also, that one scene where Luca is in prison. Hot. Easily my favorite scene in the entire book. Make of that what you will.THE WRITINGFiona is one of my favorite writers for many reasons, but the greatest of these is her ability to completely transfer me into a completely different time and place. I am able to feel like I am tromping around Europe with Cass, getting into tough messes and running from the people who always seem to be one step ahead. The world-building is absolutely gorgeous, and I love the touches of Italian the book has. It gives it a little extra something special.THE ENDINGThis might actually be one of my favorite endings ever, and it almost makes me wish the series was a duo logy, because I would be really happy with that as an ending. At the same time, I want more, so I guess I'm happy it's not actually the ending. But still, I am torn between my desires. Well, what I want doesn't really matter because there will be a book three anyway regardless of whether or not I would rather have one. But I digress. I especially appreciate the ending's emphasis on new beginnings, because that's a really important thing to me. I also like the way the storyline of book two wrapped up nicely while leaving enough material for book three.WRAPUPAnd now for the age-old question: would I recommend this? Absolutely. Venom has my highest recommendation too, but even if you didn't want to read that, read it just so that you can read Belladonna. You might think I'm joking but I'm actually totally serious. It's that good. So good, in fact, that I'm almost hesitant to read Starling (book three) because I'm terrified it will mess up my perfect ending. (Actually, if it does, I will be annoyed for more reasons than one, because I hate it hate it hate it when characters are "sure" of a decision and then change it. I realize this can happen in real life but it still ticks me off.)FINE.