*****FINAL RATING: 4.60 STARS*****CATCHALLI don't read a lot of historical fiction. And usually, when I do, it has magic thrown in at one point or another. As a general rule, historical fiction is not my favorite. Yet somehow, Venom defied all those odds and found its way into my heart. I just…I can't even. This book totally resonated with my and made my heart pound. It was wild and crazy and insane and fun, and I loved every single second of it. It amazed me and it thrilled me. In other words, it was sheer perfection.THE HEROINECASSI liked Cass. I had a hard time connecting to her, a the reason for that is mentioned below. Even so, she's an awesome heroine who is a genuinely good role model. She's courageous but not foolish, and clever but not overly so. She's strong enough to do what she needs to do most of the time but she also has a vulnerability that really made me connect truly with her.THE LOVE INTERESTSLUCAI'm Team Luca, you guys. Luca is not boring at all. He's sweet and kind, and he doesn't have serious problems. But at the same time, it's pretty clear that he's keeping secrets, too. And he's always, always, very good to Cass, even when she's being difficult. Even more than that, he's funny; there's more than one moment where he's making Cass smile and just being there for her.FALCOFalco is definitely swoonworthy, don't get me wrong. But he seems like more of the fling type, at least to me. He's described as a rather dark character, riddled with all sorts of dangerous secrets. He's clearly the rascal type, and though I think he's hot, sure, I also don't want him to end up with Cass. Yes, he has his good points. And I do love him. But Luca is better.THE PLOTThis was probably one of the plots with the most insane plot twists that I've ever read. I would be positive that the plot was going to go in one direction, and nothing could have convinced me otherwise. And then the plot would branch off in the exact opposite way! It was shocking, really. It didn't bother me at all, either; it was too exciting to be frustrating!The whole murder especially was totally brill. I couldn't tell what or who it was, even when the clues were right in front of me. It was definitely a hide-under-the-covers-and-shiver intense type of thing. Seriously. I don't get creeped out that easily, but when I do…Everyone is keeping secrets. Everyone. So you just never know what to expect next. As soon as you think you have everything figured out, you don't. Prepare to be surprised in a world where nothing is as it seems.Italy also has a special place in my heart since Italian is my second language, so I LOVED that this was set in Italy. It was completely awesome the way the setting was really involved with this book, too, not just a background.This book drew me in with its magnificent plot and so far had refused to let me go. It's the kind of thing that's stuck with me and has been constantly on my mind. It was thrilling, beautiful, and it refuses to be ignored.THE ROMANCEOh, the romance. *swoons* This book is absolutely full of romance, in a wonderful way. I loved the soft and subtle chemistry between Cass and Luca. All bias aside, it seriously does remind me of what one of my aunts and my uncle has. No grand gestures or anything. Just an unspoken agreement to be there. Cass and Falco just…didn't work for me. Yes, they have some seriously sizzling chemistry. I'm not blind. But I also think that it isn't enough for a lifetime. (Even though, sadly, I think it's pretty obvious who Cass is going to end up with, alas.)THE WRITINGFiona has some awesome writing. Really. The description is lush and gorgeous, and the banter and dialogue is always witty but knows when to be serious. One thing that did bother me: the third person made it really, really, really hard to connect to Cass. I'm not sure why, since usually I actually prefer third person to first. But for some reason, in this case, the third person didn't work for me as well as I wanted it to.THE ENDINGThe ending was…wow. I mean, talk about a major cliffhanger! Not only that, but I was absolutely shocked. I could never have seen that ending coming. Nothing prepared me for it. It was wholly unexpected and yet it also made perfect sense. When I thought about it more, I realized that everything had been perfectly arranged so that the book would end in just that way. It was artful and gorgeous, and I was very, very impressed.WRAPUPI absolutely loved this book, which is a huge compliment coming from me, the non-historical-fiction reader. Cass' world was a joy to live in, and I immersed myself completely in this wonderful world. I cannot wait to return in Belladonna and again in Forbidden to see where everything goes next and how everything is going to work itself out! This is a highly recommended book from me, so order your copy today! Prepare to be thrilled beyond your wildest dreams.FINE.Find more of my reviews on Sparkles and Lightning!