Cass and Luca return to Venice to clear their names and put an end to the Order of the Eternal Rose once and for all in this trilogy closer.
On their heels are the apparently immortal Belladonna and her evil doctor. Also converging in Venice are the Order leader who has the Venetian Senate in the palm of his hand and Luca’s illegitimate, psychotic half brother. There is danger aplenty, and plucky Cass soon finds herself in the thick of it. Having kicked one leg of the obligatory love triangle away in Belladonna (2013), Paul wedges it back in place by placing Falco and Cass in a fervent colloquy that Luca witnesses, leading to the also-obligatory estrangement of Cass from her betrothed. Much wringing of hands ensues over this, as well as the deaths of friends and servants incurred during her quest. Cass and the plot lurch from peril to peril with far too much telling and not enough showing; villainous dialogue is often helpfully interpreted in a sort of narrative play by play. Short chapters that end in minicliffhangers keep the pages turning, though, helping readers speed past the frequently purple prose. The rather interesting acceptance of prostitution as a legitimate career choice for young women in the late Renaissance goes largely unexamined, as does the relationship of Venice’s Jews to the larger population, sparked by an irresponsibly throwaway scene.
Formulaic, anachronistic, undemanding. (Historical mystery. 14 & up)