Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Blog Tour: Belladonna (Secrets of the Eternal Rose #2) by: Fiona Paul (Annotated Excerpt)

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Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for Belladonna. I can't even begin to explain how excited I am to be a part of this tour. I truly loved Venom and being a part of this tour made me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. This blog tour is different from most others. Each stop has an excerpt along with annotation from the author about that excerpt. Make sure you follow along with the rest of the tour. Yesterday's post happened over at Bookalicious and tomorrow's post can be found at Lili's Reflections. The tour will wrap up on July 16th at Fiona Paul's blog and there you will be able to find a giveaway.

Release Date: July 16, 2013
from Philomel
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"Cassandra Caravello is trying to forget Falco, the wild artist who ran off with her heart, as she grows closer to her strong, steady fiancĂ©, Luca. But Luca seems to have his own secrets. When he′s arrested by soldiers in the middle of the night, Cass′s life is once again thrown into chaos. She must save Luca, and that means finding the Book of the Eternal Rose -- the only evidence that will prove he is innocent.

So begins her journey to Florence, a city haunted by whispers of corruption, secret soirees, and clandestine meetings of the Order of the Eternal Rose. And home to Falco, who′s working for the Order′s eerily stunning leader, the Belladonna herself.

Can Cass trust her heart to lead her to the truth this time?

Nothing is as it seems in this seductive thriller, where the truth may be the deadliest poison of all."

My Thoughts:
What I love most about this series is the way the story unravels slowly yet never feels as if it drags. Every clue is pulled apart piece by piece, making it incredibly difficult to guess where the story is going. Sure I was able to piece some of it together, but all of it? Not a chance. I love solving the mystery along with Cass. Then the ending! It crushed my soul! I need the next book and I need it now! Drop by on Friday for my full review of Belladonna

Annotated Excerpt from Belladonna:
A different door creaked open, and a stumpy bald man shuffled through. He was almost as old as Agnese, with yellowing skin and a hump on his back that made him walk stooped over. He looked up at Cass with a pair of beady eyes that were set close to his crooked nose. He had the look of a man who had lost one too many tavern brawls.

“You.” He pointed at Cass and then rotated his hand until the palm of his dirty leather glove faced up. It took her a moment to realize he was waiting for payment. She deposited the gold coins into his hand. “Follow me,” he said.

Cass gave Siena’s hand a quick squeeze and then wordlessly rose from the bench. She nodded at the man, who did not respond except to turn his back and mutter under his breath. She followed him back through the door, across a gallery, up two narrow flights of stairs, and down a dingy passageway lit only by minuscule openings carved straight into the marble walls. The heat was unbearable, the sun on the lead-plated roof turning the entire corridor into an oven. The passage ended at a thick metal door. A tarnished ring of keys hung on a hook just outside.

“Keep your head down,” the jailer muttered as he reached up and grasped the set of keys. He shoved one in the lock and jiggled it. The door swung open with a groan.

Cass raised one of her gloved hands to her mouth, willing herself not to vomit from the overpowering scent of urine and feces that wafted into the hallway. Holding her breath, she ducked her head low to enter the room. No wonder the jailer walks hunched over, she thought. The ceiling couldn’t have been higher than five feet.

She stood inside a garret, the roof of the Palazzo Ducale just above her head. A single high window cast a beam of scattered light across the dusty enclosure. A row of thick iron doors with circular vents cut in the middle ran along the edge of the room. So these were the infamous piombi—cells so cramped and sweltering that men sometimes went mad from being imprisoned in them.

Cass tried not to look at the dark holes centered in each of the cell doors. She didn’t want to make eye contact with any of the prisoners, at least one of whom was moaning. Instead, she focused her attention on a long wooden table that ran against the far wall of the room. On it sat coils of rope and scattered pieces of silver that reflected the scant light. Cass squinted. Were those . . . knives? She took a tentative step forward, and then another. Sure enough, an assortment of daggers was displayed on the table, their tips smeared with rust.

Or blood.

Fiona’s thoughts: 
I selected this excerpt to talk about balancing plot with historical accuracy. Since the flap copy gives away that Luca is arrested, I don’t feel like it’s spoilery to say this excerpt is from a scene where Cass goes to visit Luca while he is imprisoned at the Palazzo Ducale. According to our Renaissance expert, Eleanor Herman, men were routinely arrested and jailed without even being informed of the charges and normally no one but an attorney was granted admittance to see them. However, when I finished the draft of the book, Falco had much more ‘page-time’ than Luca. (I know, I know, you guys like him, but I set out to make this an actual dilemma for Cass and everyone felt Luca needed more of a presence). Additionally, Luca gives Cass a piece of information in this scene that she had to figure out from a series of clues in the first draft. I love puzzles and clues and the idea of Cass using her brain instead of just being fed information by hot boys, and I was devastated to kill that darling, but for the sake of pacing, it had to be done.

So my strategy in revising this scene was to make it plausible, if unlikely, and to make everything else in the scene as realistic as possible. I figured Cass bribing the palace attendants was definitely consistent with her character and that if she struck the right balance of desperate and generous that she might persuade a greedy jailer to break the rules for her. 

To accurately write this scene, I consulted the memoirs of Casanova who was actually imprisoned in the same cellblock as Luca is here, known as the piombi, or leads, because it was located right beneath the Palazzo Ducale’s lead-lined roof. Special noble prisoners were often assigned to the leads, whereas poor men or those awaiting execution were often assigned to the pozzi, or wells, horrible dank first-floor cells, which routinely flooded and filled with insects and vermin.

About The Author:
Fiona Paul is a writer and registered nurse from St. Louis, MO.
Fiona's Blog:
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  1. Love the excerpt. I've heard such good things about this series. Thanks for sharing!

  2. *goes godfather on you* mmhhmm, this sounds...interesting. I think I must check it out.... mhhhmm *rubs chin*

    1. Haha Magen I adore you. Deff check this series out. It's different and I think you'll love it.

  3. Really good description in this excerpt - I definitely would NOT want to be in one of those prisons! I love when settings in historical fiction are described vividly.

  4. Poor Luca! I felt horrible he had to stay in that disgusting prison. I don't know how people survived in those conditions. Fiona did a wonderful job with this scene. :)

  5. I love how much research you Fiona has done for this series. It really comes through in her writing. I bet that prison smelled so incredibly awful!


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