About the Books


VENOMCassandra Caravello is one of Renaissance Venice’s privileged elite: with elegant gowns, sparkling jewels, her own lady’s maid, and a wealthy fiancé, she has everything a girl could desire. Yet ever since her parents’ death, Cass has felt trapped, alone in a city of water, where the dark and labyrinthine canals whisper of escape. When she 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 Cass find the murderer before he finds her? And will she stay true to her fiancé, or succumb to her uncontrollable feelings for Falco?

Publication: October 30, 2012 by Penguin/Philomel. Foreign rights to Greece, Turkey, Hungary, Croatia, Russia, Israel, Australia, and the Czech Republic by Foundry Literary + Media.


BELLADONNA: In the second in the stunning Secrets of the Eternal Rose series, Cassandra Caravello is trying to forget Falco, the wild artist who ran off with her heart, as she grows closer to her strong, steady fiancé, 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’s innocent.

So begins her journey to Florence, a city haunted by whispers of vampirism, secret soirees, and clandestine meetings of the Order of the Eternal Rose. And home to Falco, who is 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. (Penguin/Philomel, July 2013)


STARLING: In the final book in the trilogy, Cass and Luca are back in Venice trying to find the Book of the Eternal Rose to clear Luca's name and keep them both out of prison. But the hunters become the hunted when the Order of the Eternal Rose figures out their plan. Filled with twists and turns, danger and torrid romances, this novel brings the Secrets of the Eternal Rose novels to a thrilling, heart-pounding, sexy conclusion. (Penguin/Philomel, March 2014)


THE PAULA STOKES BOOKS: If you enjoyed my historical works (or even if you didn't, heh :D) you might enjoy my more contemporary stories written under my own name.




47 comments:

  1. What content do your books contain that makes them YA? (Besides finding a mudered woman and being chased by the killer)

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  2. Good question. So good in fact that I kind of want to do a blog post about it. The short answer is that Cass is 15, but there's a lot more to it then that, and I do believe (since 15 in the Renaissance is more like 25-30 in modern times given the shorter life expectancy) the books will definitely appeal to adult readers of historical fiction or chick lit.

    I want to say more but the editor-lady is cracking the whip and I'm under massive deadline at the moment. Do you promise to slap me if I don't blog about this in the next few weeks?

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  3. I bug you about it, if that is what you want :). I was just wondering if it was a clean read for teens without anything 'Weird' in it, if you know what I mean. Thanks.
    http://need2read9.blogspot.com/

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  4. Ah, got it. Without getting into a big debate about censorship, my advice for anyone looking for 'clean reads for teens' is:

    1. Look at the age the book is marketed for. (You can usually find this on the back cover.) 12 and up, on average, is going to contain less cursing/violence/sexual situations/weirdness than 14 and up.

    2. Check out a website like Parental Book Reviews http://sites.google.com/site/parentalbookreviews/home, which reads teen books and breaks down the sex, violence etc. Of note, though, this website has given its stamp of approval to The Hunger Games (a phenomenal book that SHOULD be read by everyone) which happens to feature teens brutally murdering other teens. I suspect this website thinks that a little bit of sexytime is much more dangerous than hours of gruesome graphic killing, an attitude which I frankly don't really understand.

    3. Check the book out of the library and give it a read yourself. That's the only way to REALLY know, and you might find some books you absolutely love.

    Without spoilering, VENOM is a 14 and up book and probably has content you would find objectionable. Happy reading :)

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  5. It's BEE-YOO-TI-FUL! I can't wait!

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  6. Cass is 15?! LMAO I think I missed that part. I kept thinking she was 18. I was actually going to ask you on facebook how old Cass, Falco, and Luca are. Luca is in college so he's what 21?!

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    1. Well, you gotta take into account that in 1600 the average life expectancy was probably half of what it is now, and MOST noblewomen were married by 16. I know I got at least one review about how clearly everyone is much older than mentioned and it's all just a ploy to appeal to grownups. Um...no. Neither the publisher nor the development team has made any attempts or mentions of any cross-marketing. I personally think it *could* have some cross-market appeal because a 15 year old in the Renaissance is--in some ways--the equivalent of a 25 year old in modern times, but that definitely didn't cross my mind writing it.

      To answer your question:
      Livi is 14, Cass 15, Mada 16, Falco 17-18 and Luca 19-20ish. Even Agnese, who seems like she's 92, is really probably closer to 50 when you take the times into account.

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  7. Purtiness! The cover looks so much better when it's blown up like that! :D I can't wiat to see the cover of Belladonna!

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  8. Hi !
    I've read Venom and I have just finished it and it' just awesome. Now, I can't wait for Belladona and I'm wondering if it will be released in France ? I'm French so, sorry if my English seems bad.

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    1. Bonjour! Currently there is no deal with a French publisher, but that could change. Also, you might be able to get Belladonna shipped to you from the Book Depository.

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  9. Wow. I stayed up to 3 am to finish Venom and it was amazing. I love how Cass is so brave, a true heroine. She's very mature for her age. I figured her as 18 as well. You're an amazing writer. But, it's also breaking my heart. Please don't let her just settle for an easy life with Luca. Anyway, I'm addicted nonetheless. It had just the right amount of everything. I was very entertained and even a little spooked. But, it left me wanting an adventure and wanting to find a sexy artist to have a tryst with. Ha-ha. Keep writing!

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  10. Fabulous book! Can't wait until the next one! :)

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  11. Where do the quotes at the start of each chapter come from? I tried googling it but couldn't find it.

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    1. They come from my brain. Not currently googleable. Thank God :)

      Basically I wanted to use the quotes for Books 2&3 (in which the Book of the Eternal Rose plays an integral part in the story) and was told by the editorial team we needed to use them in all 3 books for design continuity. So there they are. Some people love them. Some people hate them. Some people skip over them completely. But there is a (fictional) BotER and you will find out more about it in Belladonna.

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  12. Okay Feee you have stunned me with Venom and Bella. I like NEED Forbidden now. Before I burst...http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/444993071 ;)

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  13. Amazing book, and I can't wait for Belladonna! Though I do have a question about the title of the sequel... Shouldn't it be Bella donna, separated rather than together? Idk. Also, please make Cass marry Falco lol I dislike how sketchy Luca seems. Finally, do the canals of Venice still reek of the past waste dumped into them?

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    1. Heh. Maybe. But the marketing department is going for a poison theme. Glad you liked Venom

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    2. no offense but i think luca n falco go 2gether better since opposite attract...luca can help steady cass... if wild n wild go together, there is no steadiness n then to find lots of trouble like cass,s parents...

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  14. Hey Fiona i am a huge fan and was wandering if Belladonna will be available in Australia?

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    1. So far all foreign rights were sold for the whole trilogy, so I would expect Belladonna to be published in Australia next July. I can't wait to see what they do for the cover :)

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    2. Wow thanks so much! I am excited what they will do for the cover too! we get some really nice covers :)

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  15. I have just read your novel, and I am completely amazed! This is such a beautiful story, and at some certain parts in the novel, I just asked myself how you managed to produce such a master peace. It seemed so real, as if it really occurred. Almost like real life experiences. I loved this novel and I could not stop reading it. I even forgot to do my Homework (I usually do all my Homework) but it was worth forgetting them. I found that your master peace was structured quite delicate and accurate. I enjoyed that.
    Many of the emotions the character Cassandra experienced throughout the novel seemed very familiar to me. I must admit I was close to breaking out in tears, which may seems out of ordinary but it was just so heart breaking! Einfach herzzerreißend!
    I admire your knowledge about Venice. You must have visited the City? I personally never visited Venice but I love all the historical places, and Venice must be so romantic at night which definitely suites the novel.
    I cannot wait until the next novel comes out which I then immediatly will perches.
    If I may ask, was it difficult writing this novel?
    (Ach, please excuse my English it is not the best. There may be some errors.)

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    1. Thanks for the kind words. Yes, I have visited Venice :) It's a magical place--you should definitely go there if you get a chance. Writing the novel was difficult due to the vast amount of research required but I was lucky to have help in that area. Belladonna will release on July 16th in the USA, and shortly after that in foreign markets. Happy reading!

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    2. If I may ask another question, how do you write a novel?

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    3. Hah :) Whole books and thousands of blog posts have been written on that subject. The blogs in my sidebar are a nice mix of authors, agents, and editors who all provide tips on a regular basis. I recommend reading them on a regular basis. You might also want to read Stephen King's ON WRITING, Anne Lamott's BIRD-BY-BIRD, and Martha Alderson's THE PLOT WHISPERER. Good luck :)

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    4. Thank you very much

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  16. Hi Fiona, I'm a big history buff when it comes to fiction books. How much would you say that you have based in reality? I mean, the "companions", what would it have been like for them? I'm also very interested in the research you did for your gentlewomen if you have any.

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    1. So reality-wise, Cass is part of a very non-traditional family but part of the reason for that (a noblewoman normally would not be able to read or write) is a secret that comes out in the 3rd book.

      With respect to the language, the plan was to avoid anachronistic words as much as possible (I did miss some and whenever someone points one out I verify it on an etymology website and then remove it from the sequels) but not to write in historical syntax or abstain from contractions because the editorial team and I both felt that would result in a stilted-sounding book that would not have broad appeal. I realize people write in that style all the time, but it just wasn't what we wanted to do. Honestly, writing three books in "Thou mayest accompany me to thine royal chambers upon whence we shall engage in..." language would have killed me :)

      I had a basic houses/dresses/hairdos research packet assembled by an intern from the development company and then bookmarked an additional 150 or so websites myself during the writing process. Prior to publication, the editors and I still weren't satisfied so we hired a Renaissance expert to review the MS. She made all the difference and has written extensively about courtesans and mistresses. I highly recommend you check out her website and all of her books: http://www.eleanorherman.com/

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  17. Hey Fiona I just got done reading Venom and I am IN LOVE! I never thought i'd find a super great romantic book after Twilight and now I finally found one. I'm super excited about Belladonna and can't wait to get it right when it comes out. Thank you for writing such a great series!

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    1. You're welcome. Glad you enjoyed :-)

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  18. Great novel and inspiring! I definitely enjoyed reading it once but its not enough. Can't wait to read Belldonna! :)

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    1. Yay, glad to hear it. Belladonna is now available and Starling comes out early next year ;-)

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  19. Ms.paul, I'm so excited about the third book in your trilogy. Is it true it is going to be called "starling"? Anyways, I just finished BellaDonna and I loved it! Also did you finish writing starling?

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    1. Glad you enjoyed :-) Yeah. It is called STARLING and it will be out in March of 2014. I finished writing it back at the end of 2012 and revising it in April.

      Paula AKA Fiona

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  20. Ms.Paul, I have one more question... Have you considered doing any book signings, book tours, etc.? if you have is there any way you could try to set one up in Chicago?

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    1. I might be in Chicago as Paula Stokes next summer. keep an eye on authorpaulastokes.com or @pstokesbooks to stay informed :)

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  21. All the blurbs describe the Secrets of the Eternal Rose books as being set as Renaissance Venice. I'm rather curious - when is that? What years did you use for your reference for clothing and so on?

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  22. The books are set in 1600. The Rialto Bridge (built in 1590) is there. The Bridge of Sighs (built in 1602) is not there. The stone masons are finishing up the facade of San Giorgio Maggiore as Cass passes it heading back and forth to the Rialto.

    I was lucky enough to have an intern from the book development company help with the research, which was intense, and then at the end each draft was read by Renaissance Expert Eleanor Herman. Certain liberties were taken for tone and storyline (e.g. the use of contractions) but otherwise we did our best to keep things as factual as possible.

    Paula AKA Fiona

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  23. I'm a little confused. Is the 3rd book called Forbidden or Starling? I've heard it referred too with both titles. In the back of my paperback NA version of Venom, it says to check out the 3rd book Forbidden "coming soon", but here on the website it's listed as Starling.

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    1. 100% definitely called Starling :) Forbidden was the original title and it didn't get changed until after the Venom paperback was printed, hence the discrepancy.

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  24. hey do you know if these book had been translate in Greek?

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    1. The rights were sold to Greek publisher Platypus, but they might not have released them yet. Maybe check out their website?

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  25. I loved Venom
    Can't wait to start reading Belladonna
    By the way when does "Starling" come out ?
    Have you ever thought about turning your 3 books in motion pictures you should there awesome :) :)

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  26. Starling releases March 20th, 2014 in the US. And thanks, I would love to see the books become movies, but as far as I know, no one has been interested in acquiring movie rights. Thx for your comment.

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