Publisher: Kensington Books
Date: March 31, 2009
Genre: Historical science fiction romance
Pages: Trade paperback, 488 pgs.
During the annual celebration of the Order of the Garter, Sir Michael Devereaux arrives in King Henry VIII’s court on a mission for his benefactor. The celebration’s endless feats and sumptuous women delight the charismatic newcomer, who becomes captivated by the enigmatic Princess Renée of France. But evil, it seems, has followed Michael to the court. Shortly after his arrival, an unknown killer claims several victims, including the Queen’s lady-in-waiting, and the powerful Cardinal Wolsey asks Michael to help with the investigation.
As he searches for the killer, Michael is haunted by disturbing images of the victims—flashes of violence that lead him to doubt his own sanity. Michael soon realizes that the key to solving the crime is connected to both the Pope’s Imperial vault in Rome and a mystery from Michael’s own past—revealing a secret that is so damning, it could forever alter the future of mankind. Powerfully evocative and steeped with detail from the breathtaking era of the Tudors, Royal Blood is historical storytelling at its richest—an unforgettable tale of intrigue, passion, and danger.
Lets clear the air of misconceptions: This is not your typical vampire novel, or at least not what you are probably expecting. The vampire aspect lurks in the background, like a faint undercurrent. It's on the fringes of the story, but not specifically pointed out. Vampires are alluded to but do not come to the forefront until the last quarter of the book or so. By that point, the vampire plot line is part of the story and not at all out of place. It meshes well with everything else.
The backdrop for this book is the Tudor court of King Henry VIII, where intrigue, scheming, lying, and manipulation were daily occurrences. Plots against the king, and courtiers jockeying for power were the norm. Add to this mix, Renee, a French princess, and Michael, a representative of the Earl of Ireland. Renee is a master at court politics and intrigue. Michael, who is loyal to King Henry, is extremely wet behind the ears concerning the machinations of the English court. Michael just wants to do right my his liege lord, the Earl of Tyrone. Renee on the other hand, is on a private mission, and her stakes are much higher; her personal and financial independence is on the line.
Michael and Renee are fascinating characters. They are passionate people who have strong beliefs, and struggle to stay afloat on the right side of the Tudor court. Whether they like it or not, they must work together to achieve their objectives. And when their passions collide...look out. They are both determined to get what they want.
The usual suspects of the King Henry's entourage are all represented. Cardinals Wolsey and Campeggio are at each other's throats, just like the nobility. Rona Sharon's descriptions of Tudor England were excellent. There is one passage where Renee is having a conversation with her maid Adele while she lays out the clothes and jewelry for Renee to wear to the joust:
"...a Rennes lawn smock, woven of gossamer-fine thread and spangled with
gold fleurs-de-lis whose ruffled cuffs would peek from the gown at the wrists; a
scarlet satin kirtle, petticoat, linen squares to stuff inside Renees stiff
bodice to create the de rigueur illusion of a spectacular bust; and a low-
cut gown of shimmering ruby taffeta and black velure."
"...gold rings inlaid with black sapphires and bloodred rubies....a ruby-rimmedCould you imagine having to wear all this clothing all the time? Regardless, Sharon's descriptions helped me to easily imagine myself in the story, especially regarding the romantic aspects. I may have even blushed on the subway once or twice, which is fine by me.
brooch of black crystal engraved with the Porcupine, King Louis XII's
emblem...matching bracelets and necklets with pendent gold fleu-de-lis and
marguerites linked with rubies, glossy white and black pearls, and sparkling
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. There was mystery, suspense, adventure, and definitely some romance. The book moved quickly and I truly despised having to put it down. I just wanted to keep on reading...just a little bit more.
Renee and Michael are two characters I would like to read about again. There could definitely be a sequel to this book. In the meantime, I'll have to settle with reading some of Sharon's other works. Very glad to have discovered this author.
My Rating: 4.5/5
BTW, not to belabor the point, I know some of you may be still be questioning the reasons for the vampire aspect, but I think Sharon incorporates it extremely well with the overall storyline. It is a science fiction twist, that's all. I'm very open minded to science-fiction. How do I really know there is no Stargate?
Also, a big thank you to Anna from FSB Associates for sending me this copy to review and for sponsoring my giveaway on Friday. I greatly appreciate it!