Thursday, June 11, 2009

Royal Blood by Rona Sharon

Genre: Historical Fiction
Copyright: 2009
Pages: 490
Book Source: Courtesy of Author

Synopsis:
In the Tudor Court of 1518, your friends and enemies can be one and the same... 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 RenĂ©e 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. - book cover

Rona Sharon's superb imagery and meticulous historical detail brings 16th century Tudor England to life; the author takes you back in time, to the intrigue, colour, splendor, & treachery of King Henry VIII's court.

This is a unique story in a familiar setting with a cast of historical figures; King Henry, Queen Katherine, Cardinal Wolsey, Cardinal Campeggio, the Dukes of Buckingham and Norfolk and of course the main characters, Michael & Renee.

He is Michael Devereaux, heir of the Earl of Tyrone, Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, on a mission for his benefactor, and hoping also to make a name for himself in the royal court.

She is Princess Renee de Valois , sister to the Queen of France, and daughter of the previous King. Savvy to the ways of the court, fiery, shrewd and determined, Renee is on a mission of her own, a woman who refuses to submit to the established conventions of her time.

These characters are brilliantly drawn with a wonderful depth, the sexual tension is palpable, the banter & distrust between the pair is believable and I found Renee's relationship with her tiring woman Adele, quite endearing.

I loved the hints of paranormal woven into the historical tapestry of the first half of the novel & in the second half, the vampire mythology really comes into its own, working remarkably well in the historical setting.

So what is it that baffles me about Royal Blood, and why am I finding it so difficult to put into words? The story is slow to build, I liked the descriptive prose in the first half of the book but I loved the pace of the 2nd half. The last 250 pages race along at a page-turning pace but the descriptive writing changes, it almost felt as though I had read 2 different stories.

"...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 Renee's stiff bodice to create the de rigueur illusion of a spectacular bust; and a low-cut gown of shimmering ruby taffeta and black velure." - page 141 - (*sigh* spectacular)
 
 
The Bordeaux jerkin, the gilt-trimmed black velvet doublet, and the camlet shirt hit the floor one after the other. Enjoying her eyes on him, gliding and caressing with patent appreciation, he set his fingers to unlacing the points of his hose. "Only think, so far we have cruised along the coastline. Wait till we sail into the deep waters. You may meet a sea monster there." - page 343
 
"The blunt head of his hot lance was couched at the ravished cleft in her armor , but he withheld his sortie." - page 346 - (just wasn't keen on these descriptions)

All in all this was a unique and enjoyable read, I do recommend it, and I will definitely read more from this author. A big thank you to Rona Sharon for my signed copy of Royal Blood. Rona's 4th novel, featuring the Borgia family is due to be released in 2011.

If you'd like to know more about this author visit her website


12 comments:

  1. I don't normally read a lot of historical fiction, but this one sounds interesting with that hint of the supernatural and all. Plus the cover's just gorgeous. I know, I know, you're not supposed to pick up a book that way...

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  2. I've been waiting for your review on this and it was interesting! It's funny that it is be divided like that. I'll keep it on my wish list.

    I've picked up more than one book because of the cover. I've also dismissed books due to the cover. Hummmm....

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  3. Sounds really good.
    It's the history and vampires that do it for me, my two fav things ;)

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  4. I like the way a lot of authors are mixing paranormal fiction with historical fiction. I find it makes it easier to read.

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  5. I loved your review and I want to read this book even more now!!

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  6. I have this one on my wish list! I'm glad to see that you enjoyed reading it :)

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  7. This one is a standout. terrific review as always.

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  8. I am about 150 pages in. I am enjoying the hints of the supernatural aspect but am anxiously awaiting for this book to get more exciting. A bit slow going but interesting. It helps that I love historical fiction of Tudor times. Can't wait for the second half.

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  9. Page 200 or so the pace picks up but I wasn't as keen then on the flowery descriptive writing in the 2nd half.

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  10. Hi! :)

    You have another award to pick up!

    http://tjbook-list.blogspot.com/2009/06/awards-for-ar-lemonade-award.html

    Have a great day! By the way, I really enjoyed this review, thanks for sharing. It does sound interesting. I'd love to read this.

    Take care,

    Sassy
    :)

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  11. I like your insights on this book. I didn't notice the writing had changed mid-way...maybe because the story picked up. The first half definitely laid the groundwork though. You are so right about that.
    I am glad you liked it though and I will check out her other works also.

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