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Monday, November 22, 2010


Author: Kate Pearce
Plot Type: SMR
Ratings: V4, S4, H3
Publisher and Titles: Signet Eclipse
        Kiss of the Rose (2010)
        Blood of the Rose (2011)
        Mark of the Rose (2011)

     This blog entry was revised and updated on 1/25/12 to include a review of the third book in the series: Mark of the Rose. That review is located at the very end of this entry, following this summary of the series so far.

     The titular rose symbolizes both the Tudor rose (heraldic emblem of that royal dynasty) and the heroine of the series: Rosalind Llewellyn, druid and vampire hunter. In the prologue (1485), King Henry VII aligns himself with the ancient druid gods and promises to help them kill vampires with the assistance of members of the Llewellyn family. In exchange, Henry wins the English throne from Richard III.

     The series begins 44 years later with Henry VIII on the throne in the waning years of his first marriage to Catherine of Aragon (here spelled Katherine). Rosalind's grandfather has sent her to Court to protect the king and queen from a vampire threat, accompanied by Rhys Williams, fellow druid vampire hunter and wannabe lover. To Rosalind's horror, the Cult of Mithras (the Llewellyn family's hated rivals) has sent its own representative, the young and handsome Sir Christopher Ellis, to Court to investigate a series of mysterious murders.

     From the time of the Roman Empire, members of Mithras have been vampire protectors and druid killers. Eventually (did you see this coming?) Rosalind and Christopher fall into a love/hate relationship that seesaws back and forth throughout the book (and probably the series). 

     A supporting character in books 1 and 2 is Elias Warner, a powerful vampire who wheels and deals at Court as he looks out for the interests of the Vampire Council. Initially, Elias and Rosalind are bitter enemies, but gradually their relationship mellows, with respect creeping in on both sides. Elias is a key figure in the plots of the first two books.

     In Kiss of the Rose, Rosalind and Christopher track down and defeat a rogue vampire, (with assistance from Elias and Rhys), and participate in a sacred druid ceremony that leaves them blood bound. At the end of this book, Henry pronounces that the couple is betrothed, but because of their families' objections to their relationship, they separate almost immediately, with Rosalind going home to Wales and Christopher staying at Court.  

      Blood of the Rose takes up the couple's story a year later when they are reunited by yet another vampire problem at Henry's Court, this one involving Anne Boleyn and her brother, George. As you might suspect, both of the Boleyns are vampires. Anne wants to be the Queen of England, with all of the wealth and power that comes with the throne, and nothing will get in her way, especially not Henry.  A new character is briefly introduced: Olivia, a previously unknown relative of Christopher's who helps him out of a dangerous situation. Hints are thrown out  that some feelings are developing between the newcomer and Rhys, but no details are provided and her genetic history seems to preclude a serious relationship...or does it. The primary SMR coupleRosalind and Christophercontinue their very bumpy relationship in this book, but they do eventually get their HEA ending, as we knew they would.

     Mark of the Rose begins seven years later and tells Rhys Williams's story. Rhys goes to Court to assist young Verity Llewellyn, sister of Rosalind's cousin and fellow Hunter, Jasper. Verity is worried about Queen Jane, who is soon to give birth to King Henry's child. The queen seems to be getting weaker, and Verity smells the odor of vampires in her bedchamber. Rhys asks Elias for assistance, and Olivia (the attractive female vampire we met in the previous book) insists on being a part of their plans as well. Olivia still has a crush on Rhys, so her participation brings plenty of conflict into the romantic story line. The plot is complicated by the fact that a new vampire has arrived on the scenean extremely powerful male who has finagled his way into the queen's family and is trying to unseat Elias from his position of power with the Vampire Council. As the plot progresses, so does the romance between Rhys and Verity. If you thought that Rosalind and Christopher's romantic road was bumpy, wait until you take a look at this onefull of constant miscommunications, nonsensical misunderstandings, and just plain unbelievable mistakes on both their parts. As their thought processes and behaviors became more and more idiotically contorted, I kept hoping that someone would grab them up and force them into couples' therapy or psychiatric counselinganything to bring some common sense to their relationship. But alas, no luck with that. I have to say that the relationship issues in this book make it the weakest of the three for me. Just as it took two entire books for Rosalind and Christopher to reach their HEA, it seems that Verity and Rhys will need at least that long as well. This book ends with some plot threads still loose, waiting for the next book to tie them up. And I'm sure that, unfortunately, we're not quite finished with this couple's romance problems.

     I'm not a big fan of historical romance fiction, but this series kept me interested through the first two booksnot so much in book 3. The characters are classic romance figures, and the paranormal twisting of Tudor history is clever. Didn't you always suspect that there was something strange going on with Anne Boleyn? And wait until you see what's in store for her daughter, Elizabeth!

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