"Kiss of the Rose" by Kate Pearce

Pros: Fascinating paranormal take on Tudor court life.
Cons: Villain feels too crazy to really be a threat, and some of the romantic tension feels forced.
Rating: 3 out of 5

Review book courtesy of Penguin Group

 

Because of a bargain that Henry Tudor made with the Druids, there must always be a special relationship between the King and the Llewellyns, a vampire-slaying family. Rosalind Llewellyn finds herself at court, attempting to convince King Henry VIII that she is there to protect him from Vampires. The Vampires in turn have families that protect them from those like the Llewellyns, and Sir Christopher Ellis finds himself thrown into Rosalind’s path. But the two of them must learn to work together, because both Druids and Vampires think that an ancient prophecy is about to be fulfilled…


 

I have to admit, I’m a sucker for historical paranormals. It’s fascinating to see how otherworldly influences might have influenced history, and when elements are skillfully woven in it becomes difficult to see where imagination ends and facts begin. Unfortunately, Kate Pearce’s Kiss of the Rose wasn’t quite able to live up to that for me because of several reasons.

First is the fact that this book takes place at the Tudor court. While it appears that Christopher is a courtier without any specific duties, Rosalind has become a member of the queen’s household. It seemed odd to me that throughout the book, there were barely any responsibilities that Rosalind had to carry out in that regard (unless, of course, they were relevant to the plot of the book). It’s as if service to the queen becomes a means to expedite events, as opposed to a responsibility that needs to be fulfilled.

I also found it difficult to find the villain that Christopher and Rosalind are trying to track down threatening. They come across as completely insane, and because of that I know that they simply have to be defeated. There wasn’t much suspense because of that feeling, and my frustration was aggravated by the prophecy that the characters are also trying to understand. I realize that the characters have almost no information to develop their understanding, but it left me feeling like I was just trailing confused people around.

The dynamic of Christopher and Rosalind is complicated not only by the fact that their families work for opposing sides, but also by the fact that Rosalind’s groomsman, Rhys, also has feelings for her. The more I saw the three of them interacting together, the more it felt like Rhys’ affections might be another means of adding conflict to the story. There are hints that he might also be a part of the mysterious prophecy, but again the reader has almost no information about that. Watching two men jockey for the attention of one woman, especially when one has said that he’ll stop doing so and there are larger concerns, actually got a little irritating.

As much as I loved the idea of blending Druids, Vampires, Tudor court life, and romance, there were so many elements going on in this book that didn’t feel cohesively woven together. With that being said, this is apparently the first book in the Tudor Vampire Chronicles, and I’m certainly willing to see if some of the threads come together a bit more in subsequent books. If nothing else, I’m curious to see how this Druid/Vampire prophecy will affect the reign of Henry VIII.

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