What if Buffy the Vampire Slayer and The Tudors had a love child? The result wouldn’t be dissimilar to Kate Pearce’s Kiss of the Rose, the first in her Tudor Vampire Chronicles series.
Pearce has taken history and given it a paranormal spin, which though shouldn’t work, some how does. The book opens with the turning point in The War of The Roses and Henry Tudor (soon to be Henry VII) making a deal with some druids to win the crown in exchange for the throne of England.
Fast forward a few years and we have the very first female Vampire Hunter, Rosalind being summoned to court. Like our favourite modern Vampire Slayer, Rosalind has a destiny to fulfil and most of the book is centred around why she is at court. She thinks it’s because a vampire is going to make an attempt on the Kings life and that bodies keep popping up in the royal residence, which seems to be a warning. Although this is true, there is an underlying reason that isn’t fully explained even by the end of the book. Normally this would annoy me, nut because it is clearly setting us up for the next in the series, it didn’t. I found the cryptic clues and little warnings left by the vampire who is behind it all rather interesting.
What really struck me was how Pearce managed to take known facts and timelines and spin this altogether, giving it a new slant. The perpetrator behind the plot has good reasons for this and it ties up with history very well. I’m not going to go into spoiler territory but it managed to make perfect sense.
Now on to the sub plot of the book, and like any good paranormal romance we have the inevitable love triangle. In one corner we have a very old family friend and fellow vampire slayer, Rhys and in the other we have tall dark and brooding vampire protector Sir Christopher Ellis. (Yup, more comparisons there to our fearless Buffy the Vampire slayer with the brooding bad boy and the good guy.)
And here is where I think the book fails slightly.
Rosalind and Christopher are developed rather well. We are given back-story and are shown the motivations for each. Also Pearce manages to set the world very authentically with the social constrictions that are placed on Rosalind. This is both from her family and society as a whole. She is expected to marry well but not to the enemy (Ah! The inevitable Romeo and Juliet moment, except our Rosalind and Christopher are in a battle of wills!)
I ended up caring what happened to these characters and kept rooting for them to throw caution to the wind and really join forces.
Christopher is an excellent hero in the book and Pearce shows his vulnerable side very well. You can see he has made reckless choices and wishes he could take them back. By the end of the book he strives to be the man Rosalind needs, but through a number of situations, he sees that they won’t be able to be together due to their family’s conflict.
No, the failing point in this little complicated love triangle is the underused and under developed, Rhys. He is in the book very little and when he is there it is either to look threateningly at Christopher or escort Rosalind around the court or in the country. It is assumed by Rosalinds grandfather that they will be wed, but for someone who is supposed to care and love Rosalind, you never really get that spark that the third member of a love triangle usually has.
And now I think of it, Christopher all too easily hands over the woman he has ‘bonded’ with to his love rival. Yes, something happens near the end of the book which really made me laugh and think “HA! There is the Happy Every After! Rosalind and Christopher are going to ride off into the sunset!” Even Angel from the Buffy series never really gave up on his love for the blonde slayer, though she could have damned his soul and brought forth Angelus.
It’s a shame, because there was such scope to really build on this rivalry. Rhys and Christopher were natural enemies. The fact that they seemed to come to an amicable arrangement over Rosalind dilutes their devotion to her.
On a final note, I did become rather intrigued with the vampire courts representative Elias. He was playing the game to a completely different set of rules and was manipulating our main players much like pieces on a chess board. Elias, though in the book for about the same amount of time as Rhys, was a more developed and interesting character. Pearce managed to convey the image of what can only be described as a spy or a manipulator very well, without getting too ‘wordsy’ with him. She could easily have over explained things, but then that would leave you, the reader feeling spoon fed and I loved the fact that by the end of the book you were left to draw your own conclusions. (Though if you know your history, you could see what comes next)
Overall I really did enjoy the book and I liked the spin that Pearce took with history. I think the love triangle fell a bit on the flat side, though the sparks between Rosalind and Christopher really set the pages on fire. I’m interested in seeing where the story goes and I do have Blood of the Rose and Mark of the Rose, the next two books in the series on my To Be Read pile.
If you are fed up with the usual vampire/slayer stories and you love historical fiction, then I would recommend this for you. If you want something with angsty romance then it’s a bit light on that front, but the chemistry between the two leads more than makes up for it. For me, the background stuff was more interesting than the romance.
BOOKS IN SERIES ORDER
- Kiss of the Rose
- Blood of the Rose
- Mark of the Rose
BUY THE BOOK