Royal Blood by Rona Sharon

Anything about Tudor England intrigues me to no end. So when I found this for $2 dollars I could not pass up the opportunity. I was ready for a novel full of intrigue and passion and lots of lovely snippets of King Henry the 8th. 

Royal Blood follows to main characters, Michael Devereaux and Princess Renee de Valois of France, as they traverse the highs and lows of the Tudor Court in 1518. Most of the novel takes place during the Order of the Garter ceremony at the palace, which is where Michael and Renee meet. Michael, as a ward of the lord of Ireland and the legal heir to that lord, he is at the celebration to prove his worth and make a name for himself. Where as Renee is in England for more nefarious means. They have a chance meeting when Michael catches Renee spying on the Duke of Buckingham and his sister Anne, as they plot to kill the King. As soon as Michael learns this, he knows his way to fame is in the attempt, if he stops it; where as Renee must make sure the attempt at the King’s life is successful so her secret mission can continue. From the beginning they are at odds with one another, but the can not deny the growing attraction. For Renee to act on the attraction would be fatal to not only herself and her mission, but to a man back home whom she loves. Michael, on the other hand, fights this attraction because there is something more nefarious taking place within himself that he tries to shield from all. As Renee’s mission takes her further into the depths of the English court, she realizes she needs an ally. Who better than, Michael. As they come together, face each others foes, they can not fight the attraction and they sleep together. Renee is smitten, Michael is half way to love, but Renee must put her mission first and Michael is battling a big demon inside him. Can these two come together to vanquish their demons or will they face them on their own?

I did not want to give too much away in the description so it is kinda vague but if you go to Amazon, you will get the blurb from the back, which will go into more depth. I really enjoyed this book as I expected from a book containing Tudor history. King Henry’s court and regency has always interested me (mostly because as much as I can’t stand the bloke, I really got to hand it to Henry…guy had some balls, well at least for a while anyways ;)). I loved the double angle of this book; getting to read both Renee and Michael’s stories separately and yet together was really fascinating. You get to experience both their thoughts throughout the novel, not just one over the other. Both these characters are dynamic in their own rights but put them together and you have one hell of a story. I enjoyed Renee’s sense of stubbornness for a woman in that time period, granted that comes from her being a Princess of the French court and a daughter of a King, but nonetheless she was a woman who I grew to love throughout the story. Her strength and character not to mention her passion, compassion and that fiery temper, really won me over. Michael, was much the same way. As he progresses into himself, he becomes a man you can depend on; a man who knows who he is, what he wants and is willing to fight for it (which sounds like just a really “manly” man but he is so sweet underneath the gruff that you fall a bit in love). Their relationship from the fiery beginning to the love in the end really tugged at my damn heartstrings and I rooted for them to be together the whole way through.

As to the story itself, I was greatly impressed at the thought that Rona Sharon put into the historical events that she described. She obviously did her research and it showed greatly when reading the novel. I loved that it was Renee who was the spy/nefarious one in this novel instead if it always being the man. That really made me love the book all that much more. As the intrigue comes into play, we find out that most of it has to do with Cardinal Woolsey and this artifact that will lead him to be Pope, which consequently is what Renee is in England to steal. All is revealed through out a series of events that are very dramatic and make me dislike Woolsey so much more, but it was an interesting plot to the novel. The major issue I had with the whole book was that all of sudden in the middle of the novel Michael becomes (spoiler!) a goddamn vampire. Seriously!!!! Where the hell did this come from. I was not expecting vampires to pop up in this novel when I bought it (although from the title I should have guessed) but Michael’s “illness/demon” that he had been fighting was his lord’s wish to turn him into a vampire like him. I am very much over the vampire genre and it is not what I was looking for in this novel but that being said it did not play out the way all the other vampire novels do. There was something more to the story than just vampires, which made me like Rona all the more as an author. 

I can truly say that this novel was a pleasure to read and I am looking forward to hopefully reading more books by Rona.

Rating: 400 out of 500 pages

Upcoming: The Daughter of Sienna by Marina Fiorato and Something Borrowed by Emily Giffin.

Laters, Baby



Juliet by Anne Fortier

I have had this book for almost a year…it has been taunting me to read it and I finally broke down and picked it from my millions of books (why does Half Price Books make me spend so much money…it’s all their fault :)). 

Juliet is a story surrounding Julie Jacobs, a 25 year-old wandering through life. Julie works odd jobs at Shakespeare festivals to earn money, after she dropped out of her masters program. At the beginning of the novel, Julie’s great Aunt Rose dies (the only mother Julie and her twin Janice have ever known). Reeling from the shock of her death and seeing her sister again (they don’t get along) Julie is not prepared for not receiving any part of her Aunt’s estate; it all goes to Janice, who throws it in Julie’s face. Hurt and desolate, Julie hides out where Rose’s butler (and father figure to Julie) Umberto, finds her. He gives her a letter from her Aunt, with a key, stating that Julie must find the safe deposit box that the key goes to. The key (and box) belonged to Julie’s mother and is Julie’s last legacy to her mom. The catch here is that all this needs to be accomplished in Siena, Italy where Julie was born. Armed with the key, her passport (with her real name Giulietta Tolomi) and her maxed out credit cards, Julie embarks on an Italian adventure. As she arrives in Siena, Julie meets Eva Maria Salimbeni and her godson Alessandro Santini. Eva Maria, upon learning Julie’s real name, regales her with the story of their families history of strife between the two. The Salimbeni and Tolomi families hate each other (like the Montagues and Capulets…anyone?!?!) and now Julie is right in the middle of the continued strife. As she finds the safe deposit box, learns more about her family history, falls in love with Alessandro, she learns that the true story of Romeo and Juliet lies here in Siena and she is a direct descendant from Giulietta Tolomi- the real Juliet. With this knowledge she tries to complete her mothers dying wish, find Giulietta’s eyes (2 big huge sapphires) and solve the “curse on both houses.”

Full of adventure, romance, and history, Juliet by Anne Fortier is a book worth the read. I could not put this book down, the story is so intriguing and the mix between history and present day was fascinating. The book starts in present day, but when Julie learns that the real story of Romeo and Juliet happened in Siena (and she has the diary to prove it) the story then goes back in time every other chapter to learn the true story of Romeo and Juliet. It was so interesting to read both stories simultaneously happening and learning about both Julie and Giulietta…I am impressed and embroiled in both their stories. I fell in love with this book from beginning to end…Julie is such an amazing character, that you have to fall in love with her and her adventure. She is witty and stubborn yet compassionate and caring; you root for her through out the novel and you want her to be the one to figure out the true mystery of Romeo and Juliet. Anne Fortier is an amazing story-teller and she is able to blend two stories together to create a book that is a book, once read, you won’t forget. Obviously, much research was required for this novel and Anne keeps the facts intact and creates a beautiful world of history and present day Siena. 

The mystery and intrigue surrounding Giulietta’s eyes and Julie’s struggle to figure out where they were hidden, was very well written by Anne. I felt as though I could have been in the hunt for the eyes along with Julie and Alessandro (and others…). To be able to create a mystery surrounding one of the most popular stories of all time and keep everything coherent and factual, is a great feat. I congratulate you, Anne Fortier, for creating a novel surround and adding to the story of Romeo and Juliet and not detracting to the history and story of R&J. Go pick up this novel, you will not be disappointed in any aspect.

 Rating: 450 pages out of 500.

Upcoming: Royal Blood by Rona Sharon and Vintage Affair by Isabel Wolff.

Laters, Baby