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Kiss of the Rose: The Tudor Vampire Chronicles    by Kate Pearce order for
Kiss of the Rose
by Kate Pearce
Order:  USA  Can
Signet, 2010 (2010)
Paperback, e-Book
* *   Reviewed by Martina Bexte

In the opening scenes of this first instalment of The Tudor Vampire Chronicles, Henry Tudor is making a dark pact with Druids: they will help him achieve victory against his enemies and ascend the throne. In return, he will guard them against their mortal foes, the vampires.

Once Henry VIII is in power, his kingdom is still secretly being protected by the Druids. When a series of grisly murders shock the court, Lady Rosalind Llewellyn, a descendent of the Druids, is dispatched to protect Henry and rout out what her superiors in the Council believe must be a vampire assassin. Also at court is Sir Christopher Ellis, sworn to the Cult of Mithras to protect vampires and dispatch the 'Druid wench' trained to hunt them. Their identical orders are to seduce the other as a distraction from their missions, which in turn leads to a love triangle between Ellis, Rosalind and her trainer, Rhys. He fancies himself in love with his student and is very unwilling to allow her to give herself to their sworn enemy.

Kate Pearce writes with lush style and description and imbues the story with plenty of historical atmosphere and the danger that was rife in Henry the VIII's court. It's Pearce's premise that ends up being rather cliché. The fact that Henry Tudor makes an unholy deal with Druids is an interesting twist, but one that separates the author's tapestry only slightly from the overabundance of kick butt vampire slayer paranormals out there, whether they're set in the past, present or future. The fact that Rosalind at one point becomes a Druidic sacrificial virgin is also disappointing - another overdone cliché that sets up the heroine's rescue by Christopher and their first steamy sexual encounter.

Pearce (who has a handful of erotic romances under her belt) does maintain plenty of sexual tension between leads Rosalind and Christopher, however, and their mistrust of one another, despite their growing attraction, adds to that heated tension. The mystery surrounding the identity - and agenda - of the killer is also nicely done. Naturally, there are plenty of story threads left dangling, ones that Pearce will certainly address in upcoming sequels.

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