Rona Sharon takes the Tudor-era romance fad to the next level with Royal Blood. The story introduces Renee, an unconventional French princess sent to England by the king of France to seek both an alliance and a new husband. Or at least this is what she leads the English to believe. In reality, Renee has been sent to spy on the English court and report back to France.
Renee gets caught up in a plot to assassinate King Henry VIII and becomes entangled with the incredibly hunky (and mysterious) Irishman Michael who will change her life forever. While the two characters start out at odds with one another, they eventually forge a bond that will help them survive the trials and sticky politics of the Tudor court.
This story really started out great. The characters were interesting and the plot contains some amazingly well-written and detailed portrayals of political intrigue in the period. For a short time I felt like I was reading a politicized, slightly more erotic Philippa Gregory, but Sharon's approach feels much younger and sexier.
Unfortunately, while the story starts out in one direction, it takes a near-complete detour toward the paranormal in the last third of the book and drops virtually every plot line from the beginning of the story. Out of nowhere, the reader is hit with a suddenly pivotal plot point that shares little to no connection to what was promised at the beginning of the novel. The feel of the novel is changed completely and quickly makes the reader feel cheated.
While this bizarre element makes little to no sense, if the reader just accepts it (after getting over the initial shock) the rest of the novel is fun, entertaining, and filled with enough melodramatic romance for any romance fan. The only issue with this is that while the book is a historical/paranormal romance, it is being advertised without the paranormal element and readers are set up for something entirely different than what was expected.
Once the story gets settled in the new direction, however, it comes to an abrupt and unsatisfying conclusion leaving the reader wondering how the story actually ended. The ending feels far too easy and far too sudden, almost like the author didn't know what to do and continued on a random tangent without bothering to go back and fit the earlier part of the novel with the latter. If the story were better integrated with itself, then it would have been considerably more enjoyable.
While Royal Blood started with so much potential, it didn't quite deliver on it. By trying to combine two popular genres, the story feels too forced to really work. Despite this, the book is well-written and boasts some exciting political intrigue and a likable, intelligent heroine.