I was impressed with how much stuff is going in within the pages of Royal Blood. The story is set in Tudor England in 1518, and is incredibly detailed. It’s clear that Sharon did her homework, and got all the small pieces that mean so much in a good story correct.
To be honest, when I first started reading this book, I struggled a little bit with the language. Some of the words were unfamiliar to me, but, that is how it should be, to fit the time period. I quickly acclimated, and enjoyed the book immensely.
Readers will find courtly intrigue, political plotting, layers of deceptions, and a window into the daily life of the upper class of the time. Ever wonder what they ate, how they dressed, or how wild their parties really were? It’s all in here.
If you happen to be a fan of the jousting you see at Renaissance Faires, like me, you will find vivid descriptions of both what it was like to watch it from where the Royalty and their court sat, as well as how it felt to be on those speeding horses.
There are battles fought, disasters narrowly averted, and secrets kept as currency. Courtly life also included mad flirtations, often ending with discrete, forbidden sex, and Sharon does not shy away from taking her readers into that part of this world. There are several romances going on, as well as some very hot sex scenes for the reader to discover.
One of the main characters is Michael Devereaux, future Earl of Tyrone, due to inherit land in Ireland. He is young, strong, and unsure of himself, primarily because he does not joust as well as he would like to. He gets sent to the court of England to participate in the Order of the Garter events, and bring honor to his Lord.
Or, so he believes. Michael has a whole lot to learn about himself, and the parts of his past that he cannot remember. There is a secret about Michael that I found to be extremely interesting, once I figured out what it was. Not something I expected to find in what could be described as a historical romance novel! I liked Michael because he had a good heart, despite his struggles.
Princess Renee de Valois of France is going to the court of England under duress. She is the daughter of the previous king, and has gotten herself into a compromising situation with a lowly painter. To get out of it, she agrees to go to England and accomplish some very specific and dangerous tasks for the new King of France, and the Cardinal he takes advice from.
In return, she has bargained to have the lands her mother once owned to become hers, as well as save the life of her painter, and herself. It’s not revealed to the reader exactly what Renee is up to, and it kept me guessing for most of the book. I liked Renee because she was a princess, but she was also strong, bold, calculating, and extremely intelligent.
Of course, these two meet when they arrive at court. There is an instant sizzling attraction between them. They are lovers, they are enemies, they are caught up in a plot bigger than either one of them.