When Rhys Williams receives a message stating King Henry VIII's new queen is in danger, he returns to court to assist Verity Llewellyn, a childhood friend, now a lady-in-waiting to the queen eager to prove herself as a Vampire Hunter. Realizing the queen is pregnant and fearing she has already fallen victim to a Vampire makes the situation more dangerous and more deadly.
Verity Llewellyn is no longer the shy fourteen year old girl Rhys knew. Now a young widow eager to prove she's ready to take up her family's cause of protecting the King from Vampires, she suspects Lady Rochford, George Boleyn's widow, of being a vampire. Rhys suspects Lord Thomas Seymour, the queen's brother of having an unholy alliance with the Vampires in his quest for power. As Rhys and Verity work together to discover and destroy the new Vampire threat the battle lines are drawn. Will the undeniable passion Rhys and Verity share hinder their cause?
Mark of the Rose by Kate Pearce is the third book in her historical paranormal romance series, The Tudor Vampire Chronicles. Having read the first two books in this series, Kiss of the Rose and Blood of the Rose, I was eagerly anticipating the release of this book. While the tone and focus was a little different from the previous books in the series, I was pleased to see Rhys finally get his story and find love. Though his story is full of difficulty and danger. Several of the secondary characters introduced in previous books had their roles expanded, which I think helped expand the scope of the story and continue Ms. Pearce's world building set in an alternate England during the reign of King Henry VIII.
The year is 1537 and Vampires continue to be a real threat in King Henry VIII's court. The King's protectors, the remaining Druids with the Llewellyn family leading the fight, continue their battle to defeat the Vampire Council and eliminate Vampires from England. While recovering from injuries, Rhys Williams, a Vampire slayer visits his friends Rosalind Ellis (formerly Llewellyn) and her husband Christopher. While at their home, they receive word the new queen may be in danger from a new Vampire threat and that Jasper Llewellyn, the King's protector, has been injured. Their help is needed at the King's court. With Rosalind and Christopher unable to return to court due to family obligations, Rhys returns to court to help the remaining druids and Lady Verity Llewellyn as they battle the new threat. He never thought he'd fall in love with an old childhood friend in the heat of the battle.
Verity Llewellyn is a young widow determined to prove her worth as a Vampire slayer. Raised by parents who were determined to shield her from the danger of following in her cousin Rosalind's footsteps, Verity has little skills for slaying Vampires at the start of the story. But Verity is willing to learn and while she lacks skill with swords at first, she does have the skill of smelling Vampires and of sensing them while they use magical power. Verity's beauty and training as a lady make her the perfect "undercover" agent among the queen's ladies-in-waiting to locate the rogue Vampire. She never planned on facing an evil closer to home than she ever imagined or on falling in love with an old childhood friend who she never thought would look her way.
While Verity and Rhys work well as a team they are constantly at odds because Verity believes she will always be considered second best to her cousin Rosalind who everyone considered a natural slayer and who Rhys had pursued for years prior to her marriage to Christopher Ellis. But she can't deny their physical and sexual chemistry and as they are forced to spend more time together she does become emotionally involved. Rhys too has issues with making an emotional commitment at first; he's scared of putting his heart on the line again. Fortunately he soon realizes he's already fallen in love with Verity and sets out to capture her heart. Ms. Pearce did a good job with the development of their romance, though I will admit there was a point where I got a little tired of Verity's inferiority complex and was glad to see her finally realize her worth as both a slayer and a woman.
The secondary characters were well developed and I really enjoyed seeing Elias Warner, the Vampire Council's liaison to the court and his growing role in the series. We also get to see Olivia Del Alonso, the Vampire half-sister of Christopher Ellis, again and she proved useful to Rhys and Verity's battle. We also meet the two antagonists of the story, Lord Thomas Seymour, the queen's power hungry brother who has become a Vampire's servant and also Janus, the new Vampire determined to seize control of the English monarch through the new royal baby. Janus turns out to be more than an ordinary Vampire and his ties to Verity's past are very interesting.
The story ends with a battle between Rhys, Verity and Elias as they face off with Janus. Will the slayers be able to defeat the Vampire and win the day? You'll have to read Mark of the Rose to find out. While Rhys and Verity do seem headed towards their happy ever after, the story does end on a cliffhanger which I hope is resolved in the next installment in this intriguing series. I look forward to seeing where Ms. Pearce takes this battle next.
Hearing that Henry VIII's new queen is in danger, Rhys Williams engages the help of Verity Llewellyn, a lady-in-waiting eager to prove her abilities as a vampire hunter. Rhys suspects the weakening queen has fallen victim to a vampire. And the fact that she is pregnant makes the situation all the more dangerous...