Title: The Crusader’s Bride, The Champions of Euphemia, book 1
Audiobook: The Crusader’s Bride
Author: Claire DelaCroix
Genre: Historical Romance, Medieval
Story Setting: 1184, Jerusalem journeying to Paris, France
Published by: Deborah A. Cooke
Publication Date: July 28, 2015
Narrated: Tim Gerard Reynolds
Length: 12 hours, 15 minutes
Release Date: December 29, 2015
Published by: Deborah A. Cooke
About the Story: Gaston battled for duty and honor—until his new wife tempted him to fight for her love. Gaston has had his fill of war and the Latin Kingdoms when he learns that he has inherited his father’s estate in France. He accepts one last quest for the Templars, the order he has served for fifteen years, and agrees to deliver a package to Paris on his way home. A practical man, Gaston knows he now has need of a wife and an heir, so when a lovely widowed noblewoman on pilgrimage catches his eye, he believes he can see matters solved to their mutual convenience. But Ysmaine is more than a pilgrim enduring bad luck. She has buried two husbands in rapid succession, both of whom died on her nuptial night, and believes herself cursed. Accepting the offer of this gruff knight seems doomed to result in his demise, but Gaston is dismissive of her warnings and Ysmaine finds herself quickly wed again—this time to a man who is not only vital, but determined to remain alive. Neither of them realize that Gaston’s errand is one of peril, for the package contains the treasure of the Templars—and some soul, either in their party or pursuing it, is intent upon claiming the prize for his or her own, regardless of the cost. In a company of strangers with secrets, do they dare to trust each other and the love that dawns between them?
My Thoughts: When I started listening to this story, I was very excited about the historical setting. I lived many years in Tripoli, travelling to many of the places mentioned where the story took place. I was also delighted to read of the Krak de Chevalier. This, castle, was manned and controlled by my husband’s family for approximately 500 years.
Because of this fact, I listened to it a second time. Once I knew the storyline, I was able to spend more attention on events which actually occurred, and other little tidbits of historical significance the author wove into this wonderful story.
Gaston upheld all the virtues a Templar Knight should. He’d been 18 years in service, ever since age 15. These are the years where a boy becomes a man. He was a fine man, with a forthright, low-key manner. He lacked knowledge of the world, particularly where women were concerned which gave him endless grief when he entered the secular world.
It was unusual for a knight to leave the Templar community, but duty as an heir to his family estate took precedent. It was pure delight to be privy to his methodical way he goes about choosing a wife, the reasons he needs to, and the matter of fact way he approaches his new wife in handling the marital debt. THAT gave me a chuckle. Really, is it so tedious it must be called a debt? Ysmaine, although twice widowed, had no experience in the marriage bed. She was yet a maid nor had she anyone to talk to about her new experience abed with Gaston. That, my fellow readers, is a story in itself!
Gaston was charged with one more service to the Templars. He must get a missive to the Priory in Paris. He was also charged to carry an ancient relic. But danger and intrigue snare the group of travelers from the beginning of the journey in Jerusalem to Paris.
As well as being suspenseful, there was a mystery to the storyline. Who was rifling through their baggage? The mystery deepens and the suspense ratchets more tightly as the group continues their travels; one than another of the group are endangered.
One particular Templar Knight, Wulfe, was irritating, short-tempered, and rather obnoxious with a fiery personality, provided grit to the story, humor and, yes, even honorable deeds, although he didn’t give them willingly. He was German, didn’t like the French. He didn’t like he wasn’t the leader of the group, although he was charged to act as if he were. He flaunted some rules of the Templars, yet was a warrior in their service. Narrator Tim Gerard Reynold did an excellent job with this character. In fact, I appreciated him manifold the way he told the story.
Ysmaine is a strong woman, one who wanted to be the best wife she could be to her knight. She was ‘used’ goods, to some extent, yet ignorant of being a woman to manage a keep and a husband.She wasn’t the demure type-she spoke her mind. She thought a woman should live their true nature. And when demureness is not part of their true spirit, they would live a falsehood. Something she would not tolerate.
There are so many facets to this great story. The squire Bartholomew doesn’t trust Ysmaine. His supposition Ysmaine is preparing to poison Gaston, colors his feelings towards her, eventually sharing his thoughts with Gaston. So Gaston, who wants to trust his wife, could not entirely. After all, she may kill off her third husband as they others had died.
Other themes in this read (very appropriate in our present-day events):
- People, no matter what faith, are very much alike and can be likeable as well as honorable.
- Your enemy is not necessarily bad.
- Just because someone is in a poor situation, doesn’t mean they chose that way of living nor necessarily deserving of it.
I loved this listen. Once you start the series, you’ll want to continue, because author Claire DelaCroix will take you on a journey far larger than the story itself. Her historical settings, rich characterization, and emotional moments where you identify intensely with characters will leave you changed, more tolerant and definitely thoroughly entertained!
About the Author: (copy from Amazon.com biography) NYT bestselling author Claire Delacroix always loved stories, both telling them and hearing them. She sold her first romance novel – THE ROMANCE OF THE ROSE – in 1992 and has published over fifty romance novels since. She writes in a variety of subgenres, including time travel romance, historical romance, medieval romance, fantasy romance and fantasy with romantic elements. She has also written under the names Claire Cross and Deborah Cooke. She makes her home with her family, a number of incomplete knitting projects and a lot of overgrown houseplants. Claire loves to travel, to cook, to ride her bike and to read.
Claire is currently writing The Champions of Saint Euphemia series of medieval romances. She also writes paranormal and contemporary romance as Deborah Cooke.
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