Title: Immortal Hope
Author: Claire Ashgrove
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Series: The Curse of the Templars (Book 1)
Publication Date: January 3, 2012
Format: Paperback, 368 Pages
ISBN-10: 0765367580 (Macmillan/Tor)
ISBN-13: 978-0765367587 (Macmillan/Tor)
Reviewed by: Kiwi
Templar knights defied the archangels and unearthed the copper scroll, revealing the gates to hell. Cursed for their forbidden act, they forever roam the earth protecting mankind from evil. But darkness stalks them, and battles they fight bring them ever-closer to eternal damnation. One promise remains to give them salvation – the return of the seraphs.
Embittered by his purpose, Merrick du Loire must honor an ancient pact and bring peace to his cousin’s soul. When he stumbles upon history professor Anne MacPherson, he discovers she possesses a sacred artifact that marks her as a seraph. Duty demands he set aside his personal quest and locate the knight she’s fated to heal. As he struggles with conflicting oaths, Anne arouses buried hope and sparks forbidden desire that challenges everything he’s sworn to uphold.
Anne has six weeks to complete her thesis on the Knights Templar. When Merrick takes her to the Templar stronghold, he presents her with all she needs—and awakens a soul-deep ache, he alone can soothe. Yet loving Merrick comes with a price. If she admits she’s destined for him, her gift of foresight predicts his death.
Quick & Dirty: Men with honor and loyalty. And they ain’t bad to look at either.
Opening Sentence: Abigail Montfort blew out the solitary candle in her windowsill and closed her eyes, inhaling the smoke-laced vanilla.
In the fight of good versus evil, there are out Knights of the Templar, here to protect the world from the invasion of demons through the gates of hell, cursed by the angels for their insatiable curiosity…and we all know what that did to the cat. These knights, upon the death of their enemies, take the stain of evil into themselves, eventually becoming overrun with it, and turning into the very thing they are sworn to destroy. But there still remains hope, for around the globe there are descendants of an ancient race, and they alone have the power to heal the soul of the Templars, keeping them from becoming demons. For there is one for every Templar, each wearing a mark, one identical to a mark being worn by a certain knight, the one they are destined to heal and to be mated to forever. I don’t know enough about the legends and such surrounding the Templars to know if this is an original premise, but it is a good one all the same. The idea that there is one person in the world fated to be our soulmate is always a popular one, and for good reason. People love the ideas that out there somewhere is in fact the perfect person for them, if they haven’t already found them. And in the case of the Templars, a woman destined to rescue their very soul from the evil that will eventually overcome them, fate is something they have been searching out for a millennial.
Merrick Du Loire is one of these knights, the last of the original Templars, and the reason they all now bear this curse. He has made a pact with his cousin and other fellow knights, to be killed when the evil took them over. And when his cousin succumbs, he must travel all over to find him, and put him out of his misery once and for all. There is one slight snag, however. He has been given the duty of looking after the first of the seraphs, those destined to become a knight’s salvation. Being responsible for her has made continuing his search difficult, his attraction to her making his life as a whole lot more complicated. For she has told him she does not bear his mark, thus making her someone else’s salvation.
Anne MacPherson is a college history professor on her way to making head of the department, if only she can find the pieces she is missing for her final thesis. The subject of this thesis? Well, the Knights of the Templar, of course. So, when she meets a real live Templar knight, she believes she has found the mother lode, and it should be a piece of cake to find the last bits of information she needs. Only one problem, though. She has been effectively kidnapped for her part in the destiny of the knights.
Anne has been proclaimed the first of the seraphs, a title and responsibility she refuses to acknowledge. Planning to escape as soon as she gets what she needs, she denies every Templar she meets, claiming that none of them bear her mark. In reality, she bears a tattoo identical to one on Merrick’s beautiful form. But, she has had a psychic vision she believes points to Merrick’s death if she makes this fact known. However, when Merrick finally meets with his demonic cousin, and the battle threatens to claim his own mortality, Anne realizes that love can overcome even the scariest of visions.
Overall, a good read, nicely written and organized. There is an interesting little cliffhanger at the end as well.
Dimly he recognized the distant call of his name. The voice grew closer, the bellow louder, and Merrick clung to the sound. Each syllable pulled him back from unconsciousness, slowly restored his vision. He sucked in a deep breath, and lifted his chin, setting his jaw against the pain and willing his body to cooperate.
He would not die this way. ‘Twas not the death he desired.
Staring into the face of his attacker, Merrick eyed the way Fulk lifted his sword above his head. The strike was predictable—a quick cut meant to sever heads. ‘Twas a favored move of his cousin’s and Merrick waited. He had one chance to emerge victorious, and he would not waste his energy.
Time moved in slow motion as the blade descended toward his neck.
At the last moment, Merrick threw his weight into his good leg and propelled himself to his feet. Fulk’s sword connected harmlessly with Merrick’s left shoulder. But Merrick’s blade sank deep into his cousin’s gut.
Agony ripped down Merrick’s spine. He used the last of his strength to jerk his broadsword up, elongating the wound. Fulk’s eyes rounded in disbelief, and the angry beast inside let loose a deafening bellow. As the horrendous noise tapered into a whine, recognition flashed within Fulk’s features. His expression softened. His dark eyes returned to the familiar shade of olive.
His whisper washed across Merrick’s face. “Cousin.”
Merrick did not have the time to consider the oddity of what had just happened. In the next moment, a wispy film of white spiraled heavenward. On its heels, however, the darkness spilled forth.
It flooded Merrick, consuming him with insatiable rage. As if some beast clawed at his insides in a desperate attempt to escape, his bodt lit with fire. The need to wretch bore down on him with a hammer’s fury, and he instinctively reached for his sword.
Through the bleary haze, he saw only shadows, the ability to decipher between friend and foe an impossible task.
“Merrick.” A hand clamped down on his shoulder.
He knew the voice, and yet he could not place the face. Confused, disoriented, Merrick whirled with a ferocious sweep of his blade.
He did not know whether his attack struck true. Whilst he struggled to make sense of his surroundings, something heavy slammed into his temple.
Darkness blanketed his mind.
The Curse of the Templars Series:
3. Immortal Trust
FTC Advisory: Macmillan/Tor provided me with a copy of Immortal Hope. No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review.
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