Today I am sharing my review of the Crusader’s Bride & Crusader’s Heart by Claire Delacroix the first two books in her Champions of Saint Euphemia series. These are historical romances filled with knights, quests, mystery, and suspense all deliciously wrapped in a swoon-worthy romance,
by Claire Delacroix
Series: Champions of Saint Euphemia #1
Narrator: Tim Gerard Reynolds
Length: 12 hours and 15 minutes
Genres: Historical Romance
Purchase: Amazon | Audible | B&N
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 15 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?
The Crusader’s Bride by Claire Delacroix is the first book in the Champions of Saint Euphemia. The stories take place in the late twelfth century and feature Templar Knights. The Crusader’s Bride narrated by Tim Gerard Reynolds features Ysmaine and Gaston story. Filled with banter and danger set against an amazing backdrop Delacroix delivered a delightful tale.
Gaston de Chamount, knight of the Templar finds himself the new Baron of his family’s French estate. He must choose a bride before returning to his home. When he sees Ysmaine de Valeroy praying to the virgin, he decides she is the one. Ysmaine, twice widowed on her wedding night made a pilgrimage to Jerusalem to pray for her “husband curse” to be lifted. Thieves set upon her and her companions and she is now residing with the Nuns.
Claire Delacroix writes characters that are both complex and intriguing. While Gaston is skilled as a Templar knight, he is unskilled at relationships. Both characters have an air of innocence about them and I loved how genuine they were. Ysmaine agrees to wed Gaston and travels home to France. I adored this couple, admired them individually and delighted in their pairing.
As they make plans to leave, a war breaks out between the Christians and Infidels. Fearing the city will fall, the Templar officials ask Gaston to deliver a package to Paris. The travel is dangerous and tests their new marriage. They ride with friends, servants, a merchant, and other Templar knights all of whom added complications and mystery. I found the plot to be rich and engaging, the dialogue and interactions between the characters brought forth humor, sweet moments, character growth and tension.
The Crusader’s Bride delivered a wonderful quest with twists and turns all wrapped in a swoon-worthy romance. Historically accurate and beautifully crafted Tim Gerard Reynolds did justice to the story as the narrator. He captured Gaston and his mannerisms delightful.
The Crusader’s Heart by Claire Delacroix is the second book in the Champions of Saint Euphemia and is once again narrated by Tim Gerard Reynolds. The Crusader’s Heart intertwines with the events of the Crusader’s Bride and brings us the romance of Wulfe and Christina. Steeped in history, mystery, and suspense this romance quickly drew me into their story.
At the end of Crusader’s Bride Wulfe and Christina depart from Gaston’s party and I assumed that was where their story would begin, but Delacroix is clever and she surprised me but taking us back to the beginning where Wulfe and Christina first met.
Christina through a series of unfortunate circumstances finds herself working as a Venetian courtesan. Wulfe a Templar on a secret mission seeks respite from events that have plagued him and looks for release in the arms of a woman. That woman is Christina. They enjoy each other’s company but a dangerous event in the middle of the night soon has Christina following Wulfe and joining his party.
Filled with banter, a slow seduction, and a stubborn man I quickly became caught up not only in their romance but in Wulfe’s mission as well. While the events in Crusader’s Heart intertwine with those in Crusader’s Bride, the different perspective was entertaining. The tale was delivered in both Wulfe and Christina’s perspective which allowed me to laugh, admire their cleverness, and on occasion want to slap them both on the back of the head.
Christina and Wulfe were wonderfully developed as Delacroix shared their history. I truly felt for both and as a woman shivered at how brutal life could be. At first glance, Wulfe could appear cold, but that is simply not true. He cares but thinks himself not entitled to happiness. I delighted in seeing him transform.
Delacroix captures the tensions of this period and had me googling for more information. Jerusalem is about to fall and these knights are traveling to Paris with a sacred treasure. In their group are merchants and nobleman seeking safe passage. No one knows what package they carry or whom in the party possess it. This adding suspense as it quickly became clear someone in the party is trying to steal it. As we travel Delacroix brings the countryside to life. She begins each chapter with a Saint Feast Day and I found myself curious about them.
Tim Gerard Reynolds delightfully brings the characters to life and I was pleased with both his female and male voices.
The Crusader’s Heart offered another wonderful tale and I am eager to continue this series with the Crusader’s Kiss.Caffeinated reviews the Crusader's Bride & Crusader's Heart by Claire Delacroix #audiobook Click To Tweet
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