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?
©2015 Deborah A. Cooke (P)2015 Deborah A. Cooke
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If I had the option, I would have rated this 4 1/2 stars. I really enjoyed the start of Deacroix's new series revolving around a Templar treasure from the Holy Land being transported back to Europe. The narration was well done and added to my enjoyment of the story. This first book features Gaston, who has recently inherited his brother's French title and Ysmaine who has buried two husbands yet remains untouched. Gaston is asked by his order, the Templars, to complete one last task - transport a treasure from Jerusalem which is at risk to headquarters in Paris. Ysmaine finds her self in desperate straights; her maid is extremely ill, and she has no money. Gaston observes Ysmaine in a church and offers her some money which she uses to pay for medicine for her maid. Deciding it might be better to return home already wed, Gaston offers to marry Ysmaine even after she explains her grooms have not lived past the wedding night. The couple weds and then joins a party of another Templar Knight (Wulfe), a merchant, and a nobleman returning to France and his father's death bed. Wulfe and Guston become uneasy allies in the pursuit of ensuring the safe transport of the treasure. Delacroix provides glimpses of the area during the groups flight to the coast and also midieval Venice. I enjoyed the relationship development between Ysmaine and Gaston and also both's willingness to sacrifice to ensure the treasure would arrive safely and for each other. Wulfe and Christina are interesting secondary characters who will be featured in their own book. Delacroix is a master of the midieval setting that feels authentic but yet the characters still remain relatedable to the modern reader. I am looking forward to future entries in this new series.
"Compelling Romantic Mystery during the Crusades"
The Crusader's Bride is a compelling tale by Claire Delacroix that travels from Jerusalem to Venice and then to Paris. What I love most about Claire's writing is the character development. The Crusader at the center of this story is Gaston who is not only a strong and loyal warrior for the Church, but he is also a compassionate and fair master to those who serve under him. The Bride in the story is Ysmaine, who is determined, selfless, and every inch Gaston's equal.
The story begins with Gaston learning of his brother's death. He has inherited his father's estate in France and must now head home after spending the last 15 years serving the Templars in the Holy Land. Gaston wastes no time in finding Ysmaine at the Church (a down on her luck noblewoman who traveled to Jerusalem on a pilgrimage) and he takes her to be his wife before journeying home to France. Thankfully Gaston's new wife Ysmaine is no simpering young maiden and she doesn't hesitate to speak up and let Gaston know her mind during the trip.
This is the first book in The Champions of Saint Euphemia saga, which involves a company of Knights Templar who are chosen to deliver the most prized possessions in the Templar treasury for safekeeping. As part of the Templars releasing Gaston of his vow to serve them, he must deliver one of the treasures to Paris. However, there is a traitor among the traveling party who doesn't hesitate to kill in an attempt to steal this treasure. Ysmaine and Gaston must not only protect the treasure but also keep each other safe from the traitor's clutches. It was fun trying to figure out who the traitor was!
Tim Gerard Reynolds narrated this Audible version of the story and he did a great job. He clearly differentiated between male and female voices and changed the tempo in the performance when warranted. I definitely enjoyed listening to this audiobook and highly recommend it. I can't wait for the next narrated book in the series!
I loved going on the journey alongside Ysmaine and Gaston. Ms. Delacroix sure knows how to get the heart going with her words. Fell in love with Gaston, his noble and courageous heart and his lady Ysmaine's spunk and determination. Their journey is a perilous one and so many times I thought they were doomed, but luck was on their side and was relieved at the end that they finally got their well-deserved HEA.
Mr. Reynolds is a new-to-me narrator and I really enjoyed listening to his voice. Looking forward to more.
"A Great Way to Learn of the Crusades and Templars"
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!
"A fantastic start to the series"
After listening to this story, I understand why Claire Delacroix is dubbed the Queen of Medieval Romance. I don't read or listen to a lot of historical romance, but I do enjoy the time of the crusades and the Templars. So, when I learned of this series, I was very excited. While it took me a bit to get used to the narrator, once I became engrossed in the story, it became a non-issue. Gaston is not your typical hero in that he is unfamiliar with the pleasure of women, having dedicated his life to the Templars. But, Ysmaine is not afraid to tell him what she wants and expects. There is mystrry and suspense in this story as well, keeping my attention and making me anxious for the next time I'd have a chance to listen to more. I look forward to listening to the next story in the series.
"Well researched compelling historical romance"
In The Crusade's Bride, you get to experience Jerusalem along with the life and thoughts/feelings of how they Templars probably felt during the time of the Crusade's. If you've ever read much about the Templar knights, you are most likely aware of the many mysterious and secretive activities they were involved in and the extent they went through to hide, or secret away, their religious relics for protection. Gaston was one of these barrel hardened knights until he had to return home upon the death of his father. Yasmain was on a personal pilgrimage in an attempt to atone for self inflicted issues that really were beyond what she could control in her life. Claire Delacroix has long been a favorite author of mine because she essentially, puts you in the story. Her descriptions of places and characters always paint such a true to life scenario. There is romance, intrigue, and a touch of history. This is the first of 3 books in th u s series, so I'm off to number 2. Oh I also purchased the audio version of this book, and greatly enjoyed the talented narration by Tim Gerard Reynolds. I can multitask while listening to a great book by Claire Delacroix.
"Historically accurate and beautifully crafted"
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 travel home to France. I adored this couple, admired them individually and delighted in their pairing.
As they make plans to depart, 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 and 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 narrator. He captured Gaston and his mannerisms delightful.
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