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?
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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!