Publisher: Tor Books
Release Date: January 3, 2012
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Centuries ago, 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.
About the Author: Claire Ashgrove has been writing since her early teens and maintained the hobby for twenty years before deciding to leap into the professional world. Her first contemporary novel, Seduction's Stakes, sold to The Wild Rose Press in 2008, where she continues to write steamy, sexy stories for the Champagne and Black Rose lines. Adding to these critically acclaimed contemporaries, Claire’s paranormal romance series, The Curse of the Templars, debuts with Tor in January 2012. For those who prefer the more erotic side of romance, she also writes for Berkley Heat under the pen name Tori St. Claire.
Claire lives on a small farm in Missouri with her two toddler sons, fifteen horses, four cats, and five dogs. In her “free” time, she enjoys cooking, winning at rummy, studying ancient civilizations, and spending quiet moments with her family, including the critters. She credits her success to her family's constant support and endless patience.
Meet the Knights -- Lucan of Seacourt
I’m here with Lucan from IMMORTAL HOPE, Claire Ashgrove’s new, dark paranormal romance
Lucan, what a pleasure to meet you. Thanks so much for taking some time to talk with me today about the Templar problems.
Lucan: Milady, the pleasure is mine. Tell me how I may assist your quest for knowledge.
I want to know more about this seraph thing – where do they come from, how do you know if someone is a seraph, how do you know who the seraph belongs to, and what’s the deal with this armband?
Lucan: (Chuckling) Your questions are not for the faint. Very well, let us see what light I can shed on the matter. Where do seraphs come from – we must go back to the beginning of time. When angels crossed with man and the Nephilim were created. As you are aware, the Almighty frowned upon these unions. He eradicated the Nephilim… but what is not known is all were given a choice. Surrender the power of the angels, live as man, and their blood would carry on to fulfill a greater purpose. One day, when the cause most presented, their gifts would come again. Those who refused were destroyed.
And today’s seraphs are the result?
Lucan: Aye. The torq you speak of identifies them. It is attuned to their divine power and possesses a few… shall we say… quirks as well.
So that’s how they are identified, but how do you know if someone’s a seraph. For instance, am I? Could any one of the women reading this be one?
Lucan: ‘Tis hard to say. Indeed, any woman could be a seraph. ‘Twould not be known until Gabriel presents himself to her and offers the torq of serpents.
The Templar don’t know then.
Lucan: Nay. We are mere men, not privy to the machinations of the most high.
I wouldn’t say you’re exactly mere men. Aside from the whole knight thing, let’s not forget about this dose of immortality or the fact at any moment you might lose your soul and turn. But beyond that – how do you know if a seraph belongs to you? What’s to stop me from walking up to… say you… and saying I’m yours. If I’m a seraph that is. I could go for knights, swords, and living in secret temples.
Lucan: (Chuckling once again.) Milady you would not wish for this life, I assure you. But if you were indeed a seraph, you would possess some sort of physical mark that stands out in your own mind. It would match your intended mate’s. If you wish to see if perhaps you are fated for one of my brethren, you should speak to Anne. She keeps a record of the marks now.
Ah, smart thinking! While we’re talking about seraphs, do you know who yours is?
Lucan: Nay, I do not know if I shall be paired.
What would you do if Gabriel introduced you to your seraph tomorrow?
(As I ask the question, Lucan shifts uncomfortably in his seat, and I’d swear a blush crept into his cheeks.)
I’m sorry. Did I embarrass you?
Lucan: Nay. ‘Tis a subject best left to silence, however. ‘Twould be impolite to discuss something so… personal.
Oh. Oh! I didn’t mean… Well, now that you mention it… that could be quite an entertaining conversation! A little wine, a little seduction—I bet you wouldn’t have to work too hard to get a girl to agree to promise forever.
(His blush deepens, and I decide to steer the conversation to more comfortable ground.)
Okay, one last question before we let you get back to keeping the world safe from Azazel’s ascension. What was your immediate thought when the archangels told you about the revelation of the seraphs?
Lucan’s expression sobers. He looks past me as he answers, at something nondescript on the wall just above my left shoulder. His voice quiets by several decibels.
Lucan: That at last, perhaps, I could shed this accursed suspicion. ‘Tis a poison I cannot escape.
There’s hope though, right? If you’re paired…
Lucan: Let us pray I shall live long enough to know such blessed peace.
I certainly hope so, Lucan. Thank you again for taking a few minutes out of your day to talk to us. I don’t want to hold you up from more important things.
He rises and offers me a formal bow.
Lucan: Most assuredly, ‘tis my pleasure to spend a few moments in your lovely company, milady.
Let’s take a peek at IMMORTAL HOPE and Lucan’s commander, Merrick du Loire.
Seeing a thin white scar that spanned across the back of his hand, she traced the mark with her nail. “I want to know about you,” she added more quietly. “What caused this?”
Merrick looked down to where she touched him. Using his opposite index finger, he traced the same path her fingernail had taken. Briefly, their fingertips touched. “’Tis a mark from a lance.”
“A lance?” Anne struggled with the urge to twine her finger around his.
“Aye. ’Twas a battle that came to us unexpectedly. I was not given time to don my armor before the riders set upon us. The knight struck me there, and here.” He touched his ribs beneath his right arm.
Anne’s gaze lifted to the vulnerable spot and pictured the battle as it might have occurred: Merrick standing down an armored knight on horse back, the sharp metal spear that punctured his flesh, the way his face might have contorted as he bit back a painful cry. Impulsively, she gathered his hand in both of hers and lifted it, bringing it to her lips to place a gentle kiss over the scar. “I’m sorry.”
Merrick said nothing, and in his silence, she began to question maybe she’d taken one too many liberties. They’d hardly begun to get along—what if her unchecked impulse just crossed some invisible boundary? Slowly, cautiously, she lifted her eyes to his. What she found in his fathomless dark eyes, however, said nothing of anger or annoyance. They gleamed with startling intensity, light bright enough to make her catch her breath.
“Do not be sorry,” he murmured. His eyes canvassed her face, lingered on her mouth. “’Twas a scar borne from duty. An order I was sworn to obey.”
The husky quality of his voice sent shivers coursing up and down her spine. She tried to look away, ordered her eyes to settle anywhere but on the sudden softening of Merrick’s expression. But her body refused, leaving her unable to do anything but choke down a dry swallow. When her thoughts cleared enough to form coherent words, she sought to lighten the moment with a bit of humor. “Orders can do that to you, I guess. Like now, you’re stuck with me.”
“I cannot say I find these orders entirely displeasing.” Merrick lifted his free hand to push a length of her hair away from her shoulder.
The back of his hand grazed the side of her neck and goose bumps scattered down her arms. “No?”
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