Friday, 24 January 2014

A Review for Immortal Sacrifice (The Curse of the Templars #4) by Claire Ashgrove

Posted by Melanie
Release Date: January 24th, 2014
Finished Date: January 16th, 2014
Publishers: Self Published
Genre: Adult, Paranormal, Romance
Source: For Review
Format: eARC
Pages: Unknown
Buy: Amazon UK / Amazon US 

In the wake of an Italian mobster’s death, the archangels charge Immortal Templar Knight Caradoc of Asterleigh with protecting a necklace that contains Christ’s tears. He vows to bring the relic home, never imagining he’ll have to battle Isabelle Speranza, the only woman he’s ever loved and whom he left in a futile attempt to protect her heart.  Discovering she’s his fated seraph changes everything.  For the dark lord Azazel is hunting the Templar mates.

Isabelle lost her heart to Caradoc in a whirlwind affair abroad, only to be abandoned in the middle of the night.  When she encounters Caradoc in Sicily three years later, her buried anger fuels desire that won’t be denied.  Yet a dark shadow threatens their reunion.  Azazel has discovered her greatest weakness, and her dreams promise unspeakable horrors if she fails to procure the sacred necklace. 

As danger stalks her, Isabelle reveals an unbelievable secret.  To save them both, Caradoc must accept her truths, even if it means turning from everything he’s sworn to uphold.

Ancient Prophecy:

Whence comes the teacher, she who is blind shall follow.
The one who digs in dust precedes the finding of the jewel.
And she who understands the sword precludes the greatest loyalty.
When darkness rapes the land, the seraphs shall purify the Templar
and lead the sacred swords to victory.
- Ancient Prophecy of the Knights Templar

The Review: Three years ago, before the seraphs arrived, Carodoc of Asterleigh spent a blissful three weeks with a woman that he thought would always hold his heart. With the arrival of the seraphs came the knowledge that one day, his would come and he would have to give up this lady – Isabelle Speranza – and rather than drag out the inevitable, with a heavy heart, he chose to leave her. Little did he know, that she wasn’t all he left behind….
Fast forward three years and along with Gareth & Tane, Caradoc is in Sicily to attend an auction event that holds many holy relics that the church wants back in its possession and none more so important that a diamond necklace that holds the tears of Christ. He isn’t the only one interested however; Isabelle Speranza is in Sicily on business too, acquiring antiques for buyers is her livelihood and knowing she has unlimited funds for one specific purchase is going to make this a piece of cake…..until the phone call that changes everything, until the dreams that have been plaguing her for months, until she casts eyes on him again…..Caradoc, the man who broke her heart.
Carodoc is stunned to see Isabelle again, not a day goes by that he doesn’t think of her and he’s about to find out why…. Because Isabelle is his Seraph….but will this revelation change things when Isabelle can’t let go of the past or reveal the secrets closest to her heart?

As I mentioned above, I seriously loved this instalment, it’s like Claire Ashgrove actually went in my head and plucked some of my favourite plot details and stuck them in this book. At the prologue - I was interested…chapter one - I was amused….chapter two – I was hooked! In a big way because what happens is one of my favourite plot lines EVER and guaranteed to be a page turner, I can’t even mention it because it would spoil the surprise but let’s just say, something very special has been kept from someone & is put at risk as Azazel ups the stakes again and proves why he holds his crown as evil incarnate. It was great to finally get to Carodoc’s book, he has made an impression from book one and was on my list of favourites so when I saw his name, I read it with a smile and that just got bigger as the story went on especially when we meet Isabelle and find out that he knew her and they had already had a relationship. It brought something new to the book that hadn’t been done in previous books and there was no awkwardness about getting the lady to love the Knight because the history was already there so it was just a matter of discovering each other again and reconnecting, not that that came without complications because Carodoc did a lot of damage when he left. I always love the clash of old fashioned views & modern ways but I didn’t even feel it this time, Carodoc came across as well adjusted to women of the modern world with only minor problems. They made a lovely couple though, it was so easy to connect to their characters, particularly Isabelle because of the turmoil she was going through and as always, I was routing for them at every turn.

The storyline was awesome! Yes, it was about protecting the relic from reaching Azazel’s hands and yes, it was about the pairing of a Knight & his Seraph to save his soul but the getting there was fraught with a rollercoaster of danger, risk & emotion that made one hell of a ride. It’s so hard not to spoil it for anyone because this plot is very much based upon one huge secret, so to give that away would really spoil it. I will tell you that I loved that the danger became more sinister, that the stakes were more personal, I loved that our couple had history, I loved Isabelle’s gift and how that played into the story and even though she had some huge skeletons in her closet, I loved that too because they were the best kind of secrets and she wasn’t the only one keeping them. We are even kept up to date with all of our favourite Knights & Seraphs, revealing some happy insights and some startling insights which will definitely be felt throughout the whole order and we even get to see the Knights & Seraphs working together in the field, which I had been hoping for since the Seraphs arrived.  It definitely had a different feel to it, like things are changing, it feels like the Knights are ‘finding their feet’ and gaining ground against evil – tentatively - but at the same time, evil is upping the stakes and you can feel it all heading towards a critical point where the prophecy becomes real and Azazel’s power play is thwarted and I personally cannot wait! 

PS - It always amuses me how all of the Knights retain their original accents and even though it’s centuries later I can personally attest to the fact that people still do talk similarly, particularly when Caradoc says ‘aye’ for yes because that’s what I say where I’m from and also Declan, a lot of his broad Scottish words are still used today so for all it may seem old, it has stood the test of time.
Excerpt for Immortal Sacrifice.

“I can’t do this right now, Caradoc,” she managed through a tightening throat.  “You need to leave.”

Slowly, he rose to his feet and brought his free hand to the side of her face.  His touch carried the same gentleness he would afford a fragile doll.  Yet the tender caress of his fingertips offered strength Isabelle desperately needed.  It took every last drop of willpower she possessed not to turn her head and press a kiss into his palm.  To not erase the foot of distance between them by stepping forward and taking shelter in his embrace.  She dragged in a shaky breath, willed her weak knees to hold.

Caradoc tucked a lock of her hair behind her ear.  “Is what plagues your dreams the same fear that brought you to tears?”

“No,” she whispered.

At least she hadn’t thought so.  Now that Caradoc raised the possibility, a whole new fear surged down her spine and threatened to buckle her legs.  Paul had taken September—what if the nightmare was true?  It had held the same orangish halo all her prophetic dreams did.

But accepting that possibility meant September was in very real danger.  Isabelle wasn’t ready for that.  She couldn’t allow herself to believe she might fail to secure the necklace, or even worse, have it taken from her before she could return it to Paul.

“Are you certain?”  Caradoc tipped his head, as if he sensed her self-doubt.

“It’s just a dream.”  It must be a dream.  Paul Reid had no reason to kill September.  Certainly not in some decrepit old garden with statues of eerie angels.

Caradoc’s body heat soaked into her, making her painfully aware of how little distance separated them.  Nerve endings, rubbed raw from too many months of separation, arced upright, seeking the comfort of his warmth.  She inhaled sandalwood and sage that flipped her heart wildly into her ribs.  He smelled so good.  She’d always associate that old world aroma with him, no matter how much time passed.  It contented some unnamable part of her soul.  Against her will, her gaze pulled to the soft contours of his mouth.  How easily she could forget…

“Caradoc, you have to go,” she whispered.  Before she did forget.


“Aye.”  His mouth moved, but he showed no sign he intended to follow through.  He remained otherwise still, his only motion, the subtle rub of his thumb against the sensitive underflesh of her bicep.

AUTHOR BIO

Claire Ashgrove
Building on a background of fantasy game design, a fascination with history, and a lifetime love of books, award-winning author Claire Ashgrove brings to life action-filled, passionate journeys of the heart. Her paranormal series, The Curse of the Templars (Tor), marries the history of the Knights Templar with the chilling aspirations of the most unholy--a must-read for speculative fiction fans. She also writes darkly arousing espionage novels as the National Bestselling Author Tori St. Claire and historical romance as Sophia Garrett.
In her non-writing time, she’s runs Finish The Story, a full-scale editing house co-founded with Bryan Thomas Schmidt.  She lives in Missouri and enjoys cooking, studying ancient civilizations, and spending downtime with her two sons and too-many horses, cats, and dogs.
To learn more, visit her at:
Twitter: @ClaireAshgrove

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