The Crusader’s Bride (The Champions of Saint Euphemia #1) by Claire Delacroix
Synopsis: 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 fifteen 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?
Review: This review is a little different than my usual reviews that are short and sweet without giving any secrets away. I started writing the review while I was still reading the story. Below you will find my thoughts on different aspects of the story, but I still have not given any spoilers, promise 🙂
First off, the story starts off in Jerusalem with Gaston receiving one last mission that he has to complete before he is free to leave the Templars to go home and take over for his dead brother. Gaston realizes that if he is going to be heir to his family seat he needs a wife and son, so he goes and looks for one. He finds Ysmaine while she is praying to Mary at a church. He offers her money that she wants to refuse, but he insists and she goes to buy medicine for her ailing lady’s maid. He likes that this shows that she is selfless and not greedy. He tells her that very day that he was going to marry her and they were going to leave Jerusalem. They have to leave in haste because Saladin is on his way with his army to take back Jerusalem. During their trip back to Paris, the couple slowly learns about each other. They of course have bumps being they don’t know each other at all.
I felt sorry for Ysmaine when she finally gets a wedding night; her husband is an idiot when it comes to the fact that she might also enjoy having her pleasure. Gaston got straight to the deed and quickly climaxes into her. He then gets up and starts to dress again while Ysmaine lays there like, ‘was that it?’. Wulf loved rubbing it into his face after he came down from her room so quickly after going up that Gaston had no clue about the importance of making sure the woman (and especially a wife) found her pleasure before leaving her bed. Ysmaine knew something was missing and was too timid to tell Gaston (while he dressed and whistled) “Hey, what about me!” Oy vey! Save me from the medieval man.
This story had one of those I-know-what-is-going-to-happen-and-I-hate-that-I have-to-watch-it-happen kind of moments. I knew what major hurdle they were going to face, I saw it coming, and I hate those moments that you see coming and dread to the point where you are not sure you want to keep reading. You know there will be a happy ending, but you don’t want to experience this moment of “betrayal” the characters are going to go through. So you put the book down and are like, ‘hmm, isn’t there a chore I need to be doing?’. I saw it coming, dreaded it, hated it–this is why I hate those situational comedies that put characters into extremely embarrassing moments; you know it is coming and you hate that it is coming. I always hate those moments, I’m like that could actually happen and if it did it wouldn’t be funny. There are times when I have to get up and leave the room until that scene is done (but you really can’t do that with a book; well, I guess you could, but where would the fun be in that?) This story had that. In the grand scheme of epic emotional turmoil or hurdles the couple has to face and overcome, it wasn’t major, but Delacroix does build up the story where you see it coming. You know they might actually need something like it to bring the trust into the relationship, but you hate seeing it coming. I’m rambling, sorry. Maybe I’m completely off my rocker in this feeling of impending doom (ok, that is a little melodramatic for this story, it wasn’t “doom” worthy, just “cringe” worthy), but it is late at night while I am writing my thoughts on this, and I haven’t even finished this story yet, so I am a little more verbose (and maybe a little ranty…I know “ranty” isn’t a real word, but please go with it, lol) than I usually am in my reviews.
I finished the story and I enjoyed it; there were emotionally tense moments and passion. The passion was mild, not too steamy. His train of thought as to why he couldn’t some how find a way to let her know that he didn’t think that she betrayed him or poisoned a member of their group, was a bit weak. Where there is a will there is a way, and same goes for her. If she wanted to find a way to confide in him, so that he wouldn’t think the worst of her, she could have done so. I understand the reasons why they didn’t find a way to trust the other or communicate; it added to the suspense and emotional strife the two went through during their journey. I am just being nit-picky when it comes to their reasoning behind their logic and actions, sorry. I am glad they had their happy ending. I enjoyed the scene in Paris, where everything comes together and the villain is revealed. The conflict and plot line was strong and entertaining, you never truly know who the villain is until the very end, so the characters play their parts well and nothing is hinted at. I liked how this medieval romance starts out in Jerusalem instead of Europe or England. I think this is the first romance I have read that was set in the Middle East during the Crusades and the pilgrimage people took during those harsh times. I enjoyed the glimpse into that. I look forward to the next story, especially Cathrine and Wulf’s story.
I received this copy in exchange for an honest review.