Review: Immortal Hope by Claire Ashgrove

Immortal Hope: The Curse of the TemplarsImmortal Hope by Claire Ashgrove (The Curse of the Templars Book 1)
Paranormal Romance
January 3, 2012
Tor Romance

Reviewed by Helyce

Favorite Quote:Aye, I want you. I want to sink so deep inside you I forget all reason. I want to hear you cry my name as you come, so loudly every man within this temple hears. Make no mistake about it, damsel, this want of you plagues me so I despise myself.”

Immortal Hope is the first in a new series revolving around the Knights Templar. I was completely taken in by the blurb on this book. Having attended a private Catholic high school, I had to write a report on the Crusades my sophomore year. I remember trying to teach myself calligraphy so that I could create a project cover that would blow my teacher away (it didn’t-my religion teacher was kind of a dud. He was male; what was I thinking?). This was a long and tedious (read boring) project. And while that was oh so many years ago, I was amazed at the little things I remembered in regards to the Knights Templar. Of course, Ms. Ashgrove has put a fabulous paranormal spin on this by making her Knights immortal.

Merrick du Loire is the last of the original Knights Templar who rode out with Hughes de Payens in the year 1119. Due to a curse, he has been fighting Azazel and his demons through the centuries. Unfortunately, with each kill Merrick and his fellow Knights absorb just a little bit more of the darkness into their souls and in time, the darkness will overwhelm them and they will become soldiers for Azazel. Their only hope is an ancient prophecy that states that their souls can be healed by the seraphs, female descendants of the Nephilim. But it’s been centuries and the seraphs have not shown themselves. Azazel’s might is growing stronger and of the six Templars that stand above the rest, Merrick is at the edge. He knows that he’s only a few kills away from the darkness consuming him.

Anne McPherson is a teacher working on her PhD. Her subject matter relates to the Knights Templar, but she’s hit a snag. She’s researched as much as she can but she is missing that last, vital piece of information to prove her thesis. Anne also has the gift of sight. Upon touching an object or person, she can sense its history, see others who have touched it and scenes will unfold in her mind telling her the story behind any item or show her memories of that person. When her friend Gabe gives her an old armband in the shape of a serpent, she takes it home to see what it can tell her. The visions that she receives are unmistakable. She sees a Knight, in full chain mail, wearing a white surcoat with a crimson red cross across his chest. Not just any Knight, a Templar Knight.

Unbeknownst to Anne, the home that she’s recently moved into has long been a sanctuary for the Immortal Knights that fight Azazel’s demons. All she knows of the house is that the woman who lived there and recently died was rumored to be a witch. So, she is totally unprepared for the hulking man who waltzes into her home late that night and the fight with a demon that she witnesses. When the man sees the serpent armband, he seems to recognize it. He tells Anne that she must come with him so that they can sort everything out. Anne is scared and confused, but she’s sure that the vision she received when she first touched the armband was of this man. He doesn’t give her a chance to say no, he picks her up and carts her off to the waiting truck.

When they arrive at their destination, Anne meets Mikhail who informs her in no uncertain terms that the serpent armband has identified her as a seraph. If that wasn’t enough, she learns that she alone holds the key to healing one knight that she is destined to be with. She will know him by the matching markings on their bodies. It could be in the form of a scar, a tattoo or even a birthmark. Mikhail tasks Merrick to be her guardian until such time that her mate is discovered.

Merrick is tired, hungry and hurting from battle and the last thing he wants is to be burdened with Anne. Yet, he cannot deny that there is something about her that calls to him. Anne, too, isn’t really buying everything that she’s been told about this prophecy and just how she fits into it. It’s just too hard to believe, but she cannot refute the fact that these men are clearly from another time. She also cannot believe her luck. This is the proof she needs about what really happened to the Knights Templar. She figures that she’ll play the game, go through the motions of looking for her mate while collecting information for her thesis.

However, the next morning Merrick decides that he may as well eliminate himself by showing Anne his tattoo. When he removes his shirt and reveals it, Anne cannot believe her eyes. It is identical to the tattoo she has around her ankle. She hides her surprise, though and tells Merrick that she’s never seen anything like it before. So, Merrick begins the task of locating the man meant to be Anne’s mate.

As the first book in a new series, there is a lot of information given herein. We meet the main six Knights Templar and learn a bit of their history. They are completely and without question loyal to each other and their cause. We learn that many of them are struggling with the darkness and they all hope that Anne is meant for them and will deliver them into the light. And when they learn, one by one, that she is not, they take comfort in the fact that one of their brothers will be redeemed. They know that she is just the first, and they hope that she is not the last. I loved that the author chose to use the archangels as counterparts to the Knights. We meet Mikhail, Gabriel, Raphael and the beautiful Uriel.

It is obvious to the reader that Merrick and Anne are meant to be together. Their attraction to each other grows the more time they spend together. Anne may be keeping the secret of her tattoo from Merrick but it doesn’t stop them from exploring their attraction to each other. Merrick fights this for as long as he can, thinking that he is taking a woman who is meant for one of his Templar brothers. Even, then, he cannot stop himself from being with Anne.

I thought the author did an awesome job of combining the old world of the middle ages with present time. The Knights speak in a kind of Old English, yet they wear jeans, boots, use cell phones and drive SUVs.

I did find myself frustrated with Anne once she and Merrick get together. Initially, she does not reveal her mark because she thinks she’ll be able to get the info for her thesis and be one her way. Then she gets a vision, makes an incorrect assumption of it and thinks that she can stop Merrick from dying by not revealing her tattoo. Yet, the more time she spends with Merrick the more attached she is to him and she cannot imagine ever leaving his side. Of course, the revelation that Anne bears the matching mark to Merrick has everything to do with the final conflict of this story and frustrating as it was to the reader, the author hit the mark by leaving it till the end.

I really liked this story and look forward to the next one.

Rating: B+

Recent Reviews:
My Bookish Ways – 4/5
Dear Author – D
All About Romance – D
Urban Girl Reader – 4.5/5
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Comments

    • helyce says

      I have to admit, it’s not my “normal” type of book, but I am so glad I gave it a try. Really looking forward to seeing who Anne’s sister ends up with…:)

  1. Lege Artis says

    OMG, this guy on the cover doesn’t need shield with abs like those…
    I’m a Crusades sucker too, and I love your reviews so I’ll try it. You interested me with “Unfortunately, with each kill Merrick and his fellow Knights absorb just a little bit more of the darkness into their souls” part. Love that kind of twist…

  2. helyce says

    Thank you so much! I was very pleasantly surprised with this story and how it went. Looking forward to the next one!

    • helyce says

      Yes, it’s a good one. It’s so funny! I’m not good at remembering to mark a good quote or passage while I’m reading. I actually highlighted this one so I wouldn’t forget! I hope you like it!

  3. Mandi says

    The Knights speak in a kind of Old English, yet they wear jeans, boots, use cell phones and drive SUVs. This makes me want to read it. For reals!

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