The Crusader's Heart

The Champions of Saint Euphemia

Book 2
Deborah A. Cooke
Free sample

A valiant warrior sworn to the order of the Knights Templar for life, Wulfe resents being dispatched on a quest to Paris just when the Latin Kingdoms are at their most vulnerable. He is determined to fulfill his duty as quickly as possible and return to fight for justice—but the courtesan he defends in Venice is resolved to remain at his side until she saves his life in return. The alluring and perceptive Christina will not be left behind, and soon Wulfe finds himself forced to choose between his vows and his heart... 

* * *

The Champions of St. Euphemia series follows the quest of a group of knights entrusted with a treasure in Jerusalem which they must deliver safely to Paris on their way to their respective homes. They find adventure and peril on the way, as well as romance. Since the stories overlap and build upon each other, they should be read in order.

1. The Crusader's Bride

2. The Crusader's Heart

3. The Crusader's Kiss

4. The Crusader's Vow

5. The Crusader's Handfast

* * *

Templar, knight, medieval, action adventure, quest, treasure, disguise, secret identity, lost heir, widow, arranged marriage, marriage of convenience, friends to lovers, scottish, highlander, may december, warrior, jerusalem, venice, paris, scotland, england, robin hood, fish out of water

 

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About the author

Deborah Cooke sold her first book in 1992, a medieval romance called The Romance of the Rose published under her pseudonym Claire Delacroix. Since then, she has published over fifty novels in a wide variety of sub-genres, including historical romance, contemporary romance, paranormal romance, fantasy romance, time-travel romance, women’s fiction, paranormal young adult and fantasy with romantic elements. She has published under the names Claire Delacroix, Claire Cross and Deborah Cooke. The Beauty, part of her successful Bride Quest series of historical romances, was her first title to land on the New York Times List of Bestselling Books. Her books routinely appear on other bestseller lists and have won numerous awards. In 2009, she was the writer-in-residence at the Toronto Public Library, the first time the library has hosted a residency focused on the romance genre. In 2012, she was honored to receive the Romance Writers of America’s Mentor of the Year Award.

Currently, she writes paranormal romances featuring dragon shape shifter heroes under the name Deborah Cooke. She also writes medieval romances as Claire Delacroix. Deborah lives in Canada with her husband and family, as well as far too many unfinished knitting projects. 

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Additional Information

Publisher
Deborah A. Cooke
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Published on
Oct 20, 2015
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Pages
340
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ISBN
9781927477632
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Language
English
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Genres
Fiction / Romance / Action & Adventure
Fiction / Romance / Historical / Medieval
Fiction / Romance / Suspense
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Content Protection
This content is DRM free.
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Available on Android devices
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A pilgrimage to Jerusalem with her mistress has left the maid Radegunde determined to live every moment to the fullest. She dreads the return to routine and her inevitable marriage to a reliable man, so convinces the warrior Duncan to make merry with her while their respective masters linger in Paris. Dancing and singing are not the sole revels in Radegunde’s plans, for she means to taste passion with this man who snared her attention in Venice. Duncan is convinced his own heart is lost forever, but Radegunde’s allure cannot be denied. When he surrenders to her seduction, Duncan suggests a handfast, knowing that even this honor is far less than she deserves. Radegunde, however, is not interested in half-measures, and resolves to win Duncan’s love, no matter what the cost. Will she succeed in her quest? Or will their paths part forever, and do as much too soon? 

* * *

The Champions of St. Euphemia series follows the quest of a group of knights entrusted with a treasure in Jerusalem which they must deliver safely to Paris on their way to their respective homes. They find adventure and peril on the way, as well as romance. Since the stories overlap and build upon each other, they should be read in order.

1. The Crusader's Bride

2. The Crusader's Heart

3. The Crusader's Kiss

4. The Crusader's Vow

5. The Crusader's Handfast

* * *

Templar, knight, medieval, action adventure, quest, treasure, disguise, secret identity, lost heir, widow, arranged marriage, marriage of convenience, friends to lovers, scottish, highlander, may december, warrior, jerusalem, venice, paris, scotland, england, robin hood, fish out of water

 

A company of Templar knights, chosen by the Grand Master of the Temple in Jerusalem to deliver a sealed trunk to the Temple in Paris. A group of pilgrims seeking the protection of the Templars to return home as the Muslims prepare to besiege the city. A mysterious treasure that someone will even kill to possess...

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? 

* * *

The Champions of St. Euphemia series follows the quest of a group of knights entrusted with a treasure in Jerusalem which they must deliver safely to Paris on their way to their respective homes. They find adventure and peril on the way, as well as romance. Since the stories overlap and build upon each other, they should be read in order.

1. The Crusader's Bride

2. The Crusader's Heart

3. The Crusader's Kiss

4. The Crusader's Vow

5. The Crusader's Handfast

* * *

Templar, knight, medieval, action adventure, quest, treasure, disguise, secret identity, lost heir, widow, arranged marriage, marriage of convenience, friends to lovers, scottish, highlander, may december, warrior, jerusalem, venice, paris, scotland, england, robin hood, fish out of water

A company of Templar knights, chosen by the Grand Master of the Temple in Jerusalem to deliver a sealed trunk to the Temple in Paris. A group of pilgrims seeking the protection of the Templars to return home as the Muslims prepare to besiege the city. A mysterious treasure that someone will even kill to possess...

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? 

* * *

The Champions of St. Euphemia series follows the quest of a group of knights entrusted with a treasure in Jerusalem which they must deliver safely to Paris on their way to their respective homes. They find adventure and peril on the way, as well as romance. Since the stories overlap and build upon each other, they should be read in order.

1. The Crusader's Bride

2. The Crusader's Heart

3. The Crusader's Kiss

4. The Crusader's Vow

5. The Crusader's Handfast

* * *

Templar, knight, medieval, action adventure, quest, treasure, disguise, secret identity, lost heir, widow, arranged marriage, marriage of convenience, friends to lovers, scottish, highlander, may december, warrior, jerusalem, venice, paris, scotland, england, robin hood, fish out of water

The maiden was just another treasure to be won—until she stole his heart and changed his life forever.

Outraged that her beloved brother’s soul is to be the Fae tithe to Hell, Elizabeth knows that she must save him. She is the only one in her family who can see the Fae, after all, and is already cursed by their king herself. Malcolm may have offered to replace his comrade out of honor, but Elizabeth knows who better deserves to live—and it is not the handsome rogue, Rafael, who is concerned with his own welfare alone. It should be easy to make a wager with a mercenary, especially as Elizabeth does not care about the cost to herself. To her surprise, though, Rafael proves to be the man who not only takes her dare, but banishes the Fae king’s curse with kisses that turn her blood to fire. Could this hardened warrior, who appears to have no heart, be the destined love she has awaited?

At first glimpse, Rafael believes Elizabeth to be an angel sent to judge him—and he knows what her verdict will be. He has made choices in order to survive, and is not proud of them. But Elizabeth dares him to change, with an audacity that awakens a nobility of purpose that Rafael has forgotten he possessed. Can this bold maiden heal the wounds of his past? Can Rafael earn the right to grant her the life she deserves—and do so before the Fae king springs his trap, making Elizabeth his captive forever? 

*****

I’ve written many series set in my fictional medieval Scottish world of Ravensmuir, Kinfairlie and Inverfyre. This is the order in which the stories take place, although you can start with any series. I recommend you read each series in order.

There’s a tab on my website for ALL books in this world:

http://delacroix.net/ravensmuir/

 

I. The Rogues of Ravensmuir

This is the first series to take place in this world. These three books are a bit more gothic in tone and less tightly linked to each other than the books in subsequent series.

 

1. The Rogue

Merlyn and Ysabella’s story is a second chance romance with a bit of intrigue and suspense. Their relationship is a class war - he’s the laird and she’s a village girl - but there’s an immediate attraction between them. Can Merlyn trust in love at first sight? Can Ysabella trust her rogue of a husband when he returns five years after their parting to ask for her help? This is the first book featuring Ravensmuir and in it, we learn the story of its sister holding, Kinfairlie.

 

2. The Scoundrel

Can a notorious bad boy like Merlyn’s brother Gawain be redeemed by love? In this story, Gawain meets his match, the enticing Eglantine, who is not just as adept a thief as he is but is prepared to seduce him to regain the prize she desires. This is cat-and-mouse story of action, adventure and intrigue takes us from York to the highlands of Scotland, to Eglantine’s home at Inverfyre.

 

3. The Warrior

At the end of The Scoundrel, Inverfyre is lost to the notorious MacLaren clan, but years later, Eglantine and Gawain’s son Michael - the Hawk of Inverfyre - returns to reclaim his legacy. He has need of an heir so he abducts Aileen to be his bride, never guessing that these two have shared a great passion in their past lives. At Inverfyre, Aileen is plagued by visions and fears she is going mad, while the Hawk is uncertain whether his beguiling new bride can be trusted—or whether she has let the MacLarens in the gate. This medieval Scottish romance has some fantasy elements as it’s a reincarnation story.

 

II. The Jewels of Kinfairlie

At the end of The Warrior, there is a family gathering at Inverfyre. We briefly meet Merlyn and Ysabella’s son Roland, his wife Catherine, and their eight children. This series begins several years later, after Roland and Catherine’s tragic death, when their oldest son Alexander suddenly becomes laird. The treasury is empty. The harvest will be poor. Alexander needs to see his sisters married as quickly as possible, but they wish to wed for love.

 

1. The Beauty Bride

Alexander arranges an auction for the hand of his defiant sister, intending to manage the list of bidders - but a notorious mercenary, Rhys fitzHenry, pays the highest price. This arranged marriage doesn’t begin well, as Madeline is a runaway bride, but Rhys pursues her, saves her, and tries to court her. I love that Rhys tells Madeline stories to win her heart, and that she quickly figures out that each choice of story reveals one of her husband’s secrets. 

 

2. The Rose Red Bride

Alexander thinks he’s learned his lesson and is thrilled when Vivienne’s former suitor, Nicholas Sinclair, wants to claim her hand. It’s a little uncommon that Nicholas wants to abduct his bride, but Alexander is sure that Vivienne will think that a romantic gesture, and when the wedding is held in the morning, all will be well. But the highlander seeking Alexander’s agreement isn’t Nicholas - it’s his brother Erik in disguise, a man who needs a wife only because he needs a son to claim his legacy. He’s not counting on Vivienne stealing his heart, too.

 

3. The Snow White Bride

It’s Christmas at Kinfairlie and a mysterious noblewoman seeks refuge in the chapel. When the sisters learn that she’s a widow in need of protection, they decide to play a trick on Alexander and arrange his marriage. Eleanor thinks husbands are all the same, so is agreeable, although she isn’t counting on Alexander’s youth, charm, and desire to claim her heart. When her past catches up to her and Kinfairlie is at risk, how much will Eleanor sacrifice to see her new husband safe? What price will Alexander pay to defend his bride?

 

4. The Ballad of Rosamunde

Rosamunde, the pirate queen and aunt of the siblings at Kinfairlie, was adopted by Gawain in The Scoundrel and trapped in the realm of the Fae in The Rose Red Bride. In this short story, a friends-to-lovers story, Padraig rescues Rosamunde, his valor making her realize that she loves him, too. 

 

III. The True Love Brides

At the end of The Snow White Bride, Alexander decrees that his remaining sisters will marry for love. The portal to the realm of the Fae has been opened, though, and the Fae king Finvarra desires Elizabeth. Finvarra agrees that he will abandon his suit if four of the siblings marry their true loves, although Elizabeth knows that the portal to the Fae realm has to be closed as well.

 

1. The Renegade’s Heart

Isabella is smitten with a rogue knight, come to Kinfairlie to demand the return of his family’s stolen treasure. She takes Murdoch’s cause against that of her brother, then learns that Murdoch has been claimed by the Fae queen - who holds his heart still. Can a mortal maiden defeat an immortal queen by winning Murdoch’s love for her own? 

 

2. The Highlander’s Curse

Garrett is cursed to hear the thoughts of others as clearly as his own, a spell intended to make him an outcast so his legacy could be stolen. He finds solace in the company and the touch of gentle Annelise. Can Annelise’s love heal him so he can recover his stolen legacy and give her the home - and the husband - she deserves?

 

3. The Frost Maiden’s Kiss

Malcolm returns to Ravensmuir after years as a mercenary with a hoard large enough to finance the rebuilding of his legacy and his soul due to the Fae. When pregnant Catriona arrives at Ravensmuir, Malcolm knows he can give her a future with a marriage of convenience that makes her child heir to Ravensmuir. Catriona expects nothing of men, but Malcolm’s kindness and strength earns her love - and makes her determined to save his soul, regardless of the price. 

 

4. The Warrior’s Prize

The mercenary Rafael thinks his companion’s sister, Elizabeth, could be an angel come to earth, and one who will hold him accountable for his sins. Challenged by her and enticed by her, Rafael offers himself instead of his comrade Malcolm and begins to change his life with his choices. Can he save Elizabeth from Finvarra? He’s determined to try, no matter what the risk to himself - and Elizabeth cannot resist a man who chooses nobly, just for her.

 

IV. The Brides of Inverfyre

There is one sibling left unmarried (Ross) and we follow him to Inverfyre, where the children of the Hawk and Aileen also need to be married.

 

1. The Mercenary’s Bride

This Scottish medieval romance is a Christmas novella, the story of a knight returning to Inverfyre to keep his promise to the laird’s daughter. Having been attacked and left for dead, Quentin is no longer the man he was and he blames the Hawk for the change in his fortunes. But his bitterness melts before the admiration of Mhairi, for the maiden he admired has become a beauty he would die to serve. 

 

2. The Runaway Bride

Even though Aiofe is a beauty and an heiress, she wants to marry for love. Her marriage is arranged to the oldest son of the Hawk of Inverfyre, but she chooses to flee instead, hoping that his cousin, Ross, will be sent after her. Aiofe intends to claim Ross’s heart, no matter the price, for she knows with one glimpse that he’s the man for her. Ross is caught between his duty and his heart - and the wicked MacLarens who would use Aiofe as a pawn in their own plan to possess Inverfyre. 

 

There will be more stories in this series, too. 

 

There are Family Trees for Inverfyre, Ravensmuir and Kinfairlie available as free downloads in my online store. The links are on my website, right here:

http://delacroix.net/ravensmuir/family-trees/
*****
medieval romance, historical romance, scottish romance, marriage of convenience, runaway bride, outlaw hero, beauty and the beast, scotland, wales, action adventure, intrigue

 

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