Farran de Clare, loyal member of the cursed Knights Templar, wants nothing to do with predestined mates. Even the Almighty won’t turn him into a fool again—he’d rather sacrifice his soul. Yet in the scientist Noelle Keane, a devout atheist, Farran meets the seraph designed for him.
Ordered by the archangel Gabriel to protect Noelle, the possessor of a sacred relic that could give Azazel incredible power, Farran swears to do his duty—but in name only. Fighting an attraction that grows with each day, he’s determined that he’ll never pledge himself to her.
As they war over her future, their mutual passion ignites a conflict far more damning. But before Noelle will agree to eternity with him, she demands the ultimate sacrifice – his heart.
“This series (The Curse of the Templars) is explosive, sexy, riveting, and Claire Ashgrove is a master of her craft.” ~ NYTimes Bestselling Author, Maggie Shayne
Farran stared up at Noelle, cursing her bad luck, the Almighty, and his fate. He well knew how terror could trap a person, had seen it countless times with unseasoned knights. In her unmoving position, he recognized the signs too clearly. This was no act meant to gain his sympathy. ’Twas no ploy to soften his anger over her attempt at escape. She was truly terrified.
“Damnation,” he muttered beneath his breath.
He closed his eyes with an inward prayer his stomach would not revolt and made the mark of the cross over his chest. Eyeing her, he strode to the ladder. She would pay for this later. He would find a way to make certain she came to regret her attempt at escape.
Do not look down. He chanted the mantra as he climbed the icy rungs. In less time than he had imagined, he arrived at her feet. Holding on with one hand, he placed the other on her calf. “I am here. Climb down.”
’Twas then he noticed the shaking of her shoulders, heard her muffled tears. When she did not move, he gave her leg a squeeze. “Noelle, come down. I will not let you fall.”
“I’m scared,” she murmured.
Saints’ blood, she did not intend to make this easy. Aye, indeed, he would lock her in her rooms at the temple for a week.
He assessed her position, made note of the little space her tiny body occupied. Carefully, he tucked his feet between hers and the side rails and eased his body up her legs. When he had pinned her between the ladder and his chest, he stopped. “Grab on to me.”
She let go with one hand, then clutched at the rail with a fierce shake of her head. “I can’t. I can’t, Farran.”
At the sound of her broken voice, all his defenses shuddered like a door under the barrage of a battering ram. The anger her defiance provoked dissolved with her sniffle. Deep in his gut, a heavy knot unwound. He pressed his body into hers, molded his thighs around her legs. Holding on with one hand, he pried her fingers off the metal and guided her hand to his shoulder. “Turn around, damsel,” he encouraged quietly. “Wind your arms around my neck, and we shall descend together. I swear to you, I will not let you fall.”
A little about Claire Ashgrove:
Award-Winning 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 romances, Claire’s paranormal romance series, The Curse of the Templars debuted with Tor in January 2012. For those who prefer the more erotic side of romance, she also writes for Berkley Heat as the National Bestselling Author Tori St. Claire.
She is an active member of Romance Writers of America, and her local RWA chapters, Heartland Romance Authors, Midwest Romance Writers, and North Texas Romance Writers of America.Claire lives in Missouri with her two sons and too-many horses, cats, and dogs. In her “free” time, she enjoys cooking, winning at Rummy, studying Ancient Civilizations, and spending quiet moments with her family, including the critters.
To learn more about Claire, visit her on the web at www.claireashgrove.com, or www.toristclaire.com. You can also connect with her via Facebook, and Twitter.
I was luck to be able to catch a bit of her time to answer a few of my questions. A small feat with her busy scheduel.
Do you do anything to get you into the zone to write?
Nothing exciting, I’m afraid. I wait until the house is sleeping, usually including the critters, fix a cup of coffee and sit down and go. I write until I quite literally fall asleep at the keys.
At the moment, I’m fascinated with Meljean Brooks’ world building. As a rule though, it’s usually Steve Berry, Meredith Duran, and R.A. Salvatore.
What is your favorite book, character and why?
Gosh this is so hard. There are so many good books out there that I adore. I’m going to have to go with a tripe answer, I’m afraid. Scarlet O’Hara from Gone With the Wind, followed very closely by her polar opposite, Melanie Hamilton. I love these women. Scarlet is such a tough cookie, so stubborn, so determined, even as she chases an ideal, not a reality. Her determination, despite she’s not so very role modelesque, is something I admire a great deal. Her strength. Melly too is also extremely strong. Strong quiet type where Scarlet is more in your face strength.
Do you prefer to write erotic or sweet?
Not sweet, definitely not sweet – I’ve never written a ‘sweet romance’ in my life. But nitty gritty erotic is sometimes hard to do. I have to really put on a different hat to be “Tori St. Claire”. So I would say I’m most comfortable with a middle ground – hot and steamy.
Which famous person, living or dead, are you drawn to?
Thomas Jefferson. I don’t know why exactly, but I’ve been drawn to him since I was a small child learning about our nation.
Where do you see yourself in five years?
Finish this sentence: I know I’ve made it when ___
my barns are all back in tip-top shape and I have an employee helping on the farm.
What advice would you give aspiring writers?
Other than the standard “never give up”, I think one of the most important things an author can do is keep one eye firmly fixed on the business of writing, particularly in today’s publishing world. Knowing the business, acting somewhat like a publisher in your own approach, and being aware of the potential pitfalls, will only help build a stronger foundation that you can grow from.
What do you see yourself writing in the future?
As I said, I’m really very happy where I am right now. I love writing romance. I do have some other interests, that if I pursue them won’t be in the pen name you all currently know, that I’d like to see take flight. Epic Fantasy and general historical fiction.
If you could have one superpower what would it be and why?
’m caught between the ability to fly – I lose so much time to driving everywhere. And the ability to clone myself. I need four of me in one day to get everything done. Laugh!
What time of the day are you at your best to write?
In the middle of the night, almost always. I’m a nightowl, and I despise mornings. Afternoons usually make me sleepy and evenings are always full of distractions.
And now for something completely different…
What do you look at first with an attractive man or woman, face, body or smile?
Usually it’s the face, but I’m more drawn to the smile. Yet so many times the smile comes after the first look.
Explain your perfect day.
My perfect day would be getting up around 10 in the morning, having my children at home (summer most likely) and spending the majority of the mid-morning and early afternoon riding or working with the horses. Then I’d have the evenings free for family time and cooking, and then I could curl up and write until I started all over again the next day.
What is the most decadent desert you can’t say no to?
Do you have a favorite holiday what is it and what makes it special to you?
Christmas. It’s the only time I don’t feel like a fool for decorating to the hilt, spending hours baking, and engaging in all things traditional. I despise winter and the cold, but I love the traditions that come with Christmas, and there’s nothing better than watching the kids’ smiles light up when they tear into the gifts.
What key words describe you best?
Ecclectic, strong, determined, loyal, zany.
Claire is giving away one digital copy of any one of her backlist books, excepting those in the Templar series, to one randomly drawn commenter at each stop on the blog tour. In addition, commenters’ names will be added into the tour-end drawing of a 25.00 Amazon gift card. Follow the tour – the more you comment, the better your chances of winning. Complete tour dates can be found here.