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A Noble Knight...
Once, Lady Alissende de Montague and Sir Damien de Ashby were passionate, secret lovers — until the day Alissende had to turn her back on him, shattering both their hearts and changing their lives forever. Knowing he would never love another, Damien cast off all earthly concerns to dedicate his life to the Templar Knights. But now, his life endangered, he is thrust back into a world he'd left...
A Noble Knight...
Once, Lady Alissende de Montague and Sir Damien de Ashby were passionate, secret lovers — until the day Alissende had to turn her back on him, shattering both their hearts and changing their lives forever. Knowing he would never love another, Damien cast off all earthly concerns to dedicate his life to the Templar Knights. But now, his life endangered, he is thrust back into a world he'd left behind...coming face-to-face with the proud beauty who'd once spurned him.
A Wicked Promise...
Alissende will use her influence to save the man she still loves in exchange for his protection from the detestable, powerful earl bent on claiming her. It is a perilous bargain, forcing Damien to reunite with the one woman who could make him reject his vows for the temptations of the flesh. For their love rekindled will only burn deeper, threatening to consume them in the flames of dangerous intrigue and forbidden desires...
A cottage along the coast of England
Three weeks later
Heat pressed down, the sun glinting through the branches of trees to caress Damien's skin. He was hot. Exhausted, too, but in a pleasing way. He rested on his back, replete, one muscled forearm shielding his eyes from the brightness . . . though not from the sight of her, just visible through that slit of space between his brow and arm.
Alissende . . .
She was so beautiful sitting beside him, with her long, dark hair curling over her breast, her hands busy with something.
"What are you doing?" he asked with a lazy smile, amazed that she could do aught after what had just passed between them. He shifted his shoulder a bit to see her better.
She offered that impish look of hers before glancing to him with an expression in her violet-blue eyes that set a new blaze of heat uncoiling through him. But she did not speak, only opening her palms to reveal handfuls of bruised, pale green leaves.
The scent of mint teased his senses an instant before she brushed her hands over his naked chest, and he made a low sound of pleasure at the cooling sensation left in the wake of her touch on his sun-heated skin. So good, that feeling . . . so good . . . and after a moment he reached up to her to pull her close, rolling her beneath him again to take her mouth with his, fully and deeply. . . .
Light stabbed into Damien's eyelids, jerking him away from the sweetness of his dream. He frowned, his lids aching with the effort of forcing them open. Through the hard-woncrack of vision, he noted the blurry outline of a long-robed form pushing open a shutter of some kind. Even brighter sunlight flooded the room, then, blinding him, and he made a noise in his throat, turning his head away, trying to lift his arm to block the glare. He could not. His wrists were bound to the frame of padded platform upon which he lay.
Nausea swept through him. Dark, impotent sickness at the memory of such bonds on him before. So many times before, with so much pain that followed . . .
With a strangled growl, he wrenched at the straps that held him, needing to break free, determined to keep from suffering under their diabolical hands and fiendish instruments again. In his struggle, his only covering -- a length of cloth or blanket that had been thrown across the lower half of his body -- began to slide away, but it was of no matter, for he must free himself . . . he had to break free this time or die in the trying. . . .
"Be still, Sir Damien, or you will tear the stitches I labored so long to put in for you."
The low voice penetrated Damien's mind, along with the sliding, welcome sensation of the cloth being draped over his legs and groin once more. Something about that voice triggered a memory. It was the same one from before, from the night he'd been carried away from his cell. Peace, man, there will be no further harm to you with us. . . .
The voice echoed in his thoughts again, and, ignoring the renewed hurts that seemed to sweep through his body with the effort, he raised his head as much as he could, squinting anew to make out the owner of those soothing tones. Slowly, the chamber came into focus. It was a roughly hewn cottage, from the looks of the wattle-and-daub walls and bare window holes; the raw-cut square openings were protected by naught but the shutters that had only recently been pushed open.
Finally, he could see the chamber's other occupant. It was a man, though somewhat older than he'd expected from the youthful lilt of his voice. He looked to be twoscore or a little more perhaps, tall but not overly slender; in fact, he was built like one who handled weaponry, though with short-cut reddish hair and a smooth-shaven face that precluded him from being among the ranks of the Templar Order.
So it was not his former brothers-in-arms who had liberated him, then. "Where -- ?" Damien tried to rasp past tongue and throat that felt as if he'd eaten a handful of sand. He swallowed, shaking his head before lifting it up again to demand hoarsely, "Where am I -- and why bound?"
"Easy, man, you have just awakened at long last . . . one question at a time. They will be answered before long," the stranger said, taking a seat next to Damien and helping him to a sip of cool water from a beaker that stood near a pitcher on the table. It felt like heaven, that coolness sliding down his parched throat, and Damien gulped at it, until his caretaker tipped it away and set it back on the table with a clicking sound of his tongue.
"Too much so quickly will make you ill. You will have more soon," he added with a reassuring nod in response to the avidity he apparently saw in Damien's eyes. "First, let us dispense with these bindings, shall we?" he murmured, leaning over to untie Damien's wrists from the pallet's sturdy frame. "You have been thrashing about in your fever these many days, and so I was forced to secure you like this to keep you from tearing your stitches, or from dislodging the poultices I'd applied to your burns."
Rubbing his wrists once he was free of the ties, Damien deliberately kept his mind from traveling to the place of memory at how and when those still-throbbing injuries had been inflicted upon him. He remained silent, watching the man beside him shake his head and make that clicking sound with his tongue again while he leaned over and prodded with gentle fingertips, checking some of the stitching he'd just mentioned.
"It was all I could do to bring you back to the land of the living, I do confess it," the man murmured. "When I first examined the extent of your injuries after your deliverance, I feared your inquisitors had done their worst."Sinful Pleasures. Copyright © by Mary Reed McCall. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
Posted June 28, 2006
SINFUL PLEASURES, Mary Reed McCall¿s second book in her Templar Knights Trilogy is a gloriously romantic story and an outstanding historical drama based in part on true events. In this exceptionally talented author¿s skillful hands ~ all the adventure, excitement, political intrigue and rich pageantry of the Medieval Era, as well as, the hardships, conflicts and, life and death struggles faced by the people of that time are seamlessly woven into the storyline and vividly brought to life for the enjoyment of the reader. But it never feels like a history lesson because the author never lets the setting overshadow the beauty of the love story that can be only described ~ as a lush, emotionally charged, sensual delight¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿ The story begins about 6 months after the start of the Inquisition, in a chateau in France where Lady Alissende of Surry has gone to seek refuge. Lady Alissende, a lovely and wealthy young widow is being pressured by her well-meaning mother and Cousin Michael to accept a proxy marriage in order to save herself from being taken by force by her ruthless and unscrupulous Cousin Hugh, the Earl of Harwick ~ whose suit has the Kings support. After suffering in a loveless marriage for four years, Alissende would rather not marry at all, but like most women of her times, she knows she really has no way of protecting herself from the schemes, intrigues and whims of powerful men like the King or Hugh. Michael tells her she needs a strong man to defeat Hugh but it also must appear be a `reason of the heart¿ to pacify the King. He thinks the best choice for her husband is none other than Damien de Ashby the man she had so foolishly and publicly rejected five years earlier ~ the man she truly never stopped loving¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿. Our hero, Damien de Ashby ~ fought hard to rise above his common blood and humble beginnings to become a strong, proud, and honorable knight. Once a well respected and nearly unbeatable tournament champion, known for his brave pure heart and fine face he was nicknamed the Archangel. After being openly spurned and humiliated in front of nearly two hundred members of King Edward¿s court by Alissende ~ the woman who had shown him love beyond compare¿ but then coldly trampled his heart ~ a stunned and devastated Damien left England to devote his life the Templars. However, in October of 1307 King Philip the Fair of France declared all Templar Knights Heretics and called for their immediate arrest. Now, after spending several months in a French prison being subjected to unspeakable tortures by the Inquisition, Damien is rescued and brought back to health from the brink of death only to be asked to marry and offer his protection to Alissende ~ the one person he thought he¿d never see again in his lifetime. And the one person he¿s afraid he¿ll fall in love with all over again¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿.. In this well-plotted story Ms. McCall unveils a gripping and deeply passionate love story between the physically and emotionally scarred hero, Damien and the genuinely remorseful, tender and fun-loving heroine, Alissende. As these remarkable characters rediscover their love for each other the author treats us to beautifully written love scenes that sizzle with passion and steamy sensuality ~ most especially my favorite, the ¿erotic picnic¿ in Chapter 18¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿. SINFUL PLEASURES is an exquisite tale of two lovers destined to be reunited and joined together ~ body, heart and soul ~ for all time. This heartwarming and unforgettable story is not to be missed ~ I can¿t recommend it enough.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted December 9, 2008
They were young lovers in love, but she humiliated him in public disdainfully rebuffing his advances. Angrily he left her and joined the Templar Knights. Now in the year of our Lord 1308, Damien de Ashby sits in a French prison awaiting the so called regal justice of the Inquisition. When his former lover Lady Alissende de Montague learns of his incarceration, the widow arranges for his freedom paying a heavy ransom for his release. Alissende fears a forced second marriage so her plan calls for her to wed Damien by proxy so that each can have their freedom. However, Damien wants to confront the woman he still loves with neither expecting the attraction to be so strong considering their history. An unknown adversary wants the Templar dead and the widow married to him that foe waits for the moment to strike terror in the hearts of the lovers. --- SINFUL PLEASURES is wonderful medieval romance that transports readers back to Inquisition France at a time when the Templars are outlawed and being hunted down. The story line stars two courageous individuals whose love for one another in spite of their tribulations and the intrigue and danger ever near, still remains strong. Mary Reed McCall makes the fourteenth century come alive. --- Harriet KlausnerWas this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted October 22, 2008
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