For the final volume of her Templar trilogy (after Sinful Pleasures), McCall trots out an unlikely hero: the valor-deficient Sir Alexander de Ashby, a disgraced Templar Knight sentenced to death for trying to sell Templar treasure. Though he's "rarely capable of living up to his word," Alex is offered a chance at freedom if he agrees to impersonate the earl of Marston, a Scottish laird who recently died in prison, and who bore an uncanny resemblance to Alex. His mission is to infiltrate a border castle as a spy for the English. After intense coaching, Alex is ready to assume his role-but will his act convince the earl's fiery wife, Lady Elizabeth? Immediately smitten, Alex's passionate lovemaking and subsequent guilt almost give him away. As his love deepens, he comes to realize how his imminent betrayal and abandonment will hurt Elizabeth, but he also knows that his best friend John, still held by the English, will be killed if his mission is compromised. As Alex discovers his hidden heroism, he begins to form a plan that will protect Elizabeth and restore his reputation among the Templar. McCall's unconventional but engaging hero, strong heroine and fresh plot twists make this another winning historical. (June)Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
The Templar's Seduction (Templar Knights Series #3)by Mary Reed McCall
Only a lie will save his life . . .
Sentenced to the gallows for trying to sell the treasures of the Knights Templar, Sir Alexander de Ashby has one chance for survival. The scoundrel must impersonate the late Earl of Marston, to whom he bears an uncanny resemblance, and infiltrate the lord's border castle. But first he must convince the earl's beautiful/p>
Only a lie will save his life . . .
Sentenced to the gallows for trying to sell the treasures of the Knights Templar, Sir Alexander de Ashby has one chance for survival. The scoundrel must impersonate the late Earl of Marston, to whom he bears an uncanny resemblance, and infiltrate the lord's border castle. But first he must convince the earl's beautiful Scottish bride that his rightful place is in her bed.
But only love can save his soul.
Relieved that the story of her long-absent husband's death was false—and enticed by a wild, sensuous side of him she had never experienced before—Lady Elizabeth cautiously welcomes "the earl" back into her heart, unaware that the breathtaking imposter intends to vanish. But escape may be impossible even after his secret is revealed. For now Alexander burns for the proud, remarkable lady . . . and desires nothing more than to live—and die, if he must—for a glorious love born of deception and sin.
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The Templar's Seduction
Two weeks later
Inglewood Forest, near Carlisle, northern England
He was going to hang at dawn.
Sir Alexander de Ashby tipped his head back against the oak to which his arms were secured and lifted his face to the afternoon sky. Squinting through the glare and trying to ignore the sting of the oozing cut on his brow, he looked to see whether this sturdy fellow had branches large enough to bear the rope that would end his miserable life once and for all.
Just then a puff of hot breeze ruffled the leaves overhead. It swirled through the treetops, dying away almost as soon as it began, but its action allowed the sun to stab into his eyes. It cut a direct path to the throbbing lump on the back of his skull—a parting gift from one of the half-dozen or so English soldiers who had beset him here a few hours ago.
The only soldier he'd left standing, damn it.
Tipping his chin back down, Alex closed his eyes and made an effort to think past the pounding in his head. He supposed the outcome of that little scuffle with the king's finest was why he'd be hanging come the morrow. He'd killed at least two of them, he knew, and the other three hadn't looked likely to get up for quite some time. But that sixth one . . .
A sharp pain suddenly streaked from his shoulders down his arms, as his bonds were yanked from behind.
"At attention, you mangy son of a mongrel bitch!"
Ah, yes, that sixth one . . .
Alex opened his eyes again to meet the hostile gaze of the one soldier who'd somehow gotten beneath his defenses. Instinctively hetightened the muscles of his stomach in preparation for the fist he expected to land there next. But this time the man didn't follow through with his usual blow. Nay, he was standing with his spine stiff as a blade, and his face, which was nicely marred with its own arrays of cuts and bruises, Alex noted with satisfaction, controlled. The soldier had shifted his gaze to a point just past Alex's shoulder, his entire demeanor professional.
In the next moment, Alex realized why.
Another man stepped into view from behind the tree. He was clearly the guard's superior, and by the quality of his clothing, he was also a man of title. Walking with slow, measured steps, he came around to face Alex. Then he just stood still. He did not speak as he perused Alex, from the tip of his scuffed boots, up his legs and torso, covered by a shirt ripped in several places, to the top of his head. As his chill blue gaze locked with Alex's own, his face remained impassive—but for the slight flare of his nostrils and the glimmer of something that filled the expressionless depths of his eyes for an instant before he mastered it.
Alex met that stare with cool insolence, allowing his lip to curl up on one side in mockery. The action was instinctive and the kind of thing that had landed him in trouble on many occasions before. But he didn't attempt to quell it. If he was being honest with himself, he knew he wouldn't have anyway, even if he'd still had something to lose.
The locked stare lasted for a count of eight or ten before the nobleman moved. Turning sharply on his heel, he stalked away a few yards to say something to the guard. Far enough that Alex couldn't make out his words. After a moment's hesitation, the younger man favored Alex with another biting glare before striding past him, his boots crunching on the accumulated twigs blanketing the forest floor.
And then the nobleman swung his gaze back to Alex and spoke directly to him.
"You seem to have cut quite a path of destruction through my men this morn, Sir—?"
"Alexander de Ashby," Alex answered without hesitation. It would serve no purpose to be hanged in anonymity, after all. There was always the chance that Damien might hear of the matter someday and have the peace of knowing what had become of him.
His jaw tightened as that thought of his younger brother swept through his mind; he forced himself to quash it, not wanting any inkling of weakness to be apparent in his expression as he faced this pompous English lord. Nay, he'd save any thoughts he might have of Damien and their difficult past for the lonely hours tonight, as he prepared for what would come at dawn.
"Sir Alexander," the nobleman intoned. His hands were laced behind him, and he rocked back a bit on his heels, tipping his head to the side and giving a brief nod.
"And you are?" Alex asked, his disrespectful tone begging for reprisal, he knew. But to hell with it. That he faced death on the morrow didn't mean he had to cower like a dog in the meantime. There was naught this lord could do to him that the French Inquisitors had not already put him through during the nearly two years they'd held him as a Templar Knight in the hell of their prisons, except to hang him, of course. But even that would be over with soon enough.
The nobleman looked taken aback at first, but he recovered to answer in a clipped voice, "I am Roger de Gravelin, the Earl of Exford."
Alex felt a tiny shock go through him. The Earl of Exford? Even absent as he'd been from England during his time of service with the Brotherhood, Alex knew that name. The Gravelins had curried favor from the king and a good deal of power in the north for their commitment to England in her long-standing battles against the Scots. Lord Exford was likely the most powerful border lord in the realm.The Templar's Seduction. Copyright � by Mary Reed McCall. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
Meet the Author
Mary Reed McCall once studied at the University of Leningrad and considered a career in national security. However, she soon realized her calling lay elsewhere and turned to her love of books for inspiration, eventually becoming a high school English teacher and a romance writer. She began work on her first novel one week after completing her M.A. in English literature. The award-winning author of seven novels for Avon Books, Mary lives in upstate New York with her family, sharing an often crazy but always wonderful life.
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The Templar’s Seduction is book three of the Templar Knights series by American author, Mary Reed McCall. Sir Alexander de Ashby has an uncanny resemblance to Robert Kincaid, Earl of Marston, a feature his English captors decide to use to their advantage. Kincaid has been gone from Dunleavy for five years, apparently murdered in captivity. They blackmail Alex into posing as Kincaid to feed them information essential to their attack. Robert’s wife, Lady Elizabeth of Selkirk, has been fending off both the English and a neighbouring lord intent on acquiring Dunleavy. She is grateful when her husband reappears, if a little wary: as well schooled as Alex has been in Robert’s ways, something does not ring quite true. Alex woos the Lady and keeps his part of the bargain with the English, but begins to feel a more-than-passing attraction for Beth, and this feels guilty for his deception. Readers who like their Scottish history mixed with a bit of sexy romance may enjoy this one.
It's not that it is badly written, but in my opinion it should not be listed under historical fiction, it really has no place there! It should be listed under romantic novels. That's all it is, the 'actual plot' in it is secondary. How unfortunate for readers who expect a truly interesting work of historical fiction. I was hugely disappointed. This book has nothing to do with works from writers such as Elizabeth Chadwick, Sharon Kay Penman or Philippa Gregory. Sorry!
This spectacular and enthralling medieval drama opens as Dunleavy Castle an important border stronghold in the Lowlands of Scotland is faltering under the surprise attack from a neighboring Lord to their north, Archibald Drummond, the Earl of Lennox. Lennox believes the castle's lord, Robert Kincaid--after being held captive in an English prison for almost 5 years--has died finally succumbing to the tortures of their brutal and rigorous questioning. And he's decided now would be the perfect time to reclaim the valuable stronghold, and its lovely mistress--ostensibly--in the name of Scotland. ¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿.. However, he badly underestimates his opponent, Lady Elizabeth of Selkirk, the clever and capable mistress of Dunleavy. Recognizing many of her people are weary or hurt, and the castle's fortifications are crumbling--as this attack takes place just after a recent assault by English forces--she knows her home is in immediate danger of being breached. She boldly devises an outrageous and brazen plan to thwart the Earl's attempt overtake the castle. Her strategy being--the chauvinistic Lennox would never expect a mere woman to execute a counter-attack of such fearless daring... Beth's scheme to ambush her attackers works, and she triumphantly wins the day¿¿¿¿¿¿ Meanwhile, just 2 weeks later................................................ Former Templar Knight, Sir Alexander de Ashby, has been captured by the English forces and after having killed several of the soldiers in their attempt to subdue him, he is now tied to a tree awaiting his hanging at dawn. As he waits he dolefully reflects on his less than honorable life--admitting to himself that he's always lacked the nobility and integrity of his younger brother Damien and his fellow Templars. The only thing he felt he had to offer the world was the fact that he was a strong and brave fighter, and gifted swordsman--and these abilities had earned him a place in the esteemed Templar's Inner Circle¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿ But astonishingly, Roger de Gravelin, the powerful English Earl of Exford offers Alex a unique chance to save his life. He wants him to impersonate the recently deceased Earl of Marston--who Alex bears a distinct resemblance to--and help the English capture the Scottish stronghold being held by Marston's wife Elizabeth. To save his life Alex's agrees, but soon finds out that to ensure he keeps his end of the bargain, Lord Exford--knowing Alex is not to be trusted--will hold his fellow Templar and friend, Sir John de Clifton, as collateral. If Alex resists or rebels, John will suffer for it, and if fails--John will die! Alex realizes they'd found the key to compelling him to complete the task--saving his friend's life. ¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿. I truly enjoyed the THE TEMPLAR'S SEDUCTION--in turns it made me laugh, cry and sigh happily--as I fell in love with Alex and Beth. I admit to having a weak spot for a reluctant hero who struggles with his own sense of personal honor and Alexander de Ashby undeniably struggles mightily. He's not your archetypical hero, nor does he epitomize most of the characteristics we normally associate with a chivalrous knight. Alex doesn't hesitate to lie, cheat, steal or manipulate others to get his way, and he'll run away from his problems whenever possible. Yet, despite all this, I couldn't help but absolutely fall for him because any negative feelings I had toward him concerning his duplicity and deceitfulness, were mitigated by his growing love for Beth. ¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿. And Beth is no timid or faint-hearted lady either. She's an inspiring woman of spirit, inner strength, determination and irrepressible courage, and a resourceful adversary--the perfect match for Alex. I, like Beth, felt his genuine sorrow at hurting the one woman he ever truly loved, and his disgust of himself for not being worthy of her love. It made my heart melt for him, when I might otherwise have wanted her to kick him to the curb. *G* In the end, by putt
In 1309 for his attempts to sell sacred artifacts, disgraced former Templar Knight Sir Alexander de Ashby is sentenced to death. However, he is given a pardon of sorts if he agrees to pretend to being the recently deceased Scottish earl of Marston, who died in prison. Realizing his choice is between a brutal hanging and masquerading as some earl who he apparently resembles Alex accepts the Scottish ¿sentencing. In his assessment, he figures he not only stays alive but lives like an aristocrat and might find something worth selling. Besides which his best friend remains hostage to his successfully completing the assignment.-------------- Alex is warned that the toughest person to persuade that he is real thing is Marston¿s forceful spouse, Lady Elizabeth. He figures he could fool any female until he meets her. For the first time in his life he wants someone with his soul. However, his passion exposes him, as she knows this fake is a much better lover than Rob ever was. Soon the pretender concocts a plan to keep his beloved safe and free his friend, while restoring his name or dying with honor.----------------- The relationship (between the reforming roguish Alex and the reforming shrewish Elizabeth) makes for a great medieval romance. The final Templar tale (see SINFUL PLEASURES and BEYOND TEMPTATION) is fast-paced once Alex meets Elizabeth and never slows down as he continually goes over his options, which seem to be saving friend vs. his love. Readers will want to know if he chose the lady or the pal either way he assumes he loses although he underestimates his soulmate.--------- Harriet Klausner