In THE TEMPLAR'S SEDUCTION, Mary Reed McCall's final book in her Templar Knights Trilogy (Beyond Temptation: The Templar Knights (Avon Romance) & Sinful Pleasures: The Templar Knights (Avon Romance)), this extraordinarily talented author spins an alluring, thrilling and intensely emotional tale set in the tumultuous medieval times; and perfectly layers it with her expressive and vivid writing style and diligent attention to historical detail. She gives her readers a true feel for all the elements--courageousness, fearlessness, chivalry and heroism--that exemplify the heart of that time period. And also introduces us to two remarkable and endearing people--who unwillingly become entangled in a complicated web of dishonesty and deception--but whose lives are ultimately renewed by the redemptive and healing power of "selfless" love.
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 putting the needs of others first, and loving Beth more than himself--Alex redeems himself, reclaims his honor and integrity... and ultimately, his soul.
Mary Reed McCall's masterful telling of this poignant and tender tale will make you a firm believer in the saving power of love ... because sometimes who we are, and more importantly, who we become, can be determined by who we love--and those who love us.
For me, THE TEMPLAR'S SEDUCTION was everything a great romance story should be; romantic, sensually passionate, inspiring and wonderfully uplifting--and a very fitting and incredibly satisfying end to the Templar's trilogy.