Immortal Surrender
by Claire Ashgrove
(Tor Books, $7.99, PG13) ISBN 978-0-7653-6759-4
****
Immortal Surrender, the second book in The Curse of the Templar series, is a beautifully written love story set amid a mythical, religious background.

Dr. Noelle Keane is a scientist who carbon dates artifacts, she's devoted to science and believes she's practical and level-headed. She's asked to date a fragile cloth and is very surprised, as a devout atheist, to hear from her archeologist friend, Gabriel, that the cloth, called the Sudarium of Oviedo covered a body in the year 33, and is believed to be the burial cloth of Jesus. Noelle doesn't believe Gabriel's theory, only that the cloth is scientifically dated to be ancient as shown in her data.

Noelle's shocked when Gabriel tells her that the Sudarium is a very big deal to the outside world, there are reporters camped on the front steps of her lab, as well as a lot of devout Christians who would kill to have the artifact. He tells her he's arranged for her to have a personal guard on her flight to return the Sudarium to its owner.

When she meets her guard, Farran de Clare, she's immediately attracted to him but he quickly shuts her down with his complete disinterest. On the way to the airport, their vehicle is attacked and both Farran and Noelle are injured, forcing Farran to find a place of sanctuary for them to heal.

Farran isn't a regular guy, he is a Knight Templar, a cursed warrior who definitely isn't looking for his predestined life mate. After spending a small amount of time with Noelle, experiencing her delight with life, her unusual jewelry and scar, Farran is stunned to see that she is his seraph, his intended mate and love, one who will help him strengthen the Knights. Farran's full of anger and bitterness over the betrayal of his long-ago wife and son, a stewing cauldron of emotion unable to settle down and commit to anything except for the brotherhood of the knights.

Farran and Noelle's destined match is threatened further by Farran's descent into darkness that all Templar Knights are affected by, Noelle's own disbelief of all religion, and that the evil Azazel and his demons will stop at nothing to possess the Sudarium and kill Noelle the seraph to stop her aid to the cause of the Knights.

Immortal Surrender is wonderfully written, very hard to put down and engrossing. I read the whole book in one day, trying to cook while reading is not recommended by this reviewer, but it was too good to abandon even for a little while.

Claire Ashgrove's style of writing is fluid, with wonderful details in the background; she explains Noelle's scientific work as an interesting diversion and the artifacts that she works on. She also is very detailed about Farran's past, the suffering that he has gone through and his thoughts about himself and Noelle.

Farran's knight brothers are also wonderfully interesting and they have many enlightening conversations throughout the book, I hope that Ashgrove continues to tell all of the Knights' stories as there are definitely a few guys that deserve their own tales.

Noelle is definitely the best part of the book, she's raw and real and modern and laughably imperfect from start to finish. I loved journeying with her into the mysterious world of the Knights Templar.

The only shortfall in my opinion is that all of the Knights story of the curse and its consequences, the battles and the explanations of events take up so much time that it seems that Farran and Noelle play second fiddle and receive very little focus and time. I would have loved more.

Solidly recommended at 4 hearts, I really liked Immortal Surrender.

--Amy Wroblewsky


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