Reader Letter from The Crusader’s Heart

The Crusader's Heart by Claire Delacroix, a medieval romance and #2 in the Champions of Saint Euphemia series.Dear Reader;

With The Crusader’s Heart, the quest of our company of knights, started in The Crusader’s Bride, continues. This is Wulfe and Christina’s story, and it begins in Venice, when this pair meets. At first, they seem to be complete opposites—a knight upholding justice and a courtesan who is paid for pleasure—but it quickly becomes apparent that these two have a great deal in common. They are both alone in the world and have learned to make the most of what few opportunities come their way. They’re both pretty stubborn, but only a determined woman could change Wulfe’s thinking about anything—and only a man who will not be diverted from his course could win Christina’s reluctant heart. Neither of them is particularly optimistic, but love, as we’ll see, will change that.

 We met Wulfe and Christina in Gaston and Ysmaine’s book, but their situations seemed simple in The Crusader’s Heart, and we didn’t see their thoughts behind their reactions in that story. It’s been wonderful for me to explore their characters, convictions, and history more thoroughly.

I always enjoy characters who tell stories, especially if their choices illuminate something of their own truth: Christina certainly does that with her tales of the saints’ lives. There is a small discrepancy to acknowledge here, though. The closest written source I could find for Christina’s stories is Jacobus de Voragine’s The Golden Legend, a medieval bestseller but one that was not compiled until the thirteenth century. Jacobus was born around 1230 and died in 1298, which means his volume was not available to Christina in 1187. Jacobus wrote down stories that were well known, however, so I’m assuming that Christina heard the same or similar oral versions of these tales. I’ve also taken a small liberty with the assignment of saints days in the calendar—although the story of the Seven Sleepers was well known in the west (recounted in the sixth century by Gregory of Tours and included in the History of the Lombards by Paul the Deacon in the eighth century), it is not clear that these saints were assigned a feast day before the Roman Martyrology was compiled in 1582. I think they’re worth an exception, though, especially as their assigned feast day falls within the chronology of the story. This is a story that originated in the Muslim world: it is known as ‘the companions of the cave’ and is recounted in the Qu’ran. The story of the men escaping religious persecution and sleeping for centuries was adopted by Christians, as well as one very popular during the Crusades. You can see that there are few differences between Leila’s and Christina’s versions. I like how this exemplifies the exchanges and influences between the two cultures in this era, and also that it makes a nice metaphor for Christina and Wulfe’s new beginnings. The relics of the Seven Sleepers were moved to Marseille during the Crusades and became part of the treasury of the Abbey of Saint Victor.

With The Crusader’s Heart, the story of the knights’ journey becomes more dimensional, as we see scenes and situations from the perspective of other characters. This continues in book #3, The Crusader’s Kiss, as Bartholomew returns home to avenge his family and regain his rightful legacy. It won’t be a simple task, and he’ll need the help of a most unexpected ally. Meanwhile, Fergus will continue his journey north to Scotland, a tale to be recounted in book #4, The Crusader’s Vow. What will happen to the Templar treasure? You’ll have to read on to find out!

I’m enjoying the challenge of writing this series and hope you are enjoying it as well. I’ve created Pinterest boards for these books, primarily for my own inspiration, although you might also enjoy checking them out—there’s one for the series overall, then individual boards for each book. You can find my Pinterest page right here.

Look for Bartholomew’s book, The Crusader’s Kiss, in January 2016, and Fergus’s book, The Crusader’s Vow, in April 2016. Both books are available for pre-order at some portals. All four books are being produced in audio, as well. Please check my website to listen to the audition by Tim Gerard Reynolds and for news of those releases.

Until next time, I hope you are well and have plenty of good books to read.

All my best,
Claire

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