Dell, Dec 2001, 6.50, 376 pp.
In 1194, Bayard returns home from the Crusades, but worries over a pending attack on his family holdings. His family scoffs at his warning, thinking he suffers from paranoia from post Crusader battle syndrome. To keep his Montvieux safe, Bayard knows he must act alone. He decides a marriage of convenience will provide the alliance needed so he accepts an invitation to participate in a contest of brawn and brains to win the grand prize of marriage with Esmeraude.
The lovely young lady wants a marriage built on love and trust rather than on military and political needs. She sends her wannabe husbands on a wild chase leaving clues and riddles for her suitors to decipher. Ultimately Bayard finds a disguised damsel in distress and realizes he has found the ultimate award Esmeraude. Though attracted to her, he refuses to let his heart open up to her until a rival forces Bayard to choose between a love of a lifetime or a political union.
THE TEMPTRESS is an exciting vividly written medieval romance that take the audience along for a merry ride. The story line is fun and quite entertaining as Esmeraude (picture a twelfth century woman singing “You Don't Own Me”) uses her intelligence to implement her plan to marry for love only. As usual Claire Delacroix proves how powerful the historical romance sub-genre can be when a grandmaster writes the tale.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner