Guest Post & Giveaway: Claire Ashgrove

Help me welcome the talented Claire Ashgrove to the blog today.  She’s giving us some of the background on her sexy new book Immortal Hope.  Check out the blurb & some dish from Claire.  Plus, she’s got some info on how you can win an Amazon Gift Certificate.

Templar knights defied the archangels and unearthed the copper scroll, revealing the gates to hell. Cursed for their forbidden act, they forever roam the earth protecting mankind from evil. But darkness stalks them, and battles they fight bring them ever-closer to eternal damnation. One promise remains to give them salvation – the return of the seraphs.

Embittered by his purpose, Merrick du Loire must honor an ancient pact and bring peace to his cousin’s soul. When he stumbles upon history professor Anne MacPherson, he discovers she possesses a sacred artifact that marks her as a seraph. Duty demands he set aside his personal quest and locate the knight she’s fated to heal. As he struggles with conflicting oaths, Anne arouses buried hope and sparks forbidden desire that challenges everything he’s sworn to uphold.

Anne has six weeks to complete her thesis on the Knights Templar. When Merrick takes her to the Templar stronghold, he presents her with all she needs—and awakens a soul-deep ache, he alone can soothe. Yet loving Merrick comes with a price. If she admits she’s destined for him, her gift of foresight predicts his death.

It’s All in A Creepy Old Building

I never set out to have Immortal Hope take place in Kansas City. Truth to tell, for some unexplainable reason, I really don’t care to write about my home town. I do, because I know it, but if I can plot my book otherwise, it will be far removed.

Problem is, as I was trying to think of what the Knights Templar North American Temple would look like the scene where Merrick takes Anne there for the first time would not leave my head. I saw, very clearly, what the Temple looked like from the outside.

Creepy.

Inspiring.

What better place to hide a temple than right beneath the public’s nose, in a dilapidated old building, that’s plagued by rumors of ghosts. They can get away with almost anything – everyone will just blame it on the spirits not at rest. Add the real temple underground… and yes, well suddenly my series was based out of Kansas City.

Real quick, a bit of history on this old building. But before I note the one striking coincidental fact, I think it’s important to say that when I wrote the novel this building was just the “Creepy old building up by Liberty.” And just about everyone I know recognizes it by that “name”. In fact, just the other day I was talking about this, gave that description, and the person I was talking to exclaimed, “Oh! I Know that building!”

Turns out, this year, I’d learn the truth of that old building. A paranormal outfit got hold of it and began running ghost tours. They made the news. And as I was wandering into my kitchen, my creepy old building was on television. It’s the Odd Fellows Home, and the building I chose in particular was a hospital for widows and orphans.

The kicker… it has always been owned by a secret society. Those widows and orphans were the wives and relatives of the secret society, and the society paid for their care.

Now how much more fitting could that possibly get? I nearly fell out of my chair when I did a little more research and stumbled across that particular tidbit.

As it stands now, it’s The Odd Fellows Home, and there are regular ghost tours going on, some that include a wine tasting prior to the event. They don’t tour the house I chose to write about (there’s several on the property), but ghosts are certainly active. And for this paranormal author, the combination of historical record, plus the imagery of what remains of a once-grand building, it became the perfect playground to build a word.

So the next time you’re in Kansas City, and you happen to take a drive up I-35, and you see that creepy old building off to your left – you’ll know instantly once you see it – maybe, just maybe, if you see an unexplainable light its an immortal Templar knight, heading out to combat demons. Or maybe, he’s looking for his seraph.

Out of curiosity – have you seen any old buildings in particular that have made your imagination run wild? I’d love to hear about them!

~Claire
www.claireashgrove.com
www.toristclaire.com

Twitter: @ClaireAshgrove
Claire will be giving away a $25 Amazon.com gift certificate to one randomly drawn commenter during the tour, and a second $25.00 Amazon.com gift certificate to a second randomly drawn commenter at the end of the tour. Be sure to follow the tour and comment; the more you comment, the better your chances of winning! Click the Blog Tour badge for a complete list of blog stops. To give you something to talk about, check out this excerpt from Immortal Hope:
“What do you wish to know?”
“You,” the answer popped out before she could stop it. But in that instant, she couldn’t think of anything more truthful. She wanted to know about him, not archangels and nails. Seeing a thin white scar that spanned across the back of his hand, she traced the mark with her nail. “I want to know about you,” she added more quietly. “What caused this?”
Merrick looked down to where she touched him. Using his opposite index finger, he traced the same path her fingernail had taken. Briefly, their fingertips touched. “ ’Tis a mark from a lance.”
“A lance?” Anne struggled with the urge to twine her finger around his.
“Aye. ’Twas a battle that came to us unexpectedly. I was not given time to don my armor before the riders set upon us. The knight struck me there, and here.” He touched his ribs beneath his right arm.
Anne’s gaze lifted to the vulnerable spot and pictured the battle as it might have occurred: Merrick standing down an armored knight on horse back, the sharp metal spear that punctured his flesh, the way his face might have contorted as he bit back a painful cry. Impulsively, she gathered his hand in both of hers and lifted it, bringing it to her lips to place a gentle kiss over the scar. “I’m sorry.”
Merrick said nothing, and in his silence, she began to question maybe she’d taken one too many liberties. They’d hardly begun to get along— what if her unchecked impulse just crossed some invisible boundary? Slowly, cautiously, she lifted her eyes to his. What she found in his  fathomless dark eyes, however, said nothing of anger or annoyance. They gleamed with startling intensity, light bright enough to make her catch her breath.
“Do not be sorry,” he murmured. His eyes canvassed her face, lingered on her mouth. “ ’Twas a scar borne from duty. An order I was sworn to obey.”
The husky quality of his voice sent shivers coursing up and down her spine. She tried to look away, ordered her eyes to settle anywhere but on the sudden softening of Merrick’s expression. But her body refused, leaving her unable to do anything but choke down a dry swallow. When her thoughts cleared enough to form coherent words, she sought to lighten the moment with a bit of humor. “Orders can do that to you, I guess. Like now, you’re stuck with me.”
“I cannot say I find these orders entirely displeasing.” Merrick lifted his free hand to push a length of her hair away from her shoulder.
The back of his hand grazed the side of her neck and goose bumps scattered down her arms. “No?” She closed her eyes a heartbeat too long, time enough for Merrick’s thumb to stroke the line of her jaw and heighten her awareness of his touch.
When she looked again, Merrick had moved closer. Or maybe she had, she couldn’t say. But his thumb caressed the same sensitive spot a second time, the slow stroke oddly gentle for the strength in his hands. “Nay.”
He was going to kiss her, she knew it in the core of her being. Common sense screamed for her to stop him. Longing she’d buried for five years demanded she sit utterly still and wait for the fall of his lips against hers.
Anne chose longing. Afraid the moment would pass before she could fully savor it, she held his gaze, accepting what burned in the dark light of his eyes. One kiss. She’d gone five years without one. She wanted this, wanted his.
Time moved slowly as Merrick leaned forward. Her lungs tightened, her pulse bounded so fiercely she thought her heart might leap out of her chest. His long eyelashes lowered, his fingers cupped the side of her face. And then his mouth brushed hers, warm and soft, hesitant and seeking.
Anne’s breath caught.
OK.  We want to hear from you.  Tell us what you think of the teaser or answer Claire’s question about old buildings. Your comment will put you in the running for that gift card.  A big thank you to Claire Ashgrove for visiting the blog today!!

Comments

  1. The teaser is great. It makes me want to read more to see what happens between Anne and Merrick. It’s good that they’re getting along now.
    I haven’t seen any old buildings like that, but the next time I’m in KC, I will look for that one. I live in Iowa and go to KC all the time to visit family. Thanks for the blog tour.

    e.balinski(at)att(dot)net

  2. Until recently, there was an deserted old farm home in my town. It was called Willow Lane Farm, because of the long driveway lined with old willow trees. It was built in the 1800’s and looked like a small plantation-like home because of the pillared front facade. At one time it was probably quite prosperous. It was inhabited until the 1980’s when the land was sold to a developer.
    The development never took off, partially because local historians attempted to have it declared a landmark, and the house fell in disrepair. Stories began to emerge that it was haunted and teenagers often broke in to check it out. It was quite creepy because of the overgrown landscape and disrepair. Unfortunately, the building caught fire and had to be demolished. The fire was intentionally started but a culprit was never found.
    mcv111 at hotmail(dot)com

  3. Wow, great excerpt. Now I want to finish this book really bad. This is a new author for me and would love to win and read the rest of this book. I love to read and always looking for new books and authors to check out. Thanks for the chance to win.
    christinebails@yahoo.com

  4. When I was a kid, we would pass this house while heading to the shopping mall. The house looked out of place compared to the other homes around it. I always claimed it was haunted! LOL

    Thanks,
    Tracey D
    booklover0226 at gmail dot com

  5. Morning everyone!

    I’m not sure whether I mention it on the tour or not without doing a lot of digging up emailed posts…

    But Anne’s House is also a historical landmark, also purported to be haunted. By cats.

    Anyone local to KC will find lots of little hidden tidbits inside the series. Local and regional myth abound! For those of you far away, you’ll get a peek at some of our hometown legends.

  6. I don’t get out much so I have not seen that many buildings. But I would love to travel to Europe and discover old buildings and maybe learn some history 🙂 Or maybe even just the south of the U.S. I’m sure we have some interesting history, too.. Some western perhaps?
    email: cruz042 at cougars.csusm.edu

  7. I love old buildings, there is always so much history in them. They are really good inspirations for stories.

  8. Hi,
    thanks you for this great opportunity to win, this books seems really interesting

    As for old building.. in my country there are lots of them. Since a child i’m fascinated by a old castle that has been burned during the revolution. Some part are compltly destroyed but there are some walls lefts, some stairs and it’s very mystical It was the one from the sister of Charle Quint. I love the garden and there is a samll swimming pool! i loved to imagine faeries in this envirronment

    all the best

    isabelle(dot)frisch(at)gmail(dot)com

  9. Old buildings are always so fascinating. If the history isn’t known about them you can imagine all sorts of things about who lived there and how they lived.

    skpetal at hotmail dot com

  10. I love old buildings but unfortunately my imagination is not good enough to make up stories about them.
    June
    manning_j2004 at yahoo dot com

  11. Auriane — that is so on my bucket list. Europe. Ahh. Can’t wait to go!

  12. Oooh. Miki I’d love to see a picture! Where are you joining us from?

  13. I love old buildings, and even beyond the paranormal aspect. The architecture gets me every time. My house is over 100 years old — just a little farm house– but it’s so neat (to me) to step back and look at the craftsmanship and carpentry.

  14. Hi Claire! Excerpt was great! Normally I don’t think of too many places being creepy. My old college roommate swore her house was haunted. I spent the night at her house one weekend if it was haunted the ghost was not impressed enough with me to show up.

    beckerjo at verizon dot net

  15. AWESOME CLAIRE, YOU REALLY ARE HOT!!!
    linda_bass@sbcglobal.net

  16. The excerpt was great! I’ve always had special place in my heart for the Templar Knights! I can’t wait to read this story.

    I’ve always been facinated by abandoned buildings. Just wonder what stories they could tell. The house I grew up in was one of 7 left standing after a tornado distroyed the town in 1955. My brother swears there was something going on in the house. I never noticed but I always felt comfortable there, even after I moved out. When we sold the house after my parents passed I received a call from the new owner wanting to know if we had ever heard foot steps on the stairs or had lights randomly turned out. Hum, makes me wonder if the house liked us better! LOL!

    suz2@cox.net

  17. Ooh! The Oddfellows and the Rebeccas! My great grandparents were members in Nebraska. That’s a great picture for a creepy, but old home. We have two old asylums within driving distance here. One I have been in and the top floors just give one the heebie-jeebies when walking around alone and the other one, people swear they have seen lights and heard screams at night. Both would be large enough for a Templar complex. (-;

    The excerpt was great. I put this book on my wish list!

    Thanks for the giveaway opportunity.

    sophiarose1816@gmail.com

  18. So, I’ll share another ghost story before I call it a night.

    My house is over 100 years old, and it is the original homestead house for a large farming family in my area. Shortly after I moved in — just me, my dogs, and my cats at the time — I was washing my face before I went to bed one night. My cocker spaniel was sitting at my feet.

    A distinctly male voice called her name. She went running into the kitchen, in search. Of course, there was nothing. I went with her on that journey, a little bit befuddled. We returned to the bathroom, only to have it happen again. At that point I just laughed.

    It would happen once more weeks later before the voice fell silent and hasn’t been heard since.

    All three times my poor dog was absolutely lost, trying to make sense of who was talking to her.

  19. Wow, Claire! Thanks for the intro to your writing–sounds fabulous!

    As for old houses, I’ve always loved reading about them, but I’m also a bit of a scaredy cat and am quite certain that I would flip if confronted with evidence of departed-from-this-world previous owners, for instance! Yikes!

    f dot chen at comcast dot net

  20. Thank you for the great teaser. I have not seen any old buildings that made my imagination take off, but it would be kind of like hiding in plain sight.

    marypres(AT)gmail(DOT)com

  21. I love the teaser I cant wait to get my hands on this book.
    flanagan@mebtel.net

  22. Coincidences like that always gives me bumps 🙂

    Cherry Michievous
    cherrymischif-darkward [at] yahoo [dot] com

  23. I enjoyed reading your post and the excerpt. The book sounds very good.

    bn100candg(at)hotmail(dot)com

  24. Love this excerpt! It’s built up my anticipation and I’m intrigued by Merrick. I can’t wait to read this!

    The abandoned building’s history is pretty creepy and I have seen a few buildings like, but they’re usually occupied by squatters so I doubt any of them are haunted.

    Sarah

    sarah.setar@gmail.com

  25. Wow!! This sounds like a great book! i love knights and fighting and all that goes with it! Also – Merrick is such a hot name!!
    ms.georgia.forever AT gmail.com

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