CLAIRE ASHGROVE in the house!

Monday, January 2, 2012
(Today I'm just going to sit back, relax, and let my buddy Claire Ashgrove take over this post. She is going to interview the hero of her paranormal story: IMMORTAL HOPE. So, okay, Claire...Take us away!)

This interview is transcribed as I was not allowed to broadcast live, nor was I allowed to offer photographs, due to security concerns. Going back to pen and paper days, the interview took place beneath ground, in a small stone office, that lacked any source of artificial light, but somehow was illuminated. If you doubt me, Anne describes this in her story.

Merrick entered, wearing a white surcoat branded with the Templar cross, which I’m told is formal attire. He’s quite tall, quite broad, and had to twist sideways to get through the door. Long dark hair, slightly unkempt, dusted his shoulders and n ornate broadsword swung loose at his left hip. He limped, quite obviously. When I inquired, he gave me the impression he didn’t want to talk about it.

I had expected Anne, not Merrick. But on my inquiry, was informed she was busy with the chefs. I’ll never know, but a large part of me suspects the sudden change in interviewees had more to do with Merrick protecting Anne, than it did with her being occupied. I would learn, through the course of the interview, there’s nothing he wouldn’t do to keep her safe.

These are the highlights:

Merrick, the truths that are revealed in Immortal Hope are pretty shocking. Immortal knights, Azazel being able to destroy the Almighty, seraphs who can save your men – is this really true?

Merrick: Aye. Centuries ago, my men and I dug beneath the Temple Mount and uncovered something we were not supposed to see. We were punished. Cursed with immortality and sworn to fight against Azazel’s unholy designs. We fight, and our souls suffer. ‘Tis why the seraphs are so important.”

And Azazel – who’s he?

Merrick: He is the most unholy and wishes to ascend to the highest throne.

Which he will accomplish if he finds the sacred relics before the knights become powerful enough, again, to stop him?

Merrick: Aye.

Wow. Sounds scary. These relics, what are they? Are they some place safe? I mean, do we have to worry about this happening any time soon?

The moment I asked this question, Mikhail entered. Despite the obvious sighting of wings, I was immediately struck by the presence of divinity. Greetings were exchanged, and it wouldn’t be until later, when I wrote these notes, that I realized my question had gone unanswered. I’m fairly certain this was a deliberate act.

Merrick, you said the seraphs can heal you. Anne is one of these seraphs. When did you realize this?

Merrick: When I met Anne, I believed her a demon. Mikhail explained our circumstances, and although I had no desire to look after Anne, I became aware of her status almost immediately. Twas not until much later, I would learn she bore my mark.

Really? I have to confess, you’re quite … handsome. I’d think she’d be delighted to know she was spending eternity with you.

(Merrick chuckles.) Delighted twas not amongst her reactions. Aggrieved is more suitable. Nay… she was quite pissed as she would say. She speaks like a man – a habit I have become quite fond of.

So she didn’t want to be here? Didn’t want to be with you?

Merrick: Aye, she wanted to be with me. As I wished to be with her. Twas her visions of the future—of my death—that created difficulties. The rest took some time for her to accept.

But her visions weren’t the only set backs you had. She was kidnapped wasn’t she?

Merrick’s features hardened here, and I couldn’t help but notice his right hand slid to the pommel of his sword.

Merrick: Aye, Anne was taken. I nearly killed the man who thought to try, as well. As I would should anyone be so foolish again.

That made me shiver, Merrick. What drew you to her? My understanding is you two didn’t get along so well in the beginning.

(Merrick smirks at the question and shakes his head.) We had some differences of opinion, aye. But she is the strongest woman I know, and her gentleness gave me hope. Anne inspires me.”

Aww. A softy at heart. Okay on that note, let’s take a look at why Anne softens you. Here’s a short excerpt from IMMORTAL HOPE.


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?”



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.

TWITTER: @ClaireAshgrove

Claire has giveaways on Mondays on her blog. Stop by and visit at: !


  1. Thank you for the interview & the excerpt. I'm very excited about this book & tour for IMMORTAL HOPE


  2. Great interview! Sounds like a fun read.

  3. Enjoyed the interview. I'm putting Immortal Hope on my TBR list.
    mcv111 at hotmail(dot)com

  4. Great interview and excerpt, Claire. I think I'm going to like Merrick.

    Tracey D
    booklover0226 at gmail dot com

  5. Morning all! Thank you for stopping in!

    When Linda and I spoke, and I sent her the interview, it was before the concept of a blog tour. When that took life, I neglected to update her info. So here's what you need to know if you're not coming from my place:

    Immortal Hope is on Virtual Tour. If you comment, you're entered to win a 25.00 Amazon Gift Card. If you follow the tour and continue to comment, each comment gets you another entry.

    I'll draw twice over the course of the tour. So that's TWO chances to win.

  6. I liked the excerpt and interview. I love it when the characters get to talk about themselves and their lives. tehe. Putting this on my wish list.

    Happy New Year!

    reneebennett35 at yahoo dot com

  7. Congrats on the release of Immortal Hope! Merrick sounds sexy! I'm adding this to my list.

    Happy New Year!

    ringpop2010 at gmail dot com

  8. Enjoyed the interview and the excerpt. Merrick sounds like a very interesting character.

    skpetal at hotmail dot com


  10. Great excerpt and blurb...and great interview with Merrick. Having read the book, I can say it's even better than it sounds! Trust me, it's riveting! Best of luck, my friend. So proud of you!

  11. Nay Nay -- Linda introduced me to the concept of a character interview with my first book when she asked if Riley wanted to make an appearance. It was so fun! I've been waiting for another opportunity. Thanks for stopping by!

  12. Maria -- thanks for dropping in! If I may say so myself, Merrick is pretty sexy...but then... so are the other tortured Templars.

  13. Jean and Linda -- good to see you here today! Keep following, there's several more character interviews lined up!

    Alicia -- you are such a dear. Thanks so much for your constant support!

  14. Great interview and excerpt, Immortal Hope is on my must read list! cheryllynne(at)rocketmail(dot)com

  15. Very nice. Ilike the interview idea. Clever. I like this guy already

  16. Cheralyn -- Nice to meet you, and thanks for jumping on the tour! You'll have to drop me an email when you finish Immortal Hope and tell me your candid thoughts.

    Judy! You made it! I wish I could take the credit for the interview, but I have to pass this one to the creativity of the marvelous Linda Kage. So glad to see you here and thanks so much for stopping in!

  17. What a great interview! Thanks for the excerpt!

    beckerjo at verizon dot net

  18. Thank you, JoAnna, and you're most welcome! Hope to see you at tomorrow's stop too.

  19. I just love it when characters do the interviews. The excerpt was good too.

  20. Nice interview of a great character. I think I'm falling in love with Merrick already.

    drainbamaged.gyzmo at

  21. Great interview, looking forward to the book.

  22. If the book is as compelling as the interview reads then I wanna read the book :)

    cherrymischif-darkward [at] yahoo [dot] com

  23. Great interview. Can't wait to read the book.

  24. This looks awesome! Merrick sounds irresistable ;]