MAIDEN OF FIRE
The mystery of the Cathars, a rebellious Catholic sect, and the secret society of the Knights Templar merge in this fascinating romance set against a backdrop of high political intrigue. Before Aimery, Count of Segni, can hold Montsegur, a Cathar stronghold, he must allow the inquisitor to try a Cathar heretic.
Raised by the last of the Cathars, Claire is trained in the teachings of both the Church and the Cathars and is chosen to act as a scribe for the trial. It is her mission, though, to free the prisoner.
Aimery is immediately attracted to Claire and dedicated to protecting her. He convinces her to take swimming lessons, dance and enjoy herself at his court. Claire is nearly swept away by Aimery and their growing passion, but she can never betray her mission. Aimery and Claire are torn between their beliefs and their desires, until they are pushed by the evil of the Inquisition to make a dangerous choice.
Readers fascinated by in-depth historical novels liberally laced with sensuality will find themselves spellbound by Johns' latest. The colorful backdrop and rich details enhance the romance. This is what a historical romance should do: perfectly merge history and sensuality, giving just the right amount of both. SENSUAL (Aug., 350 pp., $5.99)