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review 2016-06-26 05:00
Heart Dance by Robin D. Owens
Heart Dance - Robin D. Owens

In Heart Quest, Saille T'Willow gave his HeartGift to Trif so that she could deposit it in a public area. The HeartGift got picked up by a variety of people before finally finding its way to Saille's HeartMate, Dufleur Thyme. Unfortunately, the timing was awful, and the sudden fluctuation in Dufleur's Flair brought her to the attention of a group of people who were ritually killing people with unstable Flair. She almost died.

This book continues Saille and Dufleur's story. Saille now knows who his HeartMate is and hopes to pursue Dufleur more openly. First, though, he has to wait for her to officially accept his HeartGift (or at least keep it in her possession for long enough to satisfy society and the legal system). The problem? She keeps throwing it out or locking it up. Dufleur wants nothing to do with HeartMates and love. All she cares about is her work. Although her beloved father blew himself and the Thyme Residence up while conducting his time-related experiments, Dufleur remains convinced that his experiments weren't dangerous. In an effort to clear her father's name, she illegally uses her Flair to continue her father's research and prove the usefulness of his work.

Saille has more hurdles to overcome than just Dufleur's unwillingness to accept his HeartGift. First, there's his discovery that his grandmother, the previous D'Willow, was so determined to keep him from taking over as the new head of the Family that she spent years matching couples even though her matchmaking Flair no longer worked. If this information gets out, it could ruin the Family. Second, there's the fact that D'Willow is technically still alive, held in stasis until a cure can be found for the disease that's killing her. If she's ever cured, it's guaranteed that she'll try to take over as head of the Willows again.

I liked both Dufleur and Saille well enough in the previous book. The reasoning behind Saille's decision to send his HeartGift out made sense. I didn't think the implications through, though, until I began reading this book.

Okay, so in Heart Quest, Ilex's HeartGift didn't make an appearance until the end of the book, after he and Trif became friends and then lovers. Heart Dance flipped things around so that the relationship began with the HeartGift, and I loathed it. You have to understand, HeartGifts are basically little lust bombs. A person who is near their HeartMate's unshielded HeartGift finds themselves suddenly overwhelmed by lust. They mentally connect with their HeartMate for a bout of what is basically dream sex. Public orgasms are a possibility. And Saille sent his HeartGift out so that his HeartMate could potentially stumble across it anywhere. In addition to that, after Dufleur was attacked in Heart Quest, Saille's HeartGift was retrieved and he was given the option of taking it back. Since his HeartMate had been revealed to him, it wasn't strictly necessary to send it out again, but he did it anyway. So she could potentially stumble across it anywhere, again. Like I said, the implications didn't really hit me until I started reading Heart Dance.

Saille kept emphasizing that he wanted to be strictly ethical in his pursuit and courtship of Dufleur, but it was such a lie. There was even a scene in which he checked the rules about HeartGifts to see if there was anything he could take advantage of, in order to pressure Dufleur into accepting and marrying him.

I wanted Dufleur to be angrier, more forceful in her rejection of Saille's HeartGift, because he quite frankly deserved it. I wanted Saille to realize that what he'd done and thought of doing was wrong. If he had to be the other half of this couple, I wanted him to at least do some serious groveling. Sadly, I instead got a story in which, near the end, Dufleur was considered the one who had done the most harm and the one who had to grovel.

For people who were supposed to be HeartMates, Dufleur and Saille were incredibly badly matched. They spent most of the book hurting each other and hiding important information from each other. Dufleur didn't tell Saille her suspicions about her father's death, and Saille didn't tell Dufleur about D'Willow matching couples even though she'd lost her Flair. They only seemed to do well together in bed, and even that was questionable due to the influence of Saille's HeartGift.

On the plus side, I was mildly interested in the mystery of what really happened the night Dufleur's father died, and the developments involving Dufleur's Flair kept my attention. The scene with the remnants of the Thyme Residence was wonderful, but then I'm partial to anything involving the Residences. Also, Fairyfoot, Dufleur's Fam, was delightfully clever in her greediness. If only she hadn't been such a terrible Fam, betraying Dufleur to Saille because she wanted to live in Saille's Residence.

I have two unread books in this series. I had thought I could power through all my Celta books in one go, but Heart Dance has significantly reduced my enthusiasm. Heart Change will have to wait. I will say this: Heart Dance made me even happier that I never bought Heart Fate, Tinne Holly's book. I can't imagine how it could be anything but unpleasant.

Extras:

  • A list of characters
  • The Holly/Blackthorn family tree
  • A map of Celta

 

Rating Note:

 

I had been considering giving this 2 stars until Owens set things up so that Dufleur had to apologize to Saille. The HeartGifts being invoked a few more times didn't help. They were such ordinary objects that I couldn't help but laugh during what was supposed to be two very emotional moments. Why are some HeartGifts useful objects when they render HeartMates completely useless?

 

(Original review, including read-alikes, posted on A Library Girl's Familiar Diversions.)

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review 2016-06-12 02:55
Heart Quest by Robin D. Owens
Heart Quest - Robin D. Owens

Trif Clover desperately wants to find her HeartMate, to the point where she has decided to risk ridicule and embarrassment by going door to door throughout the city and looking for him with her charmkey. What she doesn't realize is that he's living in her apartment building.

Guardsman Ilex Winterberry made sure to wait until after Trif had searched her building before moving in. He wishes he could court her properly but 1) he's 25 years her senior and feels that he's far too old for her and 2) he's had visions that tell him he'll die soon, and HeartMates always die within a year of each other. He refuses to cut Trif's life short. All he'll allow himself to do is watch over her and be her friend. As he investigates a recent series of murders, he worries about Trif's similarity to the victims and does his best to keep her safe.

It's been years since I last read the four books prior to this one. Although this was a reread, it wasn't the best way to jump back into the series. Ilex's murder investigation led to him talking to lots of characters I knew had been in the previous books but otherwise couldn't remember much about. It wasn't much of a problem that I could barely remember T'Ash, Danith, Straif, and Mitchella's books, but not remembering Holm and Lark's book (Heart Duel) definitely was. The Holly family's curse, caused by the head of the household's disapproval of Holm and Lark's marriage, had a prominent place in Heart Quest, and I couldn't for the life of me remember why T'Holly had been against their marriage.

Another thing I had forgotten about this series was the cheesiness of its setup. The planet Celta was colonized 405 years prior to Heart Quest, and apparently all or most of the colonists were Celtic pagans (I think?). Either they arrived with psi abilities (Flair) already in place, or something about the planet gave some of them psi abilities. At three points throughout their lives, Celtans with Flair go through Passages that (I think – again, it's been a while since I read those earlier books) help their Flair settle and, in some cases, allow them to connect with their HeartMates (soulmates). HeartMate relationships are supposed to be strong and wonderful, but not all HeartMates manage to find each other or even want that kind of close connection if they do.

The world also has something called Fams, telepathic animals that can bond with particular people. I love cats, but I have to admit that Owens' cat Fams tend to annoy me. I think it has something to do with the way she has them speak – their first person singular pronouns are always capitalized, to show their lofty opinions of themselves. Greyku, Trif's vain kitten Fam, was particularly bad. She either didn't know or didn't care that Trif wasn't wealthy and begged for things like jeweled collars and an artist who could dye her fur. I liked Vertic, Ilex's fox Fam, much more – he came across as being more settled and mature, and he certainly didn't talk as much.

Anyway, the first half of the book spent a bit too much time on characters who weren't directly related to this book's main story – the Holly family curse, Danith and the Fams, and Saille T'Willow's drastic decision to find his HeartMate by sending his HeartGift out into the world where anything could happen to it. Thankfully, the book felt more focused in the second half. Trif finally learned who her HeartMate was and got the chance to change his mind about being with her, and Ilex's murder investigation finally began to uncover promising information.

The murder investigation was so-so. Although Ilex's methods were intriguing, a blend of normal and psi evidence-gathering, a recording of one survivor's memories, and little magical poppets that could eventually point Ilex and other guardsmen to the murderers, the murderers and their motives wouldn't be worth much more than a yawn to the average mystery reader.

The progression of Ilex and Trif's romance was much more fun, although I have to admit that there were times when the age gap between them was a bit much for me. The way Ilex obsessed about it in the first half of the book kept reminding me of it, and there were several times when the gap between Trif and Ilex's maturity seemed as great as the gap between Greyku and Vertic. I could understand Ilex's fear that his death would end up killing Trif too if they bonded, so it was frustrating when Trif kept ignoring that fear and saying she didn't care.

On the one hand, this book reminded me why I hadn't read any of this series in years. The romance could have been better, the mystery was so-so, and the Fams tended to be annoying. On the other hand, I still had fun. Ilex was a great character, several of the side characters were intriguing, and I liked the fantasy and sci-fi elements despite their cheesy aspects. It's too bad the AI-run Residences don't have a more prominent place in the series.

Additional Comments:

I noticed four typos, two of them within a couple pages of each other. In one instance, the typo interfered with the meaning of the sentence enough that it took me a few beats to figure out what the character was saying.

Extras:

The beginning of the book includes a map of Celta.

 

Rating Note:

 

I debated between 3 and 3.5 stars. It's probably more of a 3-star book, but I liked Ilex enough to bump it up to 3.5.

 

(Original review, including read-alikes, posted on A Library Girl's Familiar Diversions.)

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review 2015-11-29 13:00
Tomorrow Never Knows by Jamie Craig
Tomorrow Never Knows - Jamie Craig

GR Cleanup Read February 2011.

 

Don't read the blurb, it gives away way too much that should remain a surprise.

This was an intriguing, danger-filled futuristic romance with plenty of pain and angst from the hero but I'm not a danger-girl and most of the action driven plot just didn't thrill me. The first sex scene threw me and I had great kinky expectations but in the end it just fizzled into vanilla pudding with a splash of spanking. Ah well, I'm sure many will enjoy it because it is well written and moves at a good clip and, really, who can resist a physically and emotionally wounded hero?

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text 2015-07-14 16:00
Veil: Widows in Paranormal Romance Novels
What A Dragon Should Know - G.A. Aiken
Heart Duel (Celta's Heartmates, #3) - Robin D. Owens
Moonglow - Kristen Callihan
The Outlaw Viking - Sandra Hill
Dark Vow - Shona Husk
Spellbound Falls (Spellbound Falls #1) - Janet Chapman
Escape Velocity - Jess Anastasi
Wanton - Crystal Jordan
The Darkest Secret - Gena Showalter
Rocky - Bianca D'Arc

In Paranormal, Fantasy, and Science Fiction Romance the world and action of the plot tend to get more attention that a character's backstory. 

 

These set of Romances in these genres have heroes who have been widowed and these losses give thier characters marvelous complexity.

 

My lists are never in any particular order. Enjoy! 

 

1. What A Dragon Should Know by G.A. Aiken

 

Only for those I love would I traipse into the merciless Northlands to risk life, limb, and my exquisite beauty. But do they appreciate it? Do they say, "Gwenvael the Handsome, you are the best among us--the most loved of all dragons?" No! For centuries my family has refused to acknowledge my magnificence as well as my innate humility. Yet for them, and because I am so chivalrous, I will brave the worst this land has to offer.

So here I stand, waiting to broker an alliance with the one the Northlanders call The Beast. A being so fearful, the greatest warriors will only whisper its name. Yet I, Gwenvael, will courageously face down this terrifying. . .woman? It turns out the Beast, a.k.a. Dagmar Reinholdt, is a woman--one with steel-gray eyes and a shocking disregard for my good looks. Beneath her plain robes and prim spectacles lies a sensual creature waiting to be unleashed. Who better than a dragon to thaw out that icy demeanor? 

And who better than a beast to finally tame a mighty dragon's heart?

 

2. Heart Duel by Robin D. Owens

 

Healer Lark Collinson hates the street dueling that is a way of life among the noble families on Celta--it was just such a skirmish that killed her Healer husband and left her a grieving widow. The last thing she wants is to love a man to whom fighting is a way of life--a man like the brashly confident Holm Holly.


All it takes is one brief touch for Holm to know that Lark is his HeartMate, though wooing her will be his greatest challenge. For not only does she despise everything he represents, but the long-standing feud between their families has exploded into even greater violence. Their destiny has been revealed...but at what cost to their own hearts?

 

3. Moonglow by Kristen Callihan

 

Once the seeds of desire are sown . . . 
Finally free of her suffocating marriage, widow Daisy Ellis Craigmore is ready to embrace the pleasures of life that have long been denied her. Yet her new-found freedom is short lived. A string of unexplained murders has brought danger to Daisy's door, forcing her to turn to the most unlikely of saviors . . . 


Their growing passion knows no bounds . . . 
Ian Ranulf, the Marquis of Northrup, has spent lifetimes hiding his primal nature from London society. But now a vicious killer threatens to expose his secrets. Ian must step out of the shadows and protect the beautiful, fearless Daisy, who awakens in him desires he thought long dead. As their quest to unmask the villain draws them closer together, Daisy has no choice but to reveal her own startling secret, and Ian must face the undeniable truth: Losing his heart to Daisy may be the only way to save his soul. 

 

4. The Outlaw Viking by Sandra Hill

 

As tall and striking as the Valkyries of legend, Dr. Rain Jordan is proud of her Norse ancestors despite their warlike ways. But she can't believe her eyes when a blow to her head transports her to a nightmarish battlefield of yore—and there standing before her is the barbarian of her dreams.

 

A wild-eyed berserker, Selik can slay a dozen Saxons with a single swing of his deadly sword—yet he can't control a saucy wench from the future. In his eyes, Rain is a prisoner and he'd dearly love to avail himself of her medical skills—not to mention her considerable knowledge of the male anatomy. But the infuriating woman has ideas of her own. If Selik isn't careful, the stunning siren might very well capture his savage heart and make a warrior of love out of . . . The Outlaw Viking

 

5. Escape Velocity by Jess Anastasi

 

Ilari, Brannon System, 2436


At first, Dr. Sacha Dalton is simply curious about the prisoner of war admitted to her med-lab...until she sees who it is. For Commander Kai Yang--the commander of the battleship Valiant Knox--has long been thought dead. Killed in action. But after almost a year and half, he's returned home. Returned to her.


Kai is recovering from his ordeal and under the watchful care of Sacha, his childhood friend and the widow of his best friend. Only now, their friendship has grown and deepened into something far deeper, and far more complicated. Yet as Kai's body recovers, his psyche remains broken. How could he ever be the man he was, and the man Sacha deserves? But an intergalactic war has a way of forcing a man to be the hero he was always meant to be...

 

6. Dark Vow by Shona Husk

 

Jaines Cord plans to kill the man who murdered her husband, even though killing a Bounty Hunter is said to be impossible. One bullet took away her livelihood, her home and her love. One bullet made by her. Fired from the gun she completed for the Arcane Bounty Hunter. 

 

Obsidian wears the scars of disobeying the powerful Arcane Union. He barely escaped with his life and now lives quietly, in a town the lawmen forgot. When Jaines arrives asking too many questions, he's faced with a decision. Help her or run…again. Obsidian knows that if he flees he'll always be looking over his shoulder. His name is one of the first on the Bounty Hunter's death list. 

 

Yet when Obsidian is offered an opportunity to stop the stone taking over his body in exchange for retrieving the gun, he asks Jaines for her help. Now Jaines must choose: a dead man's vengeance or a living man's hope?

 

7. Spellbound Falls by Janet Chapman

 

Maximilian Oceanus arrives in Spellbound Falls just in time to save Olivia Baldwin from an overly aggressive suitor, only to find himself attracted to the beautiful, if rather aloof, widow. And although Mac has come to Inglenook to get a handle on fatherhood, his newly discovered six-year-old son has set his sights on finding his father a wife.

 

Olivia, however, is busy getting Inglenook ready for its new season, so she doesn’t have time to deal with her growing attraction to the dangerously seductive Mac. Besides, weird stuff seems to happen all around him. Take the fact that her seatbelt keeps getting stuck in his presence, or locks magically open for him without keys, and that he seems to have a talent for sensing things. Never mind the three lost albatrosses walking down the road in the middle of the night. Since when are there albatrosses in Maine?

 

But despite Olivia’s resistance to falling under the sexy man’s spell, Olivia is having trouble fighting her longing. Because she knows Mac is just the man to unlock the powerful passion deep within her….

 

8. Wanton by Crystal Jordan

 

Two years after her lover died, Lynx Jenise finally feels ready to indulge the consuming urge to mate at the shifter gathering known as the Wild. Though her very human heart was broken, her animal instincts can no longer be suppressed.

 

But even as she finds the rough pleasure she craves with other Lynxes, another instinct haunts Jenise—the feeling that another mate is near….

 

9. The Darkest Secret by Gena Showalter

 

Keeper of the demon of Secrets, Amun can manipulate the darkest thoughts of anyone nearby. But when the immortal warrior is chained and isolated to protect those he loves, death is his only hope of release—until he meets Haidee, a fellow prisoner whose beauty and hidden vulnerability draw him into a reckless test of his loyalty….

Haidee is a demon-assassin, raised to despise Amun's kind. Yet how can she hate the man whose touch sets her aflame? But to save him, she must give herself body and soul…and face the wrath of a powerful adversary sworn to destroy her.

 

10. Rocky by Bianca D'Arc

 

On the run from her husband's killers, there is only one man who can help her now... her Rock. 

Maggie is on the run from those who killed her husband nine months ago. She knows the only one who can help her is Rocco, a grizzly shifter she knew in her youth. She arrives on his doorstep in labor with twins. Magical, shapeshifting, bear cub twins destined to lead the next generation of werecreatures in North America. 

Rocky is devastated by the news of his Clan brother's death, but he cannot deny the attraction that has never waned for the small human woman who stole his heart a long time ago. Rocky absented himself from her life when she chose to marry his childhood friend, but the years haven't changed the way he feels for her. 

And now there are two young lives to protect. Rocky will do everything in his power to end the threat to the small family and claim them for himself. He knows he is the perfect Alpha to teach the cubs as they grow into their power... if their mother will let him love her as he has always longed to do. 

 

Have any recommendations? Let me know! Vote for the best of best on my Goodreads list: Veil: Widows in Paranormal Romance Novels 

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review 2015-07-02 22:34
Time Waits
Time Waits - C.B. Lewis

 

I loved this one, OMG so happy to find a good time-travel romance. I love the idea of time-travel books, but it's really hard to find ones -especially in the romance genre rather than straight up fantasy or scifi- that actually handle it well. Time Waits does it wonderfully. I can see some people maybe being a little put off by the fact that both MCs (Dieter in particular) are  foulmouthed snarky bastards but it worked so well for me. I love that sort of character and here I got two! And beyond a shared tendency for sarcasm and profanity they've both got very distinct personalities that set them apart from each other and which dovetail nicely together. I loved them both and a lot of their interactions gave me a huge grin. The mechanics of time-travel are largely left unexplained beyond 'we've made a very high tech machine that does it' but the implications of time travel both moral and practical are explored in the story and create some fascinating depth to the plot. I'll be honest this one also really works for me because it aligns pretty neatly with what I've always thought seemed to make sense in terms of changing history, particularly to avert major events like wars.

I'm definitely going to be looking for more from this author, now she just needs to publish more. Preferably lots and right now.

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