Heart Secret by Robin D. Owens
Series: Celta's Heartmates #11
Also in this series: Heart Fate, HeartMate, HeartMate, Heart Dance, Heart Journey, Heart Legacy, Heart Change
Published by Penguin
Publication Date: August 7th 2012
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On the faraway planet Celta, there are some things you can never tell—until someone discovers your Heart Secret…
When a virulent disease killed the woman he loved and her baby, Garrett Primross was left alive, a reluctant survivor. Now, as a private eye, he strives to banish the memories of his past and rebuild his life. The Healers of Celta have something else in mind: Discover why he survived.
He is monitored by Healer Artemisia Panax—his HeartMate, a love he never pursued. Still mourning his loss, he refuses to acknowledge her. Since her family was publicly disgraced, she's used to such treatment. She wants nothing more than to guard her livelihood and protect the secrets she's sworn to keep.
Thrown together by duty, Garrett and Artemisia find the body of the last Black Magic Cultist who ruined her family. Suspicion flares, but they have little choice but to investigate the crime together. When their own lives are placed in danger, they realize that denying their HeartMates is only denying their own future.
This is book number eleven in Owens’ Celta’s HeartMates series. While past events are mentioned, I think this can be read as a standalone.
Garrett is the sole survivor from his small estate of a terrible disease. When it took the girl he loved three years before, he vowed never to contact his HeartMate. He didn’t want to soil the memory of his first love, nor did he want to risk his heart again. Now they’re being forced to work together to help find a cure, since the disease is back. He tries to keep her at arms length, but can’t deny he’s drawn to her.
Artemisia’s family was cast out of their home after they were falsely accused of being part of a cult. They have since been tasked with taking care of BalmHeal, the private sanctuary of Celta that’s only available to those who are in desperate need. The entire family has been sworn to secrecy. She knows she has a HeartMate, but figures he never tried to contact her because of the scandal. And she’s ok with that. Mostly. She does want a family, however, and she hopes to find someone she can marry. She can’t deny an attraction to Garrett, but he’s a patient and therefore off limits. Plus, he’s kind of grumpy and prickly.
Even after they’re forced time together (while Garrett undergoes infection – he’s the only one on the planet who is immune – of a rare disease so they can hopefully find a cure), Garrett doesn’t want to claim Artemisia as his HeartMate. He wants to remain true to his first love and he resents that Artemisia makes him feel things for her.
With this novel, Owens moves firmly into the second generation of Celta families. I’m kind of torn here. I really like that we’re moving into a new generation and seeing outside the First Families. On the other hand, I kind of miss the sense of the world we got from the First Family’s point of view.
This is a darker novel. Garrett suffered through a traumatic event and there’s is a lot of pain and grief inside of him from it. He takes out his anger and guilt on Artemisia more than once. As we learn more about the events that shaped his past, it’s easy to forgive his treatment of her. Where I struggled was his complete about-face with her. One minute he didn’t want her as his HeartMate and the next he decided to claim her. That might have killed the novel for me, but he really had to work for it. If Artemisia had fallen at his feet as soon as he announced his change of heart, I don’t think this would have worked as well.
I enjoyed both characters. Artemisia was a strong women who was doing her best to make her way in the world, despite the scandal that still hung over her head. I only wish more had been done about the director of the Healing Hall she worked at. I was hoping for a comeuppance and was sorely disappointed in that regard.
Celta is such an interesting world, so easy to fall into. I can never wait to get the next installment and when I finish a new book, I always want to go back and re-read the old ones.
3.5 out of 5