Series: Celta's Heartmates

Retro-Review: Heart Change by Robin D. Owens

Posted November 15, 2017 by Holly in Reviews | 7 Comments

Retro-Review: Heart Change by Robin D. OwensReviewer: Holly
Heart Change by Robin D. Owens
Series: Celta's Heartmates #8
Also in this series: Heart Fate, HeartMate, HeartMate, Heart Dance, Heart Journey, Heart Secret, Heart Legacy
Published by Penguin
Publication Date: November 3rd 2009
Pages: 384
Buy on Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Goodreads
three-half-stars

First time in print?the fantastic new Celta novel from the award-winning author of Heart Fate.
Signet D'Marigold's lonely life is shaken when a prophet reveals she is a catalyst for change. But to accept her new life-and the charge of the noble child Avellana-means embracing a danger that may be fatal for them both. Especially when Signet's attraction to her new bodyguard signals a secret enemy sworn to destroy them.

*****As part of our 10 year anniversary celebration, we’ll be re-posting old reviews and posts that make us cringe, laugh or sigh all over again.*****

Holly: This series is still going strong. I love the world of Celta and look forward to falling into it with each new release.

This review was originally posted on November 2, 2009.

As I recently mentioned, I started this series with book 7, Heart Fate. Over the last month or so I finally caught up on the rest of the series (with the exception of one book I still need to read). I’ve really enjoyed the series up to this point. Owens truly excels at writing strong characters and excellent world-building. Each time I open one of these I can’t wait to fall into her world. I enjoyed some in the series better than others and I’d say Heart Change falls somewhere in the middle.

Signet D’Marigold has pretty much given up on life. She’s the last of her line and she’s practically drowning in loneliness. All of her friends seem to leave her, and because she doesn’t know what her flair is, she doesn’t really have a purpose in life. All that changes when Muin “Vinnie” T’Vine, the teen prophet, shows up and says he knows what her flair is and he needs her help. She’s a catalyst. Just being near her changes the course of other people’s lives for the better.

Vinnie’s heartmate, Avellana, is getting ready to experience her first passage – the time when flair (magical ability) is released for the first time. Because she suffered an accident in the past Vinnie and Avellana’s parents aren’t convinced that she’ll make it through passage safely. Vinnie requests that Avellana move in with Signet because he “saw” that she’d be able to help Avellana.

Avellana’s parents aren’t taking any chances with her safety and hire Cratag Maytree to guard her while she’s with Signet. Cratag has little flair, and ever since landing in Celta he’s been feeling displaced. He’s the captain of the guard for T’Hawthorn, but he knows he isn’t truly one of the family. That’s confirmed when T’Hawthorn assigns him to guard Avellana and Signet. Although he resents being shuffled around, he can’t help but look forward to spending time with Signet, as he’s been attracted to her for some time.

When this book first opens I wasn’t sure I’d like Signet. She was in the middle of a pity party and she didn’t seem like someone I could relate to. As the story progressed she really came alive for me. We come to understand the depth of her loneliness and despair and she really grows, accepting who and what she is. She really opened up throughout the story, not just to Cratag, but also to Avellana, Vinnie and some of the other secondary characters. I really liked watching her come into her own.

As much as I liked Cratag in the previous novels, I wasn’t as impressed with him here. In some regards he was exactly what Signet needed. He was strong and comforting, and I liked that he really let her lean on him when she needed to, but also pushed her when needed to stand up for herself. He really encouraged her to become her own person, which was wonderful. As much as I liked him with Signet, however, I really didn’t care for him on his own.

He doesn’t feel like he’s good enough for Signet. Or really at all. Although he’s the captain of the guard for T’Hawthorn, because he has little flair he doesn’t really feel like he’s been accepted in Celta. So he holds himself back. While I understood this initially, I felt he took it too far. His inner dialogue was focused almost solely on his shortcomings – from his attire to his lack of flair – and it was frustrating. If Signet grew and found herself, Cratag almost seemed to move backward. He seemed more confident and sure of himself in the beginning of the novel than he did at the end.

Having said that, I did enjoy the progression of the relationship. I liked them together and really wanted to see things work between them. Had Cratag been a little faster to realize his own worth I think this could have ended up as one of my favorites.

I really loved the secondary characters. We met all of them earlier in the series, but they played a larger part here. I’ll be curious to see how things develop with Vinnie and Avellana in the future, especially since some of the things that were revealed here still need to be dealt with. I can’t wait to see what happens with Laev, either. He’s Cratag’s young cousin and there was a good amount of the book spent on his story. I hope Owens picks up that thread again soon.

I also really liked both Signet and Cratag’s Fams. I couldn’t help but laugh when Cratag got a rolly-polly kitten as his, but they seemed to fit well together.

I enjoyed the suspense, though it wasn’t hard to figure out who the villain was. I think watching how the characters dealt with it made up for the lack of mystery. I really liked learning more about first passage and experiencing it with Avellana.

Overall I enjoyed the romance, though it had flaws. Despite my issues I feel it’s a good entry to the series and I’ll probably read it again.

3.75 out of 5

The Series

Book Cover Book Cover Book Cover Book Cover Book Cover Book Cover Book Cover Book Cover

This book is available from Berkley. You can buy it here or here in e-format.

three-half-stars


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Review: Heart Legacy by Robin D. Owens

Posted November 3, 2015 by Holly in Reviews | 2 Comments

Review: Heart Legacy by Robin D. OwensReviewer: Holly
Heart Legacy by Robin D. Owens
Series: Celta's Heartmates #14
Also in this series: Heart Fate, HeartMate, HeartMate, Heart Dance, Heart Journey, Heart Secret, Heart Change
Published by Penguin
Publication Date: November 3rd 2015
Pages: 368
Buy on Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Goodreads
three-stars

The award-winning author returns to her “wonderfully imaginative”* world of Heart Fire and Heart Fortune for an all-new Celta novel about a young woman’s destiny, and the one man whose love could be her downfall. After the death of GrandLord Yew years ago, the Yews withdrew to their self-sustaining estate and disappeared from Celtan society. The current head of the household is believed to be eighteen-year-old Loridana. To find out, Draeg Blackthorn has been sent to the estate to spy, undercover as a stableman for the stridebeasts—beautiful creatures that hold a place in Lori’s heart no member of her family ever could. Bullied by her family, Lori has decided to abandon her bloodline and live on her own with her true family—her animals. When Draeg discovers she’s rejecting her heritage, he’s appalled. He’s come to love the land as much as the woman, even spinning small fantasies of marrying Lori and becoming Lord and Lady of the manor. Draeg wants her to stay and fight her elders. For Lori, it’s an alternative that could render her absolutely powerless to pursue her own destiny, and drive her further away from her perfect dreams and the man she loves, Draeg.
*Romance Junkies
 
From the Trade Paperback edition.

After the death of GrandLord Yew years ago, the Yews withdrew to their self-sustaining estate and disappeared from Celtan society. The current head of the household is believed to be eighteen-year-old Loridana. To find out, Draeg Blackthorn has been sent to the estate to spy, undercover as a stableman for the stridebeasts—beautiful creatures that hold a place in Lori’s heart no member of her family ever could.

Bullied by her family, Lori has decided to abandon her bloodline and live on her own with her true family—her animals. When Draeg discovers she’s rejecting her heritage, he’s appalled. He’s come to love the land as much as the woman, even spinning small fantasies of marrying Lori and becoming Lord and Lady of the manor. Draeg wants her to stay and fight her elders. For Lori, it’s an alternative that could render her absolutely powerless to pursue her own destiny, and drive her further away from her perfect dreams and the man she loves, Draeg.

Owens’ Celta’s Heartmates series is one of my favorites. The world-building is stellar. I always fall right into these stories and the characters come alive. For those who haven’t read any of the previous books, I would recommend going back and starting at the beginning of the series, with Heart Mate. The earlier books are often referenced and I feel like you get a more complete reading experience having read them all. The books are broken into two generations, with the split happening at book 7, Heart Fate. If you don’t feel up to taking on all 14 books, I recommend you at least read Heart Fate before starting this one, as the events of that book shaped this story.

Loridana Yew is unofficially D’Yew (the head of her family, a position given based on Psi power), but her family has been bullying and abusing her since she was young, and she hasn’t been formally given the title of D’Yew. Her parents died when she was younger, but her cousins and the Residence itself keep her under their thumb. The Residence especially (the house has developed sentience from years of absorbing the Psi power of its inhabitants), which has taken on the personality of the former T’Yew (male head of family), forces its will and agenda on her. Her body is monitored at all times for changes in heart rate and breathing, she’s locked in closets or zapped by the Residence if she gets out of line, and her cousins are quick to torment her further by doing damage to the only things she really loves – her animals. With no way to combat this treatment, Lori has made the decision to leave the family and move into a property she inherited from her mother.

Since T’Yew was killed and the Yews disappeared behind the walls of their self-sustaining estate, the other FirstFamilies have long wondered what they’re up to. When evidence points toward the family trying to murder or harm other members of society, Tinne Holly (the hero of Heart Fate) asks Draeg Blackthorn to go undercover as a stable hand on the Yew estate to spy on them and find out which – if any – are involved in the evil doings. Draeg realizes right away Lori isn’t involved, or even aware of what’s going on outside the estate. Though he suspects her cousins, he can find no proof and commits to staying until their plot is revealed or the attempted murderer is caught.

Though both have their own agenda, it isn’t long before their physical attraction turns into an emotional connection and they’re struggling to find ways to stay together. Neither fully trusts the other with their plans, but it soon becomes clear what they feel is more than just a passing fancy. When Draeg’s deception is revealed and Lori’s plans come out, they’ll need to fight hard to stay together…something that won’t work if they don’t have faith in one another.

Lori was young and somewhat naive when the story began. She’d been sheltered and knew little about life outside the walls of her estate. I liked how she grew as the novel progressed. I wish her abilities had been explored further. At one point T’Ash tries to test her with his testing stones (they reveal the level and focus of Psi power) but she’s rushed along before we find out what her strength is. I did like that she had time to come into her own at the end of the novel. She had several months on her own to become self-reliant, which I think she desperately needed.

In the beginning Draeg was a strong, interesting character who complimented Lori well. He loved the animals and had a solid sense of himself. He really came to love her land, and his feelings for her were genuine and sweet. I struggled to connect with him later in the story, however. His conviction that Lori was doing the wrong thing and his refusal to bend or compromise was frustrating.

Admittedly it’s been awhile since I read a Celta novel, but this one seemed more erotic than previous books. The sex scenes were drawn out and the language more coarse than I remember from previous books. It was jarring and not in keeping with the world. Though the major problem with book for me stems from the Draeg’s insistence that Lori is refusing to stay and fight, and his subsequent actions because of it. When he realizes her plans to abandon the land, he’s disappointed in her. That disappointment clouds his judgment and doesn’t allow him to truly see things from her perspective. Since he doesn’t realize – and can’t know – the extent of the abuse from her family, I was forgiving of him. At first. As the novel progressed and he refused to bend or go to her, however, I lost patience. In the end I felt he was the one who needed to apologize, and to make Lori realize he wanted her, with or without her title as D’Yew and the Yew estate.

Still, I liked both Draeg and Lori, and the way they were together. It was clear they cared for each other. Their love for the animals also came across well, and I adored their Fam’s (sentient animals who act as Familiar’s).

The ending brings down my final grade, but my love of the world, the romance and the Fams and animals made this a book worth reading.

three-stars


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Review: Heart Fire by Robin D. Owens

Posted January 22, 2015 by Holly in Reviews | 7 Comments

Review: Heart Fire by Robin D. OwensReviewer: Holly
Heart Fire by Robin D. Owens
Series: Celta's HeartMates #13
Also in this series: Heart Fate, HeartMate, HeartMate, Heart Dance, Heart Journey, Heart Secret, Heart Legacy, Heart Change
Published by Penguin
Publication Date: November 4th 2014
Pages: 368
Buy on Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Goodreads
four-stars

NEVER BEFORE PUBLISHED
On the planet Celta, accepting a HeartMate can be the greatest challenge in the universe…
Antenn, an architect hired to build a cathedral in Druida City, dares not think of his HeartMate. Even though he yearns for her, he’s taken steps to ensure she will be forever unknown to him. After all, how could he, a commoner who grew up in the slums, the brother of a murderer, be worthy of any woman?
Tiana, a priestess, has her own fears about being a HeartMate. She's watched her friends struggle with such a stormy destiny. She's sure her HeartMate has never claimed her due to a terrible scandal involving her Family, and she's set aside hopes for love.
Antenn's gotten the commission of his life. The cathedral will make him famous, but more, it will last for ages and prove to others he can contribute to Celta...if the controversial structure isn't destroyed while being built. Tiana, too, is an integral part of this process, but the villain who wrecked her Family is ready with firebombs. Can they trust each other in dangerous circumstances to succeed...and to love?

Antenn and Tiana! I’ve waiting for this book for years and years.

We first met Antenn back at the very beginning of the series, in Heart Mate. He and his brother were downwind boys who joined a gang. Antenn’s brother merged with two other boys to become a triad who shared thoughts and power, and he went mad when his triad brothers were killed. He ended up firebombing the council and killing several people. As his brother, Antenn carries the taint of a murderer, though he had nothing to do with it. Many of the Noble Families turn their nose up at him, and others spurn him outright. Building a new Cathedral, the first one for this new religion, is a way to overcome his past. Not only will it cement his place in society, but the Cathedral will live on forever, which offers him a bit of immorality.

The last thing he wants is to get involved with the Priestess assigned as liaison to the project, especially one with such a large chip on her shoulder. But he can’t deny his attraction to her, or his desire to see her happy.

Tiana is no stranger to scandal. When she was a girl her family was accused of practicing black magic and their home was destroyed. They were forced to flee under cover of night and their reputation was ruined. She’s spent many years trying to overcome her anger and grief at the injustices done to them, but hasn’t been successful. She’s up for a big promotion, but the High Priestess makes it clear she won’t consider Tiana unless she’s able to rid herself of her anger and focus on other things. This project is a way to help her channel that negative energy in a positive way. If only she didn’t have Antenn to deal with.

Though neither are interested in a relationship, especially with each other, they can’t deny their feelings for long. Especially when it looks like they may be Heart Mates…

The story was well done and did justice to both, I think. They were both a bit broken and scarred by their pasts. They worked very well together. Antenn offered Tiana a place to be herself, without her constant worry about her family and their smeared reputations – and even more, the injustice in what was done to them. For her part, Tiana offered Antenn unconditional acceptance, something he struggled to find within himself. 

The world is so amazing, I always end up fully immersed. Celta feels like a real place to me, and its inhabitants good friends. I always look forward to my visits with them, though I admit this book renewed my love for the series.

4 out of 5

four-stars


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Review: Heart Secret by Robin D. Owens

Posted September 18, 2012 by Holly in Reviews | 4 Comments

Review: Heart Secret by Robin D. OwensReviewer: Holly
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
Pages: 368
Buy on Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Goodreads
three-half-stars

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

This book is available from Berkley Trade. You can buy it here or here in e-format.

three-half-stars


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Lightning Review: Heart Journey by Robin D. Owens

Posted November 16, 2011 by Holly in Reviews | 3 Comments

Lightning Review: Heart Journey by Robin D. OwensReviewer: Holly
Heart Journey by Robin D. Owens
Series: Celta's Heartmates #9
Also in this series: Heart Fate, HeartMate, HeartMate, Heart Dance, Heart Secret, Heart Legacy, Heart Change
Published by Penguin
Publication Date: August 3rd 2010
Pages: 368
Buy on Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Goodreads
three-half-stars

View our feature on Robin Owens’s Heart Journey. New in the award-winning series of futuristic romance, fantasy, and sensual adventure.
Helena, a renowned cartographer, is exploring Celta when she finds out she has a HeartMate. Yearning for a partner, she is drawn to meet him.
Actor Raz Cherry is dedicated to his career. Uninterested in long-term commitments, he ignores an oracle that foretells of his HeartMate.
Though passion ignites, their lifestyles clash. Only when mysterious thefts threaten their families can they overcome the obstacles on their journey to love.

It took me a long time to get into this book. I picked it up and put it down several times before finally getting into the story. It didn’t grab me like many of the others in the series.

Raz is an actor and Helena is a cartographer. They’re both focused on their careers and not necessarily looking to settle down as heartmates. Helena is a bit more curious than Raz, and she seeks him out. Her plan is to claim him and take him along as she maps the planet. It isn’t long before she realizes he’s not going to be amenable to that. His career is just starting to take off and he’s hoping for a part in a new play.

While Helena was away on this latest trip – for about a year – her entire family, minus one small child, were killed by a fire. Now she has to decide if she’s going to let the Blackthorns adopt her niece, or take custody of her. She wants to do what’s best for the child, but she isn’t sure what that is.

Once I got into the story I enjoyed it. The mystery plot didn’t make much sense at first, but really came together at the end. I like the new direction Owens is going with the storyline. Finding out about the other ship is really intriguing.

I enjoyed it, because I always enjoy this world, but it isn’t a favorite.

3.75 out of 5

This book is available from Berkley. You can buy it here or here in e-format.

three-half-stars


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