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Monday, August 14, 2006

***** HeartMate by Robin D. Owens. Paranormal romance. Re-read.

I first read this book in 2002, and I loved it, and have loved the series, so when it was reissued, I took the opportunity to re-read. My copy of the original is back in San Antonio.

HeartMate introduces the world of Celta, with its Flair (magic) and Fams (pets--cats, who are telepathically bonded to their owners) and Great Houses. It's a rich world, even from the beginning, yet the worldbuilding is entirely natural and non-intrusive.

Rand Ash, or T'Ash (the T' denotes the male head of the family; a D' denotes the female head) has rebuilt his family fortunes after a fire killed his entire family, leaving him at age 6 the only survivor. He got his revenge on the killers, and now his next task is to rebuild his family, and a wife features prominently in those plans. Fortunately, he has a HeartMate--a soul mate, the existence of which is revealed in the ceremony/ordeal that releases a person's Flair.

Said HeartMate is Danith Mallow, an orphan with, as she thinks, no Flair, and firmly in the lower-middle class. And she doesn't believe in HeartMates. In addition, she thinks T'Ash is just toying with her.

T'Ash, having spent his life fighting for his life, mostly solitary, and definitely without the civilizing influences of family, much less females, has a hard time convincing Danith that he's serious, and thinks if he can just form a HeartMate bond with her before she finds out what a terrible guy he is, she'll be stuck, and he'll be fine. Silly, silly man.

Both T'Ash and Danith learn things about themselves, and grow and change in the course of the book. It's mostly about their romance--there are other things going on that provide obstacles, but there's not, for example, a suspense or mystery plot along with the romance.

What amazes me so much is that HeartMate is a first book. It's no surprise that it won the RITA. But neither is it a surprise that Berkley/Jove waited to see how it did before agreeing to publish the next in the series. It's definitely different from the other paranormal romances out there. The few that are set on different worlds (at least the ones I've read) don't have the depth of worldbuilding this series does. Part of what I like so much, I suspect, is that I've always read a lot of sf/f, and this reads very much like an sf/f romance, without the sf/f details dumbed-down or left out for the too-stupid-to-care romance readers (not my opinion--it just seems sometimes that that's the opinion of some writers/editors/publishers).

Robin D. Owens is definitely a master storyteller. There's just something about her style... it's polished, or professional, maybe. It's like the difference between cheap fake-leatherboots and the real deal.

*sigh* Okay, enough gushing.


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I'm honored, thank you.
Well, anyone who writes such fabulous books should expect some gushing. :)

I'm currently in the middle of reading Heart Quest. You've done it again.
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