Heart Change

Heart Choice

Heart Dance

Heart Duel

Heart Fate

HeartMate

Heart Quest

Heart Thief

 
Heart Journey
by Robin D. Owens
(Berkley, $15.00, PG-13) ISBN 978-0-425-23454-9
***
The latest entry in Robin D. Owens’ Heart series is a “city mouse/country mouse” story featuring two leads who are quite happy with their individual lives, and not very willing to change. While Heart journey isn’t the most captivating romance in the series, those who have been following the Celta world will likely enjoy it.

Helena D’Elecampagne, or “Del” as she is known, is the leading cartographer on Celta. Her life is spent out in the wild, traveling with her fox Fam, Shunuk. Del is quite happy with her existence, but she knows she has a HeartMate. It became apparent to her seven years earlier, but now the pull to find him is becoming too strong to ignore. So Del figures she’ll head for the city, track him down, and bring him back with her. Problem solved.

Except Del’s HeartMate is city born and bred, with no interest in leaving. He’s Raz Cherry, one of the leading actors on Celta, and he’s as happy with his urban lifestyle as Del is uncomfortable with it. Things are further complicated when Del discovers that a fire has wiped out her extended family, and the Heir to the GrandHouse of D’Elecampagne is a baby girl named Helendula. “Doolie”, as she is affectionately called, is living with Straif T’Blackthorn and his wife, Mitchella, and they want to keep her. That Straif is a former lover of Del’s makes things awkward, though they are on good terms as friends.

Del fears that her family’s Flair and traditions will die out if Doolie stays with the Blackthorns. Doolie, who is already showing signs of strong scrying Flair even though she’s only a toddler, is also now Heir to a house that is becoming sentient. And though Raz and Del are strongly attracted to one another when they meet, she cannot simply announce that he’s her HeartMate. Raz, for his part, has been warned by an oracle that his HeartMate is near, but he wants no commitments or long-term relationships, so he resists probing the growing bond between himself and Del.

Much as I’ve enjoyed the Celta series, Heart Journey was strangely flat and hard to get into. Perhaps it’s because both Del and Raz were so set in their ways and determined not to change. Raz was semi-annoying and his character was a bit of a stereotype; good looking, successful, twenty-something, commitment-phobic, and willing to have a hot affair but afraid to look any deeper in case it turns out to be something he’ll actually have to deal with and perhaps alter his worldview. Del, who is eight years older, simply assumes she can pick up her HeartMate like a box of cereal and take him back to the wilderness with her, no questions asked. As Raz and Del get to know one another, they are forced to change their plans. It was almost fun to see these two knocked off their rather smug pedestals, and if that was the author’s intent, she succeeded brilliantly.

All of the previous elements of Celta are here: animal Fams, or psychic familiars, psychic Flair, nobles and commoners, etc. The author might be pushing the Flair a bit too hard, as there now seems to be a psychic talent for every occasion. And while I enjoyed Del’s fam fox, Raz’s fam kitten is a retread of all the other spoiled, imperious cats in this series.

There are some other plot elements that are introduced to complicate matters a bit more, but I won’t go into them here. The crux of the story is Del and Raz, who are outwardly so mismatched that the reader wonders how they’ll ever resolve their relationship. Owens doesn’t skimp on the sexual aspects of their affair, either – it’s hot. Heart Journey is an interesting addition to the Celta series, and while it wasn’t wholly satisfying to me, it’s worth a look.

--Cathy Sova


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