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Lost Heart: A Celta Novella (Celta HeartMates) Paperback – February 16, 2016
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About the Author
RITA® Award Winning novelist Robin D. Owens credits the telepathic cat with attitude in selling her first futuristic/fantasy romance, HeartMate, published in December 2001. Since then she has written over 25 books. Talk to her on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/robin.d.owens.73 ***************************************************
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**** SPOILERS FOLLOW ****
My first issue with the book came quite early on. Enata Licorice and Barton Clover have separately gone to the premiere matchmaker Saille T'Willow to find a non-Heartmate match. I actually liked the idea of a story with main characters who were not predestined Heartmates. But when T'Willow brings the two together, he gives them a potion that's supposed to make them more receptive to each other but acts as, basically, an aphrodisiac. Personally, I found it not at all romantic or believable that Enata and Barton went from complete strangers to all over each other in seconds ... and the fact it was done in front of their parents and siblings -- eww! Then they're getting married in less than a day, still as strangers, who want sex, sex and more sex? How is that romantic? There isn't any relationship building before the pages and pages of sex, which was repeated throughout the book.
The whole quoting poetry thing didn't bother me as much as another reviewer, but seemed to come out of left field. As it happened, I had just recently reread Walker's story, and I sure don't remember any poetry spouting by Barton in that book, not even a reference to bookish tendencies. In Walker's story, there was a real sense of affection between the brothers, too; but I didn't feel the same connection between them in this story.
In addition to the development of the newlyweds' relationship (and, to be fair, there was some of that in and around all the sex and more sex), there is a fairly weak mystery as Barton searches for two young Clovers who left the Clover compound and disappeared (I found Walker's hands-off, lack of concern strange considering the missing family members were a 17-year-old barely adult boy and his 11-year-old sister, and the Clovers were supposed to be this close-knit family) and Enata stumbles across a mysterious book which leads her on a search for her missing brother. All of that was wrapped up easily and all too quickly.
Another reviewer didn't like the new direction that the author took the Celta mythology, by revealing that the planet, itself, is an entity. Really, the entity of Celta was more real, overall, to me, than Barton and Enata as a couple for most of the book. IMO, kudos to Ms. Owens for making the entity multidimensional and flawed and interesting. I don't know if there will be future stories exploring the subject, but I'd be interested in seeing where the author takes that element.
**** END SPOILERS ****
But, bottom line, I thought as a romance, the story was largely a miss because there was way too much sex and way too little relationship building. The intriguing plot twist re the island to which their travels take Barton and Enata, and its inhabitants, was not developed as much as it could have been ... and, really, there just wasn't much of a story here.
For die-hard Celta fans, it's worth the $4 e-book cost for the intriguing, if underdeveloped, new turn in the history/mythology of the world of Celta, but I can't recommend a $10 investment in the paperback version
Enata Licorice is the heir to the head librarian on Celta. Enata has been feeling lost and alone with her sister getting married. Also, strange happening have been happening inside one of the library's vaults, and Enata is at a loss to deal with it. Enata's sister convinces her that her life would be better and more rewarding if she would visit a matchmaker, as she has no heartmate.
There were several things I liked and didn't like about this novella, so I gave it three stars. As usual with Ms. Owens' writing, the writing and editing are excellent. The plot is well thought out, and it does hold your interest to the last page. I felt that for a novella of this size there were too many sex scenes between Enata and Barton. Other than their marriage night, the sex scenes didn't seem to advance the story, or further the connection between the two characters, so they were largely unnecessary. The poetry that Barton spouted - after the initial time to impress Enata and her family - came across as a filler to add to the word count instead of moving the story further. And last but not least, SPOILER....SPOILER....SPOILER....I hated the new idea of a lost island with Celta actually being a "goddess", and not a very nice one at that. I think it drastically changes the world building that Owens has took pains to build for the last decade. I disliked it enough that I wish I could unread it!
I've been pleased that boys & girls matched as couples can appear thereafter in the stories. Sometimes the next book is about the next generation of Celtans. That is, this is an ongoing series and especially the couples most central to Celtan society can appear in the next book as part of the culture/the society in which younger Celtan boys and girls live. I always enjoy seeing them again, even in supporting roles.
This is the only romance series that I read. My other favorite science fiction/fantasy/alternate history series tend to include romance, but not as the primary plot.
What I have always liked best about the Celta HeartMate series is the telepathy between HeartMates (even before they've agreed to marry) and both the routine teleportation of those with enough Flair (magic) and also the telekinesis (powered again by Flair). And I like that they are on another planet, which their ancestors from Earth traveled to hundreds of years before, when persecuted on Earth for too much ESP (extrasensory perception, which evolved into powerful Flair). This culture also strongly believes in reincarnation so that if you don't have a HeartMate this time, you might in your next life.
One book in the series, in fact, is about a boy who not only has no Flair but his talent cancels Flair. [Anyone with Flair in his immediate vicinity finds that their Flair is temporarily suppressed. As soon as they move far enough away from him, their Flair is back to normal.] He falls for a girl with lots of Flair and they work it out.
And, I have to confess, this is by far the steamiest series I have ever read. But we are all adults here, even consenting adults. [No, this is NOT the series to suggest to young adult audiences. But that is OK. There are plenty of other books for YA and children to read.]
The especially fun part of Celta has been the Fams. These can be cats, dogs, birds (of various sizes and species), which are not only intelligent but also telepathically linked to their FamMan or FamWoman, and can't hear anyone else. So when they first meet the boy and the girl not only have to find their way to getting along with each other but the Fam comments can be hysterical! Cats, especially, are highly narcissistic and want plenty of attention paid to "ME".
So Lost Heart was quite different because the boy and girl here were not HeartMates but were matched by Celta's premier matchmaker, who just happened to have a potion to help along "love at first sight". In most of the earlier books, mention is made that not everyone will have a HeartMate and plenty marry on their own or get matched by either matchmakers or helpful friends/family. The girl in Lost Heart is a noble with plenty of Flair so she can teleport not only herself but can teleport small groups, if needed.
So I have to admit that I was fascinated to see "the other side of the coin", as it were. It was highly unusual for the boy and girl to practically get married in the first chapter but then they spent the rest of the book nurturing their bond and finding out how to build a married life together. And yes, there was a major twist but I enjoyed that so much that I can't tell you about it!
So if you think you might be up for some paranormal romance on another planet in a culture that values Family and has telepathy among Family members (as well as the couples), teleportation (and gliders both public and private for those without Flair), and telekinesis (including spells for getting cleaned up & dressed as fast as Superman and wouldn't that be handy sometimes!), and you don't mind some adult steaminess, please do try the Celta HeartMate series! You will love it, too!