REVIEW: Hearts and Swords by Robin D. OwensTuesday, December 6, 2011 1:00
What do cryogenics, matchmakers, scandalous divorcees and talking animals have in common? You might be surprised. Robin D. Owens’ latest release is a collection of four novellas all set in her Celta universe.
For those new to the series, Celta is a planet where Earthlings with psychic powers found refuge after fleeing persecution. Similar but different, something about Celta soon stopped Earth machinery from working. However, psychic abilities continue to increase in strength and variety. This time around a couple of the original colonists and supporting characters from previous books all get their happy endings.
Heart and Swords
In Hearts and Swords, original colonist Kelse Bountry is unexpectedly awakened from cryogenic sleep after the murder of the captain of the spaceship he is traveling in. Kelse and others with psi talents are fleeing persecution on Earth, looking for an Earth-like planet to establish their own civilization on.
Kelse and his wife Fern were not supposed to be awakened until a planet had been found and the ship was about to land – they expected to be in stasis for about 75 years. However, after the captain’s murder, the executive officer wakes Kelse and tells him he must take over. And instead of sleeping for 75 years it has been nearly 250! There are mutineers aboard – people who have grown up on the ship – who have no interest in finding a new planet. They either want to go back to Earth or just keep traveling.
Kelse wants to take care of the problem and get the ship to a planet. He talked Fern into the whole space travel thing and he knows she would be very uncomfortable, so Kelse wants her to stay asleep until they are on the ground somewhere safe. The ship (if you’re interested in the Ship, Nuada’s Sword, check out Heart Thief) has other ideas and soon Fern is awake and embroiled with the mutineers too.
I enjoyed this glimpse into the events that brought the colonists to Celta. There have been bits of the story scattered through the series, but, like most history, the interesting personal bits are forgotten or glossed over or completely changed. We see the beginnings of the Heart Mate/Heart Bond too.
Blush Willow was kept from her Heart Mate by her mean-spirited, scheming mother – a renowned matchmaker, of all things. Now, years later, her mother has passed away and her Heart Mate, Dri Paris, has returned from the distant city he fled to after Blush’s mother threatened his family.
Both Blush and Dri are bitter about what her mother did. And each blame the other for not being strong enough to stand up to her – even though they were teenagers and she held a powerful position in society. Can two adults get past their anger and distrust to find the love they know is waiting for them?
This story is the weakest. The plot is thin and the characters are not so interesting. I don’t remember being interested in Blush when I read the book this story is connected to, so…
Heart and Soul
Then we move to Heart and Soul and change locations from Druida to Gael City, which is much less familiar to longtime readers of the series.
Genista Furze shocked the upper echelons of Druida City by divorcing her husband…that just isn’t done in the First Families. Genista realized that it would be better for everyone if they were no longer together, though, and freed him to be with his Heart Mate (if you wanna know more about that, check out Heart Fate).
Now she has moved to another city and is living a much quieter life under a different name. She has a house and a job and an attentive (and handsome) next door neighbor. But there is more to him than meets the eye. Her ex-husband’s family hired him to watch over her and keep her safe.
Apparently, her secret identity isn’t as much of a secret as she thought. When a burglary ring targets her house, many truths are revealed.
It’s nice to see the other side of Genista. In Heart Fate and previous Holly-centric books, she was pretty one-dimensional, if I recall correctly. Mostly she was an obstacle and shallow party girl. Here she has made a new start and is focusing on the things that make her happy, instead of worrying so much about what others think.
Finally, we have Noble Heart. Walker Clover is happy with his life – he is one of the many Clover boys, lives in Clover Compound with his family, and has a job he loves. Walker is tutor to one of the Druida FirstFamilies – the Ashes. When young Nuin Ash enters his first Passage – a feverish dream state that releases the person’s Flair (psi ability – it varies from person to person and can be anything from art to healing to weaponry) – Walker’s Passage is triggered, as well. But Walker is an adult who has always thought he had only the basic amount of Flair required to operate Celtan machinery. By adulthood, highly Flaired Celtans have endured three Passages and Walker has never experienced Passage at all – and suddenly he experiences all three Passages at one time. Most unpleasant. And dangerous – not everyone survives Passage.
After Walker wakes up and is told what happened to him (at first it’s thought he’s sick), he is tested to see what his new Flair talent is. He is surprised to learn his talent may lead him to a very important political position. Walker is not pleased with the direction his life is taking, but he recognizes that his new Flair will help his family move upward in Celtan society – there are four main classes: Commoners, Grace Houses, Grand Houses and First Families. Walker’s new flair catapults his family from Commoner status to Grand House status.
Walker and his allies recognize that he will need assistance to navigate his new position in society. He also must pass a test to assume his new position. He chooses Sedwy Grove to help him learn how to deal with his new situation. Sedwy’s mother formerly held the position Walker may eventually attain. Plus, she’s pretty and smells nice.
Will Walker be able to adjust to his new power and potential? And will Sedwy be able to move past the scandal in her past and take her rightful place next to him?
This is my favorite of the bunch. The Clovers are a fun family and I really like Walker. It is a nice change to see a hero who isn’t uber ambitious and power hungry.
I must say, I very much like this novella format. There are several series I would LOVE to see something similar from (I’m looking at you, Nalini Singh and Meljean Brook).
Do the stories stand alone? Maybe – the first story, especially. The others tie in with previous books, so a new reader might feel like they are missing something, although Ms. Owens does a good job of summarizing previous events. Certainly by reading these stories, a newbie would have a good feel for the world she has created.
If you’ve never tried the Celta series, I urge you to try it. The world Ms. Owens has created continues to expand and evolve. (Also, unrelated to anything, it’s nice to see the art department is returning to form on the cover format. The cover for Heart Journey was unfortunate.) It is such a consistantly excellent series and seems to get very little buzz – it makes me sad. Check it out, faithful reader. If you hate it, come back and tell me why. If you love it, tell a friend.
Heart and Sword
Captain Kelse Bountry leads a colony fleet in search of a habitable planet. His Ship is far off course and his crew is on the verge of mutiny, circumstances that threaten both the success of Kelse’s mission and his marriage. But Fern Bountry is not about to give up on either…
Heart and Soul
Genista Furze, scandalous ex-wife of Tinne Holly, has created a new life for herself working for a clockmaker in small Gael City. Content with simplicity, and learning to value herself, Genista is in no hurry to risk her heart on another man – no matter how attractive her neighbor is…
Walker Clover is experiencing Passage – the dreamquest to free his psi power – and learns that he possesses a flair for magic. When his parents learn of his abilities they reveal that his real mother was a noblewoman. Now, Celta’s FirstFamilies scheme to forge an alliance with Walker through offers of marriage – a prospect he finds abhorrent until he meets the mysterious Sedwy Grove…
A year has passed since Blush Willow’s domineering and murderous mother died, and Blush has drawn her hidden HeartMate, Dri Paris, to her. All should be well. But when they finally meet, unresolved anger at the past – and each other – flares between them. Yet they must work together to find a treasure and save Dri’s family.
No excerpt available.