Thursday, July 5, 2012

Review: Heart Secret by Robin D. Owens

Heart Secret
Heart Secret by Robin D. Owens

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I finished this book around 8pm last night and I'm still wrestling with how to write this review. I was all, Well, this is the part that I keep thinking about, but it's kind of a spoiler so I can't mention that,' and 'Well, the hero said this, but, no, that's a spoiler too.' I will tell you that a new Fam species get introduced and (this will date me), I immediately thought of the Care Bear Cousins.

I also keep going back and forth on whether this could be a stand-alone. On the one hand, it's pretty self-contained. This is the first book that doesn't really involve the FirstFamilies. Artemisia is technically a noble, but she's been disgraced. Therefore, you really only need passing familiarity with Celta's culture and social structure to understand the book. On the other, Owens has woven the book into Celta's history and it refers to events from Heart Mate, Heart Quest, Heart Dance, Heart Fate, Heart Journey, the "Noble Heart" novella from Hearts and Swords, and, most importantly, Heart Search. Which, now that I look at the list, is about half of the books in the series.

This is one of the things I love about the Celta series, how everything's connected to each other. There's continuity and a event that takes place in book five can cause ripples that will affect book eleven. I love being able to see couples from previous books, of seeing their children grow up. Owens jumped into the future with Heart Search and continues advancing the series in Heart Secret. The denizens of Celta are so conscious of how precarious their hold onto this planet is and they are fixated on the idea of leaving a piece of themselves behind for future generations.

That need for remembrance factors heavily in Heart Secret. Garrett is very conflicted between his desire to avoid human ties and his need to have something of himself left behind. He was the sole survivor of a virulent epidemic, forced to watch his community die around him. That's a devastating thing for a man with a protective nature to experience.

The other main theme is the idea of letting go of the past. The scandal that affected her family has harmed Artemisia professionally. She is continually fighting against public opinion in order to achieve her goals. Being HeartMate to a man like Garrett isn't easy, given how tied he is to the past, and she is forced to perpetually straddle looking back & moving forward.

Overall, I enjoyed the book. There were some weak points and a few things that I felt were lost in the shuffle. For me, this was a bridge book, gently easing us from the time jump in Heart Search into the future. The second generation has hit adulthood and they're going to start making their mark on Celta.