A well crafted book that will appeal to fans of Jayne Castle’s series. Just ignore the attack of the apostrophes.
Rand T’Ash is a member of one of the Great Families on the planet of Celta, colonised by the people of Earth many years ago during a search to find a suitable location to develop their psychic gifts. Formerly a street rat he is now a respected nobleman with a talent for shaping stones. He has crafted a necklace as a HeartGift, as is customary in their culture, for his HeartMate, the woman who is destined to be his. Danith Mallow walks into his shop one day and is drawn to the necklace, but after some alpha grunt-type discussion and a bit of chaos caused by other customers, she leaves, and T’Ash has to find her and somehow convince her that they are destined to be together. Thus the story and the apostrophes begin.
I had trouble with the names at first. The honorific in their culture appears to be T’something or D’something and the apostrophes started to drive me nuts. I was later told by a friend that it appears to be standard in futuristic fantasy now, and I do not think this is a trend I would like to continue. Having an apostrophe does not make you all fancy, you know.
That said, the world building was excellent, if a bit complicated at first. There’s a lot to get through at the start and you have to keep track of it all as you go along. That said, it’s a very well crafted, well thought out world, very consistent and imaginative.
T’Ash was a solid (literally and figuratively) alpha male hero, though I found him trying sometimes. While I understand that he was raised in the gutter and had no manners, sometimes I really expected him to grunt when he was talking to Danith: Me Tarzan, You Jane, Us belong together. The end. He was really quite pushy, and it’s understandable why she would reject him repeatedly. This conflict did not get resolved until the end, and all the other external conflicts and side plots were fixed, which kind of had me feeling that this bit was a bit rushed.
While the main conflict in the story is the romance between the two, there are a lot of tiny side plots that fit well with the story, although I found that Owens could have done with fewer. This being the first book in a series, it seems as though a lot of these side plots were necessary to establish the other families for future books.
Despite the many things going on, I enjoyed the secondary characters, especially Holm from the D’Hollys , T’Ash’s super charming BFF (who gets his own book later on) and his familiar, Zanth, the straight talking but adorable psychic cat. (Trust me, it’s cooler than it sounds.) His full name, Zanthoxyl, sounded a lot like medication to me, though. The kind that would be banned for recreational use.
Yay or nay?
Name nitpicking aside, I enjoyed this book and found it a good start to the series. I’ve ordered two other books already (thanks, @girrlitsbooks!) and am looking forward to exploring more of the world of Celta and meeting more psychic cats. It’s a well crafted book, and if you like sff books similar to Jayne Castle’s series you may like this one, too.
This book was first published in 2001 by Jove and reissued by Berkley in 2006. Some bookshops list the title as two words, Heart Mate, so if you can’t find the book, that’s probably why.
Where you can buy this book
AUSTRALIA: Booktopia | Borders | Fishpond | Leading Edge | Romance Direct | Click here for more bookshops
EBOOKS: Books On Board | Borders | Diesel | eBooks.com | Kindle UK | Kindle US
WORLDWIDE: Amazon US | Amazon UK | Book Depository | Or check your local library
Books in the Celta’s HeartMates series