Heart Secret (Celta’s Heartmate #11) by Robin D. Owens
August 7, 2012
Reviewed by Tori
Favorite Quote: “ I’m a woman, with a woman’s heart and feelings and needs. And since you can’t provide what I need-I’ll find someone who can. ”
Garrett Primross lost his way and his heart when his childhood love and her child died of Iasc syndrome-a deadly disease that swept through his community and destroyed everyone it touched. As the only survivor, Garrett carries around survivor’s guilt that keeps him mired in grief and impedes his ability to heal. He has always known who his HeartMate was but doesn’t want her in his life. The thought of loving anyone else and losing them is unbearable. When a young child contracts the deadly disease, the healers approach Garrett for help. They want his blood as it seems to have a natural immunity to the disease and they also want to infect him with the disease and study his recovery. Garrett dreads this intrusion in his life. He doesn’t want to relive that time and he also doesn’t want to be in close contact with his HeartMate
Artemisia Panax (Mugwort) and her family were falsely accused of dealing in black magic and were stripped of everything. Their family name, home, financials, and self-respect. She now works as a second level healer, barely tolerated by the great lady who runs the hospital. Artemisia has no idea who her HeartMate is but assumes when he is ready, he will reveal himself. Artemisia travels through life carefully. She cannot afford to lose her job nor reveal the secret of her parents whereabouts. When Garrett is approached by the healers, it is decided that she will be the one to go into quarantine with him and watch over him. Upon meeting Garrett, she senses his animosity but is unsure of its origins.She only wants to care for her patient and get out of the job alive.
As Garrett and Artemisia spend their days and nights together, the attraction builds strengthening their bond. A bond that Garrett doesn’t want and does everything possible to sever. In one fateful moment, Garrett does the unthinkable and soon finds himself at a loss when the one person he thought he didn’t want, no longer wants him.
Heart Secret, #11 in Ms. Owens’s Celta’s HeartMates series, is one of the few books of hers I have read that revolves almost entirely around the protagonists relationship and only gives us tiny interludes concerning life on the planet and the others who inhabit it. It is set up to be read as a stand alone and that in itself is unusual. This one, like the last one, also seems a bit darker and edgier than earlier installments. We are now firmly in the future and focusing on the second generation of Celtas. I like how basic human emotions and situations are slipped into the storyline, reminding us that this is more than just a sci fi fantasy. We are given an intimate view, from a personal standpoint, showing the selfish, the cruel, and the autocracy that permeates this world. Once again, not everyone is nice and Ms. Owen’s shows their faces and lets their voices be heard.
The story introduces our protagonists and gives us background into their lives in order for us to understand why they are the way they are. Garrett, a private investigator, is a hard, solitary man with a chip on his shoulder concerning the nobles. He has suffered great personal loss and keeps the wound fresh and bleeding in his heart. He has a unique relationship with animals but seems to have a problem when relating to humans. Artemisia, a healer, has also suffered a great loss but instead of going inward like Garrett, she accepted and dealt with her wounds. She is now attempting to make a life for herself and takes a distant family name to distance herself from her family’s disgrace. I liked how Owens’s uses Garrett’s and Artemisia’s tragedies to show how different they are in temperament and personality. Garrett sees himself as a man against society while Artemisia tries to blend in and be accepted once again.
The relationship between Garrett and Artemisia is rocky. Very rocky. As stated earlier, Garrett does not want his HeartMate. In his grief and despair, he feels that by accepting his heartmate he will forget his first love. This translates into some severe misunderstandings and hurt feelings as Garrett finds himself fighting an attraction to Artemisia and taking it out on her. On many/several occasions, he is cruel and thoughtless, so wrapped up in his own grief, and I found myself wanting to smack him quite a few times. Their bond is strong though and we see many helping hands try and lead Garrett where he needs to go. Theirs is an emotional journey that is painful to watch.
The mystery and romance of the story blend well and play off each other nicely. The characters are all well developed and add depth and a sense of continuation to the arc of the story. We see some old faces and references from previous installments are made, adding a sense of continuous to the series. We also meet some very interesting new ones, which expands the world building and arc. I have always loved the fam storyline and Ms. Owens’s continues to never disappoint. They are wonderfully three dimensional and add humor to the story.
The ending comes at you fast as the multiple story lines merge to form a finale that satisfies but left me feeling somewhat deflated. While I enjoyed the story, I did feel some things weren’t addressed that should have been as well as issues that were unresolved. Regardless, I always enjoy visiting Ms. Owens futuristic world as her Heartmates always bring a wealth of magic and romance to the table.
Overall Rating: C+