Reviewed by Tori
Favorite Quote: “It’s only men who believe larger is better.”
Low born architect Antenn Blacktorn-Moss has been given the biggest commission of his career; to build a cathedral. He is convinced that this will be the accomplishment he needs to prove himself to the first families of Celta. He has a HeartMate but his shame over his commoner background has convinced him she will not want anything to do with him.
First Level Priestess Tiana Mugwort is at a crossroads in her own career. Her anger and shame over her own scandalous history has her superiors wondering if she is ready for advancement. She is also suffering over her absent Heartmate, sure he has avoided looking for her because of her family’s fall from grace.
Antenn and Tiana are forced together by circumstances and forge a reluctant working relationship that soon morphs into more. However, unless they come to terms with their respective pasts, they will have no future together.
Readers of Ms. Owens’ Heartmate series will rejoice in finally getting the story of Antenn Blackthorn-Moss and Tiana Mugwort. Fans will remember Antenn from Heart Choice and Tiana from Heart Secret. Though each book in this series can be read as a stand alone, the arc and it’s relation to this couple has a history that reaches deep within the series. Owens’ does a wonderful job of referencing the past and giving new readers and those readers who may need a refresher the basics of both protagonists though I recommend reading Heart Choices and Heart Secrets to gain a full understanding on which Antenn and Tiara base the decisions they make in here. Heart Fire wraps up the arc and subplots that were left open in the books listed above.
In the last few books, Owens has taken a different approach with the second generation of colonialists. The very reasons these people left Earth to settle here made a similar appearance once they were settled. Bigotry, intolerance, and elitism all emerged and soon the first families elevated themselves above those whom they considered inferior. With the second generation, we see the first families and lowbornes mingling more. Friendships and romantic connections are made with less thought to bloodlines and family names. Yet, as with all societies, there are those who believe the old ways are the best and strive to maintain the status quo at any cost.
Antenn was adopted into the Clover family as a teenager. Abandoned by his family, Antenn lived on the streets until circumstances brought him to Michaela Clover’s notice. She adopted Antenn and it’s then his life began. When Michaela married Staif Blackthorn, Antenn became a Blackthorn by default and gained admittance into an elusive first family. But Antenn has never felt like he belonged. His brother’s crimes against the first families places Antenn in a tentative position as many first families lay the blame for his brother’s crimes at his feet.
“Though he was only twelve, his enemies wanted him dead for what his brother had done. His home was gone. If he survived, he knew gut deep, bone deep, everything would change.”
Tiana Mugwort also has a dark cloud hanging over her. As a child, Tiana and her family were accused of dealing in Black Magic due to their family’s religious views. After their home was firebombed, they were stripped of everything and forced on the run.Though they were able to secure a home and eventually build a life in a secretive secure location, Tiana carries a fair bit of residual anger over the accusations, the destruction, and the fact her family never fought back.
“She had to prove that she-her Family-were honorable people.”
The relationship between Antenn and Tiana starts off slightly antagonistic as they are both attracted to one another yet very career oriented.Their careers are the only thing they feel defines and separates them from their murky pasts. Antenn doesn’t think his HeartMate will want him and Tiana feels her Heartmate denied her because of her family’s past. Their bond develops slowly and their friends, a certain young and enthusiastic house, and a very unusual FAM decide the couple needs some help so they maneuver and manipulate circumstances to bring them together. There is a lot of hurt in them and the emotional journey they take towards their future together is fraught with anger, confusion, and sadness.
The mystery and romance of the story blend well and play off each other nicely. A nicely added bonus is the raciness of the romance. Though Owens writes a decent love scenes, they are often repetitive and lack depth and imagination. Here we see more in depth both physically and emotionally with this couple.
We see many old characters and meet new ones. The non human characters are a treat in this series. Such wonderful personalities are revealed and add much humor to their scenes. It’s here two of the most dynamic characters of this story are revealed. TQ-Turquoise House and Rat Killer. TQ was first seen in Heart Choice as a young home belonging to a mad women. Michaela and Antenn (Clover) rescue TQ and in turn gains the homes’s undying loyalty. We seen TQ again in Heart Secrets when Garrett and Artemisia (Tiana’s sister) are quarantined. TQ has long ties to the Clovers and Antenn in particular.
“He’d set his plans. Soon he would have his family, and everything would be perfect.”
Rat Killer is a fam-an animal with magical abilities who has the ability to bond to a human. The fams usually know who is their human is and attach themselves to them post haste when they find them. Tiana gets Rat Killer. A older feral cat whose scars, intelligence, and refreshing lack of pretentiousness bear witness to his long life living on the streets. Owen’s use of Rat Killer and TQ to help our lovers heal and understand one another is just the bridge needed to give them the push needed.
“A cat who believes in grunges. Just what a priestess who had to do work on her own self wanted.”
The ending is a mixture of suspense, intrigue, and action as the multiple story lines merge to form a climactic finale that closes a long running storyline. I did feel the epilogue was faintly redundant and long-winded. Regardless, I look forward to visiting this futuristic world again soon.
Overall Rating: B