In Heart Quest, Saille T'Willow gave his HeartGift to Trif so that she could deposit it in a public area. The HeartGift got picked up by a variety of people before finally finding its way to Saille's HeartMate, Dufleur Thyme. Unfortunately, the timing was awful, and the sudden fluctuation in Dufleur's Flair brought her to the attention of a group of people who were ritually killing people with unstable Flair. She almost died.
This book continues Saille and Dufleur's story. Saille now knows who his HeartMate is and hopes to pursue Dufleur more openly. First, though, he has to wait for her to officially accept his HeartGift (or at least keep it in her possession for long enough to satisfy society and the legal system). The problem? She keeps throwing it out or locking it up. Dufleur wants nothing to do with HeartMates and love. All she cares about is her work. Although her beloved father blew himself and the Thyme Residence up while conducting his time-related experiments, Dufleur remains convinced that his experiments weren't dangerous. In an effort to clear her father's name, she illegally uses her Flair to continue her father's research and prove the usefulness of his work.
Saille has more hurdles to overcome than just Dufleur's unwillingness to accept his HeartGift. First, there's his discovery that his grandmother, the previous D'Willow, was so determined to keep him from taking over as the new head of the Family that she spent years matching couples even though her matchmaking Flair no longer worked. If this information gets out, it could ruin the Family. Second, there's the fact that D'Willow is technically still alive, held in stasis until a cure can be found for the disease that's killing her. If she's ever cured, it's guaranteed that she'll try to take over as head of the Willows again.
I liked both Dufleur and Saille well enough in the previous book. The reasoning behind Saille's decision to send his HeartGift out made sense. I didn't think the implications through, though, until I began reading this book.
Okay, so in Heart Quest, Ilex's HeartGift didn't make an appearance until the end of the book, after he and Trif became friends and then lovers. Heart Dance flipped things around so that the relationship began with the HeartGift, and I loathed it. You have to understand, HeartGifts are basically little lust bombs. A person who is near their HeartMate's unshielded HeartGift finds themselves suddenly overwhelmed by lust. They mentally connect with their HeartMate for a bout of what is basically dream sex. Public orgasms are a possibility. And Saille sent his HeartGift out so that his HeartMate could potentially stumble across it anywhere. In addition to that, after Dufleur was attacked in Heart Quest, Saille's HeartGift was retrieved and he was given the option of taking it back. Since his HeartMate had been revealed to him, it wasn't strictly necessary to send it out again, but he did it anyway. So she could potentially stumble across it anywhere, again. Like I said, the implications didn't really hit me until I started reading Heart Dance.
Saille kept emphasizing that he wanted to be strictly ethical in his pursuit and courtship of Dufleur, but it was such a lie. There was even a scene in which he checked the rules about HeartGifts to see if there was anything he could take advantage of, in order to pressure Dufleur into accepting and marrying him.
I wanted Dufleur to be angrier, more forceful in her rejection of Saille's HeartGift, because he quite frankly deserved it. I wanted Saille to realize that what he'd done and thought of doing was wrong. If he had to be the other half of this couple, I wanted him to at least do some serious groveling. Sadly, I instead got a story in which, near the end, Dufleur was considered the one who had done the most harm and the one who had to grovel.
For people who were supposed to be HeartMates, Dufleur and Saille were incredibly badly matched. They spent most of the book hurting each other and hiding important information from each other. Dufleur didn't tell Saille her suspicions about her father's death, and Saille didn't tell Dufleur about D'Willow matching couples even though she'd lost her Flair. They only seemed to do well together in bed, and even that was questionable due to the influence of Saille's HeartGift.
On the plus side, I was mildly interested in the mystery of what really happened the night Dufleur's father died, and the developments involving Dufleur's Flair kept my attention. The scene with the remnants of the Thyme Residence was wonderful, but then I'm partial to anything involving the Residences. Also, Fairyfoot, Dufleur's Fam, was delightfully clever in her greediness. If only she hadn't been such a terrible Fam, betraying Dufleur to Saille because she wanted to live in Saille's Residence.
I have two unread books in this series. I had thought I could power through all my Celta books in one go, but Heart Dance has significantly reduced my enthusiasm. Heart Change will have to wait. I will say this: Heart Dance made me even happier that I never bought Heart Fate, Tinne Holly's book. I can't imagine how it could be anything but unpleasant.
- A list of characters
- The Holly/Blackthorn family tree
- A map of Celta
- After Dark (book) by Jayne Castle - This is the first book in Castle's Ghost Hunters series, which is set on the planet Harmony. It's another series where people have psi powers, although their daily lives aren't much different than that of contemporary Americans. Honestly, I prefer Castle's very similar St. Helen's series, which begins with Amaryllis, but it looks like the author opted to abandon that one after only three books.
- Knight of a Trillion Stars (book) by Dara Joy - I actually discovered Robin D. Owens' Celta series while looking for something similar to Dara Joy's books. They're spiritually similar - "futuristic" romance that's heavier on the fantasy elements than the sci-fi, talking cats (in this case, shapeshifters), and soulmates. However, Joy's male characters tend to be even more arrogantly alpha, and the cheesiness level is higher in some ways (if I remember correctly, Joy has a fondness for using italics in sex scenes).
- More Than Magic (book) by Kathleen Nance - I remember this being my favorite of Nance's Djinn books, but it's been a while since I last read it. I have no idea how well it would hold up on a reread. Anyway, it might work for those who'd like a very confident romance hero, a heroine who needs to be convinced that she is loved and belongs (she has dyslexia and I think was made to feel bad about it), and fantasy elements.