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REVIEW

"Owens outdoes herself with the sequel to her award winning Futuristic Fantasy debut!"

Following on the heels of her award winning debut HEARTMATE, is HEART THIEF, the second book in the Celta series. Robin D. Owens has outdone herself. This is the tale of Ruis Elder a Null in a world where flair determines status. Not only does Ruis lack any psi ablility but he has the added curse of nullifying the flair of others when nearby. For this he is shunned. When last we saw Ruis in HEARTMATE he was not a terribly sympathetic character, having stolen the Heart Gift that T'Ash had crafted for his HeartMate Danith. We now learn that there is much more to Ruis Elder. Ruis, far from a being a hardened criminal, has been the victim of terrible injustice. Ruis had been FirstSon and ElderHeir. He had been too young when his parents died to remember if his nullness had been known at the time. At any rate he had been supplanted by his Uncle Bucus, who had badly abused him throughout his childhood.

Firstdaughter and Heir, Judge Ailim SilverFir, though not yet formally confirmed by the FirstFamily Council had recently become GrandLady D'SilverFir, the head of her family. Only then had she discovered the huge debts incurred by them. Hoping to avoid the sale of the family residence, she had come beg her piers for a loan. While waiting to make her petition she encounters Ruis Elder, a prisoner who is awaiting sentence for the crime of theft.

Ailim is immediately intrigued by Ruis, Not only is he exceptionally handsome but his Nullness soothes her. While others find his presence uncomfortable in the extreme, she finds it restful. Ailim's flair talent is Telempathy, the ability to read others' thoughts and emotions. It is what makes her an exceptional judge, but her skill comes with a price. Much strength is required to combat the constant battering of others' feelings upon her mind. Although she does not yet have voting privileges she hopes the council will be merciful to this man. Her own request is granted in spite of T'Elder's recommendation to the contrary.

Ruis harbors no such hopes. His uncle Bucus T'Elder, Captain of the Council, had always hated him. The man had brutally tortured Ruis until he had run away at fourteen to escape the pain. Since then Ruis had lived by his wits, surviving in the only way possible for him. Bucus would ask for death.

Though currently the only living Null, there had been others. History reported that they had either gone insane or committed suicide. But Ruis had found an occupation to keep him sane. He had been restoring Earth artifacts which, like him, Celtans did not value. These were the last remnants of a society in which he might have fit in. He alone recognized their importance. Unfortunately this occupation had been his downfall. The Earth relics had not required flair but did require precious gems to restore, something only the elite possessed. His mistake had been in taking T'Ash's HeartGift. Though he had returned it, the theft had resulted in his capture. Now faced with the choice of banishment or death, Ruis knew that he wanted to live. He wanted a chance to finish his task. He wanted the chance to know Ailim D'SilverFir, the beautiful woman who actually found comfort in his presence.

Ancient prophetess D'Vine exhorts the Council to grant Ruis his freedom, predicting calamity if another verdict is given, but they are not forgiving. Ruis is banished and ordered to remain outside the walls of Druida on pain of death. Tender hearted Danith D'Ash follows him to the gates and presents him with Samba, a daughter of Zanth, her husband's Fam cat. Samba communicates verbally rather than telepathically and with her Ruis forms his first bond with another living creature. He can't forget the instant affinity with Ailim either, and decides to take a risk to stay near her. Rather than leave the city as ordered he heads for the last remaining Earthship, Nuada's Sword. The ship is sentient, and like the other Earth relics does not require flair. The ship not only accepts Ruis as Captain, but is desperate to keep him safe. The ship assists him with diagnostics and also helps him to repair his own damage by teaching him to control his dangerous anger. It also provides him with the means to approach Ailim safely. He discovers that she too bears the terrible burden of loneliness, for she is duty bound to protect a greedy, selfish family that does not respect her. They find comfort in each other, and a deep attraction which quickly blossoms into love. The cat, the ship, and most of all the woman, are changing Ruis for the better.

Naturally discovery would destroy them both. Ruis would face certain execution, while Ailim would lose her status, her home, and her career. Still they cannot resist each other. Their only hope for a lasting relationship is to uncover the injustice perpetrated on Ruis by his evil uncle. What they uncover is even more sinister than either could imagine. Will justice prevail?

Wow! There is just so much to recommend this tale. Ruis and Ailim are as sympathetic as characters can possibly be. Ailim is noble in a way that no rank can designate. She is willing to set aside the rules that define her whole belief system, risking everything to obtain justice for her beloved. With her, Ruis is no longer focused solely on himself. With the acceptance of his Fam, his ship, and his woman, his protective layers are stripped away revealing a man equal to in honor and nobility to anyone on Celta. The changes even prompt him to take on a protégé, an unfortunate Downwind youngster whose life might still be turned around. The unfolding plot against the pair is ingenious, the resolution shocking. The cat, of course, is a personality in her own right, and the ship is quite an interesting character as well. What emotion, what suspense! If your heart went out to the vulnerable T'Ash, you will love Ruis Elder even more. Excerpts from the next installment HEART DUEL, featuring the daring and handsome HollyHeir, Holm, are most intriguing. Looks like the premier warrior will have a real battle on his hands to win his lady. I can't wait to see if the third book is as enthralling as this one.

Copyright © 2003

Reviewed by Leslie Tramposch
Posted May 8, 2003

SUMMARY

Ruis Elder never asked for his unusual trait - the ability to neutalize other's psychic talents. Because of it, he has always been hated in his own homeland, destined to roam the harsh planet alone. But trouble finds him in front of the ruling Council - and face-to-face with the most beautiful woman he has ever seen. There's only one problem: Ailim is on the opposite side of the bench...

Ailim has never before felt such passion coursing through her as she feels in Ruis's presence. And she never thought she would - at least not with a man so far beneath her station, a man who does not even have psychic powers. But even on the planet Celta, love is blind to such details. Separately, Ailim and Ruis must forgo their old lives. But together the can take on the world...

Read an Excerpt

 

Heart Thief
(Celta series, Book 2)
by Robin D. Owens

Berkley Pub Group (Sensation)
June 1, 2003
Available: June 3, 2003
ISBN #0425190722
EAN #9780425190722
352 pages
Paperback
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Other Books by
Robin D. Owens

Enchanted Again
Enchanted No More
Heart Journey
Heart Change
Echoes in the Dark
Heart Fate
Keepers of the Flame
Heart Dance
Protector of the Flight
Heart Quest
HeartMate
What Dreams May Come
Sorceress Of Faith
What Dreams May Come
Heart Choice
Guardian of Honor
Heart Duel


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