"Owen spins perfection yet again!"

I first became aware of Robin D. Owens book HEARTMATE in a writers chat. Everyone was congratulating her on winning the Golden Heart -- the Romance Writers of America's award for first time writers. It's rare a new writer, especially in the Sci-Fi/Fantasy sub-genre of Romance, can come through with such a strong story. Small wonder it caused such word-of-mouth recommendations. It takes a very strong talent to conceive this off-Earth world and make it believable. Well, she did. When a first book is that much a success, so full of heart, the writer then faces the Harper Lee Syndrome (To Kill a Mockingbird). Lee's book was perfect, yet she never wrote another one. So, when Owen's second book HEART THIEF came out, I girded myself for disappointment, but hoped for the best. She amazingly delivered not a book that was as good, but one that surpassed it. Having already established the world of Celta, the premise, rules and the foundation for Heartmates and a world defined by magic, Owens was able to concentrate on the people. HEART THIEF was a complex tale of an outcast, a thief and the judge with whom he falls in love. It stole my heart. Okay, she pulled the Hat Trick, but can she keep doing it? The answer: Yes!

In HEART DUEL time we are treated to two KittyFams, Meserv and Phyll, tom brothers, gifts from T'ash to his friend, Holm Holly (prominent character in the first two books as the heir to House of Holly) and Lark Collinson, a healer from the Houses of Heather and Hawthorne. The plot line has a wee touch of Romeo and Juliet woven in as the undercurrent to HEART DUEL, as the Great Houses of Holly and Hawthorne are ancient enemies. Lark's Flair is the gift of healing. She heals the arrogant, but gorgeous Holm Holly, a man she grew up with, and has watched from a far. She'd married a commoner, some considered beneath her. He was a great healer, shared her interests, if not the great passion as a Heartmate would. So, she never considers someone like Holm would look at her now she is a widow.

Holm was the handsome, brash warrior, she quiet woman with a Flair for healing. Both had undergone the three rites passages, and neither of them saw their Heartmate that set their Flairs free. Thus, both assumed there would never be that special bond for them. Lark, a widow of three years, is shocked to see Holms attraction. As she heals him, Holm comes to recognize Lark is his Heartmate. He also understands winning her and convincing his family will take some doing, especially when bound by the strict rules in claiming a Heartmate. Added to the problem - neither family will welcome their bonding. Holm's determination to win Lark is exacerbated when the long simmering animosity between the two Great Houses suddenly flares into open warfare. Even so, Holm will let nothing stop him from forming the Heartbond, not even Lark herself.

However, his resolve is tested when his mother is stabbed by a Hawthorne youth, the blade carrying a poison that nearly kills her. As the feud escalates, so does Holm's determination to win his Heartmate. Though Lark views the situation as hopeless, Holm knows he will fashion his Heartgift to win her love. Lark should never discount the meddlesome FamKitties and their ability to know what is right for their people!

Everyone who loved HEARTMATE and HEART THIEF will be delighted with this next entry in the Celta series. There is only one thing wrong with Owen's very original tales. They are too slow in coming!

Posted August 17, 2004

Reviewed by Deborah Macgillivray
Posted November 22, 2006


Healer Lark Collinson hates the street dueling that is a way of life among the noble families on Celta—it was just such a skirmish that killed her Healer husband and left her a grieving widow. The last thing she wants is to love a man to whom fighting is a way of life—a man like the brashly confident Holm Holly.

All it takes is one brief touch for Holm to know that Lark is his HeartMate, though wooing her will be his greatest challenge. For not only does she despise everything he represents, but the long-standing feud between their families has exploded into even greater violence. Their destiny has been revealed...but at what cost to their own hearts?

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Heart Duel
(Celta series: Book 3)
by Robin D. Owens

Berkley Pub Group (Sensation)
April 1, 2004
Available: April 6, 2004
ISBN #0425196585
EAN #9780425196588
352 pages
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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
What Dreams May Come
Sorceress Of Faith
What Dreams May Come
Heart Choice
Guardian of Honor
Heart Thief

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