Heart Duel, by Robin D. Owens

>> Friday, May 21, 2004

Since the world in Robin D. Owens' Heart Thief was so very complex, I thought it would be a good idea to not let too much time lapse before reading the following one, Heart Duel. This one's the third in the series.

Healer Lark Collinson hates the street duelling that is a way of life among the noble families on Celta -- it was just such a skirmish that killerd her Healer husband and left her a grieving widow. The last thing she wants is to lov 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?
Pretty good. Again, as in Heart Thief, there are some things the author needs to polish, but even between these two I could see an improvement. My grade? B.

Still comparing with Heart Thief... the setting was still the most fascinating part of the book (and it helped a lot that I'd already read one and that I'd done so shortly before), but the romance was actually stronger this time

We have a "destined lovers" plot here, a kind of story that I tend not to like much because usually you really don't see exactly the process through which the characters fall in love and why they do, they simply are in love because fate / an ancient spell / whatever decrees that they must be. Right at the beginning of the book, Holm realizes Lark is his HeartMate, and begins wooing her. There is a catch, though, is that he's not allowed to tell her that they are HeartMates, so as not to pressure her. This was a nice touch, because it allowed for a real courtship, and this pretty much took care of my problems with this type of plot. Even with Holm, who knows they are meant to be together, we actually see him falling in love.

Apart from this, much of the conflict comes from the feud going on between Holm and Lark's families. This I thought was well done, because both Holm and Lark were not doormats with their families and stood up to them.

I also actually enjoyed how not everything was worked out at the end. Yes, there is a happy ending, but the author doesn't feel the need to tie everything up neatly, and this prevented a too saccharine ending.

Oh, and before I forget, this time, I loved the Fams. There are two main ones, this time, twin kittens, one given to Holm and the other to Lark, and they were lots of fun. Not as precious as the one in Heart Thief, and that's a good thing, and they had personalities which reminded me of my cats in some ways. This cat-lover was charmed ;-)


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