After the death of GrandLord Yew years ago, the Yews withdrew to their self-sustaining estate and disappeared from Celtan society. The current head of the household is believed to be eighteen-year-old Loridana. To find out, Draeg Blackthorn has been sent to the estate to spy, undercover as a stableman for the stridebeasts—beautiful creatures that hold a place in Lori’s heart no member of her family ever could.
Bullied by her family, Lori has decided to abandon her bloodline and live on her own with her true family—her animals. When Draeg discovers she’s rejecting her heritage, he’s appalled. He’s come to love the land as much as the woman, even spinning small fantasies of marrying Lori and becoming Lord and Lady of the manor. Draeg wants her to stay and fight her elders. For Lori, it’s an alternative that could render her absolutely powerless to pursue her own destiny, and drive her further away from her perfect dreams and the man she loves, Draeg.
*Blurb from Goodreads
Marlene: Owens’ Heartmate series has been an autobuy for me for quite a while. Even when I don’t entirely love that particular story (ahem, Heart Fire last year, see our joint review). I always enjoy a trip back to Celta. Owens has created a world with a fascinating history and an exciting present. This is a place I might want to live.
However, I’m very pleased to say that Heart Legacy is back to her old form. I swallowed this one the very afternoon in which I received the ARC, and it was marvelous. Sometimes fricking heartbreaking, but a wonderful way to spend a weekend afternoon.
E: Like Marlene I autobuy this series. I have become captivated by her world, the families, their struggles, and Owens lyrical method of writing. As the series continues I enjoy seeing the younger generations start to make their mark as they struggle with their past, expectations, and their own personalities. I haven’t loved each story equally, and some I reread while others just stay on my keeper shelf but the overall impact is one that I look forward to each installment with the same level of anticipation as when I first started the series.
Also like Marlene I found this story both enjoyable and requiring tissues. The payoff however was well worth the tears.
Marlene: The central story in Heart Legacy involves some long-standing family feuds, and also provides a bit more information and closure to the story Heart Fate. In that story, Tinne Holly’s heartmate Lahsin escapes from her horrible marriage in the Yew household by killing her wacko husband in self-defense and running away. We knew something was wrong in Yew House, but it isn’t until now that we discover just how deep the rot goes. And it is rotten all the way down to the core.
While Lahsin was abused by her husband, it is clear in Heart Legacy that there is something awful in the legacy of all the Yews, including the sentient residence. It is oh so clear that Loridana D’Yes is being bullied and abused by every member of her immediate family, including the Residence. In spite of her being the titular head of household, she is preyed upon by everyone in it, while being ritually drained of her flair at every turn. It’s no wonder that she is planning her escape. The only wonder is that she didn’t try it sooner. Also a whole lot of wonder that she has emerged from this cesspit even half sane, let alone reasonably functional.
E: The Yew household was a seriously ill one. The people and the Residence seemed to infect and feed on each other as they went after those who had a decent nature and who cared. I was very glad to see some closure because the Yews had harmed so many, yet were left alone to continue to fester. I did grow a bit exasperated with Lori’s goodness, sweetness, and light until she started to let other elements of her personality show during her time with Draeg and when she began to openly rebel. I really couldn’t blame her for not wanting anything to do with her heritage because it was never a source of comfort, love or respect.
Marlene: Our hero is one of Straif T’Blackthorn’s adopted children. (The beginning of Straif’s thread to this story is in Heart Choice.) But unlike many of Straif’s adopted kids, Draeg BetonyBlackthorn is one of Straif’s cousins. While he is from a lesser branch of the family, with no direct line, Draeg might be a possible heir to Blackthorn. He also has some of the family’s native tracking gifts. What he needs is a purpose in his life, and he has found it by working with investigators to solve crimes, and sometimes just trolling the nastier streets of Druida City and mowing down whatever miscreants try to rob him.
The chief investigator for Druida City, Ilex Winterberry, enlists Draeg’s help in looking into the extremely reclusive Yew family as possible ringleaders for the Traditionalist political faction. If the Traditionalists were just a political faction, that would be one thing, but they have escalated their tactics into attempted murder. Attacks that specifically target children of people they think have been trumped up above their station.
But when Draeg goes undercover as a stockman at the Yew estate, he finds that Loridana D’Yew can’t possibly be the head of a Traditionalist faction. Or any faction. Loridana loves her animals, and is obviously being victimized by her sadistic family. Now they, on the other hand, look like prime candidates for upper class terrorists.
The problem is that Draeg sees the estate through Loridana’s eyes, and finds himself too attracted to her to think clearly about anything else. The deeper he gets involved with Lori, the more certain he is that she’s as much a victim as anyone else. And that she is his heartmate.
And that she probably won’t forgive him for the deceptive way he entered her life.
E: **shakes head** Poor Draeg, all he wanted was a Home and a Purpose. Despite having an adopted family he still felt somewhat rootless and antsy. He dealt with both of those by helping reduce some of the crime which was too minor to come to the attention of the Houses and yet was a concern to the commoners. When he was given a special assignment at first he was resentful but then he started to fall for the Yew land and for Lori herself. The closer they became, the more uncomfortable he was with the role he played and his inability to openly care for and protect Lori not to mention how much she valued the truth.
Marlene: There’s a continuing thread in many of the books in this series. For these to be romances, there has to be some impediment to the couple getting together. It can’t be too easy. Frequently, that impediment is a “big lie”. That’s the case here.
Draeg is operating as an undercover spy, and one of the people he is potentially investigating is Lori. While he’s easily convinced that she has nothing to do with the attacks, he is definitely investigating her family, and with damn good reason. And while she may hate them, they are still hers. And he’s pretending to be a low-flair, low-class stableman. While Lori may not care about the class aspects, the fact is that he is a member of one of the “First Families” and is part of the ruling class that she should be part of and isn’t. And his superiors in this investigation require convincing that Lori isn’t the problem, which leads to further outright lying on Draeg’s part even after he and Lori become lovers. She has a LOT to forgive him for.
At the same time, Lori is also lying to Draeg. He thinks she’s going to fight for her place. He doesn’t understand that she has no faith that she could possibly win such a fight, and that the consequences of losing would be devastating for her. Lori is planning to escape, with her animals, to her late father’s remote estate. She’s going to give up being D’Yew, just at the point where Draeg realizes that he has fallen in love with the Yew Estate, and is beginning to think of himself as becoming T’Yew, Lori’s husband.
When all the shit hits all the fans, Lori accuses him of only being interested in her for what she can do for him, and not for herself. While she’s mostly wrong, she’s also partly right, and they both know it.
E: Oooh I loved that confrontation, even as I worried about its resolution. They were both forced to face some uncomfortable things about each other and what they wanted deep down inside. Did they love the person because of who they were or did they love the person because of what they were? In answering that question they had to see previously overlooked elements and decide to work with the Heartbond or to reject it. I really thought this part helped remind me how a Heartbond wasn’t everything, the individuals also had to put forth the effort to connect on other levels.
Marlene: Overall, I loved this installment in the Heartmate series. While it does provide added depth to the background if you have read previous entries in the series, you don’t have to have a photographic memory of everything that has happened in the past. While the Traditionalist faction has been brewing for a while, there is plenty of explanatory material to make the suspense part of the plot make sense.
Draeg and Loridana are a great couple. They begin a relationship with both of them keeping very important secrets for excellent reasons, so the tension between what they want from each other and what they want in their lives makes excellent sense. Instead of a ridiculous misunderstandammit coming between them, we have a real conflict that is completely necessary for both of their characters.
Loridana’s family, while there is an element of bwahaha evil, are bad to the bone for reasons that make sense to them. While Loridana (and the reader) will disagree with everything they stand for, they are internally consistent, which makes the story more believable. I did find the catalog of their abuses hard reading, not because it was bad writing, but because I felt so much for the character that I hated seeing her beaten down over and over.
The happy ending for Heart Legacy feels earned. And I love that.
I give Heart Legacy an A-
E: While I enjoyed Heart Legacy I did have a pet peeve. Throughout this series problems have occurred in Druida City when Greatly Flaired Families have been left separate and on the fringes. The older generation learned that painful lesson and while some of the youngsters have started banding together, there is still a certain sense of letting each Family operate independently to live or die even when they aren’t participating in the required events. I hope this is addressed or acknowledged sometime even though it isn’t an overnight change.
Draeg and Lori were fun to get to know. I felt for each of them as they struggled with the role they were playing, their growing emotions, and the escalating stakes. Draeg was trying to hold back the hotheads and get to the bottom of his investigation while falling for Lori and the land. Lori was trying to gain more freedom, scout a way out, hide her intentions from everyone, and try not to grow too close to Draeg. They both faced the opposition of her family and the very unwelcoming Residence.
Watching them grow and work for their happy ending was extremely rewarding. It really was work and made the ending very satisfying. I am counting down the months until the next installment.
I give Heart Legacy an A-/B+