Joint Review: Lost Heart (Celta’s Heartmates) by Robin D. Owens

Reviewed by: E and Marlene

E: I was browsing author websites looking for upcoming releases as I tend to do on a monthly basis when I saw Owens talking about a recently released novella. Shocked because I usually keep track of her publication dates I did a bit more research and discovered she had self-published this one. Immediately I had to mention it to a fellow Bookpusher who I can always count on to share my Owens love and we decided we needed this story in our lives.

Marlene: When E told me that there was a new Owens Celta book that we had both missed, I was all in. I love this series and always hate waiting a whole year between books. Lost Heart looked like a terrific treat. For this reader at least, looks can be deceiving.

E: Once more Owens proved why she is on my auto-buy list. While I was reading about the now familiar world of Celta and a few characters who have appeared in previous stories I thought this one included some very interesting twists. Relationships between opposite personalities or even arch enemy families have previously occurred in this series but this was the first time I think the differences really made me wonder how or if they would be overcome.

Marlene: Unfortunately I did not have the same reaction to Lost Heart as my fellow Book Pusher. I think that later, I’m going to be glad I read this one because I believe that the resolution of the central mystery in this story, which we are both carefully not revealing, will have an impact on future events. Which does not mean I particularly enjoyed the way it got introduced and temporarily resolved in this novella.

E: In addition to the struggle between Barton and Enata as they tried to establish and define their life as a couple, Owens proceeded to throw in something I found very unexpected. In a way, this unexpected twist helped Barton and Enata grow together yet it also set them up for potential conflict as they had to make some tough choices for the future, and then live with the results of those choices. Of course watching Enata stand up for certain things made me cheer.

Marlene: While the hinted at unexpected plot twist does ramp up the action in this story, I had problems with Barton and Enata as a couple. The way that they find each other and fall into insta-love (or in Barton’s case insta-lust and insta-possessiveness) came out of left field for me. We’ve seen Heartmates meet and still struggle to fall for each other and make the relationship work. We’ve seen couples who are not Heartmates meet and fall in love what we might call “the old-fashioned way”. But this is the first time we see a matchmaker use a potion and have the couple fall all over each other. It felt forced. And maybe it was, but the way it happened still doesn’t fit with the Celta that Owens has built over 14 books in the series.

And I’ll confess this is my own personal pet-peeve. After the awesome introduction of the Licorice family as the Celtan librarians in Heart Fortune, in Lost Heart we see the family back home. And possibly due to the circumstances behind this story, they have descended straight into the stereotype of librarians that most of us hate and are entirely too sensitive about.

Getting down off soapbox now.

E: I enjoyed Lost Heart, especially as a surprise to me installment and I am really curious to see how the events of this story impact not only other characters but the main world. I was also quite glad to see Barton find a focus outside of the physical security for his family. He was such a steadfast ally to his cousin in a previous story I liked seeing him as the focus. I really can’t wait to see what Owens does next.

I give Lost Heart a B

Marlene: The first half of Lost Heart was a surprisingly slow read for me when it comes to Owens. I didn’t like the characterization of the Licorice family, and I also didn’t much care for Barton as a character or the way he treated Enata. When the action ramps up in the second half of the story, things got more interesting for me, but also added more issues. I’m still adjusting to the new vision of Celta that Owens gives us in this story, and wondering where it will take us next. At the same time, where we are now seems like a radical change in worldview, and while it’s an interesting concept, it isn’t slotting into place for me with the Celta we’ve known so far.

I give Lost Heart a C+

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