Stacking the Shelves (148)

Stacking the Shelves

I felt like I spent most of this week resisting temptation, and looking at this list, I clearly succeeded. However, we are on our way to WorldCon in Spokane this week, and I fear I will not be able to resist the tables in the dealer’s room. Or the opportunity to get books signed by some of my favorite authors.

What I truly fear is watching the Hugo Awards Ceremony turn into a train wreck, but I can still hope that it won’t.

For Review:
Down the Rabbit Hole by J.D. Robb, Mary Blayney, Elaine Fox, Mary Kay McComas, R.C. Ryan
Then Comes Marriage by Roberta Kaplan

Purchased from Amazon:
Mary Russell’s War by Laurie R. King


Stacking the Shelves (138)

Stacking the Shelves

I already own a print copy of Snake Agent, but when I saw the sale dealie from Open Road, I couldn’t resist getting a cheap copy in ebook. I love the Inspector Chen series, which is an Asian-based urban fantasy set in celestial realms that are culturally diverse. It’s an awesome and strange place where “demon” is a cultural marker and not necessarily prejudicial. Of course, sometimes demons act demonically, and other times, they are just “people”.

open road logoIf you like seriously weird in your urban fantasy, the series is definitely worth checking out. And if you have an interest in seeing works of all genres from the last 50 years or so become available again, and in ebook, take a look at Open Road’s catalog. They publish ebooks from authors who have gotten their rights back, and do a terrific job with everything.

I don’t know about you, but I’m starting to see ARCs at NetGalley and Edelweiss for books that won’t be published until January and February of 2016. I know time flies, but this is wild. It’s just barely summer, and the winter books are going up.

For Review:
The Crescent Spy by Michael Wallace
The Determined Heart by Antoinette May
Ink and Shadows (Ink and Shadows #1) by Rhys Ford
Keeper’s Reach (Sharpe & Donovan #5) by Carla Neggers
The Perfect Bargain by Julia London writing as Jessa McAdams
Siren’s Call (Rainshadow #4, Harmony #12) by Jayne Castle
Too Hard to Handle (Black Knights Inc. #8) by Julie Ann Walker
Updraft by Fran Wilde
Wildest Dreams (Thunder Point #9) by Robyn Carr

Purchased from Amazon:
Snake Agent (Detective Inspector Chen #1) by Liz Williams


Stacking the Shelves (56)

Stacking the Shelves

This was a very nice week before vacation!

wicked after midnight by Delilah S dawsonOne of the things I love about Delilah S. Dawson’s Blud series is the way that she keeps it going between books with novellas. Just when it seems like the wait will be interminable (Blud #3, Wicked after Midnight won’t be out until the end of January) there’s a delicious little novella to remind one just how marvelously decadent the series can be.

Speaking of interminable waiting, a few weeks ago I made a comment in Stacking the Shelves 52 that one of the ARCs (The Revenant of Thraxton Hall by Vaughn Entwistle) wouldn’t be published until March 2014, and just how long and strange a wait that was for a close to finished book! The author got in touch and graciously sent a copy of his earlier book, Angel of Highgate for a review. I’m definitely looking forward to reading it.

So what books are you looking forward to this week?

Stacking the Shelves Reading Reality August 24 2013

For Review:
After the Kiss (Sex, Love & Stiletto #1) by Lauren Layne
Angel of Highgate by Vaughn Entwistle
The Damsel and the Daggerman (Blud #2.5) by Delilah S. Dawson
The Iron Traitor (Iron Fey #5) by Julie Kagawa
Missing by Noelle Adams
Sworn Sword (Bloody Aftermath of 1066 #1) by James Aitcheson
Three Princes by Ramona Wheeler

Deception Cove (Harmony #10) by Jayne Castle
Must Love Fangs (Midnight Liaisons #3) by Jessica Sims

Borrowed from the Library:
Among Others by Jo Walton
Hell or High Water (Nola Cespedes #1) by Joy Castro
While We Were Watching Downton Abbey by Wendy Wax

Review: Heart Fortune by Robin D. Owens

Heart Fortune by Robin D. OwensFormat read: ebook purchased from Amazon
Series: Celta’s Heartmates, #12
Genre: Futuristic Romance, Paranormal Romance, Fantasy Romance
Release Date: Aug. 6, 2013
Number of pages: 384 pages
Publisher: Berkley
Formats available: ebook, paperback
Purchasing Info: Author’s website | Goodreads | Amazon | B&N | Kobo | Book Depository US | Book Depository (UK) | Publisher’s Website

Jace Bayrum has always been a loner. Concerned more with getting an adrenaline fix and making money to live on his own, Jace cares little for family ties or matters of the heart. On the other hand Glyssa Licorice, Jace’s former fling and true mate, is both loving and loyal. She is determined to track down her HeartMate and have him claim her.

After hearing that Jace has been involved in an accident, Glyssa sets out to find him, departing for the excavation site of the lost starship Lugh’s Spear. Though her goal is to help Jace and finesse him into recognizing her as his mate, the excavation itself draws her in…

Thrust by fate into working side-by-side, Jace and Glyssa’s electric connection from years before sparks once more. She intrigues him, and Jace begins to realize that a HeartMate can make a difference. And one as magnetic as Glyssa could be exactly what he has been searching for…

My Thoughts:

Three things make Robin D. Owens’ Celta series compulsively readable for me: 1) she’s found a way to make the fated mate trope have romantic tension and make logical sense, 2) the worldbuilding behind Celta is not only multi-layered and totally awesome, but it seems eminently livable, and 3) the fams, the fams, the fams, who rock this particular entry in the series.

The Celta series is a futuristic lost colony series. So they are part of the Pern tradition without the dragon-induced rape. (I’m including that bit for Draconismoi). But what I mean is that the Celtans also escaped Earth because they had a major difference of opinion with the powers that be and decided to go their own way. In the case of Celta, the difference was that all the colonists had some kind of psychic talent.

Why does the fated mate trope work in the Celta series, at least for me? Because even though someone might have a mate, that doesn’t mean things automatically work out. And Owens has done stories in the series where people either don’t have fated mates, or make real relationships after the fated mate relationship fails. In the case of this particular story, the participants come really close to screwing things up.

In other words, just because they know who their partner is supposed to be, it doesn’t mean they are required to accept the partnership. Either or both of them can reject it. The worldbuilding is well-developed here, there are laws in place so that neither one can be forced.

In this story, we see why Jace has some darn good reasons that he doesn’t believe in any kind of love. Not between partners, and not between parents and children. No experience whatsoever.

On the other hand, his prospective mate does believe in love, because she’s grown up as the child of a HeartMate marriage. One of her best friends found her mate after a very rocky courtship, so she knows that the heartache can bring joy.

Jace has never seen love work, but then he’s made sure that he never has to. He’s lived his life on the surface of emotions. His own, and other people’s. He may be the first person in his family to have enough of the psychic power the Celtans call Flair to experience the power passages that make it possible for him to even have a HeartMate, which is pretty damn ironic.

The story takes place at an archaeological expedition, which is pretty cool. The Celtans have never forgotten where they came from, or how they got there. The dig is at the site of Lugh’s Spear, one of the two ships that brought them from Earth to Celta. The site has recently been re-discovered, so there are artifacts to discover and mysteries to solve.

Glyssa, being a librarian (yay!) has come to record the discovery. It’s an excuse to be near Jace again, to hopefully get him to acknowledge their bond. That attempt very nearly backfires, but Glyssa’s work achieves her final degree of advancement in her profession. Go Glyssa!

The structure of the society of Celta has been built up through many layers of stories. It feels solid. Each new person has a place. They know some people that we’ve met before, but also introduce us to new ones. I also find it interesting that for a somewhat fantasy-type society, rank has some mutability. Families rise to GrandLord and GreatLord status based on Flair testing. They can also fall based on that testing.

Heart Mate by Robin D. OwensThen there are the fam animals. Fams are companion animals with enough Flair to communicate telepathically with their people. They can be seemingly any species, and all of them seem to have personality to spare, from Zanth the FamCat in the very first book, HeartMate, to Lepid the young and excitable FamFox and Zem the FamHawkcel in Heart Fortune. Lepid and Zem steal the show in this story. At many points they are more likable, and certainly more clear thinking, than their humans.

Verdict: As with many of the Celta stories, there is both a romance and a mystery going on in this book, although the biggest mystery is either whether Jace will get his head out of his ass or whether Glyssa will stop being a doormat and force him to. She can’t force him to be her HeartMate, but she can certainly stop letting him have his own way on everything. It takes her a long time before she realizes that standing up for herself is the only way forward for both of them.

Of course, they nearly get killed in the other mystery along the way. And I did not catch who that perp was, but then, I wasn’t looking. I was too busy watching the antics of the Fams. Lepid, the very young and very inquisitive FoxFam is probably the cutest character ever, and Zem possibly has the most heart.


I give  Heart Fortune by Robin D. Owens 4 feathered stars (for Zem)!

***FTC Disclaimer: Most books reviewed on this site have been provided free of charge by the publisher, author or publicist. Some books we have purchased with our own money and will be noted as such. Any links to places to purchase books are provided as a convenience, and do not serve as an endorsement by this blog. All reviews are the true and honest opinion of the blogger reviewing the book. The method of acquiring the book does not have a bearing on the content of the review.

Stacking the Shelves (53)

Stacking the Shelves

I have a short stack this week (ooh, yum, sounds like pancakes!) but there’s one book on here that I couldn’t resist pre-ordering. Can you guess what it is?

Heart Mate by Robin D. Owens new cover
New Cover
Heart Mate by Robin D. Owens original cover
Original cheesy cover

It’s Heart Fortune by Robin D. Owens. There’s something about her Celta series that just pulls me in, every time. Well, not quite every time. I don’t think that the first book in the series, Heart Mate, actually grabbed me the first time I read it. And the original cover was pretty cheesy. But I picked it up a second time, and discovered the recommenders were right. If you love futuristic romance, Celta is a world worth visiting. Especially if you like telepathic animal companions. I want a fam companion animal of my own. I bet you will too.

Stacking the Shelves Reading Reality August 3 2013

For Review:
The Bridge by Rebecca Rogers Maher
Covet by Tracy Garvis-Graves
Die On Your Feet by S.G. Wong
Medium Rare (Ramos Family #2) by Meg Benjamin
Moonlight (Moon #1) by Lisa Kessler

Carved in Stone (Art of Love #1) by Donna McDonald
Heart Fortune (Celta’s Heartmates #12) by Robin D. Owens
Rise (Lantern City #1) by Matthew James Daley

Borrowed from the Library:
Crystal Gardens (Ladies of Lantern Street #1) by Amanda Quick

Hearts and Swords

I pre-ordered Robin D. Owens collection of Celtan novellas, Hearts and Swords, because I love this series. When the book auto-shipped itself into my iPad at midnight on Tuesday, I dropped what I was reading and dived right in. I’m glad I did. (And this is what I love about ebooks!)

The first story in the collection is Heart and Sword. It doesn’t actually take place on Celta. It’s about the discovery of Celta, and takes place on Nuada’s Sword, one of the colony ships. Which is both off-course and way overdue, in a manner of speaking. The three-ship expedition planned on being in space for about seventy-five years. A century-and-a-half tops. Instead, when the Captain’s Exec wakes Kelse Bountry from cryo-sleep, it’s been 250 years, and Kelse has a mutiny on his hands. And all three ships are running out of critical supplies. Like food. And fuel.

Kelse has been woken to make the life-or-death decisions, because that is his psi-power, his Flair. Everyone on board all three ships has Flair. They ran from Earth because they were being persecuted for their psi. The mutineers believe that a nearby wormhole will return them to a civilized Earth that has hopefully gotten over its prejudices. The loyalists don’t want to take that risk, they remember the psi purges all too well. The last planetary probes tell Kelse that the system just ahead has a planet that should support human life, but the approach path will use up the last of every ship’s fuel.

What does the good Captain choose?

Escape Rating A: This is a fantastic foundation story for the series. It reminded me, quite favorably, of Marion Zimmer Bradley’s Darkover Landfall, and a even little bit of Anne McCaffrey’s Dragonsdawn, the establishing stories for those beloved series. Robin Owens couldn’t ask for much better company.

There are three other stories in this collection. All concern characters who have appeared in earlier books, and whose stories just needed telling.

Noble Heart is particularly compelling for long-time readers of the series. Members of the Clover family have appeared in many of the stories. Mitchella Clover married into the nobility by marrying Straif Blackthorne in Heart Choice. On Celta, everyone has expected the Clovers to test into the nobility for some time. Their Flair has been increasing with each generation. And unlike the inbred nobility, the commoner Clovers have a LOT of generations. Mitchella’s cousin Walker Clover has been young Nuin T’Ash’s tutor and bodyguard. Walker is not an ambitious man. But Walker’s family has been keeping a secret from him. Walker’s mother is not Fen Clover, but Latif Heliotrope, a noblewoman his father had an affair with just before he married Fen.

Nuin’s first Flair Passage triggers Walker’s Passages. All three of them at once. After five days of fever dreams, Walker new Flair power instantly catapults the entire Clover family to GrandLord status. Not first-tier nobility, but second-tier, and vaulting them over the third-tier in one huge leap. The rise in status produces jealousy among the nobles, which is expected. It also produces a near-civil war inside the family, and the older generation that has always run the very-profitable Clover family business thinks that it can continue to run things with Walker as a figurehead.

Walker didn’t want to be the Head of the Family, but now that he is GrandLord Walker, he damn well will be Head of the Family. He was taught to do his duty, and that is now his duty. Whatever it takes.

Escape Rating A: Walker is a very interesting character. He doesn’t want this, but he’s going to do it. He does complain a little, but he should. His entire identity changes in about 15 minutes. There’s also a love story here, but it’s a part of the changes in Walker’s life and status, and his establishment of himself. Very, very well done.

This was a great collection of stories, but I think you need to be a fan of the Celta books in order to really get full enjoyment out of it. The other two stories, Heart Story and especially Heart and Soul, directly relate to events in previous books.If you are a fan, you are in for a real treat! If you’ve never read the Celta books, and you like futurist romance, start with Heart Mate. You’ll be glad you did