by Joyce DiPastena
He spoke the name on a breath like a prayer. Then he lowered his head and kissed her.
Her heart is lost in that first embrace, her world shaken to its foundations. There is just one problem: her name is not Clothilde. It is Siriol de Calendri. Trained in the art of illumination in the far-off city of Venice, Siri is directed by her late brother’s will to the county of Poitou in France, where she enters the guardianship of her brother’s friend, Sir Triston de Brielle. Once in Poitou, Siri hopes to find employment in an illuminator’s shop—until Triston unexpectedly snatches her heart away with a kiss.
Triston is a man of quiet honor and courage, but the guilt he carries for the death of his late wife, Clothilde, has left him numb and hesitant to love again. Worse yet, Siri bears an uncanny resemblance to his lost love. Or does she? Her merry laughter and twinkling eyes are very different from his late wife’s shy smiles and quiet ways. Yet when he gazes into Siri’s face, all he sees is Clothilde.
Then Triston’s past returns to threaten them both. Will his tragic life with Clothilde be repeated with Siri? Trapped between the rivalry of the king’s sons on the one hand and a neighbor out for vengeance on the other, Triston realizes it would be safer to send Siri away. But how can he bear to lose her again?
Siri is determined not to be cast off and not to live in another woman’s shadow. She has illuminated many a priceless book with pen and paint. But can her own vibrant spirit illuminate the darkness in Triston’s soul and make his heart beat for her alone?Oh. My. Goodness. If that teaser didn't grab you and make you want to dash to the closest Barnes & Noble, then you need to have your romance meter checked!
Illuminations of the Heart is Joyce DiPastena's second novel. I thoroughly enjoyed her first book, Loyalty's Web (read my review here) - and was just waiting to see if the second book would even possibly be half as good as the first. I am so pleased to say - IT WAS AWESOME!!!
Now, before you think all you have to do is put a good romance in my hands and I spurt off glowing reports, there was one thing I had a difficult time with. I remembered Triston & Clothilde's names from Loyalty's Web, but I couldn't remember their relationship and role in the book. As a result, I was very confused during the first few chapters trying to remember who they were and how Siri fit into the whole thing. I would have pulled out my copy of the first book, but a friend of mine had borrowed it. I was saved when I discovered the first chapter of Loyalty's Web at the end of Illuminations of the Heart. It was just enough to remind me of the character's relationships and get me back on track.
Now, if you haven't read Loyalty's Web, don't feel you have to read that one first to understand this book. It's actually a great stand-alone book, I was just having a hard time because I remembered the characters and wanted to put Triston & Clo's past in place before moving on with the second book. So my only suggestion to Joyce for Illuminations is I would have liked Triston and Clo's relationship and the time period more clearly defined towards the beginning. It all comes together mid-way through the book, but I would have liked it earlier just to get me into the "Oh yeah - I remember them!" state-of-mind more quickly.
I loved the setting Joyce picked for Illuminations of the Heart. I was an exchange student in France and have actually been to Poitou to tour the castles there. I loved how she pulled the history of the area in and made me feel like I was back there, breathing in the moist air and climbing all over the ruins. Of course, in this book the castles aren't ruins yet, but oh how I loved being pulled back to that beautiful part of the world!
My very, very favorite part of Joyce's new book, is the romance. OK - I know you were all waiting for me to say that! Just like in Loyalty's Web, Joyce weaves a wonderful story, creates an attraction and tension between Triston and Siri, and never once do I have to skip sentences or flip pages. I absolutely LOVE, LOVE, LOVE that I can read such a powerful romance book and never cringe. I can safely keep reading and enjoy every single one of those melt-my-knees kisses without worry it's going to lead somewhere my eyes, mind, and imagination don't want to go. I have so many friends and teenagers who raid my library of books and am so grateful I don't have to give any "disclaimers" before lending out of Joyce's books. THANK YOU, JOYCE!
I highly, highly, highly (I can add about a dozen of those!) recommend both of Joyce's books for the romance addict in your life - no matter if it's you, your teenager, or your wife (guys - you're lady love will give you lots of kisses and hugs after receiving this gift!). So, if you're just dying to get your hands on her books and can't dash out to the nearest store, simply click on the Amazon links below and you'll have your books in just a few days!
Amazon purchase links:
Illuminations of the Heart
Want to Win A Free Copy of Illuminations of the Heart???
Now, before you go - I need to tell you about an awesome contest Joyce & her publisher are holding during this blog tour. Here's the deal. All you have to do is leave a comment on this book review and you will be entered to win one of four awesome prizes: An autographed copy of Illuminations of the Heart; or one of three $10 gift certificates to go towards a purchase of one of Joyce's books.
Want more chances to win? Go check out all of the Illuminations of the Heart Blog Tour stops and leave comments there as well. All comments will be put together, then the winner will be chosen. So the more reviews you check out & comment on - the higher your chance is of winning. So start clicking and commenting my friends!
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