Desert Isle Keeper
Soulmates, one true love, a match made in heaven. There are so many phrases (and just as many literary tropes) for finding the perfect romantic match. In Robin Owens’ Celta series we have Heartmates – the only person in the world whose psi powers will blend with yours to create a romantic Bond (not to be confused with the bonds between family and friends). It would be so, so easy for this to be a cheesy take on soulmates, but somehow, it isn’t. It works, and it works well. While I have not read all of this particular series, now I want to.
Glyssa Licorice knows who her Heartmate is. She met him (and had a wild night with him) four years ago, and wasn’t able to find him since. Unfortunately, that’s the way Jace Bayrum wants it. He’s been on his own for most of his life, an adventurer traveling from one site to the next, and doesn’t want that to change. But when an accident at the excavation site where he is working almost takes his life, the only thing that saves him is Glyssa’s energy being sent to him from across the planet. And now, she knows where he is.
Glyssa finds a way into the camp, determined to be close to Jace again, and while he has no problems being close, commitment is a totally different story. At the same time, Glyssa is basically being quizzed on the project, as it is the equivalent of her masters thesis for her librarian studies, Jace is being framed for theft around the excavation (as well as, later in the story, property damage), and Glyssa’s family and friends can’t help but get involved in the project and their relationship. If Jace can overcome his past, then they can be happy. Otherwise, things will end badly for everyone.
I love the fact that Glyssa is a librarian. I love it. And in the future, librarians are highly respected – Glyssa’s parents and sister are also librarians and have fairly high status. It’s always nice to see things like this in the future! While her family originally comes off as cold and distant, as the story progresses, the reader gets more glimpses into how much they actually do care for each other. At the same time, Glyssa has learned to be a more flexible person from being raised in that household, and it definitely helps her with her relationship with Jace. In the end, though, she still has boundaries, and is able to tell him when enough is enough and what she needs from the relationship, and is both able and willing to walk away if he can’t give that to her. It was a great quality to read about in a romance heroine, especially with a hero who has commitment issues.
We also get enough from Jace’s point-of-view, and enough of his backstory, to understand where he is coming from. He has some childhood trauma from his father’s death and mother’s abandonment that has shaped his phobia against being full Heartmates with Glyssa. It makes sense, and builds the relationship angst, while still leaving Jace an actual human being. I thought the author had a very deft hand in this part of the overall story.
The technology and futuristic details of this particular story were all there, but the reader doesn’t get hit over the head with them constantly. The psi-powers that the characters have all feel very natural, and the majority of the story takes place in a tent camp, where the technological amenities are fairly light, so that helps as well. Futuristic touches are definitely still visible, though – the spaceship they are excavating, the no-times (which are kind of like storage units, where, essentially, anything in there is pulled out in exactly the same state it was put in), the transports, even the communication methods. This definitely makes it a good gateway read for those who are not as into science fiction as they are fantasy. The psi-powers are referred to as Flair, and several people have telepathic animal companions (fams, short for familiars), including Jace and Glyssa. It definitely gives it a more magical than technological feel.
Honestly, the only issue I had at all with this book was that some of the transitions between chapters, or between characters, seemed a bit rough. But that was it. Other than that, I enjoyed it a lot. I would definitely recommend it to anyone wanting to check out a futuristic romance. And now I am off to find copies of the previous books in the series….