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.
This story is magical, the foundation of which is founded in what we now call paganism, but the magic goes beyond mere spells, they have mastered more complex abilities like transporting from place to place in the blink of an eye, etc. The reverence for nature is expressed in the family names, ie. Ash, Holly, etc. The Celtic background of the people is even evident in their greetings. This aspect makes the tale doubly delicious as it will appeal to both lovers of fantasy and futuristic romance. Much room has been left for sequels which will no doubt involve cats as well as dynamic heroes and independent heroines.
If you haven't read any of the Heart books, you must do so immediately. The world Ms. Owens has created is in a word, magical. While it is a series with a continuous thread, you would not be lost if you read them out of order. What impresses me most about the books is the characters are so real, their emotions and flaws are perfectly crafted. Both characters have problems to overcome in order to be able to form a lasting bond between them. While everyone has magic at their fingertips, they still must dig deep inside themselves and work through the things holding them back. Ms. Owens is a master craftsman and I will be waiting impatiently to see what she has in store for us next!