The seventh book in the Celta series, published September 2008.
Wed to a wealthy older man when she was just a girl, Lahsin Yew runs away from her abusive home to find a new life. At seventeen, she's about to enter her Second Passage, when her Flair - and perhaps her HeartMate - will be revealed.
Lahsin finds sanctuary in a secret garden, where she meets Tinne Holly. Though he is her HeartMate, he cannot tell her, and her troubled past prevents her from trusting any man. Pretending to find her by chance, Tinne helps her through her Second Passage. But when the truth is revealed, can she forgive his deception, and learn to trust in her destiny?
Okay, this is the best book in the series so far, I absolutely loved it.
When she was 14, her parents sold her as wife to T’Yew. He promised he would not use her as his wife yet, but he lied. He and his daughter and even the Yew Residence like nothing better than to hurt Lahsin, humiliate her, abuse her. Her parents don’t care about that, only about the gilt T’Yew pays them. They know she will have great Flair after her second passage, which will occur round her 17th birthday, and they plan to use that for their own advantage. But when that time comes, Lahsin will also have come of age, be an adult, and she will be able to repudiate her underage marriage. But first, she will have to escape Yew Residence, and find a safe place to live. The Residence tries to stop Lahsin, but her Flair is for Spellshields, and she just blows all of them with a surge of her Flair.
She is running away, into Noble territory, when a guard stops her. He wants to escort her back to her Residence, but when he notices how panicked and bruised she is, he tells her of First Grove, the legendary First Healing Grove of the Colonists, lost for the whole city, but for those desperate for help. Lahsin doesn’t really believe him, but she is too late already to leave the city, winter is upon them, so she goes to the corner of the city he indicated. Guards are already searching for her, when she finds its walls. They are talking of a feral beast living in the vicinity, and are not really willing to search very closely. And to her happiness, Lahsin finds the door to the garden, and is admitted.
But she also finds the feral dog, a wounded wolfhound, inside. While she is taking a bath in the Healing Pool, he finds her sack, and the meagre provisions she was able to take with her, and eats them all. She can’t fight him, and as he is sentient, they strike a truce. Not of friendship, and he certainly does not want to be her Fam, but they will not attack each other.
After living in a garden shed for a few nights, barely escaping getting caught when she ventures outside in the streets to buy some much needed food, Lahsin decides to find the Residence that has to be on the Estate as well. But the Residence sounds like a grumpy old man, and doesn’t want them inside. So it takes some upkeeping and bargaining from Lahsin to gain access indoors, and to the food stored in its no-times.
In the meanwhile, Tinne Holly gets the shock of his life. His wife, Genista, wants a divorce. Something that has never been done in a noble family before. After losing their unborn child, due to the broken Vows by T’Holly and D’Holly, they also lost their connection, their love for eachother. Even though Tinne wants to fight for it, Genista does not, she wants out. She doesn’t just want to live apart, she needs to be free of the Hollies. She has taken 7 severe psychological and physical tests to prove their marriage is truly over. And she asks Tinne to do the same thing. And he should also think of his HeartMate, who will soon be going through her Second Passage. Genista does not want to be around when that happens, as Tinne will for sure be drawn into it. They married after Tinne found out his own HeartMate was married to some one else already.
Wounded to his core, and suffering his old nightmares again, Tinne goes through the testing, and their divorce is a fact. A new scandal the Holly family will have to withstand together. But Tinne needs to be alone for a while, so he moves into the Turquoise House, a new House that is becoming a sentient Residence on its own. But when he finds out his HeartMate is missing, he sets out to find her. He is not ready yet for a HeartMate, for love, he has to grieve first. But he also needs to help her, keep her safe. After T’Blackthorn has told him where he encountered her, where he let her go free, he quickly finds her trace.
Lahsin is afraid of Tinne at first, but he is as weary and soul wounded as she is, otherwise the Grove had never admitted him. Tinne is careful around Lahsin not to frighten her, but he gets very angry when he sees the bruises on her wrists. He has to control himself not to react, but he really wants to hurt T’Yew. He offers to teach her self defence, in exchange for some of her healing balms. It takes a lof of Lahsin to voluntarily have a male touch her, but she wants those lessons. And Tinne doesn’t seem personally interested in her, and she senses no treats from him. And so, slowly, they become friends. After his daily work at the Green Man, the Hollies fighting salon, Tinne visits the Healing Pools and teaches Lahsin what she needs to now. He is not ready for more, and neither is she. But he is there for her when she goes through her Second Passage and finds her own Flair, which is so much more powerful than before that. She is an adult now, free of T”Yew if she wants to. And there is nothing he can do to prevent that. If only she can stay out of his hands.
As I said before, the best book in the series sofar. I truly loved it that they became friends before they became lovers. After all, she is only just 17, and has been abused for the past 3 years. Tinne is 23. Lahsin is totally not interested in another man, a lover, let alone a HeartMate. She is getting used to her freedom, and the company of the dog. She is fully capable of taking care of her self, and the Residence, who is slowly warming up to her. But it knows Lahsin will not stay long, and it will be lonely again after.
And then Tinne. Ofcourse he has played a role in all the previous books so I knew a lot about him already. It was a big blow that Genista wanted a divorce. So he needed to heal as well, before he could want to claim his HeartMate. This second chance at love for the both of them was just so sweetly and well written. Two wounded souls, becoming friends, getting to know each other without any pressure. Of course it is forbidden to the men to tell their women they are HeartMates. The woman has to have a free choice in the relationship. But being HeartMates ensures they fit together, there is attraction between them, an even amount of Flair.
Tinne was totally not dominant in this book, but supportive. Of course healing himself as well, and very patient, especially in the end. I really fell for him.
Loved everything about this book. Meeting the previous characters again is always a delight, as were the scenes with the Turquoise House. It is trying to find a voice for itself, and is auditioning actors for that purpose.
I liked the feral wolfhound, and how it slowly learns to trust and love Lahsin. And yes, he does become her Familiar later on.
The slow pace of the relationship really worked for me. Yes, I cried for the both of them.