The fifth book in the Celta series, published September 2006.
Trif Clover is searching for her HeartMate. But Guardsman Ilex Winterberry has already found her. He has reasons of his own -- and for her own good -- to keep to the shadows of her life. But there's a killer on the loose, stalking those with unstable psi power like Trif's. Facing his most difficult task yet, Ilex must reveal the truth of their destiny or leave Trif vulnerable to a vicious murderer.
Trif Clover is young, barely 20, but anxious to find her HeartMate. She knows he is close, she has been dreaming of him lately. So she has fashioned a key. And as a HeartMate, she will be able to use that key to find out where he lives. As True HeartMate, her key will open his House to her. First she has checked her own apartment building, but to no avail. Now she is canvassing the area where the Nobles live, when she is apprehended by Guardsman Black Ilex Winterberry, her neighbour in MidClass Lodge.
Ilex knows what she is doing, that she is looking for her HeartMate, but knows she will not find him. Trif is his HeartMate, and he will never claim her as such. For starters, he is 40 years older than she is, and he has had visions all his life that he will die young. He knows he has not long to live anymore, and he will not take her with him when he dies. She has her whole life ahead of him, and she will get over his death eventually. But not if they are HeartBonded.
Just as Ilex is about to lecture her of her folly, and the danger she could find herself in, he senses a dead body nearby. He has to get Trif out of danger! Her Flair is not stable enough for her to teleport safely by herself, so Ilex he mentally calls for T’Blackthorn, Trif’s cuz, but he is out of town. Luckily, D’Ash is visiting D’Blackthorn, and teleports over to take Trif with her.
While investigating, Ilex finds Tinne Holly standing over the dead body of a young nobleman. He knows Tinne would not have killed the man, but he has to make sure of it. This is the third murder recently, and his investigation is going nowhere at the moment. Tinne should be able to give him some much needed information.
Ilex tries to find as many clues as possible, and one of them is the smell of some strange incense. Also, the man’s heart has been removed, with no traces of that on the outside. There is evil at work her, Black Magic, mocking everything their society stands for. Young nobles are being targeted with unstable Flair and a Fam. His Trif could be a target as well, but luckily she is not a noble, and she doesn’t have a Fam. But he is wrong in that, as Trif just got a very young and idle kitten from D’Ash, to take her mind of her Quest for her HeartMate.
Trif is over the moon with her Greyku, she didn’t think she could afford a Fam of her own for many years to come. She doesn’t think she has any special skills, so she is working in the Clover family business. Her family is even building her a house of her own in the Clover Compound, but for now she enjoys living on her own.
When Ilex finds out, he is determined to protect her. He has to tell her some about his investigation, and insists she get a protecting amulet made for her by T’Ash, and he will ask his mother D’Winterberry, whom he hates, to put a retrieval spell on it. If she gets hurt, the amulet will wisk her away to the Healing Hall. His mother is an addict, and is greedy for more money so she bargains for a huge fee for her services. Ilex also meets his cuz, Dufleur Thyme, and he likes her, despite their horrible mothers who are plotting to get her married of to some rich Nobleman.
Ilex has also promised Trif to help her with her teleporting, knowing that being that close to her, to keep touching her, is a mistake. But he just can’t stay away from his HeartMate, and they have some lovely times together and with their Fams.
Trif has a Flair for music, and composing, she loves playing some different instruments. Without her knowledge, Ilex has given Tinne Holly some of her music he has recorded, and perhaps D’Holly will take her on as an apprentice. Although he is not really happy for Trif to spend time in that cursed household.
Trif is astonished when D’Holly wants her as an apprentice, surely her little tunes are not good enough for their worlds best composer? Now she can stop working at the family firm, and concentrate on her music. And the first thing she learns, is how to upgrade her own HeartMate music. Which is not really necessary, Ilex can no longer resist her, and comes to her. She is so happy when she finds out he is her HeartMate, but really doesn’t understand why he won’t have her. He keeps resisting the HeartBond she throws at him.
Meanwhile, more people are murdered, and even his own cousin gets hurt but thanks to her Fam, she escapes. And with her memories, Ilex is closing the net on those corrupted Nobles. But will he stop them in time for Samhein? And safe his HeartMate? Or has he already lost her?
Another great book in a great series. This one revolves more around the murder plot, and it was nice to read that there really is evil in this world as well. Of course there are some rough people, and normal criminals, but this is an abuse of Flair, a violation of their oldest and most important laws.
I liked Trif already through the previous books, full of live and curious. And of course she would not wait patiently for her HeartMate to find her, she goes Questing herself. She wants to find a love of her own, and experience everything that being a HeartMate means. O she knows it can be bad as well, just look at the Hollies.
And then Black Ilex. He made an impression in the previous books as well. He loves his job, is very honourable and good at it. And I liked that he didn’t want to Bond with Trif. Due to the difference in age alone. He is older, staid and set in his ways, and she is just so young and vibrant. But when he learns she is actively seeking him, he has to get close. As she has already searched her own apartment building, it will be possible to move in undetected. He will be able to keep a close eye on her, and protect her if necessary. But well, the plans of mice and men… Of course he is found out by some other Nobles, who don’t agree with him, but understand why he keeps his distance. They like Trif, and want her happy.
The murder investigation were of course very different from our own. Lots of Flair is used for things I never would have dreamed of. And Ilex’ Flair powers really come in handy. A lot happens in this book, especially with the Holly family, which I will not spoil. A surprise, but a great ending of the book.
I am going to dive straight into number six, I really cannot get enough of this world.
As always, a great story, great loveable characters, including the Fams, and a bigger insight in the world of Celta. Also some nice love scenes and yes, I did cry some.
If you like romantic fantasy, this sure is a series I recommend to all.