The tenth book in the Celta series, published August 2011.
Laev T'Hawthorn -- one of the highest nobles in the land -- must rebuild his life after a devastating mistake. He married a woman he believed was his HeartMate, only to learn she was a greedy social climber. She callously used him, stealing his family heirlooms. He is determined to reclaim all that he has lost -- beginning with his self-respect.
Abandoned at fifteen, Camellia Darjeeling values her independence above all. She's fought to establish her own businesses -- elegant tearooms -- only to have her father and uncle re-enter her life. They emotionally scourge her and extort money. Trusting men, even her HeartMate, is too risky.
When Laev and Camellia meet, they refuse to acknowledge that they are true HeartMates. After her shady relatives are implicated in the theft of Laev's property, Camellia and Laev's lives become ever more entangled bringing each to the brink of despair and passion...and a destiny they can no longer avoid.
I have been looking forward to reading Laev’s story. I just knew in book 8 that he was duped. He did meet his HeartMate at 17, but he just locked eyes with a very beautiful girl, and thought that was it, overlooking his real HeartMate, who was only 13 at the time. And I was correct. Laev is T’Hawthorn now. His wife died three years ago, when a horrible illness swept Druida and killed a lot of people in all classes and ages. His FatherSire (grandfather) died three months ago, and Laev is dealing with his grief. He is also coming to terms with being T’Hawthorn, although the Residence and his Family are still treating him as a child. But he will remedy that. He is also ready to pick up his normal life again, and has hired a private investigator to retrieve all the Hawthorn possessions his wife stole and sold or gave away, including his HeartGift. And even though he wants it back, he is not ready for a new wife, or searching out his HeartMate.
Camellia is content with her life. She has just opened her second teashop, furbished after what she thinks a HouseHeart looks like. Being a minor noble, she never has visited a real HouseHeart, the Darjeeling Residence was not sentient, and sold for her father’s debs when she was a teenager. She has two good friends, and now a FamCat of her own. She knows who her HeartMate is, has known it since she was a child. But as he was married, there was no use in searching him out, or making him a HeartGift as is usual during the Second Passage. The only bad thing in her life are her father and uncle, who are burgling her house regularly, breaking her stuff, defiling it and stealing her valuables. They extort money from her teahouses as well. But she is through with it, even if her weak brother doesn’t want to take action, she is reporting everything to the Guards.
But of course Camellia and Laev cannot stay apart. They keep meeting each other at random (which is planned by both their FamCats!) and start having erotic dreams together. But Laev still doesn’t know who his HeartMate is. Until Camellia hints at it, and he draws away from her, hurting her horribly. Even though she is not ready for a husband yet. She likes her indepence, and she has some very important secrets her father may never find out.
Again, I loved this book. I know, I am sounding like a broken record. But if you like a great fantasy world, filled with magic (Flair), and great characters and pets, and of course lots of romance and some hot love scenes, you can do no other than love this series. Just pick up the first book, although I am sure you can read them as stand alone novels too. There is often considerable time between the books.
Camellia had a hard childhood with her abusive father and uncle, her weak mother and brother to take care of. She is doing fine now, with two teashops she is running, and some great friends. Taking time to get to know her HeartMate, become friends and lovers. Of course she is weary of men, but she takes action. She is taking self defence courses, learning to fight her father and uncle, and reporting them and their foul deeds. Laev really hurt her as well, when he thought some one else was his HeartMate.
And then Laev, already struggling with almost killing a GreatLady as a teen, having been used by his wife who was not his HeartMate but who wanted the status and gilt she had as his wife. He is settling in his new position, not ready for a new wife, even if she is his HeartMate. But once they have met, destiny is set in motion, and they are drawn to each other. I loved both their FamCats this time, they were great characters and not so selfish as some previous mentioned cats.
It is going to be an extraordinary book that will take my mind and dreams out of this realm next …