Genre: fantasy romance
Cover: I like it, it fits the story.
On the faraway planet Celta, there are some things you can never tell--until someone discovers your Heart Secret...
When a virulent disease killed the woman he loved and her baby, Garrett Primross was left alive, a reluctant survivor. Now, as a private eye, he strives to banish the memories of his past and rebuild his life. The Healers of Celta have something else in mind: Discover why he survived.
He is monitored by Healer Artemisia Panax--his HeartMate, a love he never pursued. Still mourning his loss, he refuses to acknowledge her. Since her family was publicly disgraced, she's used to such treatment. She wants nothing more than to guard her livelihood and protect the secrets she's sworn to keep.
Thrown together by duty, Garrett and Artemisia find the body of the last Black Magic Cultist who ruined her family. Suspicion flares, but they have little choice but to investigate the crime together. When their own lives are placed in danger, they realize that denying their HeartMates is only denying their own future.
Garrett Primross is a private investigator on Celta, with a very handy Flair: he can talk to all kind of animals, and he uses the feral cats and dogs, and even some foxes, as his spies to help with his cases. As a reward, he feeds them, and takes care of their medical care if they need and want it, by sending them to D’Ash, the animal Healer. And if they decide to become FamAnimals, he helps with that as well.
Garrett’s day does not get a good start, when he is awaited at his office not only by the hungry animals, but by Vinnie T’Vine, the Prophet. Vinnie urges him to agree to whatever the Healer’s want with him this time, and he might even get his HeartMate. But Garrett knows who his HeartMate is, and he is totally not interested in going after her. Garrett lost his childhood sweetheart to a nasty disease that killed lots of people, and left him as the only survivor. He still mourns his Dinni, even though she refused to marry him as he had a HeartMate.
The illness has resurfaced in a young boy, and Second Grade Healer Artemisia is his Healer. As such, she is involved in discovering a good treatment for the illness, before a full blown epidemic breaks out. The Healers want to inject Garrett with the disease again, and monitor his sickness, and check his blood during the illness, trying to find what killed the disease the first time, and replicating that for the other patients. Artemisia is chosen to be his personal Healer, who will help him, monitor him and take care of him.
Garrett reluctantly agrees, he just wants to forget the whole episode, and Ura Heather, the Head of the Prime Healing Hall is really not known for her people skills. Luckily, Lark Holly is also involved in the project, and she likes Artemisia, and tries to protect her from most of the nastiness or Ura Heather, who, for some reason, dislikes Artemisia, although she is a good healer.
Thrown together with his HeartMate, Garrett does his best to ignore her presence, but being sick makes that impossible. Artemisia doesn’t know why she is attracted to Garrett, and it really is inappropriate as he is her patient. The fact that the tries to ignore her hurts, but she is used to it. Her family name was destroyed in an elaborate set up many years ago, so she tries to use Panax as her new name, to be judged by herself, and not the old scandal. The Mugworths have been the care takers of BalmHealing Residence and the First Healing Grove ever since, and she likes her life. But she wants a good career with her Healing skills, and a man and children of her own. And if her HeartMate doesn’t come for her soon, she will start looking for love with a man she likes.
After the ordeal of his sickness, Garrett still does not want to claim Artemisia as his HeartMate, but he also finds it difficult to let her get away from him. The Turquoise House where they stayed during his sick days, is on his side and tries to help him. And that night, under the influence of his nightmares, Garrett reaches for Artemisia and breaks her heart by telling her he is her HeartMate and does not want her. That is a big taboo in Celta society, to tell your HeartMate that she is your HeartMate, as it takes away her free will. But it also frees Artemisia to find her own way in life, not waiting for him to claim her.
And when Garrett sees her dating other men, he sure is not happy with that. When his eyes are finally opened, he will have a hard time winning her back. And being made the head investigator in a murder case with her family as the main suspects sure does not endear him to her at all. But Garrett is determined, and he will protect her and care for her.
I really loved this book. It is a series I recommend to all fans of romance, the setting and lovely worldbuilding just adds to it. I quickly fell for Artemisia, who does her best to be a good Healer, and has to conquer her families bad reputation. Still, she won’t give up or settle for something less. And when her HeartMate breaks her heart, she is determined to find a man who will love her, and who she can love in return. She longs for a family of her own.
And stubborn Garrett, he sure hurt her, and then he can’t give her up after all. He went through a really bad time, but does that really make it all right? The girl already rejected him, and married someone else, and had his child. She had made a life for her self, so why does he keep pining for her? Typical male stubbornness? And fear of more pain and loss perhaps. But in the end, he does made up for it.
Of course, the FamAnimals make this story shine again, I so love their interaction with their humans, and having a raccoon made for a nice change. Some of the main characters in other stories make their appearances, and I always enjoy reading about them.
And the mystery part, well, that was very well done as well. I really suspected the wrong person. So that was a good surprise in the end. I like being surprised by an author.
© 2012 Reviews by Aurian