Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Medieval romances without the saucy wenches

Okay, maybe there is a saucy wench or two in Joyce DiPastena's historicals--but they aren't the main characters. I've always been a sucker for a really good historical romance, but most of them are so full of stuff I don't want to read, that I hesitate to pick up any of them. No worries with Joyce's books, however. Her first book, Loyalty's Web, was selected as a Whitney Award finalist for 2007--and it thoroughly deserved the honor. Her second book, just released this summer, is Illuminations of the Heart. Joyce is an expert at writing spine-tingling kisses that stop at kissing, weaves her history into the story so it feels organic, and adding plenty of inner tension in the story. She's also brilliant at marketing her book and getting the word out.

And here's the blurb for Illuminations:

He spoke the name on a breath like a prayer. Then he lowered his head and kissed her.

Her heart is lost in that first embrace, her world shaken to its foundations. There is just one problem: her name is not Clothilde. It is Siriol de Calendri. Trained in the art of illumination in the far-off city of Venice, Siri is directed by her late brother’s will to the county of Poitou in France, where she enters the guardianship of her brother’s friend, Sir Triston de Brielle. Once in Poitou, Siri hopes to find employment in an illuminator’s shop—until Triston unexpectedly snatches her heart away with a kiss.

Triston is a man of quiet honor and courage, but the guilt he carries for the death of his late wife, Clothilde, has left him numb and hesitant to love again. Worse yet, Siri bears an uncanny resemblance to his lost love. Or does she? Her merry laughter and twinkling eyes are very different from his late wife’s shy smiles and quiet ways. Yet when he gazes into Siri’s face, all he sees is Clothilde.

Then Triston’s past returns to threaten them both. Will his tragic life with Clothilde be repeated with Siri? Trapped between the rivalry of the king’s sons on the one hand and a neighbor out for vengeance on the other, Triston realizes it would be safer to send Siri away. But how can he bear to lose her again?

Siri is determined not to be cast off and not to live in another woman’s shadow. She has illuminated many a priceless book with pen and paint. But can her own vibrant spirit illuminate the darkness in Triston’s soul and make his heart beat for her alone?

In case you need more recommendations than my own, you'll find a list of the people and dates of reviews from her blog tour here. You'll find her website here, which has excerpts and news about her books, along with more reviews, and where you can buy the books.

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