Monday, August 10, 2009

Illuminations of the Heart, by Joyce DiPastena

I'm usually not one for the romance genre specifically, but I like a good story with plenty of twists, and if a love story happens to wind through it, that's fine with me. Such is the case of Illuminations of the Heart; Siriol, a young widow, travels to France to find the guardian her late brother designated in his will for her, Sir Triston. Her introduction at her guardian's home causes shock and some consternation as she realizes she is a dead ringer for Triston's deceased wife. The stares she attracts, some wary, some leering, add just one more obstacle to creating a new life for herself. She wants to support herself as a manuscript illustrator, but her brother's will instructs Triston to find her a husband. As a lady with no land and no title of her own, her options are limited. Triston's own feelings toward Siriol make the task of finding her a husband more than difficult when an enemy offers himself as a suitor.

Set in the Middle Ages, there are roving bandits, palace intriques, court politics and rare chivalry aplenty. The plot twists had me wondering how Siriol was going to manage avoiding marrying the churlish knaves calling themselves knights or how she could persuade the brooding Triston to let go of his past and to see her for herself and not as the ghost of his late wife.

It was hard to put the book down. The romantic scenes stayed aboveboard, and the scenes where someone was trying to steal Siriol's honor didn't get graphic, thank goodness, though that didn't play down the frightening aspects of such a crisis. Should you decide to let your teen read the book, discussion could focus on how to avoid or remove oneself from inappropriate attention one doesn't want. I felt comfortable with the book to allow my preteener to read it, and she went through it twice

The author left a list of books at the back of the novel to explore should anyone wish to read more about manuscript illumination, or medieval history or even Gratian's Decretals.

Check out other books by Walnut Springs Press on their blog here.

Buy Illuminations of the Heart from Amazon or Deseret Book or Barnes and Noble.

Joyce DiPastena moved from Utah to Arizona at the age of two, and grew up to be a died-in-the-fur desert rat. She first fell in love with the Middle Ages when she read Thomas B. Costain’s The Conquering Family in high school. She attended the University of Arizona, where she graduated with a degree specializing in medieval history. Joyce has taught piano lessons to children and adults of all ages for over twenty years. She loves to play the piano and sing for her own amusement, and sings in her church choir. Other interests include reading, spending time with her sister, trying out new restaurants, and, unfortunately, buying new clothes. The highlight of her year is attending the Arizona Renaissance Festival, which she has not missed once in its twenty-one years of existence. Joyce has been owned and loved by many cats, the most recent being Clio (who helps her with her website), and Glinka Rimsky-Korsokov (that’s all one cat). Illuminations of the Heart tells the story of Triston, a character from Joyce’s first medieval novel, Loyalty’s Web. Joyce enjoys hearing from her readers and may be contacted at You can also visit her on her website at and her JDP NEWS blog at


  1. I usually stay away from titles that seem a little too sappy but after reading your review, I'll definitely reconsider. Thanks for including what age group you thought could read it. Although I'm definitely not preteen I stick to young adult books because they are safer. Thanks!

  2. Thanks for your review! I didn't realize your daughter has read my book twice. :-) I've enjoyed exchanging emails with her. She's a very mature reader for her age!

  3. Congrats JDP this is a wonderful review! The book sound wonderful and I will definitely check it out. I'm always intrigued by life through the eyes of a unique female historical character. Particularly when the author is adept at doing their research which it certainly sounds like the case is with this one.

  4. Cassandra CantrellAugust 10, 2009 at 9:08 PM

    It sound like an amazing book. I can't wait to read it because it sound just as amazing as the first book that she wrote.

  5. This book sounds perfect for my exhausted brain to catch a few relaxing moments. I grew up reading Georgette Heyer and loved most of them. I'll have to give this book a try.

  6. Thank you for the review - this looks like a really good book and I'm glad that it is appropriate for a younger age set as well. Would you consider it young adult or adult fiction?
    Thank you for the giveaway Joyce :)

  7. I'd initially call it Adult fiction, because I'm not sure teenagers would like it, but it's clean enough I would be okay with teenagers reading it. I don't think it was written with teens as the major audience.

  8. What a wonderful review!! Count me in! I LOVE Joyce's beautiful writing!

    x0xx Amy (Park-Avenue Princess)

  9. this sounds awesome too cantw iat to read


Have you read this book? What did you think of it?


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