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 firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also visit her on her website at www.joyce-dipastena.com and her JDP NEWS blog at http://jdp-news.blogspot.com.