Thursday, August 13, 2009

Book Review of Illuminations of the Heart by Joyce DiPastena


I love doing book reviews especially because I often get a free book! Read on to find out another reason why I love doing book reviews--this one has to do with a free book for a lucky reader! When I received Joyce DiPastena’s new book in the mail I fell in love with the cover. It is gorgeous—love that castle in the background. Then I looked at how thick the book was, how tall the pile of books I’m supposed to be reviewing and reading, and the date I was supposed to get the book reviewed.

“Oh-oh, how will I ever be able to finish reading this 425 page book in time?” I said to my husband. I even emailed the editor and asked if I could move my review date to a later time. She told me to try my best—probably because she knew what would happen when I started reading it.

When I started reading Illuminations of the Heart, I was completely hooked by chapter two. I thought about locking myself in a room and hiding from my children so I could keep reading, but alas I had to eek out my reading minutes whenever I could to finish this awesome book!

Let me put a disclaimer here that I generally don’t read straight romances—they’re too mushy and unbelievable and often contain heroines of minor intelligence. I do enjoy reading a good romance, but they are hard to find. Illuminations of the Heart is definitely a romance, but it has enough adventure, intrigue, sword-fighting, etc. to keep the pages turning.

Joyce definitely knows how to write a good romance to keep you on the edge of your seat. The reason why I never read much romance is that most of it is trashy and contains explicit and graphic scenes. What a pleasure to read a clean romance—still has lots of great kissing, but I didn’t have to be scared to turn the page because I knew that the book was tastefully written.

I liked the medieval language Joyce used, Nay, I loved it! I felt transported back in time and learned quite a bit about medieval customs and enjoyed the inner look at the workings of the castle and countryside’s of France.

Siri’s character was full of life and a vibrant energy and it was so fun to root for her as she encountered several dangerous situations. Joyce did a wonderful job of keeping me wondering if Siri really would get her man or not.

If the book would’ve been 200 pages longer, I would’ve kept reading—yes it was that good.

Here’s the cover blurb for you.

"Clothilde." 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 is 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 guild 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?


Now go get your own copy at Amazon.com
or here at Deseret Book or Barnes and Noble and enjoy.

Would you like to win a free autographed copy of this book or other great prizes? Click here!

I asked Joyce if she would give us a special author interview so we could learn a little more about her. Thanks so much Joyce!

Tell us about yourself:

I live in a small copper mining town in Arizona with my two cats, Ciio (named for the Greek Muse of History) and Glinka-Rimsky-Korsakov (so named because when he was a kitten, he reminded me of a furry Russian hat). I've taught piano lessons for over 20 years, but my ultimate passion has always been history (mostly from ancient to Regency times, but with my heart most firmly planted in the Middle Ages) and writing. I've been writing off and on since junior high school, and wrote my first (unpublished) full length novel during college, while I was majoring in history and taking all the medieval history-oriented classes I could find, including in the English literature department.



Tell us how you came up with the idea for this book?

My idea for Illuminations of the Heart came from a character I'd created for my first published novel, Loyalty's Web. His name was Triston, and his part of the story ended very sadly in that first novel. But he'd captured my imagination, and even more important, my heart, and I longed to find a way to give him a happy ending. Whether he finds such an ending or not, you'll have to read Illuminations of the Heart to find out. ;-)

Rachelle's note: Oh, man, I love Triston's character! He really is a knight in shining armor!


Any hints as to what you're working on next?

I'm currently working on another "spin-off", this one based on a character I created for Illuminations of the Heart. I don't want to give anything away, since I don't want to spoil any "guessing" a reader might enjoy doing as she tries to discern this particular character's motives and actions in Illuminations, so I won't tell you my new hero's name. I will say that I am currently calling it "my troubadour book" and leave it at that.

Rachelle: I can't wait for this because I'm pretty sure I know exactly which character you're talking about. I bet you're having fun writing it.

What advice would you give aspiring writers?

Keep writing and never give up. It took me over twenty years to publish my fist novel. No matter how discouraged you get (and believe me, I shed many tears of discouragement during those 20 years!) be infinitely patient with the process. And write what you love. Write the story you're passionate about, whether you think it'll find a home or not, because when it does find a home, your readers will feel your passion for your story and characters and that's what will make them love your work.

Rachelle: This is the best advice any writer could receive--to write what you love!

Any other fun tidbits?

Hmm, I love chocolate chip cookies without the nuts. But I also love brownies WITH nuts (also in my ice cream), so it's not a "nut aversion". I like to suck on the chocolate chips in my cookies until they melt in my mouth, and it's' very disconcerting to realize that one has been sucking on a nut instead that obviously never melts. Oh, did you mean tidbits about writing? Sorry! "Tidbits" and "food" just kind of go together in my mind. :-)

Rachelle: Ha, ha! Thanks Joyce. That was a great interview.
Want to learn more about Joyce and her incredible books?

Joyce's blog: http://jdp-news.blogspot.com/
Walnut Springs Press: Http://walnutspringspress.blogspot.com

I'm thrilled to tell you that I also get to give away a copy of Illuminations of the Heart. Scroll down or click here to find out how to enter my book giveaway.

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