Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Illuminations of the Heart - Joyce DiPastena

Summary: 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 into 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 and 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 pain. But can her own vibrant spirit illuminate the darkness in Triston's soul and make his heart beat for her alone?

Chris’s Review: You are pulled into Illuminations of the Heart in the first few pages by an attempted kidnapping and, for the most part, are not let go until the end of the book. I found the story of Siri (Siriol di Calendri) and Triston to be a sweet, tender romance. They had their problems to work out, as we all do, but in the end they were together. Triston was a very strong person morally. He didn’t drink, he didn’t sleep around and when he gave someone his oath it was binding. He was also a typical knight—he fought for his honor and the honor of the woman he loved. Siri was young, vibrant and beautiful. She was also of the same moral character as Triston, so their relationship was not something I was embarrassed to read about.
The action in Illuminatons just kept coming and coming. There was plenty of sword and fist fighting, racing off on horses, and falling down stairs to keep anybody reading; unfortunately, the same action was repeated too many times, just by different characters. I also found myself getting lost wandering around in the genealogy, trying to figure out who came from whom and where this all fit in with the story.

My Rating: 3.5 stars

Sum It Up: It was a good story and a good read, it just wandered too much for my tastes.

Mindy’s Review: I’m secretly (or perhaps, now, not-so-secretly) a huge fan of romance novels where the woman is saved by the tall hero. Perhaps it’s because I was 5’10” in the 7th grade, but I haven’t really had much opportunity in my life to be play the petite damsel in distress and so every so often I like to live vicariously. So. Sue. Me. Illuminations offered the perfect opportunity to live out that particular fantasy quite alot.

There were parts of this book that I really liked. Illuminations is blessed with a much better writing style than some LDS lit I’ve read and kept from going over the romance/sex line that I have drawn in my head. However, while I enjoyed the basic plot of the story I felt that it’s essence sometimes got lost amid an extensive tangle of schemes, villains, family histories, and historical tie-ins. Occasionally it was a little bit confusing trying to keep track of who had betrayed whom, who killed whom, and whether it was on accident or on purpose.

The medieval setting allowed for some valiant chivalry and sizzling romance, but the plot was so laden with assaults to Siri’s virtue and duels fought in her honor as to be almost laughable. Seriously, how many times can a woman go into a room with a man she doesn’t particularly trust before she learns to either a) not go into the room or b) carry a much bigger knife.

This book, while very enjoyable, would have benefited from being whittled down to a shorter, simpler love story. However, if you are in the mood for a scorchingly romantic (yet fairly clean) book with a lot of twists and turns rescues and then even more twists and turns rescues, then you will likely find happiness within the pages of this book.

My rating: 3 Stars

Sum it up: A fun, romantic story that (while occasionally confusing) was nice and sizzle-y without all the sex.

Kim's Review: I picked this up during the weekend, I wanted to have plenty of time to get into it before I put it down. I will admit that I was a little skeptical at first, I was unsure about the content being something that could hold me. That being said, I did enjoy this book. It wasn't at all what I expected and I really felt engaged with the characters, but not nearly so with their surroundings. As a historical fiction I wanted more about the history, the lifestyle, etc.
Although the storyline was basic, it was well written. The author obviously had these characters in her head long before they were developed on paper.

2.5 Stars

Sum it up:
A good love story, with precious little else to hold you in your seat.


You can find this book on Amazon or Deseret Book.
You can also visit Joyce's Blog or Walnut Spring's Press for more information on this book.

Would you like to win a free autographed copy of this book?!?! Just comment on this review and you'll be entered to win.


Haleshere said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Haleshere said...

I'm a big romance reader! It will be nice to have a book around that I don't have to shove between the couch cushions when my V.T's show up unexpected! I can't wait to start this one!

Editt said...

Thanks for the different perspectives. I'm secretly with Mindy and have my moments where I enjoy a knight rescuing the damsel in distress. Maybe this one will fill that craving. Thanks again!

Elizabeth Morgan said...

I love this book. It has an amazing plot and is lots of fun to read.

Joyce DiPastena said...

Thank you, ladies, for reviewing Illuminations. I'm sorry it wasn't more to your taste, but I know it was a hefty book to read and I truly appreciate you taking the time!

Anonymous said...

This review was great. You've made me want to rush out and get the book. In the meantime I would love to be entered in your draw. Thanks.

Rebecca Talley said...

Please, enter me to win a copy of Joyce's book. Joyce is a great writer. Thanks for your reviews.

PS I was 5'8" in jr. high and always looked over the tops of the boys' heads. I'm now 5'10" so I know exactly what you mean.

MindySue said...

AUGH. AUGH! Well it was bound to happen sooner or later, but I can't help dying a little inside anyway.


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