Illuminations of the Heart: A Historical Novel (Paperback)
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?
About the Author
Joyce DiPastena moved from Utah to Arizona at the age of two and grew up to be a dyed-in-the-fur desert rat. She first fell in love with the Middle Ages when she read Thomas B. Costane’s The Conquering Family in high school. She attended the University of Arizona, where she graduated with a degree specializing in medieval history.
Joyce taught piano lessons to children and adults of all ages for over twenty years and continues to serve with her musical talent as accompanist for the local first grade and for the high school chorus. 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-four 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-Korsakov (that’s all one cat).
Joyce enjoys hearing from her readers and may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also visit her on her website at joyce-dipastena.com, keep up with her latest news at jdp-news.blogspot.com, or follow along as she researches her novels at medievalresearch.blogspot.com.
sweet and engaging
by Alison - reviewed on September 02, 2009
This is one that you want to make sure you have a good chunk of reading time carved out before you start. Or, it can potentially take over your life until you reach happily-ever-after. Not only is it beautifully, and cleanly, romantic but the historical backdrop and storyline were excellent as well.
Medieval (clean) Romance
by Stephanie - reviewed on September 05, 2009
Joyce delivers another great romance set in an entirely different time period from. And you know what? I learn new words from those time periods every time I read her books! In this book, the reader will learn what an 'illuminator' is and no, it's not someone who lights fires. I enjoyed this story from the beginning, especially Siri; she's feisty and smart. I rooted for her through the book and really wanted her to get her man. And dang it Triston! I can't say any more about that person... Joyce's book is smart and full of 'clean' romance, sword fights, bad guys, mystery and castles.
A fun historical romance
by Customer - reviewed on August 19, 2009
I do love a good romance, and I mean a good romance novel. Illuminations of the Heart is clean enough for teens to read, unlike a lot of the romance novels I've read lately where I've had to skim over paragraphs and pages of raunchy sex scenes. What makes it even better is that it is a historical romance novel which, in my opinion, is the best kind. Set in medieval France, this book by Joyce DiPastena is fun to read with knights and highway robbers and lecherous villains and all those things that make romances set in the period so fun. Sure you may be learning things along the way, such as what an "illuminator" is, [to decorate (as a manuscript) with gold or silver or brilliant colors or with often elaborate designs or miniature pictures (Merriam-Webster Online dictionary)] and details about castles but it is done in a way that you don't really notice that you are learning because the story is so interesting. Lady Siriol de Calendri was born and raised in Italy but after her husband and brother die she has no family left in Italy to protect her and ladies at that time did not live alone. Her brother asks a friend in France where her father was raised, to be Siri's guardian. Triston turns out to be young, handsome, and mourning the death of his wife, Clothilde. Siri, who is very beautiful looks astoundingly like Clothilde which makes things very difficult for Triston. He can barely look at her at times. However, Triston's son Perrin forms an attachment to Siri which is a good thing since he is inexplicably afraid of his father. Triton's cousin Acelet also seems fond of Siri and endeavors to spend time with her instead of practicing his sword fighting in preparation to becoming a knight. Triston is determined to find someone quickly to marry Siri in order to give him relief from her presence which is such a painful reminder of Clothilde. Siri is just as determined that she can support herself as an illuminator. Through many twists and turns and thrilling chase scenes and, of course, romantic scenes, the book ends in an exciting and unexpected way. Appropriate for adults and teens, I recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a good romantic novel!
Surprising historical romance
by Robyn B - reviewed on August 10, 2009
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"
Page-turning medieval romance
by Rachelle - reviewed on August 12, 2009
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.
DiPastena's Illuminations of the Heart is written with a loving knowledge of medieval times.
by Tina - reviewed on July 23, 2009
Joyce DiPastena has done it again! Her recent novel,Illuminations of the Heart, a historical romance is more than just romance. This book, her second, is set in 1179 France where women were regarded more as property and the object of men’s lustful desires, than humans whose feeling should be considered when making decisions involving their lives. Compelling from beginning to end, Illuminations of the Heart takes us to Vere Castle where Triston de Brielle (a character from DiPastena’s first novel, Loyalty’s Web), is now its master. Yet life holds no joy for him because his beloved wife, Clothilde, passed away a year ago and he cannot move on. Triston now has guardianship of his son, Perrin—a child who has unexplainably feared his father since his mother, Clothilde’s tragic death. This causes Triston further pain, yet he hasn’t the wherewithal to discuss it with the lad. When a beautiful young stranger is placed under his responsibility—a woman who resembles Clothilde so completely that most, upon seeing her, believe she is Triston’s tormented wife returned from the dead—the eligible bachelors line up to make lewd passes and try to gain her hand in any way conceivable. Donna Siriol de Calendri is not such an easy catch. She has fire in her soul and checks her ungentlemanly suitors with a boldness not expected from one so petite. There is only one person who owns her heart—Triston, and Siri refuses to settle for anyone less—that is until Sir Raynor de Molinet comes on the scene with his silver tongue. The stakes rise as Raynor, recognizing Siri’s maiden name, searches out her lineage and discovers she is the sole living heir to a vast fortune now under Duke Richard’s hand. As Triston faces charges of Tyranny, he battles his liege lord Roger Fauke, Raynor, and even Duke Richard himself for Siri’s safety, but will he ever be able to love her the way Siri desires him to? DiPastena writes with a loving knowledge of medieval times and adds little details of the era in such a delightful and unobtrusive way that upon reading her novel, one is willfully transported back into a time when history was rich with knights in shining armor, fair maidens, castles, and highway robbers waiting to steal what treasures they can from their unsuspecting countrymen. DiPastena’s Illuminations of the Heart gets five stars. It’s a novel so well written that it can be read over and over again with equal enjoyment.
Enjoyed every word
by Camille - reviewed on August 06, 2009
Illuminations of the Heart intrigued me from the first scene. The spirited heroine made me cheer and the tortured hero made me cry. Illuminations of the Heart is beautifully written and captivating.
Pick up this book, it's worth it!
by Amesbury - reviewed on August 11, 2009
The first line of this novel "Donna Siri, cover your head" drew me in and I found myself just devouring the pages. What originally started out as an hour before bedtime read turned into a "I have to finish this before I can sleep read." Somewhere in the early morning I did, only to begin it the next day. I will only read books I love a second time. In fact I would put this book in the top ten of books I've read this year, and as I read 3-5 books a week that is saying a lot. Illuminations of the Heart focuses around the story of Siriol "Siri" de Calendri and Triston de Brielle. After the death of her brother, Siri, is sent from Venice to guardianship of her brother's closest friend, Triston, in Poitou, who has been given the charge of arranging a marriage for Siri. Siri believes that she will be welcomed at Vere Castle, but when she is meet with whispered stares and a hostile guardian, she is confused until she finds out that she bears a striking resemblance to Triston's beautiful, late wife Clothilde. When Triston, kisses her the first time, Siri's heart is lost. But known for her extreme beauty, Siri wants to be loved for her and not for her resemblance to Clothilde. Trained in the art of illuminations, Siri figures that if she sets about trying to establish herself as an illuminator, while Triston tries to marry her off to one of the local Lords because guilt over the death of his late wife keeps him from be willing to open his heart to Siri. As circumstance from Triston past threaten to destroy them, Triston must decided if he can let her go, or if he has learned to look past her resemblance to Clothilde and see Siri for herself and the vibrant soul she is. By the end of the book, I found myself falling for Triston as all of his good qualities become more apparent and cheered Siri on as she fights to remain true to herself. While this book is billed as a romance it is so much more. It has intrigue, mystery, revenge, political rivalry, as well as the moment of laughter and tenderness that will appeal to any reader looking for a well written story. Joyce effortlessly weaves in historical detail that adds another level of depth and richness to the plot. If readers are anything like me, they will come to the end of the book with mixed emotions. On one hand they will be happy to see the story of Siri and Triton end so well, but it will be bitter sweet as they will want to read another story by Joyce. Until her next novel, I will have to be content with rereading Illuminations of the Heart.
A historical novel to curl up with!
by Gaynell - reviewed on August 24, 2009
Well...here's a new one from Joyce DiPastena. If you caught her first book, Loyalty's Web, then you were looking forward to this next installment of the characters she introduced. While this isn't a series dependent on each other for the reader, I'm sure it reads better, since you're already familiar with them, but for me, Illuminations of the Heart was a stand alone novel. Joyce has a way of bringing the locations to life with her descriptions and deep research. Historical novels are difficult to write and time consuming, but she didn't take very long between Loyalty's Web and this one. I was really impressed with the plot outline she came up with and the research she did. But beside all that, the characters draw you into the story and make you want to read to the end so that you can figure out how everyone gets out of this impossible situation. grin. I don't want to give it all away...but you got to read it. Especially if historical romance is your cup of tea. Really!
by Cara - reviewed on December 31, 2010
Joyce did it again! She wrote an exquisitly beautiful clean romance. I love how she has us guessing to the very end! Her plot is full of medieval French history that I loved studying in school! It makes me want to dig up how much is based off actual events?!? This book is a KEEPER!