If you haven't entered the contest yet for your chance to wing GREAT prizes, you still have time. Any comments left on this post, or any of the posts before until Sept. 20 at midnight MST will be put into the drawing. So start commenting away!
Mormon Hermit Mom Book Habit
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.
I was so excited to get my hands on Joyce DiPastena's second novel, Illuminations of the Heart. I throughly enjoyed reading her first, Loyalty's Web, and had high expectations that not only did she match, but exceeded. The first line "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.
I love a good historical romance. I love them even better when I don't have to worry about steamy bedroom scenes. Joyce Di Pastena's second historical Illuminations of the Heart has it all: fevered kisses, sword fights, betrayal, kidnapping, rescues, death-defying feats and bandits. . . . Joyce's writing is vivid, her characters likeable and realistic, her dialogue fresh, and her descriptions make the scenes breathe.
Rachelle's Writing Spot
Joyce definitely knows how to write a good romance to keep you on the edge of your seat. . . . If the book would’ve been 200 pages longer, I would’ve kept reading—yes it was that good.
I don't remember the last time I've enjoyed a book so much. . . . From the first scene I was sucked in and cheering for the heroine, Siri. Siri is one of those heroines who you'd want for a best friend. She's warm, beautiful, and loyal. And she's not afraid to pull a knife and force a man to back off. Loving the tough girl! . . . Speaking of the plot, it was extremely well-done. I loved all the twists. I never wanted to put the book down. . . . I would definitely recommend Illuminations of the Heart to anyone who enjoys clean romance, riveting suspense, and a story that will touch your heart.
Searching for a great historical fictional romance? I've got just the book for you. Joyce DiPastena's book Illumination of the Heart is the perfect blend of mystery, action, and above all, romance. I totally loved this book. The cover is absolutely beautiful and portrayed the heroine perfectly. . . . This story definitely left me with a sigh:-)
Of Writerly Things
First, can I say, Joyce DiPastena knows her medieval stuff. She majored in it in college no less, receiving a degree from the University of Arizona. She is true to the time frame throughout her story, introducing the reader to terms like "crenellated," "portcullis," and "primogeniture." You may have thought "mail" was something that showed up in a box outside your home or on your computer, as in You've got it but no, it's "a flexible armor made of small, overlapping metal rings." (I got that from a glossary in the back of the book.) . . . I highly recommend it.
DePastena weaves a thrilling tale of swashbuckling sword fights, sweet love scenes, and political intrigue. An understanding that could have been a satisfying ending occurs a hundred or more pages before Triston and Siri finally battle their way through several challenging complications to more complete fruition. . . . This is a very good read, to which I give my highest praise of five stars.
Of Good Report
I do love a good romance, and I mean a good romance novel. Illuminations of the Heart is clean . . . What makes it even better is that it is a historical romance novel which, in my opinion, is the best kind. . . . 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!
If you love a good romance book, this book is clean and beautifully written. The characters come alive on the page as the vivid images of the summer 1179 are brought to life. Joyce has done a stunning job at weaving a masterful tale and sharing it with the world. . . . If you loved Loyalty's Web, you will love this too!
Musing from an LDS Writing Mom
Joyce has a way of bringing the locations to life with her descriptions and deep research. . . . 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!
Queen of the Clan
My very, very favorite part of Joyce's new book, is the romance. OK - I know you were all waiting for me to say that! . . . Joyce weaves a wonderful story, creates an attraction and tension between Triston and Siri, and never once do I have to skip sentences or flip pages. I absolutely LOVE, LOVE, LOVE that I can read such a powerful romance book and never cringe. I can safely keep reading and enjoy every single one of those melt-my-knees kisses without worry it's going to lead somewhere my eyes, mind, and imagination don't want to go. I have so many friends and teenagers who raid my library of books and am so grateful I don't have to give any "disclaimers" before lending out of Joyce's books. THANK YOU, JOYCE! I highly, highly, highly (I can add about a dozen of those!) recommend both of Joyce's books for the romance addict in your life.
This story is filled with rich characters and setting. As Tristan learns to cope with his anger and his guilt, the depth of his personality shines through. Siri was likeable and I found myself rooting for her. What really impressed me was the complexity of the plot and how there would always be one more twist even when I Thought everything had been figured out. . . . I couldn't put the book down. If you love clean romance with lots of excitement read this book.
Dreams of Quill and Ink
Illuminations of the Heart is a historical romance set during the middle ages. Lest you think it’s all swooning and kisses, let me illuminate (pun intended) some things I particularly enjoyed about this book. The story is woven seamlessly with the time period. It is so organically done that one almost doesn’t notice—though the attention to detail and fact is there. I learned things about history that I didn’t know but in such a way that it didn’t feel like it intruded on the story. As if that wasn’t enough, this romance is blended with mystery, suspense, and action. The plot doesn’t just move forward, it propels. I couldn’t stop reading. The characterization is rich and satisfying. The characters live and breath from the page. Their histories, individual stories, and interactions blend in such a way that one would not be surprised to discover that they actually lived long ago.
Joyce DiPastenahas a vast amount of knowledge about all things medieval and she paints pictures in the minds of her readers. You see the clothes, you imagine yourself walking along the stone corridors, and you can smell the feasts that are offered up in the kitchens. You feel as though you have truly stepped into her story. If you're looking for a really romantic, truly authentic medieval tale of love, treachery, and intrigue, well - what are you waiting for?
Rating: A+ I didn't pass it on to my teen (he wasn't interested), but I did pass it on to my mother and sisters who also loved it. It was my pleasure to be drawn in by ILLUMINATIONS OF THE HEART and once I started Siri's journey, I couldn't put it down until I reached the last page . . . and then I still wanted more. While this is an adult title, I believe it's appropriate for teens as well.
Tangled Words and Dreams
Well, what can I say? Illuminations of the Heart by Joyce DiPastena is one amazing book. . . . I couldn’t get enough of it. . . . you’ll find plenty of excellent smoochies, damsels in distress, trickery, and sword fighting, to satisfy just about any historical romance reader.
Random-ish by Nichole
This one is definitely worth the read!! Once again, Joyce DiPastena has outdone herself. I absolutely loved her first book, Loyalty’s Web, and wondered how she would ever write another one with so much depth, so many plot twists and turns, and let’s not forget the heart-melting love story (the kind that doesn’t make you cringe). But how could I have thought such a thing? Of course, Illuminations was up to par! I absolutely loved it. Okay, first I have to warn you. I’m a sucker for a good romance. Really. But I’m also extremely picky about what I read, especially since I started writing myself. Other than Loyalty’s Web, it’s been quite a while since I found a sweet romance that I just couldn’t put down. But this one was definitely packed full of heart-pounding romance. The downside is that I’m going to have to wait for probably a year or more to read another book by Joyce. (Frown. That’s a long time!) The point is, Illuminations of the Heart
Lu Ann's Book Review
Okay, I'll admit, I'm a sucker for a well-written romance. Throw in the fact that it's a well-researched and historically accurate romance and it makes me even happier. But, give me a well-written, historically accurate romance that remains clean, yet maintains just the right balance of romantic tension between the characters, and I am thrilled. This is exactly how I felt with Illuminations of the Heart by Joyce DiPastena.
Reading for Sanity
You are pulled into Illuminations of the Heart in the first few pages by an attempted kidnapping and . . . 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. . . . 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. -Chris
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.
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.
The Write Blocks
Her characters in her recently released, medieval romance, "Illuminations of the Heart" are fully "rounded" and maintain clear motivations.
Check out her interview with Illuminations heroin, Siri.
Why Not? Because I Said So! and LDSWomensBookReview
has sealed the deal. I’m a fan for life!I enjoy reading Joyce DiPastena's books. They are known for being "clean" romances. Now days, the idea of a clean romance is a very rare thing. This is not to say that you won't be swept away in the growing romance between Triston and Siri and the heat felt between them. They are clearly attracted to each other and their shared kisses made me yearn for a "Triston" in my life. You can safely read this book, as well as your teen-age daughter, and know that no sex will be spattered throughout the pages. . . . This sweet romance from Joyce is 425 pages long. It is well worth your time to read it. Hide away in a room, pull out the chocolate or popcorn, get comfortable and escape to the medieval times. I enjoyed getting lost in the romance and suspense that is interwoven in Illuminations of the Heart.
For me to really recommend a historical romance like Illuminations, it absolutely must meet certain criteria:
- A believable, self-assured, strong-spirited heroine, who is likely to take matters into her own hands—Siri definitely fits the bill.
- A hero/love interest that is compelling for reasons other than his good looks—it took a while for me to warm up to Triston, but he won me over.
- A plot line that is more than just falling in love—there's some mystery, mistaken identity, some politics. Plenty more than just two people trying to get together.
- Well-written, well-researched and historically accurate—this was amazing. I felt like I was actually there.
- Some twists and turns that I didn't see coming-- it was great to be surprised.
- I must get lost in the story and forget what time it is in my real-life—uhm, yes. I was late for a doctor's appointment because of this book.
- Clean—no details from the bedroom—I could recommend this to my mother and my daughters with no hesitation.
Romance Old School
Illuminations of the Heart is an exciting tale of love and political intrigue. . . . The characters, I felt, were believable, likable, and well-developed. We got a sense of Triston's feelings of guilt, his regret and his frustration. Siri's personality was strong without being the overbearing female so many authors seem to think a strong woman should be. She knew what she wanted almost from the start and when faced with opposition, she did what most people do: she made rash decisions. I found her to be quite realistically portrayed. . . . Overall, I think this book was entertaining, well-researched, and a definite keeper. I am particularly pleased that the love scenes are not detailed and the main characters do not hop into bed together at the first opportunity. In fact, if you are looking for a book with sex, this is not the book for you. Everyone who enjoys the romance for the romance, give Joyce's books a chance. She does not disappoint.
Blog the Day Away
I really, really like this book. It’s set back in the day when people still lived in castles and knights were the coveted profession of the day. . . . Twists and turns and more twists and turns. Illuminations is a really exciting read. Just when you think you’ve got things figured out you get pulled in another exciting direction. All of it plausible and a whole lot of fun. . . . I highly recommend Illuminations of the Heart by Joyce DiPastena. A really fun read.
I was hooked by the second chapter. It’s a fun, simple, enjoyable read. It’s definitely a romance, full of sexual tension and forbidden love. But there’s also friendship, knighthood, thieves, and a little bit of mystery. . . . I couldn’t put the book down. I would definitely recommend it.
Weren't those great reviews?
One thing I've enjoyed about his blog tour, besides reading the wonderful reviews, has been to read the great author interviews as I felt I've come to know Joyce better because of them. Joyce has been gracious enough to answer some get to know you questions as well as talk about her experiences with the blog tour.
WSP: What was something you learned from doing a blog tour?
Joyce: That it's a lot of hard work to put one of these things together, and I'm very grateful to the marketing department of Walnut Springs Press for arranging the tour on my book's behalf.
WSP: How have your advertised both your book and blog tour?
Joyce:I've posted links to the daily blog reviews on my JDP NEWS blog (http://jdp-news.blogspot.com), as well as listing each new review link daily on Facebook and Twitter. At the suggestion of my marketing department, I began a "Medieval Word of the Day" feature on both my JDP NEWS blog and my Medieval Research with Joyce blog (http://medievalresearch.blogspot.com). For each day of the tour, I posted a medieval word from the glossary included with Illuminations of the Heart, along with its definition on my blogs, and included a link to that day's review on the blog tour. For some of the words, I found free clip art illustrations to help the reader visualize what the medieval term meant. This has proved to be a highly popular feature on my blogs--much more so than I anticipated--so I will likely keep it up at least for awhile, after the tour comes to an end. (Until I run out of words from my glossary, anyway.)
WSP: Your book had so many positive responses, why do you think it resonated with so many people?
Joyce: One of the recurring comments that reviewers have made is that they have appreciated finding a "clean romance" to read. "Clean" or "sweet" romances are increasingly difficult for readers to find these days, unless the romances are "inspirational" (which includes "LDS"). And while many readers enjoy inspirational/LDS romances, they sometimes tend to exclude a certain segment of the reading public who would like to read a clean romance without the religious overtones. I've formed a group for just such readers called "Clean Romances" on Goodreads.com, and at last count, we numbered 119 members. (We held a book giveaway party when we hit 100 members.) The group includes readers of both inspirational and secular romances. My titles fall in the latter category, and I believe that helps them appeal to a wider readership audience. Although Illuminations of the Heart did carry in it a theme of forgiveness, that's because the theme fit the particular characters in this particular story, not because I was trying to write something "inspirational". I believe that just providing a reader with a story that doesn't leave them uncomfortable over morality or profanity can, in itself, leave a reader feeling uplifted, even "inspired", because we still feel "clean" after we've read it, whether it falls in the "secular" or "inspirational" genre.
Another thing that readers seemed to enjoy about Illuminations of the Heart was that it was more than just a romance. It had some mystery, some suspense, some twists and turns to keep the reader guessing about what was going to happen next, so that it seemed to appeal to both romance and non-romance readers alike.
WSP: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
Joyce: I didn't start out intending Illuminations of the Heart to have a "message", but it turned out to have one, simply because of the nature of the characters and the situations they found themselves in. That message is the need to forgive yourself for past mistakes, as well as forgiving those who may have wronged you. But if a reader just takes away from the story an entertaining read, I'll be happy with that, too. :-)
WSP: Have you ever thought about writing a book not set in the middle ages?
Joyce: Well, every time I re-read The Three Musketeers, I'm tempted to do something to "play" with their characters, or maybe attempt a "next generation" kind of thing. (Hey, if authors can do it with Jane Austen/Pride and Prejudice, why not The Three Musketeers?) I've also toyed with rewriting some of the Greek myths, but for now, I'm happy in the Middle Ages. You never know, though. We'll see how long I live.
WSP: What is the best part of being a writer? The worst?
Joyce: The best part of being a writer is when your characters do something completely unexpected. I love it when they surprise me! The worst? When your characters are being stubborn and just don't seem to want to come in to work that day. Sitting there staring at the computer screen and feeling at a total loss, or when it feels like pulling teeth to type out a mere handful of words. Those days when I walk away from my computer shaking my head and saying, "Me, a writer? What was I thinking? Those two books with my name on them are obviously flukes!"
WSP: If you could invite one of your characters to dinner, who would it be and why?
Joyce: Ah, actually, it would the hero of the very first medieval novel I ever wrote, that one from my college years that has never been published. Of all the heroes I've written since, he's the one I'm still most in love with. He was born a villein (or serf) in England, became a minstrel, fell in love with a noblewoman, and ultimately was knighted by none other than the Earl of Gunthar (from Loyalty's Web) so that he could marry her. Except that it wasn't quite the fairy tale romance that this description makes it sound. His story (which actually took two books to tell) became very complicated and I really rung him through the coals before I let him be happy. He's still my favorite, and I'd invite him to dinner, just to spend time with him again.
WSP: Where do your get ideas for your writing?
Joyce: Almost all my "adult" writing can be traced back to that college novel as my point of origin. In college, I wanted to write a story about a minstrel because, well, you know, minstrels are very romantic when you're college age. And out of that story came a cast of characters that included Heléne and Gunthar. So I decided to write about them when they were young, which turned into Loyalty's Web. And in the course of writing about them, I created Triston, fell in love with him, and decided to write his story in Illuminations of the Heart. Then I had so much fun with one of the characters I created for Illuminations, that I decided to make him the hero of my next book. And I have another character from Loyalty's Web tucked away for a story that kind of tags my current WIP(work in progress) in the time line. So as long as characters keep popping up who intrigue me, I guess I'll just keep writing their stories.
WSP: What do you think makes a good story?
Joyce: For me personally, what makes a good story is character and plot. I want characters that I can care about, but I also want them to be doing something. I'm not too much for the "reflective" novel, where the characters just sit around and think about things or other people. I want some action! And I love good dialogue. Dialogue is a kind of "action" for me. I don't enjoy heavily narrative books, no matter how beautifully they're written. But if I don't care about the characters, then the action and dialogue won't carry me through by themselves. It's got to be a good mix of the three. But that's just me. I have a friend who's reading tastes are the very opposite of mine, and hey, that's okay. If we all liked the same things, it would be a pretty boring world.
WSP: What book are you reading right now?
Joyce: Right now I'm finishing up The Sister Pact, by Cami Checketts.
WSP: As a child, what did you want to do when you grew up?
Joyce: I wanted to be a teacher. I actually started out in Education in college, before I switched my major to History. I won't go into the why's and wherefore's of that just now, but even though I never got my teaching degree, I've done plenty of teaching as an adult, between numerous teaching positions in my church and teaching piano lessons for over 20 years.
WSP: Who is your hero?
Joyce: Historically? Henry II of England. (If you want to know why, you can read my interview with Jaimey Grant at Romance, Old School http://romanceoldschool.blogspot.com/2009/09/blog-tour-review-of-illuminations-of.html). Personally? I'd have to say, my mom.
WSP: What is your favorite food?
Joyce: Chocolate chip cookies. (Without nuts. Nuts belong in brownies, not chocolate chip cookies.)
WSP: What was your favorite class you've ever taken?
Joyce: Well, since you asked about classes, not teachers, I'd have to say "History of the English Language". I loved that class! The professor taught us phonemes, which I practiced diligently in my dorm room and drove my roommate nuts. I learned to read Chaucer in Middle English and all about the Great Vowel Shift. It was cool stuff! I wish I remembered a tenth of it now. I kept the text book, though, so maybe I'll pull it out one day and try to refresh my memory.