Sunday, August 16, 2009

Illuminations of the Heart

Searching for a great historical fictional romance? I've got just the book for you.
Joyce DiPastena's book Illuminations 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.

The Book
"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?

This story definitely left me with a sigh:-)
Joyce was kind enough to answer some questions for me.

Me: Tell us about yourself.

Joyce: I live in Arizona, where I've taught piano lessons to students of all ages for over 20 years. My two cats, Clio and Glinka, keep me company. I also keep busy volunteering for a music program at the school and serving in my church. Along with writing and history, I love reading, singing (but only for my own voice isn't that great!), spending time with my family, and eating chocolate chip cookies.

Me: When did you start writing?

Joyce: I started dabbling at it in Junior High School, when I wrote a sort of hybrid fan fiction novel combining characters from the TV shows Star Trek and Dark Shadows. A very long way from where I ended up, smack dab in the Middle Ages. LOL! I fiddled around with more writing in high school, starting tons of stories in various historical time periods that I never finished, but it wasn't until college that I began my first medieval setting, which also turned out to be my first "true" completed novel. (Never published, by the way, which is likely just as well.)
Me: I loved Illuminations of the Heart. How did you come up with the story?

Joyce: Thank you, Jewel! I'm so glad you enjoyed it! Triston, the hero of Illuminations of the Heart, was a character from my earlier medieval romance, Loyalty's Web. I left him with a rather sad ending at the end of that book, but I'd grown to love him so much, that I couldn't resist writing him his own story to see if I could discover a way to give him a happy ending after all. It wasn't easy. He was a character that required a lot of healing. Siri, in Illuminations of the Heart, becomes the agent of that healing process. When I began the story, I made her a medieval illuminator simply because I thought it would be interesting to explore that area of history along with my story. Only as the story progressed did it occur to me that she was actually illuminating more than just manuscripts...she was illuminating the darkness of Triston's life. Hence, the title of my novel.

Me: Your historical details are great. How much time do you put into researching the time period?

Joyce: To be honest, I don't put in a lot of preliminary research time before I begin a book. I mean, I at this point, I have a lot of the basics down, between my degree in history and having been "dabbling" with medieval settings for my stories since college. Most of my research now takes place parallel to the writing of my story. I have a large personal library of medieval history books on many specialized subjects, so when I come to a point in my story where I need a bit of specialized information, I stop and research it, then work it into my novel. I think that helps me resist the temptation to do large "history dumps" of information in my books. I just stop, look up the specific details I need, then weave those into where they're needed in my story. I don't enjoy reading books with "history dumps", so I don't really want to inflict that upon my readers if I can avoid it.

Me: Tell us your other book(s).

Joyce: Loyalty's Web was my first published novel, and was a 2007 Whitney Award Finalist. Like Illuminations of the Heart, it's a sweet medieval romance. It had more of a political edge (medieval politics, not 21st Century politics) than Illuminations of the Heart, so in that sense it was a bit different in tone, but still definitely a romance at its heart.

Me: Do you have any projects in the works now?

Joyce: Yes, I'm currently working on a novel based on a character from Illuminations of theHeart. I won't say who just yet, because I'd like to keep the readers guessing about what this character may or may not be up to as they read Illuminations. :-) I will say that while I don't have a title for it yet, I'm calling it "my troubadour book". Those who read Illuminations of the Heart should be able to guess who my new hero is going to be from that little hint. ;-)

Me: Cool, I'm excited already! Thank you, Joyce for giving us the opportunity to know you better.

To learn more about Joyce and her books, visit or visit her blog at
Post your comment and be automatically entered in a drawing for a copy of Illuminations of the Heart!


Joyce DiPastena said...

Thanks so much for reading and reviewing Illuminations of the Heart, Jewel! It was fun being interviewed by you, too. :-)

Editt said...

I really want to read this book and Loyalty's Web too (now). Thanks for the Review!

Amber said...

I think it's interesting that Joyce did her research on a need-to-know basis. Now I want to read her other books too!
Thank you for the giveaway :)

MarthaE said...

Hi Jewel! Thanks for the review. I think this books sounds wonderful! Ohh- and a character sequel. I like series books like that. I didn't realize Joyce had been a piano teacher. Lovely!
Thanks for a chance to win the book!

JenniferB said...

I love historical romances with lots of suspense, intrigue and tenderness. This book sounds like it has it all

Park Avenue Princess said...

Thanks for the wonderful review! It's nice to see Joyce Get the support she deserves!

xoxx Amy (Park-Avenue Princess)