Heart Dance is the latest in the HeartMates series that for me has become an addiction. In Robin D. Owens' SF/F series, she has created a wonderful alien world of soul mates and a complex society for them to inhabit. Everything in her world has feelings, whether they are housepets or indeed, the house itself. Her latest entry is impressive.
Dufleur Thyme's father was a scientist whose flair (magic) was time experimentation. She has the same trait as her father, which was outlawed after their house exploded, killing her father. Society blamed him; after all, a person's residence is most sacred, and his disregard for his flair, which caused such destruction, is unacceptable. Dufleur and her mother now live with their cousins. She embroiders for money, but in her spare time secretly experiments with time, trying to determine what went wrong. She is bereft - her mother is now cold and bitter - and they barely have any money to survive. She wants to clear her father's name and be allowed to practice her flair openly, without fear of arrest or exile. After she discovers her father may have been murdered, she decides to investigate in order to learn the culprit's identity - and why he committed the murder.
Saille T' Willow is Dufleur's heartmate and a matchmaker. Saille was banished to another estate when he was younger by his MotherDam (his grandmother), a very powerful matchmaker for her time. His MotherDam is now in a coma from a debilitating disease and he returns to take his rightful place as the Willow heir and to help others find their heartmates. Salle's grandmother never revealed his heartmate; she is heartless and wanted him to suffer for really no reason at all. She is one of the most heinous villains I've read in ages, and since she's in a coma throughout the story, that's saying something. Her past actions continue to cause Saille considerable pain as he discovers the lengths she went to in destorying other people's lives and he prays that she doesn't awaken from her coma to cause even more heartache and despair. The one joy Saille has is that he now knows who his heartmate is and will try everything to convince Dufleur to accept him.
This story is rich both in in character detail and description of this alien world, with particular focus on the importance of a heartmate in marriage and relationships. Past world-building and the previous introduction of characters makes this one impossible to read on its own. And this word of warning pertains to the entire series: There is a constant presence of household pets called Fams. These are usually cats that can talk telepathically with their owners. If you are not a cat fan - or familiars - you may find yourself bored with their interactions. I find the Fam animals adorable and appreciate their rightful place in the story. They simply bring comic relief during times that would otherwise have depressed me.
The path to true love is never easy, and Dufleur and Saille are perfect proof of this. Even though Dufleur knows she has a heartmate, she feels she can not have him because of her dedication to her work, and the situation involving her father's death. Saille was so damaged by his MotherDam and her selfishness that he isn't sure he will ever find happiness and fix the wrongs that have been done to him, his own mother, and those innocent victims - which even include Dufleur.
I wholeheartedly recommend this wonderful journey into a fantasy world of magic, love, and yes, even those telepathic animals that will have you laughing.