Journeys of the Heart

by Denise Dietz. Linda Colwell, Colleen Gleason, Sally Painter and Kelley Pounds

Published by Avid Press, LLC

349 pages, 2000

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A Romantic Stew

Reviewed by Lynne Remick


Journeys of the Heart provides five preludes to a collection of romantic odysseys. The anthology not only provides short and satisfying romantic reads, it also gives the reader a taste of what Avid Press will be debuting in the near future. And if Journeys of the Heart is anything to go on, the substance of Avid's upcoming literary stew looks good.

"Dream Angel" and "Miss Trixie's Fancy Man" gives Irish and other cultural flavors to the pot, "Passion's Legacy" offers a cooling breath of the Old South, "The Mystic's Promise" adds a pinch of Mexican spice and "The Gillyflower Promise" provides some good British stock. Don't be fooled by the sappy titles, however, as underneath are good, juicy and meaty stories.

Linda Colwell's "Miss Trixie's Fancy Man," perhaps the worst titled piece (or at least tied with "The Gillyflower Promise"), merits mention as the tastiest ingredient. Set in Independence, Missouri in 1850, it tells the tale of a goodhearted madam who inherits a map which leads to gold. Both Madam Trixie Muldoon and her "fancy man" Chase Summers (reminiscent of Gone With The Wind's Rhett Butler) captivate and delight as they seek fortune and passion -- not necessarily in that order. The only catch -- but a promising one -- is that you will have to pick up a copy of Toward the Sunset, Avid Press, March 2001, to see if these lovers discover fortune and lasting passion.

Starting out in Paris in 1850 and traveling to America, Denise Dietz' "Dream Angel" features Irishman Sean Kelley and his beloved tightrope walker Petit Ange. The tension on the high wire builds as man and beast conspire to keep these two apart. When Sean Kelley follows P.T. Barnum and Tom Thumb to America, Angelique and her broken heart trail behind. The theme of circus life adds an exciting edge to this historical fiction romance. Dream Dancer, a January 2001 release by Avid Press, continues to highlight life beneath the big-top as it follows the footsteps of Calliope Kelley, daughter of Sean and Angelique.

The saga of a suffering family and its ties to slavery plays out in North Carolina in 1858 in Sally Painter's "Passion's Legacy." A twist of fate places orphan Maria Bates and the slave she helps to escape on the same path as notorious slave catcher Garrett Lawson. Ironically, Maria's own father sold Lawson's sister through a white slavery ring. Their Bates' family story continues with Andrew Bates in Shadows of Passion, an April 2001 Avid Press release.

"The Mystic's Promise" by Kelley Pounds dances with death and spirits in the Spanish mines of New Mexico. A curse placed on a lost mine in the Manzanos dictates that anyone who searches for this treasure trove is doomed to die. As a result of a brother's greed, ill-fated lovers Esmerelda Salazar and Sebastian de Navarra become entangled in Antonio Salazar's scheme to uncover the treasure of Manzanos. What happens to them becomes a legend. This intriguing premise forms the basis for Pounds' The Amethyst Wish, coming May 2001 from Avid Press.

"The Gillyflower Promise" captivates with a bachelor named Lord Bernard Derkland who must find a wife. However, when he finds the one he wants, he encounters a small problem -- she is already married. This fair flower gives forth the seeds of romance that blossom in Colleen Gleason's novel A Whisper of Rosemary.

In addition to its remarkable stories, an impressive feature of this anthology is a unique approach to capturing readers for future novel publications. As a creative marketing ploy, this historical romance anthology is entirely effective. This publisher has sold me on all five books. Personally, I wouldn't mind seeing like anthologies put out by other publishers.

After getting a taste of the kind of meaty stories served by these talented authors, the Journeys of the Heart anthology has tempted my taste buds for a larger portion of these writers' delightful dishes. As a result all five books are on my "to read" list. I can't wait to sink my teeth into them. | April 2001


An avid reader, established reviewer and writer of poetry, non-fiction, fiction, historical romance and children's books, Lynne Remick can always be found with a book in her hand. She lives in New York with her fiancé Michael, her son Kevin, her Schipperke Dante, a feral cat named Sahara and a spoiled hedgehog named Nike. There, in a little house once owned by her Great Grandparents, she reads, writes stories, book reviews, writing columns and poetry.