Set against the open skies and wild beauty of southwest England in 1430, The Heart of Darkness is a medieval mystery about one young woman’s quest to shed light on the dark secrets of her shire’s sheriff and help him hunt down the villains responsible for a spate of local kidnappings—before they strike again.
Her courage began to desert her under Sir Richard’s cold, questioning stare. ‘Good day, sir. I—I—am Rowena Walden, my uncle, Lord Cunningham, sent me,’ she managed to stammer. ‘He said that you—needed a clerk.’
When Lady Sabina spitefully volunteered her well-educated cousin Rowena as temporary personal clerk to Chaucy Shire’s sheriff, she could not refuse. An unmarried young woman with dead parents and nothing to her name has little choice. But Rowena dreads it. She has heard a lot about the darkly handsome knight: heartless, hot-tempered, impossible to please, just plain bad… As she meets Sir Richard’s cold, unnerving stare for the first time, the future does not look good.
However, Rowena is not the only one with a problem. Strangely, Rowena’s presence at Eaglestone Castle deeply disturbs Sir Richard, who appears determined to intimidate his terrifyingly cunning new clerk into quitting. Unfortunately for him, Rowena finds her new master as fascinating as he is frightening. His finances are over-stretched and highly irregular, and his murky past seems to conceal a dark and painful secret. His fury at the meddling of a lowly clerk whom he cannot sack because of her connections is intense, and his unexpected flashes of tenderness towards her only add to the confusion.
But with the local people growing increasingly angry at their sheriff’s failure to find three kidnapped girls, Sir Richard is forced to enlist Rowena’s help. Can this precarious pair catch the villains who have been carrying off Chaucy’s maidens before they strike again? And can Rowena get to the bottom of Sir Richard’s mysterious financial woes before he loses everything?
Then the stakes become higher than ever when the man whom Rowena thought she would never, could never, love challenges his greatest enemy to a fight to the death. Will he triumph, or will his life bleed away into the dust, and her heart with it?
Book review: This is superbly written. There are no shortage of authors who can take you to another time in history. This author transports you. The detail. The imagery. The attitudes. I was completely blown away reading this story. The depiction of a mood of honour and chivalry is so well done. Sir Richard the dark knight is completely human and real. Beyond the fabled fantasy character of a knight in shining black armour, he’s a true, flawed, earthy guy. I have no doubt he is a brilliant depiction of a man of medieval times. So too our heroine, Rowena – the damsel to be saved. The depiction of Rowena as a resourceful, intelligent woman gives some well-deserved oomph and dimension to the fabled damsel in distress. I like the way these two main characters are drawn so believably while being written into a plot that is everything the wonderful fables of knights and damsels offer… This story has adventure, mystery, truly gritty and meaningful romance, and it has a kick-arse climax. You have to catch the battle scene at the end! But make sure you treat yourself to an autumn in medieval Chaucy first. You’re going to feel like you live there.