12th Century England
Tired, hungry and altogether miserable about returning to his family’s Devon estate, Sir Gareth de Hugues has given up his life as a mercenary. Leaving his commander and best friend Sir Robert Beaumont was not an easy decision for Gareth, especially after finally being part of a real family even if it was Robert’s. Still, Gareth’s brother Baron Lanfranc de Hugues has decreed that Gareth take over custodianship of his remote castle. Gareth is more then ready to put aside his sword, well almost until he is waylaid by a pint sized thief who manages to get Gareth thrown from his horse and steals his last morsel of food and his hard earned coin!
Zetta had two choices growing up in the streets of London, either steal or become a whore like her mother. Seeing what that life made her once beautiful and vivacious mother become has forced Zetta to masquerade as a boy and to steal to survive. The care for her dying mother and disabled brother Edrit, is wholly on Zetta’s small shoulders. This has not been easy, especially when people have labeled her and Edrit as witches. Camping out in the woods, Zetta has spotted her current prey, a massive warrior astride a jumpy horse, so Zetta strikes. The man is knocked out cold. Looking closer at the handsome face of the knight stirs Zetta in a way she has never experienced before.
While Zetta touches his face and body, Gareth observes the thief through slitted eyes, and follows in pursuit to confront her. Never has any woman fired his blood the way this hellion does! Gareth takes Zetta and her family under his protection, and sets out on a seduction to win the cynical girl over. Knowing what love did to her mother’s destiny, can Zetta open her own Dark Heart and let love in to guide hers?
Dark Heart is Sarah Brophy’s sequel to her successful first novel, Midnight Eyes and gives the character of Sir Gareth from that book a story of his own. While Dark Heart starts off promising, it gets predictable after about a hundred pages, and Gareth seems to declare his love all too soon. (Did Gareth learn nothing from falling too fast for a woman in the first outing?) Zetta while understandably does not trust men, takes it a little too far in her brash behavior. There were some plotlines in the book that get dropped altogether and not resolved. (Who tried to scare Zetta with the warning placed on her door?) Altogether not a bad read, but Dark Heart could have been better.