1515 A.D. - The Lady Micheline le Bec was pledged in marriage to Edmund de Cleveley, Baron Bowland, in payment for her father's gambling debt. When de Cleveley's big Irish captain, Sir Kirk Connaught, arrives to escort Micheline to her marriage, Micheline is apprehensive but submissive. In fact, she's not the real problem; the real issue is her sister, the Lady Mara. Dark-haired and beautiful, she is fiery and reckless. When Kirk should be focused on his liege's bride, he finds himself talking a foolish young woman off the window ledge. Mara comes down, but not before a struggle nearly costs both her and Kirk their lives. So begins their fire and ice association.
Upon arriving at de Cleveley's seat, Anchorsholme Castle, Mara and Micheline are informed by the servants that the fortress has another name, a far more sinister name - The Darkland. The House of the Death. Young women that have visited the castle have never been seen again. All of the deaths have one thing in common - Kirk Connaught.
When Mara finds out, she tries to flee in fear, but Kirk catches her and explains the rumors behind the disappearances. They are not as Mara has suspected. She discovers that Kirk is not the perpetrator; he is the victim as much as the young women were.
As Mara and Kirk fall more deeply in love, dark forces are working against them. There is an uprising in Ireland on de Cleveley lands and Kirk is called away to quell it. Meanwhile, Edmund de Cleveley secretly betroths Mara to a local baron in order to remove her from Anchorsholme and away from Kirk. Mara is scheduled to marry the baron even as Kirk fights his own people in Ireland, unaware of his beloved Mara's predicament. But he accidentally discovers the truth and Kirk races back to England to prevent the marriage even as a mad series of event happen at The Darkland that will change all of their lives forever. It's an exciting ride to the finish as good triumphs over evil.
Join Kirk and Mara as their romance overcomes the evils of The Darkland.
©2013 Kathryn Le Veque (P)2014 Kathryn Le Veque
First, let me get out what I disliked in this story. Nothing. Now, to what made it great. I very, very, very rarely give any books 5 stars. And this one is more like 4.5 to me, but it was hard for me to put a 4 b/c it was better than that to me. Unlike other stars that have earned a 5 from me, this story won't continue to resonate with me b/c it provided me with some new insight or ideas to continue to ponder. This also explains why it's more like a 4.5. But, it's beyond a 4 b/c I eagerly awaited my return to The Darkland when I wasn't listening to it. It really drew me in and made me care about its characters. Admittedly, the narrator played a large and wonderful part in creating this type of positive experience for me. Any narrator who can play two female twins who talk in tandem, with one finishing the thought of the other, and do this in a way where I can tell the slight difference in the twins' voices, all-the-while stating info as though it's one sentence from one person, is AMAZING! Also, this book put a smile on my face so often. And the story was smart. It flowed and made sense. There were no contrivances to make things pan out a certain way or disregarded key aspects that result in gaps in the plot or logic of the story. Also, the characters were flawed, which I love. Most of all, I love that the h, Mara (though her sister, Micheline, was a main character too, with a significant part of her story told too) was not the timid virgin and that the H, Kirk, didn't require or desire her to be. She was still a virgin but not the needy kind. At the same time, she was a strong heroine but with faults. She was beautiful but not perfect. And the love story, the coming together of Kirk and Mara, made sense and came together beautifully but not without struggle. And I think there were only two romantic, non-explicit but somewhat detailed sexual encounters between Kirk and Mara. Additionally, sex between Edmund and his step or half-sister Joanne was alluded to a few times. Lastly, though there were happy-ever-afters, sadly it wasn't the case for all of the side characters, which added depth and realism to the story. I will look for other books from this author. I encourage you to do so as well.
I love all genres of books. However, when I listen to audio books as I clean, garden, drive they are better with a lot of heat!
'The Darkland' is a dark read but at the heart of it, it is a romantic tale. One of the opening scene's is one of the funniest I have read in any medieval romance. For such a dark tale it does have some refreshingly lighter moments.
The hero is a big handsome Irish knight called Sir Kirk Connaught. Sir Kirk is slow to anger and as you get to witness has infinite patience with a certain hellion named Mara. Once Kirk does anger though it's deadly, they don't call him 'The Master' for nothing. The story starts with Sir Kirk fetching Mara and her sister Misha from their home. He is the escort that will take them deep into the belly of evil. The evil that is called 'Darkland'. A large fortress that belongs to Misha's intended.
Mara doesn't start out as that likable of an heroine. She comes across as arrogant and willful; but that changes quickly when you realize she is what circumstances have made her become. She is FIERCELY protective of her more timid sister Misha. It made me instantly connect with her, after seeing the way she was with her sister. I too have a sister and WOE to anyone that threatens her. Mara is like a mama bear looking after her cub. I wanted to yell at Mara "bite 'em...tear 'em limb from limb!!" I'm a little bloodthirsty sometimes. ; ) Especially with all the evil in this story...Mara is hellion with out a doubt, but she's a hellion as Kirk puts it 'with a heart of gold.' Some of the other characters stand out as well...the twins being one. Those two about drove me daft! Believe me, you will know what I mean when you read the story...
This like I said, this is a dark and twisty tale...it has shades of incest (step-brother & sister aka the villains) death, battle, and betrayal. But all of that plays a second fiddle to the beautiful love story of Mara and Sir Kirk. They will fight for each other...to the very death if need be.
If you want a nice light carefree read this is not it. But if you like a dark gritty medieval romance you must check it out!
Enter 'The Darkland' if you dare...; )
Brian Gill was wonderful with the delivery of the story
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