Book Review: Dark Heart by Elizabeth Ellen Carter

Dark Heart…

Book Description:

Can love survive a dark heart?

Rome, 235 A.D.

A series of ritual murders of young boys recalls memories of Rome’s most wicked emperor. Magistrate Marcus Cornelius Drusus has discovered the cult extends to the very heart of Roman society.

Despite his personal wealth and authority, Marcus is a slave to his past – conflicted by his status as an adopted son, bitterly betrayed by his wife and forced to give up his child.

Kyna knows all about betrayal. Sold into slavery by her husband to pay a gambling debt, she found herself in Rome, far from her home in Britannia. Bought by a doctor, she is taught his trade and is about to gain her freedom when her mentor is murdered by the cult.

When the same group makes an attempt on her life, Kyna is forced to give up her freedom and accept Marcus’ protection. With no one to trust but each other, mutual attraction ignites into passion.But how far will Marcus go for vengeance when he learns the cult’s next victim is his son?

Can the woman who is free in her heart heal the man who is a slave in his?




My Thoughts:

For someone who reads so prolifically, I really am rather fussy in terms of what I will and won’t read. Historical fiction, as followers of my reviews will know, is definitely my favourite genre, but even so, I won’t automatically read a novel just because it’s historical. I don’t usually read novels set further back than the 15th century. I have never read a novel set in the year 235.

Until now.

Dark Heart, by Australian author Elizabeth Ellen Carter, is quite an excellent novel, which should come as no surprise because I’ve read previous novels by Elizabeth and thoroughly enjoyed them. I had no idea what to expect from a novel set in ancient Rome, but right from the first page through to the last, I was captivated by the adventure, the re-creation of a world long gone, the romance, and the mystery.

Dark Heart has an authenticity that only the most meticulous historical authors can achieve. It goes beyond ‘fact sprinkling’; this is not a novel that is written with a contemporary storyline and modern characters set in a place long ago. Elizabeth has infused an entire way of life intricately throughout her story, lending it a credibility that was highly appreciated by this fussy historical reader!

I genuinely liked the two main characters and enjoyed their relationship, which went beyond a lustful romance. Their connection to each other and mutual respect made this story all the more enjoyable.

There is a serious and heavy aspect to Dark Heart that cannot be overlooked, and while some scenes were disturbing, they were handled so well that they added value not depravity, and for this, I applaud Elizabeth most enthusiastically. It’s a fine balance, getting the truth out as opposed to simply shocking people in a bald and tasteless fashion.

I can see this novel adapting well as a production from the History Channel. It has that feel to it, a sophistication and polish combined with an interesting and well paced story peopled with realistic characters.

If you’re looking for a novel to get lost in, immersed into a whole new world, then Dark Heart is the one for you. Fans of TV shows such as Vikings and The Tudors will enjoy Dark Heart and appreciate it’s historical authenticity.

Thanks is extended to the author, Elizabeth Ellen Carter, for providing me with a copy of Dark Heart for review.




Dark Heart is book 26 of my 2017 Australian Women Writers Challenge.