Dreaming of happier futures as man and wife, Lucas and Anna Kendrick find their new marriage threatened by forces that cause them to deny their mutual feelings, and each claims to have married for the sake of convenience only.
Anna had also sworn never to marry; all we know is that there is a mysterious man in her past who seems to terrify her. She knows, for the man told her, that he will come back for her one day. He also told her that no man would want her as a wife, since she isn't untouched. And yet she agrees to marry Luke, while dreading her wedding night and the consequences should the terror from her past reappear.
On their wedding night, Anna discovers that lovemaking can be beautiful and very pleasurable; Luke discovers that she was not a virgin. His reaction to that discovery means that no secrets can be confided to each other; their marriage becomes, for a time, a shallow affair in which neither talks of their real feelings: duty during the day, pleasure at night.
And yet, even as they hide their secrets from each other, the man who believes himself incapable of love discovers, day by day, that his heart wasn't buried after all the day he was estranged from his family. Luke is far from being heartless. But, as well as resolving his relationship with Anna, he has a long way to go to regain the trust of his younger brother and sister, and to discover the truth about his older brother's betrayal, the act which had caused Luke to become estranged in the first place.
For a change - Balogh usually tends not to write in simple black and white and her villains are rarely one-dimensional - in Heartless we have two pure evil villains: one Anna's tormentor, and a female accomplice. This is unusual for Balogh, and even more so in that she never really gives her villain a clear motive - except, perhaps, insanity. This aspect of the story is less important than Anna and Luke's relationship: as another reviewer noted, Balogh has done an excellent job of showing how Luke was falling in love with Anna without even realising it. When Luke finally tells Anna of his feelings, it was no surprise to me, and in a way I was surprised that Anna hadn't already realised.
This is a wonderful book, and I'm looking forward to re-reading it. I'm also very much looking forward to reading the sequel, Silent Melody; Heartless has some very likeable secondary characters, and I'm keen to meet Emily and Ashley again.