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Darkling, I Listen    by Katherine Sutcliffe order for
Darkling, I Listen
by Katherine Sutcliffe
Order:  USA  Can
Jove, 2001 (2001)
* *   Reviewed by Martina Bexte

Brandon Carlyle was once the hottest movie ticket in Hollywood. But alcoholism, substance abuse, his raging temper and the questionable death of a porn queen have all but ruined his professional career. After spending three years in prison, Carlyle returns home to Ticky Creek, Texas, to seek privacy and to re-evaluate his life and his future. He's also determined to take care of his ailing aunt and uncle, the only two people who have ever shown Carlyle stability, trust and love. But during the course of his hi-profile career, Carlyle has made his share of enemies, including a few in Ticky Creek.

Alyson James, a well known tabloid reporter, also has Brandon Carlyle in her sights. Having broken a previous scoop about the star's drinking problem, she plans on landing another Carlyle story before any of her colleagues get wind of his whereabouts. Yet from the moment they meet theirs is an undeniable attraction that neither can resist. Though Carlyle can't abide reporters, he finds himself confiding in Alyson, revealing things to her that he's never told anyone, not even his beloved uncle Henry. There is also another, darker element that has followed Carlyle home - a stalker who goes by the name of Anticipating, and whose fan letters have become increasingly disturbing and threatening. Carlyle is soon asking himself if there is anyone he can really trust, even Alyson.

Katherine Sutcliffe has joined the growing list of romance authors who've crossed over into contemporary romantic suspense. Most of her previous releases have been historical romances set in various time periods and locales, and her characterizations, particularly those of her male leads, have always shown a distinctly darker side. Brandon Carlyle is her darkest hero to date. He's a moody, foul-mouthed, self-destructive alcoholic. Yet as Sutcliffe gradually peels away and exposes the layers of his childhood and of his long reign as Hollywood's number one idol, she presents sufficient motivation for Carlyle's anti-heroic behavior.

She's also created a likeable, spunky heroine in Alyson, and serves up a nice assortment of red herrings that will leave readers guessing and flipping pages to discover the identity of Anticipating. Not all romance fans will find Darkling, I Listen their cup of tea. And thriller afficionados may balk at the fortuitous appearance of a psychic who shares information that Alyson could very well have ferreted out for herself if given a few extra scenes to do so. But overall, and despite this latter quibble, Darkling, I Listen delivers on various levels and will appeal to many readers.

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