Desert Isle Keeper
Darkling I Listen
Labeled as a romantic suspense, Darkling I Listen lives up to its billing – and more. Oh, baby! Brandon Carlyle is the sexiest, most tormented hero I have read in several years. As a beautiful young boy, he was taken to Hollywood by Cara, Stage-Mother-From-Hell, and has been betrayed by nearly everyone he’s ever known. In spite of everything, he has a heart of gold and a willingness to give that heart to the right woman, should he ever meet her. Of course Brandon is certain he never will. He’s never been that lucky.
Alyson James Farrington is that woman. It just doesn’t look that way at first blush. Aly is the lowest of the low (no, she’s not a telemarketer). She’s a tabloid reporter looking to find the story that will give her the Big Break she’s been looking for; the story that will get her a job with a legitimate and reputable publisher. When she learns that Brandon Carlyle, the most famous movie star in the world and the hunk after whom all women lust, is hiding in his home town of Ticky Creek, Texas, Aly lies to Brandon, telling him she wants to write his biography to set the record straight on his much publicized, scandal-ridden life.
So, why is Brandon hiding? He’s a recovering alcoholic who was convicted of manslaughter when the porno queen who was riding with him was killed in a car accident. He’s been out of prison for eight months, and must walk the straight and narrow, or risk being returned to serve out the rest of his sentence. Searching for peace, Brandon has returned to the only people who ever loved or cared from him, his uncle and aunt, Henry and Bernice.
At first, Brandon thinks Aly is the stalker who has been writing threatening letters to him, always signing the letters Anticipating. These letters have him nervous and wary, but to his credit, he immediately realizes that Aly could not be Anticipating. He’s attracted to her body, but more than that, he likes her style. She doesn’t take any guff off him, guff for which he has earned the nickname Hollywood Hellion. As for Aly, she begins falling for Brandon and his family immediately and starts to see a side of Brandon he has never allowed anyone to glimpse. Trust is a huge issue for Brandon, and with good reason. There is much sadness in Brandon, endearing him more and more to the reader as the story progresses.
The story twists and turns and there are many varied secondary characters. If you think these characters are all stereotypes, keep reading. Nobody is as good or as bad as he seems. Ticky Creek is populated by very believable, highly complex individuals, not the least of whom are Henry and Bernie. Bernie suffered a stroke a few months back, and requires constant care. To watch Henry watch the woman he’s been married to for forty years as she drifts away from him is both touching and sweet. Henry is fabulous.
The unknown stalker gets nearer; things get more tense. Brandon and Aly grow closer, yet her secret threatens to blow their emerging love affair apart. Not only has Aly lied to him about writing his biography, it was she, eight years earlier, who blew the lid off his secret alcoholism in a tabloid article. She knows that when Brandon discovers the truth, he’ll view it as one more in a lifetime of betrayals. Can their love possibly survive that kind of deceit?
The sexual tension in Darkling I Listen pulsates. While there are only two distinct love scenes in the book, they are among the hottest I have ever read. Had there been one or two more, I would have been forced, yes forced (with a huge, satisfied grin on my face) to rate the sensuality as Burning. The love scenes are lengthy and detailed. Need I go on, or are you getting the picture? Whew!
Now the warning. This book is not for the squeamish. The language is rough and graphic and some readers may find it objectionable. When we first meet Brandon, we think he is every bit the jerk he’s supposed to be. He’s led a horrible life and his self-talk, and the way he acts when he falls off the wagon, is not pretty. Supporting characters are crude, their street language leaves nothing to the imagination. As the stalker closes in, nice people get hurt. I didn’t like it, but the fact is, stalker behavior is very accurately portrayed by the author. Innocent people do get hurt in reality in these situations, so I had to accept that and move on.
In Darkling I Listen, Katherine Sutcliffe has created a suspenseful page-turner that had me on the edge of my seat the whole time, even during those love scenes. This is a fast-paced story of a complex man and the woman who tries to salvage him through her love. Aly is ultimately a fine heroine and worthy of Brandon’s trust and devotion. Small town Texas life is so accurately portrayed, y’all’ll think you were there. True mystery fans will guess the identity of the stalker long before our characters do, but that’s okay; it takes nothing away from the story.
Well-written, rich in detail, erotic, sexy, darkly complicated and touching and sad, this is one of the best romantic suspense novels I’ve ever read and I can certainly recommend it.