Desert Isle Keeper
Dream Man (#51 on our Top 100 Romances List)
An AAR Top 100 Romance
originally published on April 16, 1998
So, I’m reading Dream Man, and my husband idly says to me, “Say, how’s your book?”
With cool deliberation, I lift a brow and raise my glassy and dilated gaze, and say in a voice both low and menacing, “Go away. Take the kids to your mom’s. Feed yourself. Or starve. I don’t care. Go to bed. Wait up. Don’t wait up. I don’t care. Leave me alone.”
“That good, huh?” he says, reaching for his car keys and the kids’ coats.
Yikes, yes! that good.
Marlie Keen is a pretty young woman who has led a nightmare life. Born with the “gift” of psychic ability, she has been sought after for years by the authorities to help them solve crimes. But a diabolical and shattering incident has neutralized her clairvoyance, so for six years her mind has been free of the intrusive thoughts of others’ – until the night a vision so overpoweringly evil overtakes her, she realizes her mind is, once again, subject to the forces of a killer. Her visions are so intense, she is incapacitated for hours afterward, leaving her traumatized and vulnerable. She sees every detail of the crime through the murderer’s eyes, but is helpless to intervene. Having been labeled everything from genius to charlatan, Marlie resists going to the police, yet knows she must – for the psychotic killer is clever, and her knowledge is the only lead the authorities will have.
Orlando detective Dane Hollister, my vote for The Manliest Man Alive Ever, is the hero you love-to-hate-to-love. Tall, broad-shouldered, muscular, imperious, and sexy (and he knows it), Dane thinks Marlie is not only a sham, but may actually be the killer – for Marlie has described every detail of the gory murder scene that Dane and his devastatingly charming partner, Alex Trammell, have been assigned to investigate.
It’s mutual hate-at-first-sight as Dane listens to Marlie’s seemingly absurd story, then verbally assaults her with accusations of fraud. But Marlie flings it right back in his face. This lady has dealt with jerks like him for years, and she’s not about to give him an inch. The problem is, Dane is so intensely attracted to Marlie, the minute he meets her, he gets an . . . I mean, he becomes . . . uh, his interest perks up, and stays up for the entire 341 pages. The sexual tension is pulse-pounding and the love scenes are beyond hot. As Dane and Marlie dance around each other while trying to resist their nearly debilitating mutual attraction, Dane begins to believe Marlie is innocent. A trip to a psychic research center fills in all the gaps on her horrific, and lonely past, and Dane forms a plan – one that requires he literally move in with Marlie for her own protection.
Desire pulsed in his loins; he couldn’t be around her and not want her. But stronger than desire was the need to hold her close and protect her, from the horrors within as well as those without.
Marlie’s abilities are genuine. She is mentally linked with an “escalating serial killer” – a guy as creepy, crawly, slimy, and perverted a madman as ever there was, and one who is careful to murder without leaving a trace of evidence behind. Once he knows Marlie exists . . . Linda Howard has created an explosive, tense, riveting, sexually-charged, emotionally devastating, mesmerizing story of love and murder that, once you pick it up, you will be hard-pressed to put down. The characters are very well defined in terms of personality, background, motivations, experiences . . . it’s all here. Ms. Howard has done an outstanding job.
Warning – I’ve used some adjectives in this review that should be taken at full value. This book is not for the squeamish. It is rough, it is graphic, it is violent. It is sizzling and it is fascinating. I didn’t know any of this when I opened the cover. However, once I began, the story drew me in like a whirlpool, and I could not, did not want to, climb out. It was harrowing! It was great! Yikes!