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Romantic Suspense Review   

Darkling I Listen
By Katherine Sutcliffe
Jove, 2001
ISBN: 0-515-13152-0



Darkling I listen; and, for many a time
I have been half in love with easeful Death,
Call’d him soft names in many a mused rhyme,
To take into the air my quiet breath;
Now more than ever seems it rich to die,
To cease upon the midnight with no pain,
While thou art pouring forth thy soul abroad
In such an ecstasy!
Still wouldst thou sing, and I have ears in vain –
To thy high requiem become a sod.
From “Ode to a Nightingale” by John Keats


How fitting that Katherine Sutcliffe would choose a line from John Keat’s “Ode to a Nightingale” to characterize the dark side of love that obsessive with madness would cause a crazed fan to see death as eternal devotion.  Darkling I Listen is both romantic suspense and psychological thriller.

After his release from prison, Hollywood bad boy Brandon Carlyle returns to his boyhood home in East Texas.  Ticky Creek encompasses all small town values from sheltering natives from outside intruders, celebrating festivals and traditions, to protecting the local eccentrics.  There is also a southern gothic side to Ticky Creek where families may hide a disturbing home life. 

Brandon is home to care for his aunt and uncle as well as heal from a personal battle with his own demons.  Yet, his own demons have followed him to East Texas – and one wants to kill anyone that stands in their way to becoming one with Brandon.  The question is who is behind the fan letters signed by “Anticipating” and how did they know his every move.

Sassy Alyson James is a simple East Texas native who wants to write his official biography, after one with quotes from his coldhearted mother hits the bestsellers.  She’s there for a story and using the book as an method to get into the door, but as Brandon opens his dark secrets to her, Alyson falls in love and wishes only to protect him.  Unfortunately, Alyson AKA A. J. Farrington was the tabloid reporter who broke the story on his alcoholism. 

There is a wide cast of eccentric characters that will keep the reader on their toes trying to guess who is behind the acts of vandalism, assaults, and murder.  The sheriff’s crazy sister who dresses like Marilyn Monroe tops the list.  Brandon’s tactless agent Mildred is a candidate.  Then there is fundamentalist nurse Betty with tattooed eye and lip liner and the strength of a bodybuilder.  Of course, there is his mother, the sheriff, and the carnies. 

Sutcliffe has created a book filled with heart.  There is the tender love of an aging couple who have never been apart.  There is the vulnerable intimacy between Brandon and Alyson.  And there is the small town compassion and loyalty that protects the locals.    

Darkling I Listen is an intense psychological thriller as it explores child molestation, parental neglect, and substance abuse.  It is also a sizzling erotic romp as Hollywood’s bad boy takes Alyson through a variety of fantasy escapades that will make the most well read of you break a sweat.

Joyce Dixon
Southern Scribe Reviews

© 2001 Southern Scribe Reviews