Margaret Carroll: A Dark Love (2009) A Novel of Romantic Suspense

I just recently discovered that I like Romantic Suspense. I thought I did not like any kind of romance too much, with the exception of some Paranormal Romance that is and… There are other exceptions. As a matter of fact, the genre is better than its reputation. I’m just not into the sugar-coating kind. And marriage at the end? I couldn’t care less.  And explicit sex scenes are not my thing either. When it comes to Romantic Suspense, there is quite a wide range. Keren Rose is known to write Romantic Suspense, but Tess Gerritsen, bettern known as a plain thriller writer (The Mephisto Club) has also written some books that are labelled Romantic Suspense (I read The Surgeon and found it very good). When I was still at the university I had a Victoria Holt/Jean Plaidy phase as I had no TV and needed something to unwind from the exam preparations. She is definitely the mother of Romantic Suspense or “Woman-in-Jeopardy” or Gothic Suspense as she has been labelled. When it comes to more contemporary writers, apart from Keren Rose and Gerritsen I haven’t read that many so when I recently read some enthusiastic reviews on amazon. de of Margaret Carroll who has just been translated into German I had to give it a go.

Sure this is not the height of literary perfection but is an extremely entertaining read. Even tough it is a bit predictable. Margaret Carroll’s style  has a lot in common with Mary Higgins Clark and Carlene Thompson + romance.  The romance part was quite nice actually.

Caroline Hughes is a young woman who has married the wrong man. At the beginning of the novel, we see her leave her husband. All she has taken are 4000 dollars and her Yorkshire terrier Pippin. She flees from Washington D.C. to Colorado where she wants to hide somewhere high up in the Rockies. Before she boards the Greyhound she dyes her brown hair blond. One more measure, she hopes, to not get found. Her husband, Dr. Porter Moross is a renowned psychiatrist but, as we soon understand, he is by far more deranged than any of his patients. Bit by bit, all through the novel, we see how sick he really is. A real pervert. There is a scene that made me cringe. It even haunted me at night in a dream.

How a young promising art student and aspiring painter did fall for a man like this is not a hundred percent clear. We get hints that something terrible happened in Caroline’s childhood that Porter exploited. Somehow he made her believe she was to blame.

Caroline and Pippin escape to Storm Pass Colorado. A little town in a spectacular setting. Luck is on her side and she gets an employment with an elderly woman who owns a Scotch terrier. There are quite a lot of animals in this book which gives it a very nice touch. They seem very real with individual traits like the people in the novel.

Soon after her arrival Caroline meets Ken a former football player who has been left by his wife after he’s been injured and had to abandon his career. Ken is a very appealing person. Good looking in a very masculine way but not too macho. He even seems to be a bit of an introvert and he certainly is a very sensitive man. Caroline who so far only knew contempt and ridicule feels understood for the first time in her life. She even tells Ken she hopes to be a painter once. They are both admirers of  Georgia O’Keeffe.

As the days go by, winter approaches which gives the author the opportunity of some nice descriptions. Snow flakes falling against a grey sky, a cozy fire inside the house.

Of course we know all along that Porter will track her down sooner or later. I am not giving away how he did it and what follows after he does. You need to find out for yourself.

All in all this was a satisfying and entertaining read. I found it psychologically believable even though maybe at bit stretched. It is quite suspenseful and the characters are well rendered. The descriptions of the landscape and  the weather are well done. This remote place of great beauty in the wilderness does come alive.

I wouldn’t go as far as saying I prefer Romantic Suspense to other kinds of thrillers or crime but I enjoy reading a good book of this genre for a change. Considering this was Margaret Carrolls first novel I think she did a good job and I would probably read her latest Riptide if I felt in the mood for the genre again.