Dream Man

By Linda Howard, 1998 reissue of 1994 release, Contemporary Romantic Suspense
Pocket, $3.99, ISBN #0-671-01132-4

Sensuality: Hot

Well, this is a reissue that I passed up the first time around. I'm sorry I missed it when it was first released but in 1995 I was strictly an historical reader. This book is a real winner, a keeper extraordinaire, and a book that kept me on my toes from first word to last. Linda Howard is a new author to me, I only recently read her MacKenzie books and all I can say is, "If I could reach my behind, I'd give myself a good swift kick!" By the way, that's an almost direct quote from Dane Hollister, the hero of Dream Man, and too good a line not to use myself. Thanks, Linda Howard, for such great lines!

Take one stalking, serial killer, one hard-nose detective, and one psychic, and you've got the perfect recipe for a romantic thriller that will keep you on your toes from first word to last. I was truly sorry to see this book end, but my fingernails are not. I pride myself on the fact that I quit biting my nails 15 years ago, however, if you could see the stubs of my nails at this moment, you'd never believe that I haven't had them in my mouth all these years. Yes, the book is that good!

Marlie Keen is a psychic who's only desire is to lead a quiet, unassuming life. She's been a psychic from a young age, but a traumatic experience forced her to lose her abilities for the last six years. It's a relief for her not to have this second sight. Suddenly, without any warning at all, her skills come back in full force and are terrifyingly ugly. In her mind, she is witness to a murder so brutal, so evil, it's almost beyond comprehension. He's a stalker, a serial killer, and he's convinced he'll never be caught.

Meet Dane Hollister, a detective for the Orlando Police Department. Dane is hard-nosed and the last person on earth willing to believe that Marlie Keen is anything but the prime, number-one suspect in these murders. He's a cop, a good cop, and the last thing he needs is some nut-case telling him about a serial killer in his jurisdiction. Whether Dane Hollister wants this weirdo in his life or not, she's in it, and he can't deny that he's attracted to her. If he had half the sense God gave him, he'd run like hell, but he's not that smart and Marlie is already calling to his body to come on home.

Linda Howard weaves a tale of murder, intrigue, and romance like nobody I've ever read. She has somehow come up with the right balance of these factors to write a book so fascinating, so compelling, that you don't even care that you already know who the killer is. This wasn't a book where you're taken by surprise when you find out who the killer is - it's much more than that. It's two people trying to put enough clues and information together to catch a killer, when there are absolutely no clues to be had at the murder scene.

I don't want to give away anymore of this tale. You have to take my word on the fact that this is a book that should never have been missed in the first place. Dane Hollister, while being one hard cop, is an endearing hero whom you love almost from the beginning. Marlie Keen is a heroine who needs a strong, loving, compassionate hero to come into her life, and take it over, and Dane does this in his very best, forceful, "I want to be there for you" method.

If you missed this book the first time around, don't miss it this time. This is my second Linda Howard romantic intrigue, and I can hardly bear to wait for the next one. Her books may be an automatic pick ups for me from now on - the ones I've read so far are real keepers.

-- Deborah Barber

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." Oh yes.

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!

-- Marianne Stillings

Order this book from Amazon Books
You'll find links to Linda Howard at AAR, including our interview, at the end of this DIK Review of Mr. Perfect
To comment about any of these reviews
If you are interested in reviewing your all-time favorite romance