A Dark Love by Margaret Carroll
(Avon, $7.99, PG) ISBN 978-0-06-165278-3
Psychoanalyst Peter Moross met his wife Caroline when she was in college in Washington, DC. Someone less naïve would have spotted his obsessively controlling personality for what it truly was and distanced herself quickly. However Caroline, a victim of an extremely dysfunctional childhood, saw in Peter the chance to heal someone through her love and constancy. So, she married him.

The marriage was doomed to failure from the onset. As Peter became more and more acclaimed in his professional career, treating some of Washington’s most elite, he became more and more controlling, treating Caroline as his most challenging patient. Insidiously he cut her off from all external contacts and friends, permitting her out to walk her dog but twenty minutes a day.

One evening of physical and sexual abuse finally became the turning point of Caroline's life. Carefully, she made her plans for escape and a week later she left for her proscribed twenty minute walk with the dog and did not return. The story runs in parallel chronicling her escape with the Peter's meltdown as he gradually realizes she has left him. He employs a detective agency and starts methodically going through the house searching for clues.

Strangely enough, Peter had not monitored Caroline's email account as one would have expected with this personality type. When he does, he finds she has been corresponding with an old college friend in California and he discovers warm praise from him of a small town in Colorado.

And that small mountainous town is precisely where Caroline heads. One of the chief residents of the town is Ken Kincaid, a former football star forced to retire as a result of an injury. He has returned to the town he loves and established a sporting business which provides trout fishing excursions. The town takes Caroline in and a benevolent innkeeper finds her a job caring for an elderly woman.

Caroline trusts no one and she represents an enigma that Ken is intent on solving, propelled as he is by his attraction to her. Although that attraction is reciprocated, Caroline knows too well that she will be moving on soon. The scenes switch back and forth to Peter, who discovers where she is and abandons his medical practice to come after her and exact his revenge.

Margaret Carroll has developed her characters with deftness and sustains the mounting tension with creativity and excellent dialog. She builds her plot with allusions to the past, and although that can be extremely effective, often the allusion is left hanging, never returning to it. Additionally, the sub plot with Caroline’s friend in California is abandoned as well. Balancing these positives and negatives results in a slightly better than average read.

--Thea Davis

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