Guest post by Marie Treanor
Gothic romance is an old literary genre, about as old as the novel itself, stretching back to the days when the word “romance” meant fantasy more than just a love story. But Gothic horror like Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein and John Polidori’s The Vampyr have a timeless charm, as we see in much more recent films and books based on these stories. Bram Stoker’s Dracula, probably still the best known Gothic horror novel ever, has its roots in Polidori’s earlier, shorter work.
One of the timeless elements of Gothic is the mingling of horror and romance. Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey was written as a skit on the Gothic novel craze of its day. Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre brings us both the mad woman in the attic and the archetypal Gothic hero in the dark, brooding and deeply flawed Mr. Rochester. I grew up with those books, and with Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca. I devoured Victoria Holt’s novels, and Mary Stewart’s and emerged as a writer with a thorough love of Gothic.
Although until I wrote The Dead of Haggard Hall, I never actually set out to create a Gothic novel as such, a lot of my books seem to have Gothic elements. Gothic Dragon, with its time travel to a fictional Gothic world, and the awakening of Saloman in his hidden crypt in Blood on Silk are probably the most obvious examples. But I’ve always had a soft spot for those dangerous heroes.
In fact, today’s steamy romance genre lends itself wonderfully well to the Gothic. One of the things I always loved was the understated sexuality, the attraction of evil – or possible evil. Even in Victoria Holt’s books, sexual attraction was the basis of the romance as well as the danger, however subtly expressed by today’s standards. From this, the idea of the “hot Gothic” came to me. Dracula without the Victorian repression; Victoria Holt with the bedroom door open; the deep sexual chemistry latent in these older books given free rein. That was the beginning, for me.
And while I mulled it over, Barbara Darke began to grow in my imagination. Someone who’d always been different, haunted but compassionate, perceptive, no shrinking maiden who’d tolerate either abuse or rescue by her brooding hero, but a heroine who walked knowingly into danger because she was the only person who understood that danger, the only one with a clue as to how to deal with it. Barbara is far from the innocent young girl trope of older Gothic romances. She’s been married to a good man and she misses physical love. She isn’t afraid of her body’s desires, although she is aware of the risks of giving into them, whether it’s demons or handsome gentlemen who tempt her…
Which brings me to our hero, Patrick Haggard. Deep, damaged, dangerous is what Barbara perceives when she first encounters him. On one level, he is the dark, brooding hero with a troubled past beloved of all the best Gothic romances. But he is also a bit of a rebel, a fighter of other people’s causes and a champion of the poor and the downtrodden – which makes him a threat to the establishment, if not to Barbara.
Still, I suppose they’re not quite modern heroes, since they live in 1850’s England! So why do modern hot Gothic and set in the Victorian era? Well, just because it lends itself so well, both to the genre and to my characters. In their own ways, Barbara and Patrick are both misfits in their own society. Nowadays, perhaps, they wouldn’t stand out in the same way.
And then, a large part of Gothic charm for me is sheer atmosphere – the creepy old house, guttering candles and dark shadows that just don’t work so well with today’s electric lighting! Barbara and Patrick were born into this environment, the one deeply enmeshed in the world of spirits, the other a sceptic in a scientific age. The Dead of Haggard Hall is modern Gothic because I’ve told it in a modern way – or at least Barbara has, in her own honest, open, sensual voice. Both of us hope you enjoy it!
The Dead of Haggard Hall
Darke of Night
Genre: Gothic/historical/paranormal romance
Publisher: Samhain Publishing
Date of Publication: 26th July 2016
Number of pages: 216 (paperback)
Word Count: 71,000
Cover Artist: Kelly Martin
Spirit possession is easy to remedy. Possession of the heart is another matter.
After vicar’s widow and natural medium Barbara Darke loses her respectable teaching position, she reluctantly agrees to become companion to her former pupil Emily, now the bride of young Sir Arthur Haggard.
Once settled at Haggard Hall, Barbara finds her friend is beset by ghostly voices and unexplained deaths. In a maelstrom of dark spirits and wicked emotions, Barbara battles to lay Emily’s ghosts to rest—both hampered and helped by Arthur’s skeptical cousin Patrick, who provokes and attracts her in equal measure.
It would be a mistake to trust a secretive, guilt-ridden man suspected of driving his wife to suicide, if not outright murdering her. And it could well be lethal to give in to her own desires, confused as they often are with the lusts of the dead.
But Arthur and Emily are in genuine physical danger, and suspicion is falling closer and closer to Patrick—the man who haunts Barbara’s sensual dreams. The man who stands to inherit Haggard Hall.
Warning: Contains a medium whose body is open season for spirit possession, and a scandal-ridden journalist who only believes what he can see—and touch.
About the Author:
Marie Treanor lives in Scotland, in a chaotic house by the sea, together with her eccentric husband, three much too smart children and a small dog who rules them all. Most days, she avoids both housekeeping and evil day jobs by writing stories of paranormal romance and fantasy.
Marie is the award winning author of over forty sexy paranormal romances – Indie, New York and E-published.
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