Friday, 11 April 2014

Creepily Ever After by Jane Godman - Guest Post

Gothic fiction has long been one of my favorite genres, and gothic romance in particular. There's something so seductive about these stories that creep along with their heroines, luring their readers into ever darker recesses of the imagination. Until now, however, most of the best gothic romances I've read have been 18th/19th Century fiction, the gothic fiction that laid the path for so many of our modern horrors and darkest romantic heroes. And while there have been a few stand out modern gothics, as well as the adaptation of gothic themes in genres like paranormal fantasy, few have managed to tickle my gothic fantasies the way Jane Godman achieved in her recent release Legacy of Darkness. You can read my review of Legacy of Darkness here. Today Jane Godman is stopping by the blog to tell us a little about the history of the gothic romance genre.

Thank you, Jane!

Creepily Ever After by Jane Godman

Why do I love reading and writing gothic romance?

Gothic romance is a melodramatic style of writing that originated in 18th century England in the tortured imaginations of writers including Horace Walpole and Ann Radcliffe. Soaring castles, dark dungeons, ghosts, murderers, eerie secrets, kidnap, incest, rattling chains, mad monks…some, or all, of the above feature in the best examples of the genre.

Many of the plots of later gothic romances followed a similar theme to the classics such as Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca or Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre. A young woman who is all alone in the world goes to live in a creepy old house owned by a mysterious man with dark secrets. Once she gets there she is terrorised by a series of unexplained events, and must find the courage to solve the mystery, usually discovering that the man who appears to want to harm her is, in reality, a damaged soul who she can save with her love.

Reading, and writing, in the gothic style allows us an outlet for our darkest imaginings. From the safety of our armchair, we can accompany the gothic heroine as, clad in a clinging white nightdress, with only a single candle to light her way, she climbs the creaking stairs to discover just what those strange noises in the attic actually are.  

In the best gothics, a sense of menace pervades each part of the story, because every character has secrets. We suspect them all. Our heroine's life is constantly in danger, yet she has to stay in the crumbling mansion or spooky castle. She must find out who is trying to kill her young charge or uncover the mystery of the first wife who haunts her marital home.

The more of the story she unravels, the greater the tension. The hero behaves in a strange and often churlish manner and we are repeatedly invited to question his motives. He has dark secrets, yet our heroine, who we have come to love, is irresistibly drawn to him. Can she/we have got him all wrong?

There was a lot I could not understand about him, but that air of mystery about him enthralled me.  There were times when he talked freely about himself, but even at such times I had the impression he was holding back something, some dark secret perhaps, or something he did not entirely understand himself. 
- Catherine, the heroine in Victoria Holt's Kirkland Revels.

One of the best things about a well written gothic is the atmosphere. Picture our heroine in her flimsy gown, nervous but determined as she enters the forbidden abandoned wing, or tiptoes down the stairs to the dungeons, climbs the ladder to the attic full of cobwebs and moth-eaten furnishings, running from the house in terror toward the clifftop… We’ve all seen those scenes in horror films. We’ve all shouted at the screen “Don’t go into the attic!” and shivered with a combination of pleasure and terror when our heroine ignores us.

Gothic romances have been crying out for a revival. Our heroine was due an injection of feistiness. The gender tables had to be turned. The sensuality that was hinted at by Victoria Holt, Mary Stewart, Barbara Michaels and their contemporaries needed to be made explicit.

*** LEGACY OF DARKNESS - Book One (single title released 1st April 2014)

From the Blurb:

1837 Cornwall, England

Orphaned, penniless and reduced to the role of lady's companion, Lucy Alleyne is relieved when a distant relation spirits her away to Castle Athal. But gratitude soon gives way to fear—and unlooked-for pleasure.

The ancient Cornish castle is a dark monument to family, fortune and blood. Within its walls, the Jago family keeps its wards close…and its secrets closer. Lucy is drawn to Tynan, Earl of Athal. The young heir is handsome and caring, yet tortured in his mind like his father before him. Tynan is utterly different from his uncle Uther—a commanding, seductive presence whose leonine power radiates from his every word and gesture.

These two Jago men have innocent Lucy enthralled—mind, soul and body. But if she remains within the poisonous castle keep, with its history of ill-starred passion and madness, a mere broken heart will seem a mercy.

Legacy of Darkness by Jane Godman was published by Harlequin and has been rereleased by Jane Godman. It is available from Amazon US and Amazon UK.
About the Author:

I am an avid reader, particularly of historical romances, and my favourite authors are Georgette Heyer, Jane Austen and Victoria Holt. I have always enjoyed writing (I still have a copy of the medieval novel I wrote, in felt tip pen, when I was 14!).

Gothic romance (love stories with a dash of horror) is my favourite genre. I love the lush atmospheric settings of the true gothic, the dark, unexplained secrets and feisty heroines.  The heightened sensuality the new gothics sends an extra shiver down the reader’s spine.

My first Harlequin Shivers novel, Legacy of Darkness, was published in January 2014 as part of the first Shivers box set. It is now available as a single title. The sequel, Echoes in the Darkness, was released in April 2014 as part of a four book Shivers box set.

I also write historical romances, with heroes and heroines you fall instantly in love with, fascinating supporting characters and luscious settings.

I live in England and love to travel to European cities which are steeped in history and romance. Venice, Dubrovnik and Vienna are amongst my favourites. I am married to a lovely man and mum to two grown up children. 

I love to hear from readers and can be contacted at:

Social Links: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | Mills and Boon


  1. Hi Helena, thanks for inviting me onto your great blog to do a guest post about gothic romance. You may have noticed that I'm quite enthusiastic about it! It's lovely to meet other people who share that passion for the genre.

  2. Thank you for joining us, Jane. Your passion for gothic romance comes through in your writing! So lovely to read.
    - Helena <3