Great Gothic Romance Novels

Great Gothic Romance Novels

Does the genre Gothic Romance bring up images of haunted castles? Supernatural horror stories? Dark Mysteries?  Damsels in distress?

Then read on as this short review book list will cover all these and more.  Most of these books were published several decades ago and may be out of print. They are well worth hunting down a second hand copy so you can curl up for Halloween and feed your inner Frankenstein.

Great Gothic Romance Novels

1. Nine Coaches Waiting – Mary Stewart

Gothic Romance by Mary Stewart
It can be said that Nine Coaches Waiting is a Gothic romance classic. It was first published in 1958 and is still a popular novel. This is a story about Linda Martin, a young woman whose father was English and mother French. She is poor. In the beginning she is hired as a governess to teach a French boy, Count Philippe, English. During the hiring process she decides to hide her knowledge of French. Linda and Philippe have much in common so they become close. But suddenly strange and almost fatal accidents start to happened to Philippe. The question is who wants to see little boy dead? His uncle, his uncle’s wife or his uncle’s son Raoul? To make things even more complicated Linda is swept off her feet by Raoul.

Nine Coaches Waiting has it all, suspense, humor and romance thrown together into perfect mix. This is highly enjoyable read.

2. The Mistress of Mellyn – Victoria Holt

Classic Romantic Gothic Novel
The Mistress of Mellyn was first published in 1960. This is a typical across-the-tracks gothic style Victorian romance novel where the poor governess falls in love with her employer.

Martha Leigh is employed by Connan TreMellyn as a governess for his daughter. The young lady is quite spoilt and very difficult to handle. The father is broody and arrogant. Despite this Martha likes him. Since this is a gothic story, The Mistress of Mellyn is full of mystery and tragedy that occurred in the past. As Martha falls deeper and deeper in love with her master she is drawn deeper into these family secrets and tragic history.

This is Victory Holt at her best. The plot is full of twists and turns, mystery and murder. And also romance between two very different characters. A highly recommend read for all who like classic romantic gothic novels.

3. Tregaron’s Daughter – Madeleine Brent

Gothic Romance Novel
Published in 1971 this exciting novel is set in England and Italy in 1910. Tregaron’s Daughter is the story of Cadi Tregaron, a fisherman’s daughter. Cadi moves from Cornwall to Kent. One day without knowing it, she starts to unravel her grandmother secret past. Soon she finds herself in Venice, Italy and there she finally understands the meaning of her two strange dreams. Cadi is amazing character who is independent and smart.
This is very typical gothic romance novel, mostly set in Venice, Italy. It is beautifully written and full of mystery. It is a pure reading pleasure.

4. Smugglers Moon – Sylvia Thorpe

Gothic Style Romance Novel
Alson known as “Strangers on the Moor” This is another typical gothic style romance novel. The story features a dark and mysterious mansion, a young girl, a hero and a lot of mystery and adventure. Deborah Chanterey is the young girl who is one day summoned by her uncle. Her uncle happens to be an owner of this dark and mysterious mansion that is mentioned only in dread whispers. When Deborah is forced to live in it, she slowly starts to unravel the mysteries of this dark mansion.
This story was first published in 1955 and then again in 1974. No longer in print, this book can be hard to get. If you stumble upon it, read it! because it is magnificent in so many ways. The story itself, the mystery and very interesting and well portrayed characters make this gothic romance very special.

5. A Bride for Hampton House – Hillary Waugh

Gothic romance and mystery Novel
Published in 1975, A Bride for Hampton House is about Corrie Haynes. Corrie is a reporter who sets out to investigate the death of famous explorer Jefferson Wainwright. The famous explorer returned from the Amazon and was then almost killed in car accident. After an unsuccessful murder attempt Wainwright was then poisoned by his uncle. Corrie starts an investigation posing as the explorer’s widow and very soon discovers some dark family secrets.

A Bride for Hampton House was written by Hillary Waugh who wrote many mystery novels. He also wrote under different pseudonyms: Elissa Grandower, Harry Walker and H. Baldwin Taylor. This is very suspenseful and interesting novel that mixes the gothic romance and mystery genre.

6. The Dark Shore – Susan Howatch

Good romantic gothic novel
If you love Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca you will definitely enjoy Susan Howatch’s The Dark Shore. There are many similarities between the two stories. In both novels the main character is a young woman, newly married to very successful man, who finds herself on his estate. An estate that is full of secrets, especially those connected with his first wife’s death. But Susan Howatch gives her story a twist, and brings in other characters who had a motive to kill the first wife.
Although some readers might find it a bit outdated, this story is worth reading. Especially if you are fond of good gothic romance novels.

7. The Governess – Elsie Cromwell

historical gothic novel
Also an older book, this story was published in 1971. Unlike many other gothic novels which are typically set in Victorian England, in some old mansion, this gothic story is set in Lebanon, in the Middle East. Although the setting is exotic and a bit unusual for gothic novel the plot is not. The main character is Sari who, like many other heroines in gothic romance novels, takes a job as a governess. During her employment she stumbles onto an international intrigue in the capital of Lebanon.

The story is gothic and suspenseful at the same time and it is very interesting read. The author Elsie Lee wrote this story under her pen name Elise Cromwell. Elise Lee is a popular author of modern and historical gothic novels as well as romances. The main feature of her other novels is kick-ass heroines who resolves issues without a hero’s help. Enjoy an independent heroine with some suspense in the gothic style.

Spooky Books for Halloween

Spooky Books for Halloween

Do you like to read spooky books at Halloween? What sort of spooky books do you prefer? This list of short book reviews includes ghost stories, Gothic and historical fiction, right through to true horror stories.  Hide inside, be scared, be entertained but keep reading.

Spooky Books for Halloween – short reviews

1. The Secret History – Donna Tartt

Spooky oook for Halloween
Richard Papen and his group of intellectual friends, fascinated by old Greek philosophy, are trying to cover up a murder someone they knew committed. When Bunny Corcoran is overwhelmed by the secret, the group eliminates him. This is not only a book about a murder but about what friendships mean and the feeling of loss one experiences when one’s friends decide to break up.

The Secret History is an amazing book that will keep you up until late hours of the night because you will have to find out what happens to Bunny and Richard’s friends. The murder and how the members of the group perceive it, adds an aura of mystery to this already interesting story. Donna Tartt is well known for her craft in describing feelings, states of mind and thoughts, and you will find her signature narration in this book too.

2. The Distant Hours – Kate Morton

Spooky historical romance book
Edie Burchill’s monotone life changes when a letter postdated 50 years ago arrives in the mail. Intrigued by her mother’s reaction, she starts to investigate her past. She finds out that her mother, Meredith, was evicted from London during World War II so the starts her research at the Milderhurst Castle, where Meredith lived during the war. There live three elderly sisters Saffy and Percy, twins, who are taking care of their younger sister Juniper. By befriending the sisters, Eddie discovers the truth about a missing fiancée, a lost love, a crazy author who wrote her favorite book “Mud Man” and the real man who stands behind it.

If you love historical fiction and mysteries with gothic elements, this is the story for you. I loved the scenery and the amazing secondary characters that are the backbone of this novel. Also, the fact that the main mystery is about a book, that Eddie loves, makes The Distant Hours one my favorite stories.

3. Rebecca – Daphne du Maurier

scary books for halloween
The narrator, a young, 21 year old maid is asked to marriage by the famous and charming Maxim de Winter, the owner of the fabulous Manderley estate. Fascinated to be the woman of such a residence and the wife of a wealthy man, she accepts and moves quickly to his house. But her new life as Maxim’s wife is shadowed by his late wife, Rebecca, who died not long ago.

Rebecca is classic gothic novel that should be read by all who love romance, mystery, suspense and a sinister surroundings. The way Rebecca’s ghost overshadows the narrator’s life is slow and fascinating to watch. Daphne du Maurier created a universe for Rebecca as Maxim built a house. du Maurier treats the reader with a poetic monologue about love, loss and hate.

4. The Graveyard Book – Neil Gaiman

scary novels
After his family’s members are murders, a two year old ventures to the graveyard on the hill. Nobody Owens, or Bod, is raised and educated by the inhabitants of the graveyard who are all dead. The story focuses on Bod as he grows up surrounded by supernatural and magic. But the day he lives his home, he discovers that the assassin that killed his family now can trace him and he will murder Bod.

The Graveyard Book is a story about growing up in special circumstances. Bod’s supernatural friends and family are amazing and well developed characters. The setting is colorful and diverse and the characters are quirky and adorable. Neil Gaiman took elements from The Jungle Book and folklore and cooked a fascinating story with a dash of horror. This is the perfect book to read with your children on Halloween.

5. Carrie – Stephen King

Halloween spooky book
Carrie, a bullied teenager with an ultra-religious mother has telekinetic powers. But she can’t enjoy or even master her gift because her mother considers it a shameful thing. The invitation to go to prom with one of the popular guys it Carrie’s highlight of high school career. But her classmates have one last prank for her, on this night she has dreamt of.

Stephen King is the master of horror, so you expect Carrie to be gruesome and scary. But this novel brings something more to the table: a bullied teenager who is wronged by everyone around her. This book will give you chills because of the detail the author puts in the scenes.  Be emotionally drained and heartbroken for Carrie who wants to be accepted and to understand her body. Definitely our top spooky book for Halloween.

6. The Ghost and Mrs. Muir – R. A. Dick

scary ghost story
Lucy Muir’s money problems started after her husband died. So she moves to a cheap Gull Cottage that is rumored to be haunted. Soon after she moves, Lucy finds the rumors to be true, and she befriends the ghost of Daniel Gregg, a former sea captain.  After failed relations with wrong men, the friendship with Gregg develops into something more.

The Ghost and Mrs. Muir is a book perfect for romance lovers who want to read a spooky book on Halloween. There is the spooky paranormal element: the ghost of Daniel Gregg. But this is a beautiful romance novel. This loves story makes you think that everything is possible, even when the odds are not in your favor. Lucy is an amazing protagonist with who you can empathize from the beginning. Gregg is the gentleman all ladies dream of. Their attraction is not rushed; it blossoms as the novel progresses. This book is amazing and gives you hope that you can achieve the impossible.

6 Historical Romances for Autumn 2017

6 Historical Romances for Autumn 2017

Historical Romances are always a popular, comfortable, cosy read. This Autumn snuggle down with these romance novels set in times gone by. Let your imagination run wild – its actually good for you.

6 Historical Romances – short reviews

1. The Viscount Needs a Wife – Jo Beverley

Historical Romances - The Viscount Needs A Wife
A historical romance novel in the Rogue Series.  Jo Beverley writes an amazing historical romance which focuses on the relationship between the lovely Kitty and the stubborn Braydon. When he inherits the title of Viscount Dauntry, Beau Braydon finds himself looking for a woman with an iron fist who can manage his real-estate. Kitty is a widow who is trying to get away from her husband’s possessive family. The two protagonists demonstrate that opposites attract and reading their love story develop is like watching a firework show. But  The Viscount Needs a Wife is not a plain love story. It is spiced with the mystery.  A threat is made to the royal family in London and someone is trying to prevent Braydon finding the truth.

The setting of this book makes you feel like you are a part of the noble families. And the language, while modern has a tone of class and elegance that artfully places the characters in the 17th century.

2. Falling for the Highlander – Lynsay Sands

Historical Romances - Falling For The Highlander
Lady Murine Carmichael has had a rough life, living in a house where her half-brother would drown in dept. So when she decides to escape, going alone through the countryside seems the best idea. On the road she is joined by the Dougall Buchanan, a brave Highlander. The chemistry between the two of them is powerful.

This love story is for all those who love heroic men and powerful women. The characters are well developed and the story is beautifully put together. Dougall’s need to protect Murine is emphasized but remarkable is that the heroine wants to save herself. Falling for the Highlander is a sensitive, steamy and full of witty dialogue, that is Lynsay Sands’ trademark, historical romance suitable for all readers who like independent heroines and tormented heroes.

Have you read Outlander, another highlander historical romance, yet? Click here for our short review.

3. The Bronze Horseman – Paullina Simons

Historical Romances - The Bronze Horseman
Tatiana and Dasha are sisters and best friends who share everything. When WW2 starts, Tatiana meets a brave and handsome solider in the Red Army named Alexander. As her family suffers because of the advancing war, Tatiana finds herself more smitten with the young solider. But life has other plans with their relationship, because her sister is also in love with Alexander.

This book is more than a love story. The historical setting, full of dramatic details, illustrates with accuracy how difficult it was for normal people to live in a crumbling Leningrad. The scenery is a beautiful frame for the love story that might leave you in tears.

4. The White Queen – Philippa Gregory

Romance Novel - The White Queen
Philippa Gregory gives the tumultuous Wars of the Roses a feminine voice through her intelligent and ambitious heroine, Elizabeth Woodville, known as The White Queen. She ascends to royalty by marrying a new crowned king and gives birth to two sons.  These become the missing princes of the Tower of London, and are a great mystery to historians nowadays.

The author fills the gap in history with savvy and intimate stories of the royal court and gives life to one of England’s biggest mysteries. The historical placement isn’t sacrificed by romance.  They are intertwined, artfully giving the reader a taste of pre-Tudors Era and also a page turning love story.

5. The Japanese Lover – Isabel Allende

Historical Romance Novel - The Japanese Lover
The Japanese Lover is a love story that transcends time. A young Alma Belasco is sent away to San Francesco from her native Poland when the Nazis invaded.  There she meets a Japanese boy, Ichimei Fukada and they rapidly fall in love. But after the Pearl Harbor attack, when all Japanese people are relocated to internment camps, they are forced apart. They reunite over and over again, but faith doesn’t want them to end up together.

The story told by an 80 year old Alma may break your heart.  It is not only about the love from far away, about about friendship, loss, fear and in the end, fulfillment as she lived a full life. Allende shows in this book how life is affected by war, even after the last bullet is shot. This is an amazing book that teaches the reader that proximity isn’t the most important thing when you love someone and that you should cherish the moments you are given with loved ones.

6. Princess of Fire – Heather Graham

Historical Romances - Princess of Fire
When the mighty Norman warrior, Alaric saves King Harold’s daughter Fallon, she knows that they are destined to end up together. But they didn’t meet at the battle of Hastings. They have a long history of explosive interactions. Alaric is Fallon’s enemy but the feeling he stirs in her is not of hate. With an alfa-male as a protagonist and a stubborn intelligent woman as the female lead, this novel is steamy and explosive.

Heather Graham stays true to the era and illustrates in detail bloody battle scenes. She knits the social reality of those times with this amazing love story of opposites being attracted to each other, even if their minds and status dictates otherwise.