In Praise of Gothic Heroes
The first novel I ever fell in love with even after all the reading I had already done was
Wuthering Heights by Emily BrontÃ«. I had never read anything like such passages as this one where Heathcliff speaks of his feelings for Cathy:
“I pray one prayer, I repeat it till my tongue stiffens. Catherine Earnshaw, may you not rest as long as I am living! You said I killed you, haunt me, then!… Be with me always, take any form, drive me mad, only do not leave me in this abyss, where I cannot find you!… I cannot live without my life. I cannot live without my soul.”
It doesn’t get much better than that in terms of passionate speeches and twisted love.
Heathcliff’s tortured soul, obsessive love, and gypsy looks sold me on the novel and the gothic romance genre from then on. I’ve read the book dozens of times and watched Juliette Binoche and Ralph Fiennes in the A&E film version just as many. I already liked Fiennes, but he is the man I see in my mind’s eye when I think about the gothic hero.
Nothing much has changed over the years, except that my gothic romance works have an erotic twist. After all, a man as dark and dominant in everyday life must be something in bed. To me, the Byronic Hero– as the main figure of the gothic romance novel or any Gothic novel is often known– provides a glimpse into the dark side of our own personalities and selves. He is what we fear, loathe, or long for. That alienated, yet attractive man enables us to explore our own loneliness and obsessions.
He might kidnap us, hold us captive, or worse– show us how deep our unspeakable desires run.
Here’s a blurb about my latest release, Wicked Temptation (As He Beckons), a historical erotic romance novella from Summerhouse Publishing:
And an excerpt:
November 1, 1782 * * * I had no sooner put my quill away and made my toilette for the evening, slipping into my cream-colored wool chemiseâ€”a special gift from my father some years before that was almost worn out now. But I held onto it stubbornlyâ€”and warm mule slippersâ€”when I heard a knock at my door. Who could it be at this hour? It must be nearly bedtime for the household, but perhaps things were done differently in the country. I wanted no company after the long, tiring journey, but what could I do but answer the door? I was a simple governess here and would no longer have a will of my own in how I passed my days and nights. That realization came swiftly with this late night visitor.
I rose from the bed quickly, glad of the fire roaring in the grate on such a cold evening. I opened the door cautiously, poking my head out.
“Master wants to see you in the library.” The woman’s face was pockmarked and lined. She did not smile.
“At this hour? But I’ll need to get dressed again.” I felt flustered. What in heaven’s name could the man want at this time of night? I hadn’t even met him yet, and a meeting now would be quite unseemly.
“Master says no. Just come along. He requires it, and you’ll soon learn his will is as good as law ’round here.” The woman rolled her eyes and frowned as she opened the door wider and jerked her head to the left, indicating I should follow her. She waved her candle my way, and I opened the heavy door all the way, stepping into the cold, dim hall. The old stones of the floor were hard under my slipper-clad feet, and the candlelight flickered as we walked down the seemingly endless hallway, and traversed the winding staircase toward the first floor of the castle.
On the ground floor, faces of the MacGregor forebears glared down at me, light hitting their portraits, illuminating a cold, blue eye here and a sharp nose there, along the walls. I shivered inadvertently, the sheer number of oil paintings made me want to shriek and run. There must have been a hundred of themâ€”most of them men. The castle was disturbing. A dark undercurrent ran through its dank walls, chilling me to my soul. The servant led me along another short hallway and stopped at a heavy, dark door.
“The master will be in here. Well, don’t just stand there, girl. Go in.” She cracked a frightening grin and scampered off. My heart flipping in my chest, I turned the knob on the door and it squeaked open. I was frightened and confused. What honorable man would ask me to his library at this time of nightâ€”in my chemise, no less? I flushed, knowing none would. I feared my fate here would be like that of Louise Rustâ€”a girl from my community who had come home to her widowed mother in disgrace and noticeably with child after a stint as governess for a lord.
The room was dimly lit, wall sconces illuminating gold lettered bindings on cracked leather spines. Books were everywhere on tall shelves. In the middle of the room was a large mahogany desk with lions’ faces, teeth and clawed feet that I could see from ten yards away. The room was large and warm, a fire glowing in the grate behind the desk.
In all of this my gaze had skipped over the figure seated there, so taken was I with the grandeur of the room, but it was arrested at the sound of his voice.
“Come.” The snarl was a command, and my breath hitched in my throat. What manner of man was Gawain MacGregor? I was not sure I had ever been spoken to by a man in my life in such an insolent tone.
I took a few faltering steps toward him, my near nakedness making my face flush crimson. As I drew nearer, he shone in front of the firelight as if he were a devil at the door to hell; perhaps he was Lucifer, that angel of light, for he was lovely other than a slight cleftâ€”or was it a scarâ€”in his upper lip? His nut-brown hair fell in waves like flaming strands in the firelight. Either he eschewed a wig, or had just taken his off for the evening. I saw his dark, shapely brows and crystalline blue eyes right down to the gold shading in the bottoms of them.
Buy Link: http://summerhousepublishing.com/books/wicked-temptation/
*Also available on Amazon.com, bn.com and many other romance retailers.