Things That Go Bump In The Night?

The writer’s job is to create emotion in the reader. All the deep characterization and motivation, the exciting plot, the lovely prose and scintillating dialogue serve one purpose – to make the reader experience emotion. In romance, the feeling we usually try to evoke is love (and sometimes lust), but other feelings can heighten the reader’s tension and create an even more moving reading experience. Appropriate levels of fear can keep the reader turning the pages, too.

Traditional Gothic romances used the fear of creaking staircases, dangerous heroes, and an assortment of “things that go bump in the night” to heighten reader tension. What the Gothics of old missed, though, was the potential for sexual tension to play off of this fear to create a truly spellbinding story. Those Gothics were almost all sweet. Now, with their new Candleglow line, Dorchester Publishing (Leisure Romance and Lovespell) have combined the mysterious and paranormal with the sensual for a Gothic that isn’t like the ones your mother read. Here’s what a couple of Candleglow authors have said about the line and their books:

Karen White’s book, WHISPERS OF GOODBYE, was released in October, 2001.

“In the Gothics of yore, there was always a level of sexual tension, and always a hint of dark secrets surrounding our intrepid heroine and dark, brooding hero. But the authors always left the reader outside the bedroom door, leaving this reader wanting to know what was happening.

“In the new Candleglow Gothics, the authors have not only kept the bedroom doors wide open, but they've also invited the readers to pull up a chair. This isn't sensuality for sensuality's sake--this is more a move in the direction of having the reader truly know what is drawing the heroine to the hero. Before, we were left to guess, and wonder, and sit helplessly outside the closed door.

“In WHISPERS OF GOOD-BYE, the story takes place in an 1865 Louisiana sugar plantation. Think sticky humidity, sultry heat, and voodoo. The unbridled sensuality between Catherine and John is unmistakable, adding to the general atmosphere of the book. We understand their need for each other, as well as understand how difficult it is for them to turn from each other when the dark secrets intrude upon their lives.

“I hope more than a few readers will be cranking up their air-conditioners in mid-October.”

Susan Squires’ book, SACRAMENT, will be released in March, 2002. She says: “Gothics have always fascinated me. The appeal of Gothics is as enduring as the novel itself, since the first novels were Gothics. What Gothics have in common is the claustrophobic atmosphere of a captive heroine drawn to a dangerous hero. The heroine's fear is a fear her own sexuality. In other times, the story usually ended with the desire for the dangerous hero redirected to someone safer, or the heroine destroyed by her passions, as in Wuthering Heights. But times have changed. We don't want passive victims and we can take our sexuality a little less repressed. What a marvelous opportunity to revisit the gothic structure. With Candleglow, Leisure is allowing writers to do just that.

“In SACRAMENT, the heroine is not a frightened victim. She discovers the hero's dark secret, understands how dangerous he is, and must resolve her feelings about her own sexuality in order to embrace that darkness and find redemption in love. Sacrament has the classic claustrophobic sequence, where hero and heroine are confined to a deserted house far from civilization. It is here that Sarah discovers that Julien is a vampire.

“But around this centerpiece, the story opens out into the ordered society of Regency England and the old evil of the Carpathian mountains as Sarah follows her heart into the source of the darkness. When I read Christine Feehan's 'The Scarletti Curse' this year, I recognized a kindred feeling for the gothic milieu and a master at extracting its inherent sexuality. I was pleased to be in such good company when Leisure decided to release 'Sacrament' in their Candleglow line in March, 2002.”

Have someone near and dear close at hand when you curl up with these stories!

Alice Chambers

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