Friday, October 3, 2014

Review of "Legacy of Darkness" and an Interview with Jane Godman

Published:  2014
Setting:  Historical

The storm may have coyly kept it's distance during the daylight hours, but it broke with a vengeful, violent roar in the middle of the night.  I was jerked fully awake as the first crash rent the sky asunder.  Almost before its echo had faded, I heard another sound.  A distant scream rose on a wild note of terror.

I sat up and listened intently, my heart thudding so loudly in my breast that I could hear nothing else.  Rain sobbed against the window panes.  The darkness was torn apart by a vivid flash.  I winced when the thunder boomed again.  I must have sat like that in the quivering intervals of brilliance and obscurity, alert and straining to hear more, for ten minutes or more.  It was no good.  I could not remain where I was and ignore the distressed sound I had heard.  I prepared to thrust the bed curtains back.  A faint rustling noise beyond their velvet folds made me pause.

"Who is there?"  My voice shook. 

 A soft chuckle answered, chilling me...

After the untimely death of her beloved father, Lucia Alleyne has accepted her demure existence as the companion/housemaid to an elderly lady whom treats her as kindly as can be expected of the house help.  She has no living relatives to speak of and is elated when the rich, fashionable Demelza Jago (a very distant relative of her belated mother) strolls into her life and whisks her away to Castle Tenebris.  Tenebris is a  rambling, ancient structure nestled between the green hills of Cornwall.  As she lays eyes on the countryside and the riches before her, Lucia can hardly believe her eyes.  

Upon arrival, Lucia is met with Demelza's brother, Uther.  She's also informed that the present Earl, young Tynan, resides at the castle as well.   Tynan is afflicted by madness and is often struck by a strange, un-diagnosed headaches and dementia.  For the safety of all involved, he confines him to his room until the spells pass.  Though Lucia finds this rather disturbing,  she feels even more fortunate than ever when she learns that Demelza expects nothing of her in the way of help, but merely a friendship.  Demelza ensures Lucia that she's to be treated just as any other relative might be as she's led to her generous living quarters.

But before she's even aware what is happening, Lucia is enveloped in a lustful affair with Uther, whom often steals into her room behind secret, watchful eyes.  At first, Lucia believes she must be falling in love with the ruthless lover who has made her all but a temptress in disguise.  She's enraptured by the way he touches her and the promises he whispers.  Yet, as she becomes familiar with this odd house-hold, and manages to foster a trusting friendship with Tynan, she begins to wonder if he's as sick as she's been led to believe.  Legend has it that Tynan's father was mad and murdered his own brother,  so it is believed that Tynan must have merely inherited this madness. But Lucia see's Tynan as a tender, intellectual, creative soul and believes in his innocence.  

In the meantime, she begins to question the motives of Demelza and Uther to seek her out.  She has watched Demelza react with others and finds her charitable hospitality insincere and uncharacteristic of the egotistic, flaunting woman.  As the days age, Lucia will learn of the lucrative, betraying schemes Demelza and Uther have for herself and Tynan.  She will also learn the tragic, destructive history of this family, whose ancestry seems to have always been draped in an evil, inhuman curse.  It seems the more Lucia learns of  her distant relatives, the more she begins to fear for her own life, and for the safety of Tynan.

Headstrong and hell-bent on saving the man she loves, Lucia will delve into the tainted history of the Jago's.  She will find herself a pawn to be played in the battle of good against an ancient evil that threatens to destroy her new-found love.  The castle will become a brick chamber, full of old  blood-shed and the broken souls of skeletons held captive for centuries!  And it will take everything in Lucia to escape the twisted destiny her captors have mapped.

Jane Godman has written a gothic tale that I believe Daphne du Maurier and V.C. Andrews would have been envious of!  This gothic romance is so much more than your mainstream romantic suspense as it's draped in an atmosphere of horror.  So thoroughly detailed is the castle and it's inhabitants that I found myself falling into the dark rooms, the lusty moods, touching the haunting wall art and looking around darkened corners for well-kept secrets.  The characters leave nothing to the imagination and I was completely enraptured with the emotional undertones, the madness, the brevity, the hopefulness and the lust.  This is a gothic read you can't put down, and even when you do, you can't forget it.  I am eagerly awaiting to read the sequel!

My Rating:
5 Stars

The amazingly talented Jane has been kind enough to extend a few moments of her time with me in an interview that I am so happy to share with you, my dears:

Stacy:  Can you tell me a bit about how you began your writing career? And have you always been geared more towards gothic/paranormal stories, or is this something new?

Jane:  I’ve written for as long as I can remember. I love historical romances, and my favourite authors are Georgette Heyer and Jane Austen. As a teenager, I lived in South Africa, and my best friend and I discovered the novels of Kathleen E Woodiwiss when we were thirteen. We used to spend our evenings writing books in the style of ‘The Wolf and the Dove’. I had a big birthday (let’s just say it had a zero at the end) two years ago and my friend gave me an amazing present. She had kept one of the books I wrote when I was fourteen! It’s a medieval romance, written in felt tip pen. I’m very proud of it and it gave me the push I needed to start submitting my work to publishers. My first series of historical romances were published by a small company in February 2013. The publisher sadly went out of business but I’m re-writing the books and hoping to find a new home for them.
As a reader, I’m quite eclectic and that obviously influences my writing. I love romance (of course) and historical romance in particular, but I also like mysteries, crime novels and I do love a good horror story. Not blood and guts, but proper spine-tinglers. Gothic romance is my first love, both in my reading and my writing. Think Jayne Eyre by Charlotte Bronte or Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier. Love stories with a dash of horror! Romances that scare the life out of you! What’s not to love about that? I like to think I am at the point where Jane Austen and Stephen King meet and overlap. I’ve always wanted to bring back the gothic, and, having written Legacy of Darkness, I was delighted to find that Harlequin were launching their new Shivers digital first line. Harlequin, always at the cutting edge of publishing, had noticed exactly the same gap in the market for gothic lovers that I had seen.

Legacy of Darkness, was published in January 2014. It is the first book in the Jago Legacy series. The sequel, Echoes in the Darkness, is available now and I have a ‘stand alone’ gothic (not part of the series), Valley of Nightmares, which is available as part of the third Shivers box set.

Stacy:  Tell me a few of your favorite gothic romance authors/books?

Jane:  I’ve already alluded to two of the all time classics, Jane Eyre and Rebecca, and I love them both. I enjoy all Gothic romances, from the very first 18th and early 19th century books with their medieval ruins, mysterious manor houses and haunted castles to the new gothics of my fellow Shivers authors. One of my favourite early gothics is Carmilla by Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu. Written in 1871, it features a dream sequence to make even the most hardened horror reader shiver!

I’m a huge fan of Victoria Holt, and in awe of her productivity as a writer! She re-invented the gothic during the 1960s. Her novels usually had a spirited young heroine, a large gloomy mansion, peculiar supporting characters, precocious children and darkly handsome men with mysterious pasts.
And now, of course, with Shivers, we have a whole new era of gothic authors. What I love about Shivers is that each author is very individual, but we all hold true to the gothic style. Barbara J Hancock writes haunting, poetic stories of doomed love and Dawn Brown has done an amazing job of bringing the gothic bang up to date with her creepy mysteries that have me looking over my shoulder for days. I’m always so excited when a new Shivers box set comes out because I get to read what my fellow authors have produced.

Stacy:  When you brainstorm for new gothic/paranormal stories, what usually inspires you? Where do you get your ideas from?

Jane:  I have a vivid imagination. And it can be very dark. Sometimes I scare myself! I get my inspiration from lots of different things. A song lyric, a painting or something I read. I’m often inspired by old buildings and quirky architecture…I’ll think ‘who lived there? What’s their story?’. I love myths and legends and my latest Shivers title, Valley of Nightmares, weaves Celtic legends into the story.

Stacy:  What do you feel is the most difficult element of writing a good story? And how have you overcome this difficulty in your own writing?

Jane:  I am a butterfly when it comes to writing. I would happily skip around writing the ‘interesting’ bits of several stories at once. That way just leads to a number of unfinished projects! I have to force myself to focus, particularly when I get to the middle part of a book. I have learned that I write best when I have deadlines.

I’ve also learned that creativity doesn’t run out! Thankfully! I used to worry that I’d only have enough ideas for one book, then two and so on. It’s not the case and, if anything, I’ve found that the more I write the more the ideas flow. And the darker they get…

Stacy:  Legacy of Darkness was an amazingly detailed beginning of a saga I don't want to miss any installment of. Can you tell us a bit about the next book in this series? And will there be any others after that?

Jane:  The sequel to Legacy of Darkness, Echoes in the Darkness, is available now. I don’t think readers who enjoyed the antics of the Jago family in the first book will be disappointed!


Not betrothed, but beguiled.
In artistic circles she is the Divine Dita, Paris’ most sought-after nude model. But now she’s not so much posing as playing a role: fiancĂ©e to the next Earl of Athal. The charade is a favor to Dita’s friend, Eddie Jago, a dissolute painter…and the aforementioned heir. As deceptions go, it is innocent compared with what will come.
On the grim Cornish coast, from the ashes of a ruined castle rises the Jagos’ sumptuous new manor house. The fresh-hewn stone, however, cannot absorb the blood of centuries or quiet the echoes of past crimes. Dita struggles to decipher the family: the infirm Earl and his inscrutable wife; resentful Eddie; sheltered sister Eleanor. And Cad: the handsome second son whose reputation is spotless in business—scandalous everywhere else.
Drawn by friendship, ensnared by lust, Dita uncovers a sordid tangle of murder, desire and madness. It will lay her bare as no portraitist has done before.

And, yes, there is a third and final book in the Jago Legacy series! DARKNESS UNCHAINED will be released in the October Shivers box set.

Stacy:  Are you currently working/pre-releasing any other books from the Harlequin Shivers line? (Us fans are greedy!)

Jane:  I also have another stand alone Shivers title coming soon. ISLAND OF SHADOWS is set in Italy in 1930. This book is definitely the Shivers title with the strongest elements of horror of any book I have written and also the strongest elements of eroticism. It was also the hardest book I’ve written because it is essentially two stories in one book. The story set in 1930 is told alongside the history of a haunted island because the two are interwoven.

I am working on a number of other projects currently, but I want to develop the horror element in ISLAND OF SHADOWS and would love to work on a sequel or series. I will always come back and write more Shivers titlesas long as readers read them and Harlequin will have me! because, as I said, gothics are my first love.

Stacy:  Wow, I can't wait for Island of Shadows!  And, as a fan (and an aspiring writer, myself) I'm always interested in the everyday lives of other writers. Tell us, what is the average day in the life of Jane Godman?

Jane:  Well, believe it or not, I have a very busy day job! I live in England and I am a primary school headteacher. Luckily, I am a very early riser and mornings are my best writing time. I tend to get some writing done before I set off for work and then try to do some more in the evening. Weekends and holidays are also my writing times. I never really switch off, so I’m always jotting down notes on my ipad or in the note book I carry with me. My husband rolls his eyes, but he knows how important my writing is to me.

Stacy:  And I bet the kids just love you!  So, you recently did a guest post for my review blog and gave some excellent advice on how to write a gothic romance novel. Tell me, what are the 5 most important, crucial elements, that must not be left out of a successful gothic romance story?

Jane:  A purist might argue differently, and traditional gothics would certainly not have some of these elements, but I’m going to list the five things that I include in a Jane Godman Shivers. Because, if you want to get a gothic romance published today, Harlequin Shivers is the place to go!

1. The setting is dark, gloomy and atmospheric
2. A feisty heroine who pushes the boundaries
3. A villain you fall in love with …
4. And a hero you fall in love with (for different reasons)
5. Dark secrets, the past comes back to haunt the present
6. Some surprises along the way

Okay, I cheated and included a sixth! I felt they were all equally important. And if you want to check out the Shivers submission guidelines, they are here:

Stacy:  I can go for an extra sixth!  And lastly, what is one piece of advice you would give to any aspiring writer (specifically the gothic romance genre)?

Jane:  Stay true to the genre.

Gothics are not paranormal romances. As a rule of thumb, your main protagonists should be human beings who may be affected by the supernatural or the unexplained. It’s possible they may be reincarnated. If they are vampires, werewolves, shifters etc. you are writing a paranormal not a gothic.

Gothics are not horror stories. They may have strong elements of horror, but it is implied rather than explicit. It’s a creaking board in the attic or a trail of blood on the stairs. If your story features a chainsaw wielding killer carrying a severed head, you are writing horror not gothic.
New gothics have strong elements of eroticism. This can be implied or explicit. Steamy is good. But they are not erotic romances. If that’s all your story has, you are not writing gothic!

I hope that helps!      

Stacy:  Yes, always true to the gothics...I always say, if in doubt of rather you are writing right for the genre, go read a vintage gothic!  Again, I want to thank you for this lengthy interview (I know you are so, so busy with your job and your writing career).  You are such an inspiration and I do hope you continue to release great gothics for the die-hard gothic fans like myself!

Jane Godman Bio

I am an avid reader and 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 romanceslove stories with a dash of horror and a creepily ever afterare my favourite genre. I write my own gothic mysteries for HarlequinE in their Shivers line. These stories are heavily tinged with the supernatural and elements of horror, with haunted characters tormented by dark secrets.

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 am mum to two grown up children.

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


Some other books by Jane Godman: