Saturday, March 28, 2015

Jane Eyre: A Modern Author Takes the Romance Element Deeper!

If you've been following this blog in the past few months, you know I've been doing a series of articles on Jane Eyre.  I've explored the story-line, the main characters of Rochester and Jane.

And I've explored the many, many movie adaptions of this great novel. 
I've even shared a recent find by a modern author, Anna Erishkigal, who wrote The Auction, and told you how I loved the modernized story set in the present. If you've missed that story, here's a link to it on Amazon, btw  The Auction by Anna Erishkigal

So, since we've covered the pluckiness of Jane, the brood factor of Mr. Rochester, the scary events and Thornfield Hall, and the pathetic marriage proposal from Sinjun, I have one more thing to share before moving on to another couple worthy of Timeless Lovers discussions.   

This week, as promised long before my surgery on March 5th, 2015, I'm sharing another great MUST read that I feel will delight my fellow Jane Eyre fans.  

This time, it's a historical romance novel, a Gothic novel written by a very talented romance writer of our time, Eve Silver  (No Relation!)

Babs Bunny, no relation to Bugs Bunny! 

Eve Silver's story, His Dark Kiss, is part of a Gothic Romance series named Dark Gothic. It is book two in the series. 
  • Book one:       Dark Desires 
  • Book Two:     His Dark Kiss
  • Book Three:   Dark Prince
  • Book Four:     His Wicked Sins
Although I've only read the first two novels, I have the third on my kindle and am waiting to savor it. Her books are wonderful if you are a huge Gothic romance reader, as I am. 

His Dark Kiss:  
It's about a girl, Emma, who is living with her not so nice aunts. This is a period drama, like Jane Eyre. Emma is illegitimate, and despised by the aunts. In this time period, children born in such circumstances were treat badly by most, often hated, reviled, and sometimes abused merely for being born to an unwed mother. I know, it seems weird in our time, but we're talking 19th century morals here. 

The aunts wish to be rid of her, as well. They've set upon a scheme to sell her off as a mistress to some man. Wicked Aunties, to be sure!  Doesn't that just make you burn with anger on Emma's behalf. 

Emma would like nothing more than to get away from her aunts, but what can a girl with no money and no familial connects that would willingly help her do? She's a dependent relation to them. Emma is offered a position at her cousin's husband's home to act as governess to her cousin's son.  It seems the perfect arrangement for her. 

She travels to the manor house, of course a very Gothic type mansion full of dark secrets and set in a remote region, and meets her employer, Lord Craven, a widower (husband to the deceased cousin). This guy is handsome, sexy and Emma is instantly attracted to him on a primitive level. He's also more than a bit scary. Like Rochester, he broods a lot, and is not always pleasant to those around him. He also has some dark secrets that worry Emma. 

The manor is sort of crumbling. And, there are whispers of murders, and mysterious accidents occurring with other governesses. There have been a few governesses before her, so she's entered into a very dangerous position, not a pleasant one as she'd hoped. But, she preservers as a good Jane Eyre role model would. Emma has no where else to go, really, but back to her nasty aunts. She falls in love with her little charge, six year old Nicky, and is developing some pretty scary (as in deep) feelings for her employer, her cousin's widower. I don't want to give away spoilers, so I won't tell you every nuance of the plot. If you're curious, read the book, you'll not regret it. 

It is a romance, make no mistake. And, as a romance, the main action is between the Hero and Heroine, and yes, there will be a lot more stolen kisses and sensuality, even a love (Sex) scene, so if you are expecting a chaste rendition of the Classic, you need to know this upfront before you buy it. This story is NOT--NOT-NOT erotica, by any means, it is historical romance with a sensual edge. I don't wish anyone to be misled. The prior book I mentioned, The Auction by Anna Erishkigal, is a sweet contemporary romance mirroring the Jane Eyre love story. 

His Dark Kiss is a creepy, keep you up at night story, and it is close to Jane Eyre. Not line for line, but the imagination of the Ms. EVE Silver has taken the romance trope of governess and brooding male employer to a new level as she's added a much darker and sinister tone in her work. Love it. You will, too, if you love Gothic Romance. Below are other books in the series. They are standalone reads, as the events of any one book to not influence your enjoyment of the other books. I'm passing along the series as well as the Jane Eyre-esque read to you so that if you like dark romance, you'll have a new lead. Gothic romance stories are a rare find these days, so check these out if you dare! 

Book One

Book Three


Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Addictive Reads Boxed Set: Escape into Romance


A much awaited sequel, and a delicious Boxed Set Deal

Hello, I am going to be offline from this blog for a little while as I'm having surgery March 5th, 2015.  Your prayers are appreciated, and your patience as I recover.  I should be back in a couple of weeks. So, until then, a little author news to keep you informed.  


My own work: I am justing finishing up my 10th romance novel, Some Enchanted Dream, Seasons of Enchantment Series Book 2.  This is the sequel to Some Enchanted Waltz, a Time Travel Romance.  In Waltz, Tara, a modern girl from our time was thrust back to Ireland of 1798 and ended up falling in love with a rebel militia leader in a cause she knows is destined to fail.  This time, Tara and Adrian travel to Paris in 1889, during the Belle Epoque. It's still the past for Tara, but it is the future for Adrian. As lovers separated by a 200 year gap in beliefs and sensibilities, they need sort out issues in their new marriage. With their companions, Dan from the future and Tara's two fey brothers, Riley and Mick Gilamuir, Tara and Adrian will discover a horrible plot that could affect the future of mankind. As so many readers have emailed me personally asking for a sequel to Some Enchanted Waltz, and not just a sequel with other characters but another story about Tara & Adrian, I am pleased to report the book is finally complete.
It is at the editor at present and will be released in mid to late April.  

Here is a sneak peek at the cover.

Thank you Kim Killion at The Killion Group!

A Delightful and Wickedly Delicious Boxed Set Release: 

I'm honored to be included in a boxed set of contemporary romance reads with some awesome authors.   

The Addictive Reads Escape Into Romance Boxed Set has just been released.   

Escape Into Romance with the Addictive Reads 11-author / 11-book / 2,000+ page contemporary box set, a $27.28 value, most written by best-selling and award-winning authors. Join our lovers as they overcome adversity and, through the power of love, find their happily ever after.

Final Hours by Cate Dean. Elizabeth Barritt fought hard to put her childhood behind her. Now she has the chance to move forward, to reach out for a new future. And she does - right into Jackson Kane's path. He is a time traveler, from the future, and on the hunt for a rogue agent. ~185pp Rated NC-17

The Auction by Award-Winning Author Anna Erishkigal. Dumped at the altar and left without a home, Rosie Xalbadora takes a job as a governess at the edge of the Australian Outback. The Auction is styled with the heart-wrenching, Gothic undertones of Jane Eyre and just a hint of the supernatural. ~580pp Rated PG-13

A Valentine Challenge by Kiru Taye. Life is good for ex-soldier turned entrepreneur Michael Ede. Or so he thinks. When his friends challenge him to exorcise the memory of a woman from his past, he expects it to be a walk in the park. Or so he thinks until he sets his sights on socialite Kasie Bosa. ~95pp Rated R

Real Men Don’t Drink Appletinis by Liz Matis. Hollywood’s handsomest men surround celebrity agent Ava Gardner, but none are as intriguing as larger-than-life Grady O’Flynn. The Navy SEAL is on an unsanctioned mission when they end up starring in their own romantic comedy. ~35pp Rated NC-17

Game, Set, Match by USA Today Best-selling Author Nana Malone. Tennis star Jason Cartright is looking for a comeback, but the makeover he needs to save his faltering career is in the hands of photographer Izzy Connors, the woman he loved, and left, fifteen years ago. ~325pp Rated NC-17

Aftershocks by Award-Winning Author Kristine Cayne. When Seattle is struck by a devastating earthquake, technical rescue firefighter Jamie Caldwell must save his estranged wife and daughter from the wreckage of a collapsed building. ~85pp Rated PG-13

More Than A Kiss by N.Y. Times and USA Today Best-selling Author Stacey Joy Netzel. Something about Sadie drew Zach—and it wasn’t just the amazing kisses they shared during the filming of his commercial. Will his discovery of her mother's gold-digger history undermine his belief in her and break her heart? ~220pp Rated R

Jade O’Reilly and the Mysterious Musician by Amazon Best-Seller Tamara Ward. Sassy private investigator Jade O’Reilly investigates a mysterious young bass player who sounds too good to be true. Will Jade be able to close the case, or will she finally have to admit defeat? ~65pp PG-13

Malavita by Award-Winning Author Dana Delamar **Quarter-Finalist for the 2014 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award** Enrico Luccesi never wanted anything to do with the Mafia, but when his brothers were murdered, he accepted he would someday be the next don. However, he doesn’t accept he must marry Antonella Andretti, the daughter of the man who killed them. ~215pp Rated R

Something to Live For by Natalie G. Owens. **Haute Pink Magazine’s 2012 Summer Reading List Pick!** 15 years ago, one fateful day bound the lives of two perfect strangers. Can one passionate night together banish the ghosts of the past and give two lost souls a second chance? ~45pp Rated R

The Rock Star Next Door by Lily Silver. From the first moment he sees her, notorious rock legend Lex Coltrane recognizes up-and-rising singer Jessie Kelly. He knows they were lovers in a past life and their souls are destined for a reunion. Can he convince her they belong together? ~300pp Rated R

This collection has it all—(and only 99 cents!) --- contemporary romance, futuristic romance, romantic suspense, mystery romance, and paranormal romance—with a wide range of heroes, from time travelers, ex-soldiers, Navy SEALs, and multi-millionaire CEOs, to tennis stars, firefighters, Mafia princes, and rock stars! Heat levels range from sweet to sizzling, so there’s something to suit every mood.

Kindle US:
Kindle UK:
Kindle CA:
Kindle AU:
Nook US:
Nook UK:

And, Dear Readers of Romance, we're hoping for some reviews on our new baby. So if you do read and review this boxed set, you'll be sending us a kiss and letting us know you want more romance from all these fabulous authors. Readers are the reason we keep doing what we do, writing stories to entertain and uplift, stories featuring that Happily Ever After we all crave!

Monday, February 23, 2015

The Classic Lives On: Jane Eyre Inspires Romance Writers Today

Congratulations to Barrie, aka Books4me67, the winner of the $25 gift card to Olive Garden for leaving a comment on this blog during our Addictive Reads Gifts of Love Blog Hop!  Hope you had a great time, Barrie, and made some new memories.

If you've been following this blog you know that I have been singing the praises of the classic Bronte story from the 19th century.  Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre has inspired romance writers for many years with stories of a governess and a brooding master of the estate.

I've read dozens of them. Many fade from memory but I have two very excellent choices to recommend for you if you are hungering for more from the Jane Eyre plotline.

Prepare to be entertained and Amazed! 

I recently read a modern rendition of Jane Eyre, a book that captivated me from start to finish.  I read this one in January of 2015, so the wonderful and imaginative story-line is still very much with me.

The book is The Auction, by Anna Erishkigal. It is a sweet, contemporary romance. In this story, the heroine, Rosie, is a recent college graduate who has just been dumped by her boyfriend. She's forced to move out of his apartment and has literally no place to go, as she is estranged from her family. Penniless, packing all her belongings into the boot of her car, Rosie accepts a job in a rural area of Australia as a caretaker and teacher to a 9 year old girl. The job is at a remote cattle station that is no longer running, so it's an isolated situation, just like Thornfield Hall in Jane Eyre. Unlike Thornfield, it's no manor house with servants. It's basically an old farm house.

Meet a modern Jane Eyre, Miss Rosie Xalbadora

Our heroine has a tragic past, following the theme in Jane Eyre. Her parents divorced when she was a teen and she was left with the flaky mom as dad went off to build a new life in another country. She's got emotional baggage. She can relate well to her lonely charge, the darling little blond girl Pippa, who is going through the beginning stages of her parent's divorce. Rosie and Pippa bond as they explore the rugged landscape near the ranch. More than anything, Pippa wants a horse. As a former teen show rider and blue ribbon champion, Rosie can relate to the child's dream of having a special friend in a horse. Rosie would like nothing more than to see Pippa get her wish. The father is dead set against it. This causes friction between Rosie and Adam.

The title, The Auction, comes into play as it is an end goal for Rosie and Pippa. Rosie knows about unwanted horses being sold at auctions, usually very cheaply--a horse that is broken, a cast off nearly ready for the meat plant. Rosie goes behind Adam's back and encourages her charge to earn money for a horse, thinking they can find her a pony at the Horse Auction for a reasonable price. She feels this is important so that Pippa can take riding lessons with her new friends and find a sense of worth and self-confidence Rosie sees she is lacking. The horse will come to symbolize everything for the little girl, and the auction also holds a secret nightmare for Rosie that emerges from her past.

The hero in this wonderful tale is Adam, a brooding, troubled man who is separated from his wife and seeking divorce. As he has custody of his daughter, he needs someone to care for and teach his 9 year old daughter, Pippa, as his job takes him away from home for days at a time. He needs a babysitter, housekeeper and teacher rolled into one. Rosie will accomplish all three, plus a whole lot more.

A mystical, magical landscape, and old legends take on a new life

What I loved about this story-line was the element of magic the author skillfully weaved in. She brings in fairies (I love fairies!). Little Pippa talks to the Mimi's (the mythic fairy-like beings of the native Australians), and as she's a child, you're not quite sure if it's just her imagination at play. She claims the Mimi's guide her in her dreams. Our heroine, Rosie, also begins to have strange visitations in her dreams after she comes to the ranch house. In her dreams a young girl on horseback and a gruff old cowherd keep stopping in and try to show her things. There are many twists and turns in the plot, leading you on in the story as you root for Rosie to succeed, to find a place in the world (like JE), and nearly weep for Pippa, who seems so lost and forlorn. You hope Adam and Rosie will finally get together as they deserve to be, but it seems hopeless, just like the situation in Jane Eyre. You will be delighted by this author's fresh take on an old story from the 19th Century, I know I was.

The Auction mirrors the plot lines of Jane Eyre seamlessly 

And yet it's a fresh new story set in a modern world with very modern sensibilities. Adam isn't quite as frustrating as Mr. Rochester. Oh, he's intimidating and standoffish at first, but he warms to Rosie, and they seem to bond over Pippa's antics as time progresses. Like Mr. R, Adam gives Rosie mixed signals about his feelings for her. Adam appears to want to pursue a relationship with Rosie, but then ends up doubling back to his wife for the sake of their daughter. The wife is a piece of work. Adam and his wife are separated, as I mentioned previously, but she keeps showing up and messing with his head, causing real hurt to their daughter by not showing up to take her for the weekend as promised, and generally causing trouble for Rosie.  The wife is sort of like Miss Blanche Ingram in JE, the other woman seems to captivate Mr. Rochester, and who makes Jane feel so plain and unattractive in comparison. The wife also has a nasty secret, a very scary one in a plot twist that will surprise you as it's so parallel to the JE storyline it's genius. As I said, it's a modernization of that classic story, and it's executed brilliantly by this author.

If you love Jane Eyre, and you love a sweeping, engaging, and emotional read, you will truly enjoy this new book. It is currently available on all digital platforms and is included in an 11 novel box set that I also have a story in (The Rock Star Next Door). The set is a special treat just published for Valentine's Day. Look for Addictive Reads--Escape into Romance Boxed Set on all digital platforms.  If you would like to grab a copy of the boxed set, which includes The Auction plus 10 other awesome romantic reads, go to in the link below:
Addictive Reads Escape into Romance Boxed Set , and choose your file format to download. Go ahead, you can do it, that's 11 contemporary romances by 11 bestselling authors for just .99 cents!

Or if you prefer to purchase just the book, The Auction, A Sweet Contemporary Romance, by Anna Erishkigal, you can purchase it at the links below.  I wouldn't recommend this if I didn't know it was worth the post, as I rarely talk about current works of fiction here. Like Jane Eyre, The Auction is a book you can read again and again as time goes by to get lost in the struggles of our very modern Jane Eyre, Miss Rosie Xalbadora--a woman who is part gypsy. That's another quirky and fun element to the story that will make you smile. Yes, didn't I say this is a very unique and refreshing story!

The Auction, by Anna Erishkigal:
The Auction on

The Auction on Nook

The Auction on

Next time, I'll share another great romance read that mirrors Jane Eyre, a historical romance, I discovered some years ago, before I was a published author. I still remember that story, and that's what makes a story good, remembering the characters long after the book ends.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Valentine's Day Blog Hop: The gifts of Love

We're celebrating love on this special weekend, with prizes and gifts to our lovely readers! Visit the Addictive reads main site to enter to win the main prize of  $50 gift card of dinner for two, or a $25 gift card (2 offers) for the digital reading platform of your choice, or a a 10 book digital prize pack valued at $35 by our romance authors.  Addictive Reads Main Event Page    And follow the other author's blog posts in this event to win more individual prizes offered on our blogs! Link to other blogs is at the bottom of this page. Happy Valentine's Day.

My gift to one lucky Romancing History Blog Visitor:  $25 gift card to Olive Garden from me (US residents only). To enter to win please leave a comment here about your worst Valentine Day Date. It can be one or two sentences if you like. Also leave your email address in the comments so I can contact the winner.  It's my gift  to help you make more romance memories.

True Story, True Love, Valentine's date becomes a disaster

My first Valentine's Day Dinner with my husband, (then just a boyfriend), ended up being a threesome. No, we didn't have sex with a third party. It was a little misunderstanding about who Dan was actually with that night.  It was a Church Youth Group Valentine's Day Dinner, and everyone was dressed in fancy gowns and suits. It was a formal dinner with music and fun. A prom date, sort of, for the Youth Group at our church.

my husband and I pre-marriage, 1980

Dan and I were dating for about six weeks by then. We had bought the tickets as a couple. I had a lovely long dress, a gunnie sack gown and Dan was decked out in a smart pinstripe suit of grey.  I was looking forward to this special date, our first Valentine's Day as a couple that would launch into a 35 year (to date) love affair.  The table for the dinner was a long one, being in a church hall. We took our seats, and were enjoying ourselves immensely, for about five minutes.

Darlene, a sweet older woman who was developmentally challenged, came to sit on the other side of Dan. She was alone at the party and she had a huge crush on him. She kept poking him on the shoulder when he was talking to me throughout the night, or if he were trying to hold my hand. I remember being a little frustrated at the time. Dan, being a true knight and a gentleman, was kind to her and we both just smiled through it. The situation became somewhat of a strain after an hour or so, as Darlene seemed to be under the impression that she was Dan's date for the evening. So, we endured that first Valentine's Day date as a couple, and now we look back on it and laugh, some 35 years later. To make up for the disaster Valentine's dinner that night, Dan took me out to very restaurant Villa Roma a few evenings later. True story, true love.

So, as part of this blog hop, we are all sharing things that make a great Valentine's gift. These would be my choices;

1. Trip to France to kiss at the Eiffel tower

2. An evening in an Irish Castle, with a roaring fire in the hearth, a candlelight dinner for two, with me in a silk evening gown ...... yeah, I know, I'm wishing pretty hard. A girl can dream.

3. A day and a night in the Caribbean, at an exclusive resort on the ocean.

4. A night at the Fox Cities Performing Arts Center (PAC) to hear a classical concert or see a play. 
    >>> Notice I'm getting closer to home as we descend, and closer to reality. Fox Cities PAC is actually about an hour and 30 minutes from me, and Dan and I have been there a few times. 

5.  Dinner at an exclusive gourmet restaurant in Green Bay, like the Black & Tan on Walnut street.  Yep, been there too, many times for special events and it's really quite possible we will go there       again for V-Day. It's only a half hour or so from our home. The food is served as an art form so it is very elegant--and pricey!

Combine 4 and 5, you have a realistic heaven. 

So, yeah, I'd love a diamond necklace or a new Mercedes, too. Maybe a day at the spa ... 
Dreaming is good, as long as it doesn't give you a dissatisfaction with your reality. 

Don't forget to visit these lovely romance writer's blogs as part of our hop, as many are offering gifts of love as well. 

Friday, February 6, 2015

Jane Eyre:Part 3, a Heroine We Admire

"What do I want? A new place, in a new house, amongst new faces under new circumstances . . . How do people do to get to a new place? They apply to friends, I suppose. I have no friends. There are many others who have no friends, who must look about for themselves and be their own helpers." Jane Eyre, Chapter Ten

When I first discovered Jane Eyre, I felt sad, very sad, for the main character of the book, Jane.
Her story is quite depressing when you read the first few chapters. She's an orphan in the care of her aunt. The aunt is a widow, and is wealthy. Auntie had three children of her own, so Jane is more burden than delight.

In this household, it seems little Jane is despised by all. The mistress, the servants, and the children she is raised with. It's a desolate beginning. But if you endure the first chapters, with Jane being sent to the awful school where she is badly treated, finds one friend--who dies--if you endure ten chapters of that, you get to her ah-ha moment when Jane decides as a young adult to take charge of her own life. This is when the story really gets started!

Note, it was the fashion of writers in the mid-nineteenth century to give incredible details of a characters's life, including childhood events that shaped them. In our modern era, novels tend to cut to the chase--or get to the point of change and give flashbacks into the character's childhood to relay events that shaped them for the story needs. But Charlotte Bronte was a 19th century author, so her story includes a lot of back matter in the beginning.)

Jane decides to put an advertisement in the newspaper to secure a teaching position as a governess. She could have stayed at the desolate school where she spent half her childhood, (She's now a teacher there), but her soul hungered for something more. Her situation was severe, as she states above she has no friends to rely on for aid in finding a new job, and no family. 

She takes a scary step for a woman in her position, and is rewarded for her efforts!  A letter arrives offering her a position at Thornfield Hall to be a governess for a girl of less than 10 years old. Joy! A new adventure, a new life away from the dreary school and the bitter memories that must haunt Jane there.

She sets off on this new adventure, unaware that she's about to meet fate, literally in the middle of the road on a dark night. Mr. Rochester, who nearly runs her over with his horse, is her destiny. She took action, something that was difficult for a single woman in 19th century England to do, and set in motion events that would change her destiny. Because of her courage to do this, to not remain a frightened little mouse her aunt and the school tried to make her be, she will have a better life then the one designed for her by others. That takes an incredible amount of courage, in any age.

Jane has a fascination for her employer. He's dark, distant, but has moments where he reveals a hidden charm. He's got his own dark problems (see previous post), but he seems to see something in her that attracts him. Though he is harsh at times, and seems to live to vex her, she never lets him truly bully her. Jane is admirable as a heroine, or protagonist if you prefer the word, because she rises above the bullying of her youth, and has developed a strong sense of self that cannot be destroyed.

Think about it, she had no friends, and no family who cared as she grew up. She learned to become self reliant, to stand alone and to stand strong. She's a survivor, not a victim. A Survivor! That is what sets her apart and makes her the heroine for 19th century female readers. She doesn't settle for the life that was laid out for her, she tries to make her own choices and resists the manipulations of those who would make her into something she is not.
Ah, ha--that's it! She Resists the Manipulations of others---

After the wrecked wedding scene, where Jane learns her beloved already has a crazy wife in the attic and cannot legally marry her, she runs off into the wilderness. She's taken in by a family; a brother and two sisters who are very religious. They care for her, and show her kindness. The brother, Sinjun (St. John), decides she'd make a perfect missionary wife, and sets out to convince her that her destiny is to marry him and go to India with him. If she didn't have the backbone she does, she might have been bamboozled into this. After all, she has no real prospects for a future.

Sure, Sinjun managed to get her a teaching position in his area as a favor, so she could be self sufficient (note she's still trying to earn her own way and not rely on others!), but he's still just trying to play her and convince her that what HE wants is what she wants, too. He even uses guilt, citing it's God's will for her to join him in India---Oh Boy! I don't know about you, but I'm thinking this dude is going to make one dreary husband for our heroine. His offer is noble, but ...... no..... just NO!

Thankfully, Jane has the inner strength, despite her lonely situation and lack of supporters, to stand up for her own wishes, and not be brow beaten (however kindly and gently Sinjun does this), to fit into someone else's idea of what her role or calling in life is. Brilliant, isn't it. Women everywhere are cheering for Jane. She could have just given in to Sinjun, and endured a loveless marriage bound by duty--even duty to God that was placed on her shoulders (missionary work), by someone else.  Jane came close to giving in, it was hard not to with Sinjun's persuasive abilities. But then her dreams started. She kept hearing Mr. Rochester crying out for her in her dreams.

This makes her realize she needs to find him, Mr. Rochester! Even if he's still married, she at least needs to find out if he's well, as her dreams are frightening her.  Plucky girl. Really, she could have just married the other guy, went to India, and let Mr. R. be a beautiful yet tragic dream in her past life. Many women would have done just that. No, Jane sets off to find him, and she is rewarded for her courage and stamina--she does find her true love, her destiny is with Mr. Rochester. How very modern for a woman living in the 19th century!

Compare this story to Emily Bronte's Wuthering Heights, where Cathy loves Heathcliff but married the other guy because he was wealthy and Heathcliff was not. Cathy and Heathcliff are soul mates, but she cast her life away with him to marry for money. That didn't turn out very well, for anyone. That's the girl doing the 'right' thing, marrying a man who is wealthy, honorable and will take care of her forever, instead of marrying the man she loves.  Interesting that these two sisters, Emily and Charlotte Bronte, wrote about choices the heroine makes regarding love, with different outcomes.

I'm rooting for Jane. She's a 19th century heroine with an inner strength and determination.  

By the way, if you noticed a few of the graphics on these posts, you'll note that there many, many film versions of this classic love story. All you have to do is pick an actor, and dive in with the popcorn. Even George C. Scott has gotten into the role of Mr. Rochester, along with other great men such as Orson Wells, Timothy Dalton, Ciaran Hinds and William Hurt. There are others, but these are the most prominent ones I found. Our most modern Mr. R to date is Michael Fassbender, who, by the way, does it up good as the brooding Mr. Rochester! 

So, in conclusion, Jane Eyre is a mixed, complex story of a woman surviving in a cold world, a woman taking charge of her own destiny instead of letting others do it for her. She finds love, true love, and that love is thwarted temporarily. She finds meaning in her work as a governess. She's an artist, by the way, and makes lovely drawings.  She endures, and doesn't just marry the next guy who asks her after her heart is broken by Mr. R's secret. 

She rises above pettiness. She doesn't become cold and mean, as you might expect with such a dire upbringing. She's a heroine for our century, a heroine who stands out in time because she doesn't conform to the conventions and expectations of her own time (marrying someone and allowing him to take care of her and provide for her). She maintains her independence, even when it might be better for her financially and socially to just marry Sinjun and move on her life.  I like Jane.  I love Jane Eyre, and I believe that Jane and Mr Rochester belong in the Timeless Lover's Hall of fame, right next to Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy!  

Next time, I'll share a couple of romance novels by modern authors who have used the Jane Eyre story-line to perfection.  Happy Reading everyone. And since it's the weekend, why not curl up on the sofa with your favorite Mr. Rochester character and watch this classic story. 

Friday, January 23, 2015

Jane Eyre Part 2 : Mr. Rochester's Dark Moods

"I both wished and feared to see Mr. Rochester on the day that followed this sleepless night. I wanted to hear his voice again, and yet feared to meet his eye"  Jane Eyre, Chapter 16

In the previous post I introduced the plot in the classic story Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte.
The theme of the book, the lonely woman struggling to find her way in a harsh world, resonates with us.  Like Dickens, Bronte created a dark world for children, the harsh school where Jane is sent to be demeaned and emotionally abused. The story is about Jane, but Mr. Rochester is also a very compelling character as a romantic lead. 


Mr. Rochester, at first look, appears to be a sullen, angry jerk.  Almost a bully as he is so sharp with Jane from time to time, baiting her to try to anger her. He's so moody his countenance competes with the shadows at Thornfield Hall. When you delve a little deeper into his past, you find him a little more human, and you can understand his dark outlook on life. 


He has a terrible secret. Throughout the novel, it is hinted at, but only slowly revealed.  When Jane first comes to the Hall, she feels an odd sense of being watched from the shadows. There are queer happenings that frighten her, yet ignite her curiosity. The unease grows, especially at night, making this a great Gothic novel.


The strange events, almost ghostly appearances in the old manor are always blamed on Mrs. Pool, a servant who lives in the upper part of the castle. Mrs. Pool is said to be drinking a lot, and this is supposed to cover up for the mysterious happenings at the manor. If it happened in the night, it was just drunk Mrs. Pool get the drift. Not quite true, but it wards off Jane's curiosity for a time.


Our hero, if you will allow me to call him that, is imposing. Our first introduction to him in the novel is on a dark road at twilight. (Gothic, don't you love it!) He is riding to Thornfield Hall when his horse is startled by Jane's appearance in the mists. The horse throws him. He is injured. 


Jane describes him thus:
"His figure was enveloped in a riding cloak, fur collared and steel clasped; its details were not apparent, but I traced the general points of middle height and considerable breadth of chest. He had a dark face, with stern features and a heavy brow; his eyes and gathered eyebrows looked ireful and thwarted just now; he was past youth but had not reached middle age, perhaps he might be thirty-five. I felt no fear of him, and but a little shyness (she doesn't know he's her employer yet as she hasn't met him). Had he been handsome, a heroic looking young gentleman, I should not have dared to to stand thus questioning him . . " Jane Eyre, Chapter 12


Okay, tall, dark, imposing, and looking somewhat angry. That is her first impression of him, and ours. Note that she implies he isn't handsome! It is a lovely set up for a Gothic tale, don't you think? 

But wait, there is more to this mysterious, brooding man . . .


Mr. Rochester's secret torments him. He has the keeping of a little girl, Adelle, the child of a French actress he was in love with. The mother died, and he has generously agreed to provide for her as his ward--hence the need for a governess.  So, we wonder in the back of our minds if little Adelle is his illegitimate child. He claims not, but he has so much affection for the girl, it seems entirely possible. Men often did 'adopt' such a child as a ward, claiming them to be the child of a friend or a relation's who had died and asked him to care for the child. This was done to cover the fact that the rich man was actually raising his own bastard. Anyway, from this situation we might be inclined to think that he is pining for a lost love, little Adelle's mama.  

 A Terrible Secret Revealed . . .

Yet, as the story progresses, Mr. Rochester, despite the fact that he's not handsome, according to Jane, and not young--charms her. Jane falls in love with him because he slowly reveals his kinder side as the months progress. (Yes, this is a classic novel from the mid-nineteenth century, not a quickie read romance novel of modern times.)  They are finally set to be married and the wedding day comes. At the wedding, as Jane and Rochester stand at the altar before the vicar in their wedding garb, in walks a man named Richard Mason. He was a guest at the manor previously, and was viciously stabbed by a mysterious someone whom Rochester will not reveal to Jane.   "You cannot marry her--" he insists, "You are already married!"


 At last,  the real reason for Mr. Rochester's deep dark outlook on life. He is married, to a crazy woman he keeps locked upstairs--albeit with a nice room and a woman to tend her. Bertha is crazy. He keeps her a secret, locked away in his home on a deserted wing of the manor, well cared for, but imprisoned just the same. Sometimes, she escapes, because Mrs. Pool, her caretaker, actually does drink too much from time to time and the clever woman slips out to do mischief at night. Clever, dangerous, completely crazy.  

Berta is the one who set fire to Mr. Rochester's bed when he was asleep in the night. Bertha is the one who stabbed Mr. Mason--her own brother.  It was right under our noses all along, right under Jane's nose, but who would think that such a horrific situation would occur? Not us, or Jane.


Poor Mr. Rochester has been angry and disillusioned with life for a long time. He's had to deal with a wife who was mad, a secret kept from him when he courted her in the West Indies. When Mr. Rochester was a young man and his older brother was alive and able to inherit the estate, he went the to Indies to seek his own fortunes. While there, he met Bertha Mason, a wealthy heiress and it seemed her family kept throwing them together socially. He was never allowed to be alone with her to converse before the wedding, according to his own admission. So he married her, and then his brother, the heir died. He had to come back to England with his bride. Once they were away from her family, he started to see a change in her. The odd little quirks turned into violent behavior, and he was forced to keep her restrained. She kept trying to kill him. Even years later, when Jane is at the Hall, there is a mysterious incident where the curtains of his bed are set fire while he's sleeping. Jane awakens, smells smoke, and saves him by waking him up. At the point he did not reveal the secret to her of how this happened or who would do this to him.

He feels betrayed by the Mason family. Bertha was literally foisted upon him, like a sick horse. Apparently, her mother had also gone mad in midlife and it's "hereditary", as far as people in the 1840's believed. So, not only is he stuck with a crazy wife, but if he cannot have an heir with her because the madness might then infect his family line. He can't divorce Bertha. It was illegal to divorce an spouse who is insane. He's stuck with Bertha, forever.


Now, his moodiness and his anger make a lot of sense. He feels cheated, tricked, and hopeless. That's why he's gone from his home a lot. He travels to get away from the painful reality of the crazy lady upstairs, the crazy lady he is ultimately responsible for.

And then came Jane Eyre.  He saw something fresh, clean and intelligent in Jane. She is younger than him by a decade or more, yet she refuses to be intimidated by his dark moods. He fell in love with Jane, saw her as a beacon of hope for his future. Until the interfering brother-in-law appeared and stomped out that hope forever. Jane runs away, goes into hiding, she's so shamed by this episode. Now he has even more reason to be dark and moody! There is a happy ending, but it takes a little while to get there. We leave Mr. Rochester for a bit as the story is told from Jane's point of view, not his. 

If you are interested in Mr. Rochester's back story, there is a novel written about him and Bertha, The Wide Sargasso Sea, by Jean Rhys, in 1966. In the story, she gives a more romantic and sensual feel to Mr. Rochester's relationship to Bertha Mason. It is mostly told from Bertha (whose name is Antoinette, apparently Rochester nicknamed her Berta, in this version). It may not be strictly Bronte style, but it is an interesting and entertaining read. It tells how she met Rochester, and their courtship, as wells as her struggle with a mentally ill mother, and a brother who is also messed up. It's mostly set in the lush Caribbean. Now, mind you, it is a modern interpretation of the classic story, giving us a different character's POV that was not available to us in Jane Eyre. But this isn't any different than the fan fiction stories we guzzle like soda about Mr. Darcy and the Pride and Prejudice world, so enjoy. 

If you are more the movie type, The Wide Sargasso Sea was made into a movie in 1993, I've watched it. The sensual feel of the film is compelling. Antoinette and Mr. R frolic in a pool with a waterfall, and have several sensual scenes that will captivate you.  Here is a link to the movie: Wide Sargasso Sea 

If you click on the link above you will be led to the IMBD movie site and can view a trailer for the film.

Next time, I'll peek into Jane's Character, and why she is such a plucky heroine. 

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Enduring Love Stories: Jane Eyre Revisted part 1

If you are a romance reader, you likely have read the book or seen a movie version of Jane Eyre. Maybe you were forced to read it in high school lit class. Maybe you missed it.  The storyline is a classic one, and many, many romance writers today like to use the plot line of Jane Eyre for Gothic or historical romances.  Why not, the storyline is brilliant. 

Recap:  For those who haven't experienced it in book or film form:  

Jane Eyre is an orphan girl, raised by an indifferent aunt who has three of her own children. Jane endures the abusive talk and behavior of not only the aunt, but also the aunt's son, who is slightly older than Jane.  He's mean to her, and brutal. Always conniving to get Jane in trouble with his mom by staging things so he attacks her and then when Jane stands up for herself and retaliates, the Mom accuses her orphan neice of harming her 'precious boy.'  Yeah, like a nine year old girl could actually bully a adolescent boy, but you get the picture--she's oppressed. 


One day, the conflict between Jane and her mean older cousin gets auntie so worked up she sends Jane to a nasty boarding school. It's a religious school, and it seems that dear auntie might have paid the cold and cruel headmaster on the sly to continue to punish and humiliate the poor girl. Jane is ostracized by all due to the underhanded headmaster's machinations. Our poor orphan girl is alone in the world, friendless, and without a bright spot to look forward to in life. She's beaten down in body and in spirit. She takes a job teaching at the school when she matures, continuing to reside in that bleak place as she has no other option. 

Jane and her new charge, Adelle

And then, wonder of wonders--Jane finds a teaching job far away from the horrible school. A teaching job as a governess in an isolated manor house in the English countryside.  It is here that she finds acceptance and friendship by the housekeeper, human kindness and some freedom. She will teach a little French orphan named Adelle, the ward of a rich man, Mr. Rochester.


Jane's employer, Mr. Rochester, is handsome, brooding, and mysterious. He's gone alot, and when he's home, he's mostly in a foul mood. But, through their odd interactions, Jane falls in love with him. He's a mixed up guy, a true Gothic hero, tortured and prone to dark moods. Some times he's nice to her, other times, he's a bit peevish. Jane's heart is broken when he starts courting a very rich neighbor,  Blanche, and it looks like Mr. R will be marrying soon. Jane is convinced she will be dismissed and Adelle, Mr. R's charge, will be sent to boarding school by the soon to be new Mrs. Rochester. 

plain Jane hasn't a chance against beautiful Blanche

Strangely, the anticipated romance between Mr. R and Blanche never comes to pass. 

It turns out he's just toying with Blanche and parading her in front of Jane as a way to vex Jane, comparing Blanche to plain Jane. He does weird things, like summoning Jane to come and sit in the parlor with his guests when Blanche and her family are visiting, making Jane uncomfortable, as well as the guests, because, well--she's a servant. Love is simmering beneath his dark exterior. What is actually happening is he is comparing the quiet, sweet, but spirited Jane with the empty headed and vain society girl, Blanche. Mr. R finally confesses his love for Jane, citing he cannot live without her in his life. As things progress, Jane and Mr. R are set to marry. At the wedding,  a stranger shows up and tells all Mr. R can't marry Jane, he's already married. It's true. Mr. R  brings Jane and the wedding party back to the house and reveals to all his legal wife, a pathetic creature, crazy and violent, who is locked in a secret room upstairs in his Gothic manor hall with a keeper to manage her. 

Jane runs away. She's humiliated, emotionally devastated. She wanders the harsh moors for a time, begging for food at doors. A stranger finds her weakened from exposure and near starvation, and takes her home. He's  St. John, a Reverend. He has two sisters. They nurse her to health and help her out. She lives with them for a time and is given the example of a true home where kindness rules. St. John wants her to marry him and go to Africa with him to be missionaries. He sort of badgers her about it, making her feel it's her Christian duty and her calling to complete him. 


They almost marry, but our spirited heroine Jane comes to her senses, realizing she still loves Mr. R. with all her heart and does not love St. John. Nor does she find the prospect of poverty in Africa appealing.  She has haunting dreams of Mr. R calling out to her for help. She leaves the siblings and returns to Thornfield, the manor where Mr. R. lived.  She arrives to find the house is charred remains. A fire destroyed it. Upon questioning locals, she learns Mr. R. survived and is living nearby. The crazy wife died in the fire, as it was she who set the fire in the middle of the night in the first place. Mr. R. tried to save his poor wife, and was badly burned in the fire. He's become blind, it seems. Jane goes to him, and they have their happy ever after. They marry and have children. He gradully regains sight in one eye.


A timeless love story!  

Governess falls for stern single (she thinks) employer. Mysterious happenings (a haunting it seems) at the manor house make the man leave frequently and return in a bad mood. The two find love, and they are driven apart. But--in the end, the governess and the master are given a happily ever after. It's a gothic tale of endurance, and hope. It's dark at the beginning, and has many dark parts, but love truimphs against all in the end. You can see why so many people would adore this dark romance, and why this romance trophe (the lord and the governess)  has been used time and again by romance writers.  It is a classic. Rich employer with social status/poor governess with no one, not even family to help her.  It's ripe for dark things to happen. 

Will he take advantage of this poor waif? In the real world this would more than likely be the case. 

Will she be misled by him and give in to his dark desires?  Again, a real world outcome is that would unfortunately would happen, and often did as wealthy, powerful men could take advantage of female servants. The women had little recourse in those times, as they were 'ruined', and could not get a court to prosecute a rapist, especially a rich, titled rapist.  

But as romance readers, we have but one question----Will he rescue her? 


Perhaps not as gallantly or as passionately as we might prefer, as this was written in the nineteenth century, when men were more stoic and less touchy-feely as we like our romance heroes today---but yes--ultimately the couple end up rescuing each other from dark, painful pasts!  Ah, the magical, healing properties of true love!

This story has been so popular with the ages that there are several movie versions of it. Each generation seems to revisit it and give Jane and Mr. R  new faces.  My favorite version stars Timothy Dalton. He makes a delightfully dark and compelling Mr. Rochester. 

Dalton as Rochester in the 1980's


However, there are so many versions of the movie your head could spin. There is one with Dalton, above. 

And one with Ciarn Hinds as Rochester,



Then we have one with William Hurt as Rochester; 1996

And few others. I think I even recall seeing Liam Neeson in the role once, many years ago.  You get the picture, this story just does not go out of style. It's remade every decade, and with new actors taking up the role of the moody, broody heart-throb, Mr. Rochester.  The most recent, with Michael Fassbender continues the haunting drama of a a Gothic rich dude and the fiesty governess he hires. 

The main part of the story, aside from the forbidden romance, is the spirit of Jane Eyre. She's not broken. She's learned to depend upon herself and this helps her survive in a bitter world where there are no hand outs and no compassion. She's mousy looking, true, but she is a strong woman.  You gotta love her for that.  

Next time, I'll reach a little more into the characters of this enduring story, and share some romance stories I've enjoyed based on this classic.  Until then, here is a delicious peek at the movie version;