Friday, April 5, 2013

Got Gothic?

I always been a fan of the old horror movies, and of Gothic Romance.  I like that creepy, uncertain feeling, and not knowing if the hero is the good guy or the villain.  Dark Hero is my debut novel, published one year ago. In it we have all the elements of a good gothic story, a heroine with secrets who is placd in an uncertain environment away from all that is familiar to her, a tortured hero with ulterior motives and a penchant for the macabre, an old unkempt manor house on an isolated estate, and plenty of ghosts. I had fun writing this story, and it is my favorite among all my novels for many reasons.
Elizabeth and Donovan

 In this excerpt from Dark Hero, the heroine, Elizabeth, has just arrived at her new husband’s home for the first time:
Dark Hero, Copyright Lily Silver, 2013
      “Stay here, I’ll be right back.” Her husband admonished, leaving Elizabeth standing in the foyer to gaze up at the winding marble stairs leading to the second story. The mahogany banister had been polished not too long ago, she noted, feeling hopeful that the interior was not as neglected as the exterior grounds.
       Double doors to the right of the stairs piqued her interest. She decided to look beyond them. She was relieved to find this door unlocked, only to have hope crushed as she gazed inside. The room was dark, the shutters were drawn to block out the sunlight. The furniture was covered with white sheets, resembling ghosts in the darkened room. She crept in a few feet and waited for her eyes to adjust to the gloom. Slats in the shutters allowed jagged shafts of light to diffuse through the shadows. Something dark and furry scuttled across the floor in front of her. Elizabeth stifled a scream and stepped back, remembering Peter’s tale about hairy spiders the size of tea saucers.
        Who lives here? The house had an empty, desolate feel to it, as if no one occupied it for a very long time, at least, no one who cared.
        “Lizzie.” Elizabeth turned at the sound of her husband’s voice, his normal voice, not an affected one. He stood in the foyer, seeming perturbed that she wasn’t standing precisely where he’d left her. “Come.” He held out his hand. “I’ve ordered a bath for you. Tabby will see to your comfort while I’m out.”
       “Where are you going?” She grimaced as she left the dark room for the sunlit foyer. “We’ve only just arrived.”
       “I want to take a ride about the place while I’m still dressed as the count. Enjoy your bath and a nice nap. You look all in, darlin’.” His lips brushed hers, teasing lightly, reminding her of the tender, caring man on the voyage. He smiled down at her, and then straightened as a lone figure stepped from the shadows of the hall. “This is Tabitha Wilkes, my grandfather’s--” He paused momentarily. “Housekeeper. I kept her on after he died, and the cook.”
       Mrs. Wilkes was clad in an informal muslin gown rather than the starched black uniform that housekeepers wore in the wealthy homes in England. She was barefoot. Her white hair was unbound, cascading down her back in gentle waves. She was thin, graceful, her complexion golden from time spent in the sun instead of indoors, cleaning her master’s home.
       She did not resemble any servant Elizabeth encountered in England. Nevertheless, she smiled at the older woman. This was Donovan’s home. She was going to have to accept his odd ways and get along with the people in his employ. “It’s a pleasure to meet you, Mrs. Wilkes.” Elizabeth responded, knowing her mother would scold her for being familiar with a servant. Alas, putting on airs would not win her acceptance from Donovan’s household staff.
        “It’s Tabby, Ma’am. I’m not married.” The woman archly corrected Elizabeth, looking her up and down as if she were a dead rodent the cat carried in from the woodpile.
       “Don’t be impertinent, Tabby.” Donovan interjected before Elizabeth could form a response. “My wife is the grand-daughter of the ninth Earl of Greystowe. She’ll put you through your paces, old girl. You might wish to put some thought into retiring. I’m certain my lady will be more particular than I am regarding the household routines.”
        The woman bristled at his words, looking for a brief second as if she might curse out loud at them. She managed a limp smile from taut lips. “Welcome to Ravencrest, your ladyship.” The housekeeper made a polite curtsy to Elizabeth.
       “Take care of my lass and mind your tongue, Tabby. I’ll tolerate none of your cheek with her.” Donovan directed as he made his exit, effectively abandoning Elizabeth.
Elizabeth followed the woman up the stairs and down the hall to the master’s chamber. She sensed resentment within Tabby. She dismissed the impression, reasoning that she’d be cranky, too, if she was in this woman’s place and the master dropped a new mistress on the doorstep without warning and then left again. It was an awkward situation all around.
        Donovan’s bedchamber was furnished in a deep forest green that complimented the oak paneling. Very masculine, indeed, befitting a bachelor lord.
       “Rest Madame, your bath water will take a while to warm.” Tabby said, and left her.
Elizabeth stepped over to the louvered doors and peered through the slats. They gave access to a veranda winding about the second story. And they were locked. She was suddenly seized by a rush of sheer panic.
        Watch out!” A thin, frightened voice from beyond the grave warned in the empty room. “He’ll lock you away for his pleasure. He’ll never let you feel the sunlight on your face or the wind in your hair again.”
       “Who are you?” Elizabeth glanced about. No one appeared or answered her query.
This was too much; an isolated estate, a house with chained gates and locked doors, a cranky, resentful housekeeper and now a spirit whispering cryptic warnings to her in the middle of the afternoon. Elizabeth whirled about to the double doors adjacent to the veranda doors.
Those, too, were locked.
Dark Hero, Copyright Lily Silver 2012

Dark Hero features a man hiding from the horrors of his past, a tortured hero who literally dresses up in costumes, affects false accents and uses false identities to keep himself safe from the world around him. He was tortured in France, held in the Bastille prior to the French Revolution. When the peasants rose up, they set him free. Donovan became a pirate for some years, and then stumbled upon a beautiful lass in England who needed his help. He rescues her, but he still lives in the shadows, like a phantom, unable to get close to others and trust them. Elizabeth must deal with his habit of switching personalities and identities, and try to soothe the beast within him and bring him back to humanity.

Dark Hero is available for sale on all digital platforms. It is the first in my Reluctant Heroes Series. In Dark Hero, and the sequel, Bright Scoundrel, there is plenty of paranormal activitiy, even though these are historical romance. I don't know about you, but I like to mix things up and try something new, without the old romance formulas.  Thanks for visiting and do have a wonderfully creepy day!

Lily Silver, aka Darklily.

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