Fresh Fiction Senior Reviewer
Miranda Owen loves a contemporary gothic story! The atmosphere, the
moody settings, and the thought-provoking plotlines…
The de Vincent estate was one of the most haunted
locations in the entire state of Louisiana. -
MOONLIGHT SCANDALS by
I have been fascinated by gothic tales of romance and
danger since I read my first Dorothy Daniels book in junior high. It had a predictably historical
setting, with a dash of the paranormal, and a hint of romance. For a long time, I only
connected gothics with a historical setting, and never imagined that there were such things as
contemporary gothics. I recently discovered Jennifer L. Armentrout’s spectacular “de Vincent”
series and was immediately sucked into her world of danger, mystery, and eroticism with a
decidedly gothic edge. All of the authors discussed in this article utilize a few classic elements
of a gothic novel but throw them in a story with a contemporary setting.
She felt…God, this sounded insane, she felt watched.
Obviously, she wasn’t being watched unless it was by a
ghost. There were no windows and no one else was in here. -MOONLIGHT SINS
by Jennifer L. Armentrout
Location is everything. Authors who write gothic novels –
even contemporary ones – all know the importance of having a strong sense of place in their
stories. In the “de Vincent” series by Jennifer L. Armentrout, the de Vincent family compound
in Louisiana is full of history and haunted by tragedy and evil. In the “Alcott Manor” series by
Alyssa Richards, Alcott Manor takes on a life of its own and reacts to, and terrorizes, the
various people who walk through the doors. In THE
TAKING by Erin McCarthy, Regan Henry
purchases a beautiful historic home as an act of newly achieved independence but she and
the building are haunted by her past, and the past attached to the house itself. It’s not
surprising that so many stories are set in New Orleans. Each story is unique with the stamp of
each author, but they all tantalize and terrify. In WILD
THINGS by Jennifer Ashley, a house is
introduced into the series that is sentient and a force for good just as the Overlook Hotel in
THE SHINING by Stephen King
instrument of evil. These places are just as important to the story as the people.
Another thing I love about gothics is the way the author
keeps the reader and the main characters off-balance. You never know what to expect or who
to trust. In A DARK AND STORMY
by Julia Buckley, aspiring novelist Lena London uproots her life in order to work with a prolific
and beloved author. Julia Buckley includes a lot of fun and cozy elements in this story, but
when suspicious death makes an appearance about the same time Lena meets a potential love
interest, it’s difficult to tell who can be trusted and where is safe. There are wonderful
elements in A DARK AND STORMY
that are evocative of Alfred Hitchcock’s classic film SUSPICION. Likewise, in
MOONLIGHT SINS by Jennifer L. Armentrout,
Julia Hughes travels a great distance, makes a huge change in her life, and finds herself drawn
to a charming man whose veracity is in serious doubt. Thankfully for readers, Jennifer L.
Armentrout provides Lucian de Vincent’s perspective which lets them know his intentions are
good. Julia, without having that insight into the inner workings of Lucian’s mind, is often on
edge wondering what path she should take and whether she can trust Lucian. In FALLEN by Erin McCarthy, Sara
is a woman of science but when she meets the devilishly handsome Gabriel, he asks her to
take his unbelievable story on faith. The pair work together as the past and present mix as
they hunt down a villain.
No one was in the hall.
But the door leading out to the porch was open, the
gauzy curtains billowing as the breeze caught them.
And that door had been closed seconds ago.
-MOONLIGHT SEDUCTION by Jennifer L. Armentrout
Whether it’s ghosts, demons, magic, or something else, a bit
of the supernatural provides an added dose of excitement in any gothic tale. I had only known
Erin McCarthy’s contemporary romances when I picked up MY
IMMORTAL – the first book in her “Deadly Sins”
series. Although the introduction was unusual, it started to pick up like any other
contemporary romance…..until things took a turn. As I stayed up until the early morning
reading about love, betrayal, bitterness, and deals with the devil, the story took on a “Twilight
Zone” quality and scared the daylights out of me. In MOONLIGHT SCANDALS, the heroine
a medium. Although there are ghosts in MOONLIGHT SCANDALS, Jennifer L. Armentrout expertly shows how people
become haunted, rather than hauntings by ghostly apparitions. In the Alcott Manor series by Alyssa
Richards, each of the three books in the series take on a slightly different tone, but the second
installment is super scary with a Freddy Krueger-like otherworldly villain. The heroine and her
new love battle the ghostly baddie in various dimensions and the stakes are high. The first and
third books in the series focus more on traditionally haunted house goodness and lost loves.
For me, Cynthia Eden is a master of suspense and sets many of her stories in New Orleans
with classic gothic themes. One of my favorite series by Eden is Blood and Moonlight, set in New
Orleans and featuring a tough cop and the werewolf who falls for her. This series has it all –
suspense, magic, multiple evil machinations, and a love that grows stronger as the hero and
heroine are forced to trust each other or die. Cynthia Eden paints a picture of hot nights, eerie
isolated locales, and scenarios to keep your pulse pounding.
MORE CONTEMPORARY GOTHICS TO CONSIDER:
IMMORTAL by Erin McCarthy
FALLEN by Erin McCarthy
TAKING by Erin McCarthy
HAUNTING OF ALCOTT MANOR by Alyssa
MURDER AT ALCOTT MANOR by Alyssa
STRANGER IN ALCOTT MANOR by Alyssa
THE DUST by Cynthia Eden
BETTER OFF UNDEAD by Cynthia
BITTER BLOOD by Cynthia Eden
DEATH WAITS IN THE DARK by
SOME OF THE BOOKS MENTIONED IN THIS ARTICLE:
de Vincent #3
It takes a fearless woman to love the most scandalous man alive
in New York Times Bestselling Author Jennifer L.
Armentrout’s breathtaking novel
Even a ghost hunter like Rosie Herpin couldn’t have foreseen the fateful meeting between two
mourners that has brought her so intimately close to the notorious and seductive Devlin de
Vincent. Everyone in New Orleans knows he’s heir to a dark family curse that both frightens
and enthralls. To the locals, Devlin is the devil. To Rosie, he’s a man who’s stoking her wildest
fantasies. When a brutal attack on her friend is linked to the de Vincents, he becomes a
mystery she may be risking her life to solve.
Devlin knows what he wants from this sexy and adventurous woman. But what does Rosie
want from him? It’s a question that becomes more pressing—and more dangerous—when he
suspects her of prying into the shadows of his past.
Now, the legends surrounding the de Vincents may not be myths at all. But if she’s to discover
the truth, she must follow them straight into the arms of the man she can’t resist—the
handsome devil himself.
Romance Contemporary [Avon, On Sale:
January 29, 2019, Mass Market Paperback / e-Book, ISBN: 9780062674579 / eISBN:
stunner and decadent gothic romance!
Seven Deadly Sins #3
My Immortal and Fallen showed Erin McCarthy at her provocative best...
Now she takes paranormal romance one step further with The Taking
Heiress Regan Henry knows that passion can be an illusion, and she keeps her emotions in
check-until she falls under the spell of the beguiling Felix LeBlanc. He knows that the rumors
that her mansion is haunted are true, and that he's the only one who can save her from the
spirits residing there. But the only way he can do it is to sacrifice his last chance at
redemption...or risk a love that could consign them both to an eternity of evil.
Paranormal [Berkley, On Sale: January 5, 2010,
Paperback, ISBN: 9780425230213 / ]
voodoo priest and a courageous heiress come together to find everlasting love.
Shifters Unbound #7.75
Wolf Shifter Mason McNaughton is tired of the crazy feral living in his house, endangering him,
his brothers, and his sweet auntie Cora. Ferals are Shifters who’ve reverted to the wild stage,
forgetting all about the joys of pizza and satellite TV. Not to mention, Mason is sick of waking
up to the feral’s rampages in the bedroom next to his. The feral has been given sanctuary, so
Mason can’t throw him out—the only thing to do is to find a way to cure him.
The problem is, Shifter healers—elusive, Goddess-touched Shifters who have the healing gift
—are few and far between. Mason volunteers to go in search of one, and is sent to a psychic
in New Orleans who might have an idea of where to start looking.
Mason doesn’t believe in psychics, but Jasmine, the psychic in question, seems to at least put
on a good show. Jasmine believes in Shifters all right, but she vowed after her Shifter
boyfriend dumped her to never have anything to do with them again.
The easiest way to get rid of the growly Lupine, Mason, is to help him, but Jasmine never
dreams what that help will drag her into.
A short novel of the Shifters Unbound series.
Romance Paranormal [JA / AG Publishing, On
Sale: March 22, 2016, e-Book, ISBN: 2940157821449 / eISBN: 9781941229224]
world mix of passion and the supernatural!
Jack Torrance’s new job at the Overlook Hotel is the perfect chance for a fresh start. As the
off-season caretaker at the atmospheric old hotel, he’ll have plenty of time to spend
reconnecting with his family and working on his writing. But as the harsh winter weather sets
in, the idyllic location feels ever more remote . . . and more sinister. And the only one to notice
the strange and terrible forces gathering around the Overlook is Danny Torrance, a uniquely
Horror [Anchor Books, On Sale: June 26, 2012, Paperback
/ e-Book (reprint), ISBN: 9780307743657 / ]
An aspiring suspense novelist lands in the middle of a real crime, in the first in a
captivating new series by the author of the Undercover Dish Mysteries.
Lena London's literary dreams are coming true—as long as she can avoid any real-life
Camilla Graham’s bestselling suspense novels inspired Lena London to become a writer, so
when she lands a job as Camilla’s new assistant, she can’t believe her luck. Not only will she
help her idol craft an enchanting new mystery, she’ll get to live rent-free in Camilla’s gorgeous
Victorian home in the quaint town of Blue Lake, Indiana.
But Lena’s fortune soon changes for the worse. First, she lands in the center of small town
gossip for befriending the local recluse. Then, she stumbles across one thing that a Camilla
Graham novel is never without—a dead body, found on her new boss’s lakefront property.
Now Lena must take a page out of one of Camilla’s books to hunt down clues in a real crime
that seems to be connected to the novelist’s mysterious estate—before the killer writes them
both out of the story for good...
Cozy [Berkley Prime Crime, On Sale: July 5, 2016, Mass
Market Paperback / e-Book, ISBN: 9780425282601 / eISBN: 9780698406094]
Terrific start to a
new cozy mystery series
mystery that will appeal to both cozy and suspense fans!
at its finest!
A new series
that will end with you wanting more!
1 comment posted.
I was a fan of Gothic and Dorothy Daniel's books and though I got away from this particular genre for awhile, it is good to see some really good reads ready out there. Nice article.
(Annetta Sweetko 4:40pm March 27)