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The word gothic is thrown around a lot this time of year when you’re browsing for your next read. We all know what it means, right? It evokes images of mysterious strangers, haunted ruins and women scarpering around in improbably white dresses. It got me curious though. What exactly is a gothic novel? Today I explore what exactly a gothic novel is and then recommend some gothic romance books that have caught my eye!

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What is a gothic novel?

I like to think I am an expert at defining book genres, especially romance ones. I’ve been reading for a long time and have some very clear ideas about what defines a genre. But, although I have read my fair share of gothic romance books, when it came to putting pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard), I struggled a little bit. So today, we are going to explore the topic together, then I have a bunch of gothic romance books I know you’ll want to dive into!

Click here to skip straight to the gothic romance recommendations!

The atmosphere of a gothic novel

When I think about a gothic novel, what immediately comes to mind is the atmosphere of the book. It’s dark, disorientating and oppressive. If it were a film it would be black and white or in deep dark tones, with little to no colour. It’s not quite horror with blood splattered walls and hooks dangling from the ceiling, but there’s tension and a certain amount of expectation that some unknown terrible thing is going to happen.

But when you look more deeply into it, what elements of a book is creating this very “gothic” atmosphere?

The weather

A romance set on a beach with white sands, clear seas and the sun beaming down creates a feeling of optimism and fun. Yet, when we venture into a gothic novel, the weather is often used to help create that claustrophobic and dangerous atmosphere. A dark and stormy night. Violent and crashing seas. Mist and fog shrouding the landscape. Thunder, lightning and the driving rain. It’s tumultuous, violent and unwelcoming, often mirroring the thoughts and feelings of the characters themselves. Symbolism abounds in a gothic novel.

the place

The setting of a gothic novel is key. Wuthering Heights wouldn’t have been the same if it weren’t set on the Yorkshire Moors. And where would we be without Manderley in Rebecca? Gothic literature is rife with haunted, decaying buildings and foreboding and inhospitable landscapes. Often the setting feels like a character in of itself.

The space in which the novel takes place is important in any novel, but it is particularly apparent in gothic literature. It confines and defines the character. It usually has special significance, perhaps a great tragedy took place there, or it holds a secret. Or is the meeting place for a secret society. Much like the weather, the setting of a gothic novel will usually have some symbolic significance.

classic gothic novels with a genre defining atmosphere

The characters in a gothic novel

Lets get down to the characters. The gothic novel is swarmed with mysterious and handsome figures, damsels in distress. Heroes who aren’t heroes. Villains who aren’t villains. And every one of them have secrets and sorrows.

The anti hero

Knocking around the romance genre for as long as I have, I often see the anti-hero, that guy who lives in the morally grey area, talked about like it’s just been discovered. Well, let me introduce you to Edward Rochester from Jane Eyre circa 1847. One of the great things about gothic novels is that the characters are flawed and burdened by the past. They have faults and haven’t always done the right thing.

The villian

You can’t have a gothic novel without having the villain. Often handsome and in a position of power, especially over the heroine, they are pivotal. But, their charming urbane surface hides a dark soul. Or maybe not. Villains can be wonderfully complex characters in a gothic novel. Think The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde, where the titular character is handsome and charming, innocence turned monster.

The heroine

The classic gothic novel can leave a lot to be desired for the female protagonist. She’s often the victim; powerless, oppressed and virginal. She spends her time waiting to be saved from the miserable situation she finds herself in. Modern gothic tales have made great strides in this area and in our recommendations below you won’t find our heroines quite as helpless.

classic gothic novels with the anti-hero, anti-villain and damsel’s in distress

The supernatural

There is often a supernatural and mystical element to a gothic novel. You can find ghosts, hauntings, demons, vampires, werewolves and any number of things that go bump in the night. It ties into gothic literatures love of symbolism, not to mention adding to that unique atmosphere. When you step into a gothic novel, you’re moving away from reality as you know it. Instead you are entering a darker realm where your past has a deep and terrible impact on your present.

You can also expect omens, portents, curses and plenty of foreshadowing. It adds to the sense of unreality and gives an extra edge to the fear and suspense that a good gothic novel can provoke.

classic gothic novels with supernatural elements

Common themes in a gothic novel

The most prevalent theme you find in a gothic novel is that of the past coming back to haunt you in some way. It can be something the main protagonist has done, the skeletons coming out of the closet (or maybe a wife in the attic?). Or it can be something a predecessor has done that comes to bear on the protagonist, perhaps in mundane ways, but often in the form of curses and hauntings.

There’s often an exploration of psychology and madness. Someone’s decaying mind paired with the crumbling castle ruins the novel is set in – once again, symbolism playing an important role. It’s character driven with the protagonist experiencing a full spectrum of dark emotions, creating a delicious melodrama for us to sink our fangs into.

Perhaps you’re in the mood for something gothic romance adjacent? Check out these posts:

Recommendations: Gothic Romance Books

To help you decide what kind of gothic romance book you are in the mood for, I have divided list by certain aspects of a gothic novel. It doesn’t mean that the other elements aren’t there, it just means that particular element is what really struck me about the book.

Gothic romance books with that unique atmosphere and setting

One of the things that really stands out about the gothic genre is the atmosphere and setting. Whether it’s a spooky ruined castle, a lonely mansion full of dark secrets and mysterious characters or a foreboding and unforgiving landscape. Every book on this list has some element of this, it wouldn’t be a gothic novel with out it! But, the atmosphere and setting in the gothic romance books I am listing below really struck me.


The Haunting of Brynn Wilder
by Wendy Webb

Available on kindle unlimited

why i want to read this:

I love the set-up. The mysterious boarding house, the eclectic group of strangers who can either be benign or turn into a nightmare. The hint at something supernatural, the way it addresses loss. What exactly is haunting Brynn…grief or ghosts? Then there’s the handsome, mysterious and beautifully tattooed potential love interest. I am sold.

After a devastating loss, Brynn Wilder escapes to Wharton, a tourist town on Lake Superior, to reset. Checking into a quaint boarding house for the summer, she hopes to put her life into perspective. In her fellow lodgers, she finds a friendly company of strangers: the frail Alice, cared for by a married couple with a heartbreaking story of their own; LuAnn, the eccentric and lovable owner of the inn; and Dominic, an unsettlingly handsome man inked from head to toe in mesmerizing tattoos.

But in this inviting refuge, where a century of souls has passed, a mystery begins to swirl. Alice knows things about Brynn, about all of them, that she shouldn’t. Bad dreams and night whispers lure Brynn to a shuttered room at the end of the hall, a room still heavy with a recent death. And now she’s become irresistibly drawn to Dominic—even in the shadow of rumors that wherever he goes, suspicious death follows.

In this chilling season of love, transformation, and fear, something is calling for Brynn. To settle her past, she may have no choice but to answer.


Beyond the Sea
by L.H. Cosway

On a lonely cliff beside the vast blue sea there is a house.

In the house there lives a girl, and in the girl there lives a dream.

Soon she’ll be as free as the fishes that swim beneath the water. But until then she bides her time and lives quietly, her every move ruled over by an uncaring, heartless stepmother.

The hope for freedom is all she has to hold onto. So close she can almost taste it. But when her stepmother’s estranged younger brother comes to stay, he presents a mystery that lures her in.

The girl doesn’t understand that beneath the allure of the unknown sometimes all we find are horrors. And in searching for the truth, her heart is in danger of falling like a rock to the bottom of the deep dark sea.


by RuNyx

Available on kindle unlimited

An unusual girl; An enigmatic man; An ancient castle. What could go wrong?

An outcast her entire life, Corvina Clemm is left adrift after losing her mother. When she receives the admission letter from the mysterious University of Verenmore, she accepts it as a sign from the universe. The last thing she expects though is an olden, secluded castle on top of a mountain riddled with secrets, deceit, and death.

An enigma his entire life, Vad Deverell likes being a closed book but knowing exactly everything that happens in the university. A part-time professor working on his thesis, Vad has been around long enough to know the dangers the castle possesses.
And he knows the moment his paths cross with Corvina, she’s dangerous to everything that he is.

They shouldn’t have caught each other’s eye. They cannot be. But a chill-inducing century-old mystery forces them to collide. People have disappeared every five years for over a hundred years, and Corvina is getting clues to unraveling it all, and Vad needs to keep an eye on her.

And so begins a tale of the mystique, the morbid, the macabre, and a deep love that blossoms in the unlikeliest of places.

The Hacienda by Isabel Canas

The Hacienda
by Isabel Canas

why i want to read this

This sounds exciting, mysterious and creepy. Rife with an atmosphere of loneliness and abandonment. I can’t wait to get stuck in and see what exactly is happening. I am also intrigued by the thought of a forbidden romance between our heroine and the young priest who also happens to be a witch.

During the overthrow of the Mexican government, Beatriz’s father was executed and her home destroyed. When handsome Don Rodolfo Solórzano proposes, Beatriz ignores the rumors surrounding his first wife’s sudden demise, choosing instead to seize the security that his estate in the countryside provides. She will have her own home again, no matter the cost.

But Hacienda San Isidro is not the sanctuary she imagined.

When Rodolfo returns to work in the capital, visions and voices invade Beatriz’s sleep. The weight of invisible eyes follows her every move. Rodolfo’s sister, Juana, scoffs at Beatriz’s fears—but why does she refuse to enter the house at night? Why does the cook burn copal incense at the edge of the kitchen and mark the doorway with strange symbols? What really happened to the first Doña Solórzano?

Beatriz only knows two things for certain: Something is wrong with the hacienda. And no one there will save her.

Desperate for help, she clings to the young priest, Padre Andrés, as an ally. No ordinary priest, Andrés will have to rely on his skills as a witch to fight off the malevolent presence haunting the hacienda and protect the woman for whom he feels a powerful, forbidden attraction. But even he might not be enough to battle the darkness.

Far from a refuge, San Isidro may be Beatriz’s doom.


Master of Salt & Bones
by Keri Lake

Available on kindle unlimited

Meet the Devil of Blackthorne Manor…

When I was a little girl, I dreamed a handsome knight would come and rescue me from my wretched mother. He’d ride up on his white steed and break the curse I’ve been fated to carry since the day I was born.

Funny how things changed over time. How the fairy tale twisted into something far more crooked, darker than I ever imagined.

In reality, my knight is scarred and broken, living alone in a castle of bones that overlooks the sea. He isn’t searching for me. He never was.

Lucian Blackthorne is as cursed as I am, and equally shunned by the locals, the fishers of men, who believe him to be the devil in the flesh.

Perhaps he is, with the way his amber eyes draw me in, ignite me like an infernal blaze. And the sins he whispers in my ear are as wickedly intoxicating as the man himself.

Yet, his touch is heaven and his will is my weakness.

He calls us forbidden, an unsalvageable tragedy, with no happy end. Maybe we are. But in this story, he’s the one who needs saving.


Too Wicked to Kiss
by Erica Ridley


From the ravens circling its spires to the gargoyles adorning its roof, Blackberry Manor looms ominously over its rambling grounds. And behind its doors, amid the flickering shadows and secret passageways, danger lies in wait…


Evangeline Pemberton has been invited to a party at the sprawling estate of reclusive Gavin Lioncroft, who is rumored to have killed in cold blood. Initially, his towering presence and brusque manner instill fear… until his seductive attentions and unexpected vulnerability conquer her resistance.

But when a guest is murdered, Evangeline is torn. Could the man to whom she is so powerfully drawn, also be a ruthless killer?


The Death of Jane Lawrence
by Caitlin Starling

why i want to read this

A couple of things drew me to this book: One I love a heroine who takes charge of her own destiny. In a classic gothic novel, the heroine is the perpetual victim, so I love seeing that turned round. Two, the crumbling manor which the heroine must never visit. Colour me intrigued. Especially when the manor seems to transform our heroine’s new husband from competent surgeon to a terrified and paranoid madman during the night time hours. I need to know what is happening!

Practical, unassuming Jane Shoringfield has done the calculations, and decided that the most secure path forward is this: a husband, in a marriage of convenience, who will allow her to remain independent and occupied with meaningful work. Her first choice, the dashing but reclusive doctor Augustine Lawrence, agrees to her proposal with only one condition: that she must never visit Lindridge Hall, his crumbling family manor outside of town.

Yet on their wedding night, an accident strands her at his door in a pitch-black rainstorm, and she finds him changed. Gone is the bold, courageous surgeon, and in his place is a terrified, paranoid man—one who cannot tell reality from nightmare, and fears Jane is an apparition, come to haunt him. By morning, Augustine is himself again, but Jane knows something is deeply wrong at Lindridge Hall, and with the man she has so hastily bound her safety to.


by RuNyx

A rumored sorceress; A villainous scoundrel; An ancient castle. What could go wrong?

A woman in hiding, Lenore Emmeranne finds herself at Verenmore after a series of unfortunate events, hoping it would be a clean slate for her. Keeping her head down and blending into the shadows, she simply wants to rest her feet before taking off again.

A man in power, Draven Constantine knows every crack and crevice of the castle. So when he finds her, it breaks his ennui and piques his interest, and their descent into doom begins.

Set in 1872 at the University of Verenmore, death, deceit, and darkness invade the mountain. Something beyond the understanding is at play, slithering down the spine as Lenore and Draven weave through lies, sink into lust and hold onto life.


by Cat Porter

Available on kindle unlimited

A fateful shipwreck leaves the young and wealthy Lord Brandon presumed dead, and his estate in England lies abandoned and ripe for the picking. Years later, his step-cousin Justine finds him alive and drug-addicted, and against his family’s wishes, boldly brings him home to reclaim his inheritance.

Dark surprises disturb Brandon at every turn—a ruined property, a traitorous, bitter family, his fiancée married to his rival. And Justine, the shy, quiet girl he grew up with is no longer a little girl, but an alluring and determined young woman. Can he trust her or is she a part of the intricate web of lies and half-truths?

As they work together to salvage what’s left of Wolfsgate and their place in society, age-old jealousies and shadowy secrets threaten at every turn, but irresistible passions run wild and prove even more powerful.

Justine is his wife, after all.

Justine and Brandon have been bound in a marriage forced upon them by their family for their own deceitful purposes. But the deep, loyal bond that grows between husband and wife isn’t part of their enemies’ plan.
In fact, it could destroy their plan.

No one counted on Brandon and Justine falling in love.
Not even Brandon and Justine.


A Lesson in Thorns
by Sierra Simone

why i want to read this

Would it be shallow to say it is the cover that draws me to this book? It’s really lovely and really plays on some gothic themes. The white virginal dress of the gothic heroine being subverted by it gaping open. The blood red rose with it’s thorny stem. It’s a beautifully provocative cover. Gothic romance books were used as a way to explore sexuality in the strict Victorian era, and Simone pushes that even further in A Lesson in Thorns. It’s an erotic take on the gothic genre and I am here for it.

Twelve years ago, I left Thornchapel—and the two boys I gave my heart to—behind.  

And now I’ve returned, hopeful…and wary.  Because it’s so very easy to be drawn back into the world of the seductive and elegant Auden Guest . . . and into the world of his worst enemy, St. Sebastian Martinez. The beautiful and brooding St. Sebastian is as irresistible as he ever was, and Auden is just as handsome and arrogant, and the three of us can’t seem to unknot ourselves from each other. 

From the hasty promise we three made all those years ago.

As Thornchapel slowly tightens its coil of truths and lies around us, our reluctant threesome starts unravelling into filthy, holy pleasure and pain. Together we’ve awakened a fate that will either bloom like a rose . . . or destroy us all.


The Curse of Morton Abbey
by Clarissa Harwood

Solicitor Vaughan Springthorpe knows perfectly well that Sir Peter Spencer’s offer of employment seems too good to be true: he hires her sight unseen, offering a suspiciously large salary to prepare the sale of Morton Abbey, his crumbling Yorkshire estate. But few people in late-Victorian England will entrust their legal affairs to a woman, and Vaughan is desperate to prove herself.

Once at Morton, Vaughan discovers that someone is determined to drive her away. An intruder tries to enter her bedroom at night, gunshots are fired outside her window, and an eerie crying echoes from the uninhabited second floor. Even Netherton, the nearest village, seems odd: the picturesque houses and perfect-looking families are haunted by dark secrets connected to Morton Abbey itself.

To complete her work and solve the mystery at the heart of Morton, Vaughan needs the help of Joe Dixon, the handsome gardener, and Nicholas Spencer, her employer’s irascible invalid brother. But with her questions diverted, her progress thwarted, and her sleep disrupted by the crying, will Vaughan escape Morton Abbey with her sanity intact or be cursed by the secrets within?


The Ancestor
by Danielle Trussoni

It feels like a fairy tale when Alberta ”Bert” Monte receives a letter addressed to “Countess Alberta Montebianco” at her Hudson Valley, New York, home that claims she’s inherited a noble title, money, and a castle in Italy. While Bert is more than a little skeptical, the mystery of her aristocratic family’s past, and the chance to escape her stressful life for a luxury holiday in Italy, is too good to pass up.

At first, her inheritance seems like a dream come true: a champagne-drenched trip on a private jet to Turin, Italy; lawyers with lists of artwork and jewels bequeathed to Bert; a helicopter ride to an ancestral castle nestled in the Italian Alps below Mont Blanc; a portrait gallery of ancestors Bert never knew existed; and a cellar of expensive vintage wine for Bert to drink.

But her ancestry has a dark side, and Bert soon learns that her family history is particularly complicated. As Bert begins to unravel the Montebianco secrets, she begins to realize her true inheritance lies not in a legacy of ancestral treasures, but in her very genes.


Mexican Gothic
by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

why I want to read this

I’ve seen this book everywhere this year and once I read the blurb I immediately added it to my list of books to read. It’s a dark gothic tale, with a really interesting and complex heroine and I can’t wait to start reading it.

After receiving a frantic letter from her newly-wed cousin begging for someone to save her from a mysterious doom, Noemí Taboada heads to High Place, a distant house in the Mexican countryside. She’s not sure what she will find—her cousin’s husband, a handsome Englishman, is a stranger, and Noemí knows little about the region.   
Noemí is also an unlikely rescuer: She’s a glamorous debutante, and her chic gowns and perfect red lipstick are more suited for cocktail parties than amateur sleuthing. But she’s also tough and smart, with an indomitable will, and she is not afraid: Not of her cousin’s new husband, who is both menacing and alluring; not of his father, the ancient patriarch who seems to be fascinated by Noemí; and not even of the house itself, which begins to invade Noemi’s dreams with visions of blood and doom.
Her only ally in this inhospitable abode is the family’s youngest son. Shy and gentle, he seems to want to help Noemí, but might also be hiding dark knowledge of his family’s past. For there are many secrets behind the walls of High Place. The family’s once colossal wealth and faded mining empire kept them from prying eyes, but as Noemí digs deeper she unearths stories of violence and madness. 
And Noemí, mesmerized by the terrifying yet seductive world of High Place, may soon find it impossible to ever leave this enigmatic house behind.


We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson

Six years after four members of the Blackwood family died of arsenic poisoning, the three survivors—elder, agoraphobic sister Constance; wheelchair-bound Uncle Julian; and 18-year-old Mary Katherine, or Merricat—live in peaceful solitude. Merricat has devised an eccentric set of laws and defensive charms to keep the estate safe from intruding villagers. However, a stranger appears one day—cousin Charles, who is after the Blackwood fortune—and manages to infiltrate their carefully guarded lives. Merricat resorts to severe measures after failing to elude him through polite or occult means, resulting in crisis, tragedy, and the disclosure of a dreadful secret.

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Gothic romance books featuring hauntings and ghosts

It would be madness not to have a section of gothic romance books featuring ghosts and hauntings. Having a spectre in a dark and dreary castle, or flitting about long dark corridors in run down mansion in pretty much synonymous with the gothic genre. So, here you will find books where ghosts are the monster of the day!


The Widow of Rose House
by Diana Biller

why i want to read this

Actually, I have already read this one! This is a straight up recommendation. Especially if you you, like me, are a bit of a scardy cat and want something lighter on the creepy factor and focuses more on the romance and the development of the characters. The haunting is an important aspect of the story, however, what I remember most is really enjoying the romance.

Check out what our review of The Widow of Rose House by Diana Biller

It’s 1875, and Alva Webster has perfected her stiff upper lip after three years of being pilloried in the presses of two continents over fleeing her abusive husband. Now his sudden death allows her to return to New York to make a fresh start, restoring Liefdehuis, a dilapidated Hyde Park mansion, and hopefully her reputation at the same time. However, fresh starts aren’t as easy as they seem, as Alva discovers when stories of a haunting at Liefdehuis begin to reach her. But Alva doesn’t believe in ghosts. So when the eccentric and brilliant professor, Samuel Moore, appears and informs her that he can get to the bottom of the mystery that surrounds Liefdehuis, she turns him down flat. She doesn’t need any more complications in her life―especially not a handsome, convention-flouting, scandal-raising one like Sam.

Unfortunately, though Alva is loath to admit it, Sam, a pioneer in electric lighting and a member of the nationally-adored Moore family of scientists, is the only one who can help. Together, the two delve into the tragic secrets wreathing Alva’s new home while Sam attempts to unlock Alva’s history―and her heart.


The Witch of Willow Hall
by Hester Fox

In Salem, they burned. Now, they will rise.

New Oldbury, 1821

The house holds its breath, trying to outlast me…

Something has awakened in Willow Hall. Eighteen-year-old Lydia Montrose can feel it. But she has no idea what it is.

Rocked by rumor and scandal, Lydia, her parents, and her sisters, Catherine and Emeline, fled their sparkling life in Boston for the sleepy country estate. But bone-chilling noises in the night have Lydia convinced their idyllic new home wasn’t exactly vacant when they arrived.

The Salem witch trials cast a long shadow over the Montrose family as the cloying heat of summer in Massachusetts mingles with something sinister in the air. The sprawling history of Willow Hall is no stranger to secrets, and its dark past soon calls to Lydia, igniting ancient magic she never knew she possessed. But with menacing forces unwilling to rest, threatening to tear her family apart, Lydia must learn to harness her newly discovered power or risk losing everyone she holds dear.


Fables & Other Lies
by Claire Contreras

Available on kindle unlimited

Do you believe in curses?

I never did.

Not until that fated night, six years ago, when I sat in The Devil’s Chair and made a wish.

Not until it came true.

No’ until I met River Caliban himself, heir to a fortune of curses. My fated sworn enemy.

I knew I should have stayed away from him. I should have run the other way when he called out my name, when he flashed that sinful smile of his, but instead, I walked toward him, leaving the light behind. Instead, I go against all reason, against all warning, and attended the gala of the year at his dark, allegedly haunted home at the top of the hill.

The moment I step foot inside I know I’m in trouble, but there’s something about River that magnetizes me, reels me in, and when he asks for the impossible, I find it impossible to turn him away.


A Stitch in Time
by Kelley Armstrong

why i want to read this

My biggest reason for wanting to read this is that I am a huge fan of Kelley Armstrong. She has written some of my favourite urban fantasy and thriller books and I expect she will nail the gothic romance genre as well. Especially with such an interesting premise, a time travelling, ghost story romance? Sign me up please.

Read our review of A Stitch in Time by Kelley Armstrong

Thorne Manor has always been haunted…and it has always haunted Bronwyn Dale. As a young girl, Bronwyn could pass through a time slip in her great-aunt’s house, where she visited William Thorne, a boy her own age, born two centuries earlier. After a family tragedy, the house was shuttered and Bronwyn was convinced that William existed only in her imagination.

Now, twenty years later Bronwyn inherits Thorne Manor. And when she returns, William is waiting.

William Thorne is no longer the boy she remembers. He’s a difficult and tempestuous man, his own life marred by tragedy and a scandal that had him retreating to self-imposed exile in his beloved moors. He’s also none too pleased with Bronwyn for abandoning him all those years ago.

As their friendship rekindles and sparks into something more, Bronwyn must also deal with ghosts in the present version of the house. Soon she realizes they are linked to William and the secret scandal that drove him back to Thorne Manor. To build a future, Bronwyn must confront the past.


The Isle of Sin and Shadows
by Keri Lake

Available on kindle unlimited

This island alone boasts more ghost stories than all of Louisiana combined.
And I’m one of them.

In the Louisiana swamplands, ghost stories are as much a part of childhood as chasing fireflies and crawfishing. They never much scared me, though, nor the possibility of evil out to do me harm. Until the night I watched shadows come to life and butcher everything I loved.

With a stranger’s help, I managed to escape to an isolated place miles north, and, in time, became my own ghost story. A cautionary tale for the locals.

Nearly a decade passed, before I returned to my birthplace, in hopes of unearthing long-awaited answers. Instead, I found something I wasn’t looking for. Someone. A remedy for my loneliness.

Or so I thought.

Turns out, Thierry Bergeron is no elixir. He’s a deadly poison, cursed by the demons of his past, and feared by those who call him the elusive Rougarou of the bayou. A devious rogue, whose seductive whispers and rough hands haunt my dreams. The big bad wolf that defiles me without apology, or remorse.

I should resist him, but I can’t.

And when the shadows return to stake their claim on me, his darkness is the only safe place to hide.

Gothic romance books with a mystery

Normally at the core of gothic romance books there’s a mystery. Why are these spooky and terrible things happening? Why are they happening to that particular character? And, why are they happening now? But, the books below take that a step further and veer us slightly into the gothic mystery/thriller genre as our characters find themselves investigating terrible and unusual crimes.


Anatomy: A Love Story
by Dana Schwartz

why i want to read this

Once again, another cover has drawn me in. I love that at first glance it looks like a heart and it’s only on looking carefully a second (and for me, a third) time that you realise it’s a young lady kneeling down in a red dress. I’m also a sucker for a historical mystery and this one seems very exciting, set in Edinburgh, with a hint of the supernatural and some romance. It’s the perfect read for me.

Edinburgh, 1817. 

Hazel Sinnett is a lady who wants to be a surgeon more than she wants to marry.

Jack Currer is a resurrection man who’s just trying to survive in a city where it’s too easy to die.

When the two of them have a chance encounter outside the Edinburgh Anatomist’s Society, Hazel thinks nothing of it at first. But after she gets kicked out of renowned surgeon Dr. Beecham’s lectures for being the wrong gender, she realizes that her new acquaintance might be more helpful than she first thought. Because Hazel has made a deal with Dr. Beecham: if she can pass the medical examination on her own, the university will allow her to enroll. Without official lessons, though, Hazel will need more than just her books – she’ll need bodies to study, corpses to dissect.

Lucky that she’s made the acquaintance of someone who digs them up for a living, then.

But Jack has his own problems: strange men have been seen skulking around cemeteries, his friends are disappearing off the streets. Hazel and Jack work together to uncover the secrets buried not just in unmarked graves, but in the very heart of Edinburgh society.


Cameron’s Landing
by Anne Stuart

A governess is not a murder investigator. To new governess Lorna MacDougal, that seemed a safe and reasonable assumption. Until her employer, the grand matriarch of the Cameron family sees fit to change all the rules of childcare. The woman seriously expects Lorna to discover who murdered her husband.

The family’s three sons are obvious suspects: Stephen with his shallow wife, Gentle Charles who wouldn’t hurt a fly, and the most dangerous of them all, Alexander Cameron—the black sheep of the family and the most irresistible man Lorna has ever met.

But no one is as they seem, and her worst enemy is the one man she can’t trust. The mystery deepens until death follows, and Lorna can’t decide if she’s in love with a monster or a wronged man. Or whether she’ll be the next one to die.

Book cover Stalking Jack the Ripper by Kerri Maniscalco

Stalking Jack the Ripper
by Kerri Maniscalco

Seventeen-year-old Audrey Rose Wadsworth was born a lord’s daughter, with a life of wealth and privilege stretched out before her. But between the social teas and silk dress fittings, she leads a forbidden secret life.

Against her stern father’s wishes and society’s expectations, Audrey often slips away to her uncle’s laboratory to study the gruesome practice of forensic medicine. When her work on a string of savagely killed corpses drags Audrey into the investigation of a serial murderer, her search for answers brings her close to her own sheltered world.


The Bone Orchard
by Sara A. Mueller

why i want to read this

If you want something spooky and unique, then look no further. This book looks like a difficult but intriguing read, taking on the subject of sex work and the power dynamics behind it. If you want something to really get your teeth into, this could be the book for you.

Charm is a witch, and she is alone. The last of a line of conquered necromantic workers, now confined within the yard of regrown bone trees at Orchard House, and the secrets of their marrow.

Charm is a prisoner, and a survivor. She tends the trees and their clattering fruit for the sake of her children, painstakingly grown and regrown with its fruit: Shame, Justice, Desire, Pride, and Pain.

Charm is a whore, and a madam. The wealthy and powerful of Borenguard come to her house to buy time with the girls who aren’t real.

Except on Tuesdays, which is when the Emperor himself lays claim to his mistress, Charm herself.

But now—Charm is also the only person who can keep an empire together, as the Emperor summons her to his deathbed, and charges her with choosing which of his awful, faithless sons will carry on the empire—by discovering which one is responsible for his own murder.

If she does this last thing, she will finally have what has been denied her since the fall of Inshil—her freedom. But she will also be betraying the ghosts past and present that live on within her heart.

Charm must choose. Her dead Emperor’s will or the whispers of her own ghosts. Justice for the empire or her own revenge.


The Widow of Pale Harbor
by Hester Fox

Maine, 1846. Gabriel Stone is desperate to escape the ghosts that haunt him in Massachusetts after his wife’s death, so he moves to Pale Harbor, Maine, where there is a vacancy for a new minister. Gideon and his late wife had always dreamed of building their own church, and Pale Harbor is the perfect opportunity.

But not all is as it seems in the sleepy town of Pale Harbor. Strange, unsettling things have been happening, and the townspeople know that only one person can be responsible: Sophronia Carver, a widow who lives with a spinster maid in the decaying Castle Carver on the edge of town. Sophronia is a recluse, rumored to be a witch who killed her husband.

When Gabriel meets her, he knows the charming, beautiful woman cannot be guilty of anything. Together, Gabriel and Sophronia realize that the mysterious events have one thing in common: they all contain an element from the wildly popular stories of Mr. Edgar Allan Poe. And when the events escalate to murder, Gabriel and Sophronia must find the real killer, before it’s too late for them both.


Dark Desires
by Eve Silver

Available on kindle unlimited

Betrayed by those she trusted, penniless and alone, Darcie Finch is forced to accept a position that no one else dares, as assistant to dangerously attractive Dr. Damien Cole. Ignoring the whispered warnings and rumours that he’s a man to fear, she takes her position at his eerie estate where she quickly discovers that nothing is at it seems, least of all her handsome and brooding employer. As Darcie struggles with her fierce attraction to Damien, she must also deal with the blood, the disappearances … and the murders.

With her options dwindling and time running out, Darcie must rely on her instincts as she confronts the man she is falling in love with. Is he an innocent and misunderstood man … or a remorseless killer who prowls the East End streets?

Retellings of classic gothic novels

I spoke about some of the classic gothic novels form the 18th and 19th century when I was exploring exactly what the genre was. And, there’s nothing quite like a retelling, or reimagining of those familiar stories for current times and tastes. How would it play out, if in The Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux Christine went with the Phantom instead of the insipid Raoul? Well, maybe we will find out!


House of Salt and Sorrows
by Erin A. Craig

why i want to read this

This is a reimagining of the Brothers Grimm Twelve Dancing Princesses, the story goes that twelve princesses are locked in by their father every night. However, each morning he finds their slippers torn up from them dancing. How do they get out? Where are they going? Who are they dancing with? I think Erin A. Craig will address those questions and give them a gothic twist!

In a manor by the sea, twelve sisters are cursed.

Annaleigh lives a sheltered life at Highmoor, a manor by the sea, with her sisters, their father, and stepmother. Once they were twelve, but loneliness fills the grand halls now that four of the girls’ lives have been cut short. Each death was more tragic than the last—the plague, a plummeting fall, a drowning, a slippery plunge—and there are whispers throughout the surrounding villages that the family is cursed by the gods.

Disturbed by a series of ghostly visions, Annaleigh becomes increasingly suspicious that the deaths were no accidents. Her sisters have been sneaking out every night to attend glittering balls, dancing until dawn in silk gowns and shimmering slippers, and Annaleigh isn’t sure whether to try to stop them or to join their forbidden trysts. Because who—or what—are they really dancing with?

When Annaleigh’s involvement with a mysterious stranger who has secrets of his own intensifies, it’s a race to unravel the darkness that has fallen over her family—before it claims her next.

Book Cover Angelika Frankenstein Makes Her Match by Sally Thorne

Angelika Frankenstein Makes Her Match by Sally Thorne

For generations, every Frankenstein has found their true love and equal, unlocking lifetimes of blissful wedded adventure. Clever, pretty (and odd) Angelika Frankenstein has run out of suitors and fears she may become the exception to this family rule. When assisting in her brother Victor’s ground-breaking experiment to bring a reassembled man back to life, she realizes that having an agreeable gentleman convalescing in the guest suite might be a chance to let a man get to know the real her. For the first time, Angelika embarks upon a project that is all her own.

When her handsome scientific miracle sits up on the lab table, her hopes for an instant romantic connection are thrown into disarray. Her resurrected beau (named Will for the moment) has total amnesia and is solely focused on uncovering his true identity. Trying to ignore their heart-pounding chemistry, Angelika reluctantly joins the investigation into his past, hoping it will bring them closer. But when a second suitor emerges to aid their quest, Angelika wonders if she was too hasty inventing a solution. Perhaps fate is not something that can be influenced in a laboratory? Or is Will (or whatever his name is!) her dream man, tailored for her in every way? And can he survive what was done to him in the name of science, and love?


by Sarah Perry

It has been years since Helen Franklin left England. In Prague, working as a translator, she has found a home of sorts—or, at least, refuge. That changes when her friend Karel discovers a mysterious letter in the library, a strange confession and a curious warning that speaks of Melmoth the Witness, a dark legend found in obscure fairy tales and antique village lore. As such superstition has it, Melmoth travels through the ages, dooming those she persuades to join her to a damnation of timeless, itinerant solitude. To Helen it all seems the stuff of unenlightened fantasy.

But, unaware, as she wanders the cobblestone streets Helen is being watched. And then Karel disappears. . . .


Within These Wicked Walls
by Lauren Blackwood

why i want to read this

Jane Eyre is possible one of my favourite books, so whenever I see a retelling or reimagining I am intrigued. Lauren Blackwood gives the classic story an Ethopian twist and I can’t wait to read it and see how it is!

What the heart desires, the house destroys…

Andromeda is a debtera—an exorcist hired to cleanse households of the Evil Eye. When a handsome young heir named Magnus Rochester reaches out to hire her, Andromeda quickly realizes this is a job like no other, with horrifying manifestations at every turn, and that Magnus is hiding far more than she has been trained for. Death is the most likely outcome if she stays, but leaving Magnus to live out his curse alone isn’t an option. Evil may roam the castle’s halls, but so does a burning desire.