I’ve always been a fan of lovely rich and intense Presents stories, love reading them and love writing them, but I made a discovery when I wrote my novella, The Storm Within. Writing my scarred Rachmaninov playing Count living in a crumbling castle atop a storm tossed isle riddled with pirate tunnels and secret treasures, I discovered I loved a good Gothic Presents too, especially knowing that love will ultimately prevail
(and yes, maybe we’re bending the rules of Gothic just a little there but this is romance, right?)
So when my editor asked me to write another Gothic romance but full length this time, I jumped at the opportunity, and thus Secrets of Castillo del Arco was born. I loved having an opportunity to revisit this classic world of the darkly dangerous, secret-ridden hero, of vulnerable heroines who maybe are sometimes too trusting for their own good, and of fog-ridden and ghostly nights. Against the backdrop of mystery and secrets and the wild and elemental forces of nature, emotions become heightened, the needs more dramatic, the romance more intense than ever.
What’s not to love?
And, as in any Gothic story, atmosphere might as well be one of the characters. Secrets moves from a drab wintry Paris to the misty canals of Venice to a castillo on the wild shores of Galician Spain, and all of those settings adds fuel to the fire that is building between the characters. Here’s a snippet from where the heroine is reunited with the hero after many years apart, in one of Paris’s famous cemeteries…
Winter had come early, the late-September day dressed in drab colours as if the planet itself was mourning the death of her grandfather. But the inclement weather found only empathy with Gabriella D’Arenberg, the damp air and misty rain matching her mood as she stood beside her grandfather’s flower-strewn grave in the Cimetiere de Passy. Then the last of the mourners whispered condolences and pressed cold lips briefly to her cheeks before drifting away along the path.
She would leave shortly too, once Consuelo had returned from the call he had excused himself to take, and they would join everyone at the hotel where the caterers were no doubt already serving canapes and cognac. But for now Gabriella was happy to be left alone in quiet reflection in the cold, dank stillness of the graveyard. Here, under the shadow of the Eiffel Tower, there was nothing to intrude, the sounds of the city barely penetrating the stone walls.
Until a dark shadow made her gasp and look around.
He appeared out of the fog, tall, broad and dark as night as he moved stealthily between the funeral sculptures, the winged angels and fat cherubs suspended ghost-like in the swirling mist as he passed. A shiver of recognition—or was it of relief?—washed through her and bizarrely, for the first time that day, she felt warm. Raoul.
She had seen him at the service; it had been impossible to miss his dark presence
in the back of the tiny crowded chapel. Her heart had lifted at the prospect of seeing him again after so many years, only to exit the chapel to a bubble of disappointment when she had found him nowhere amongst the mourners gathered outside. Raoul, who with his intense black eyes and passionate mouth had been her every adolescent fantasy—dark fantasies she’d had no right to imagine. Wicked fantasies that brought a blush to her cheeks just thinking about them. And, when she’d got news that he’d married, she’d cried for two days solid. She’d cried for him a year later when she’d learned of his wife’s death. Thank God he had no idea about any of it or she could never face him now. Thank God she was over all that.
The crunch of boots on gravel grew louder, his long leather coat swirling about his legs, his hair pulled back into a ponytail that served to accentuate the strong lines and angles of his chiselled features. His eyes, if anything, were even more intense than she remembered under that dark slash of brow. Tortured, even. And something about that intensity frightened her a little, just as if his purposeful stride held a portent of danger, sending a tremor skittering down her spine.
The mist, she thought in explanation, as she continued to log his approach with her eyes. The cold, swirling air…
Ooh, I do love a man who knows how to make an entrance!
How about you? Do you like a good Gothic romance?