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Gothic/Gothic Romanic Suspense/Romantic Suspense
Where does one genre start, and the other begin? How are they similar? Dissimilar?

Most of the books that I enjoy fall into the "Gothic Romantic Suspense" genre.

I don't wish to dilute the "gothic" part of this forum if any suggestions that I offer are more "romantic suspense".
I have been thinking alot about these questions lately. Many of the posts that I have read on this forum since I joined it a month ago have focused my thoughts on the differences between these terms. On the face of it, it seemed rather simple, but when I tried to describe it to myself, it became more complex. Then I ended up with more questions than answers.
I've taken a good, hard look at my own collection of gothic books and realize that it is best described by the word "exclusive". I mean it excludes alot of what is out there with the label "gothic" on it. For instance, I don't care for the supernatural in a gothic story. So writers like Barbara Michaels whom I know many readers find to be very gifted, are ruled out. I don't even bother trying them. Yet I know that she fits in the gothic/romantic suspense/gothic romantic suspense category somewhere.
Creature of habit that I am, I like basically the same type of story told over and over again in much the same way with variations that are clever, engaging, admirable in style and rich in mood and atmosphere, and the variations that I see on my bookshelf within these self-imposed limitations attest to the richness of possibility this genre has. I always know when I'm in the middle of a really good gothic story that it truly is an authentic experience of the gothic genre.
I doubt if I clarified anything, gothicromancereader, but I have yet to fully sort out my own thoughts.
(07-26-2010, 12:41 AM)AliceChell Wrote: Creature of habit that I am, I like basically the same type of story told over and over again in much the same way with variations that are clever, engaging, admirable in style and rich in mood and atmosphere . . .

Same here. I admit to being a one-trick pony when it comes to my Gothic reading. Sometimes the plot structure (formula, if you must) of one book to the next is identical, almost scene-for-scene. Yet those variations are what keeps the experience fresh.

My ideal Gothic novel (and I have yet to read it) would contain all the elements we've enumerated but would they'd be much more keyed-up, amplified, brought into sharp focus. The suspense should make my palms sweat. The repartee between the heroine and hero should sparkle enough to make me chuckle outloud. The atmosphere should be so thick it could be all but handled. And when the sinister plot is revealed at the climax, there should be a magnificence to the villainy. Even while I breathe a sigh of relief that the heroine is at last safe from harm, I should feel a pang of sorrow for the villain's own tragedy, the pathos of his foiled plot, the toppling of his great evil work of art. And after closing the book, I should miss the characters with the same bittersweetness of missing old friends.

Many books provide a much more subdued, low-key version of the experience I've tried to describe. I enjoy these books, but I wish I could somehow turn up the intensity. I know it's a tall order -- many an author would rather keep to understatement than risk lapsing over into melodrama. But mind you, it isn't melodrama I'm after, but just an acute heightening of the tension and "Gothic" mood.

Evelyn Berckman has come close in several of her books, but sometimes her storylines can be a little convoluted.
My, what a book that would be! Perhaps, Penfeather, the only way to get one that good would be to write it. And I, for one, would be more than happy to read it.Smile
I find it interesting that what I've come to identify as "Golden Era traditional" Gothic Romance (such as the header on this forum), is not really that at all, but more Gothic Suspense. Why do we call it Gothic Romance when it seems to be more suspense than romance?

Additionally, according to an opinion of someone that has provided an uncomprehensive list of Gothic Romance books on the internet, he does not even list Victoria Holt's "Kirkland Revels" as Gothic Romance, the book that "started" me on the genre! And even "Rebecca", the one that supposedly started them all, is not on his list!

I'm just as confused as ever. . .
Nice and awesome romance book collection by Gothic Romance.
The difference between Gothic Romance and Gothic suspense is not something I've really considered before but I can see that there is one, now you mention it!
However the overlap is present in most stories and to some extent depends upon the relative weight of each element. Does the romance aspect outweigh the suspense or vice versa?
Personally it's the suspense quality that I really look for - invariably centred on a 'damsel in distress' protagonist who is nevertheless very resourceful and determined to survive, however 'feminine' or given to screaming they might entertainingly be!
The 'classic era' dust jackets do indeed sum up the essential elements- vulnerable female, often just in flimsy nightgown to reinforce the vulnerability, and remote, forbidding and/or eerie house/mansion/castle , often with lots of towers, turrets, attic rooms and lights streaming out of single aperture into the moonlight which only intensifies the sense of the heroine's isolation rather than welcomes her.
Frankly the romance bits are more optional - but as one of the few (?!!) guys who read these novels, I would say that anyway. Mind you the romantic figure can have the effect of adding another layer of suspicion to the mystery element : is the 'hero' really to be trusted or will he turn out to be a wrong 'un in the end?!
That is why the novels to my mind benefit from the 60s/70s essential chasteness - the remote nature of the supposed hero means the question mark hangs over him longer - we simply don't get intimate enough with him to decide if he's on the side of angels or darkness!
Some novels have a lot of these elements in their narrative but somehow don't quite qualify as romantic-gothic suspense. I was recently reading a remoteScottish Highland set novel , The Snow on the Ben by one Ian Stuart. Its setting was perfect , there was a distinct romantic 'tug' between the policeman-on-holiday and the young woman fleeing a broken engagement but though on Mary Stewart's territory [ Wildfire at Midnight ] it never quite strays convincingly into the romantic/gothic mode and remains a straightforward crime-adventure. Not surprisingly Ian Stuart turns out to be Alistair MacLean in disguise!
A good read but indefinably not 'our' genre! Similarly, I think, are Antonia Fraser's novels such as 'Quiet as a Nun' .
others of course may see this all quite differently!
I have been away awhile, busy with life. But I am happy to see that new members have found their way to this site. I want to agree with Ewan in the differences between gothic romances and gothic suspense, but at this point, when it is so difficult to find a new book in the old vein, or to even find an old gem, I do read the new gothic suspense novels as long as they keep many of the same elements. I also prefer the chasteness of the old-fashioned gothic because it is true that it lends to that mysterious aura of the hero. In the modern day novel, if the heroine sleeps with the guy, you can almost bet that he is the true hero. Rarely does it occur that he is not.

Anyhow, I just finished a novel billed as a "gothic romance" but I find it hard to define what genre it really belongs to. Will write a review.
Hi Gothic Readers!

At present I'm writing an essay on the "Gothic/Gothic Romantic Suspense/Romantic Suspense" and in the first part I must define a term to designate the "genre". I've checked some critical work and also your opinions here in the forum. I have decided to define the genre with the term "Gothic Paperback Romance", do you agree with it? The literary critics tend to use the terms mass-maket, best-selling, ect in order to denote its popularity, I have decided to use the term "paperback" for two reasons:
- because it speaks of its popularity
- because the paperback, and specially the cover is one of the identity symbols of the genre. By using "paperback" I'm also focusing in the relevance that the covers of the books have in the definition of the genre.

do you agree with the definition "Gothic paperback romance"?

thanks for your opinions.

I like it. It separates the modern paperback Gothics from the earlier Victorian Gothic novels. Now we need a term for the newer novels that call themselves Gothics but are more Paranormal Romance.

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