Tag Archives: gothic romance

I Vote October Sexiest Month of the Year

3 Oct

by Madeline Iva

I’m just orgasmic when it comes to October.  I wish it was three months long.  Seriously.  October is the perfect time to dive into a hot, paranormal romance or to enfold oneself in an elegant, gothic thrillfest.  It’s the home of fantastical fantasies–whether they take place on other worlds or with paranormal sexy beasts.

The season delights my senses. Between leaves crunching, the low angle of afternoon sunlight or the smell of apple cider on the stove, one is in an orgy of sensual delights.  Wool sweaters come out. Your thinking turns all crispy with the cold.  But more importantly, this is the time that we touch fingers with the otherworld.  This is the time to let sensual urges begin to bubble, toil, and cause you trouble.  The time to let primal passions ripen.  The time to welcome an unexpected knock on the door.  No one knows what you do in the dark; in October darkness begins to engulf daylight.  Witches, vampires, along with other things unseen and only grasped in the shadows tease and taunt you to come out and play.  Aren’t you already shivering with delight?

My Halloween pleasures come in a variety pack:

Creepy, Kookie, Mysterious & Spooky:

Over on Facebook, I’m part of a new, fun Halloween Romance FB group.  Yesterday we were talking about what kind of Halloween movies we adore: Beetlejuice, The Adams Family (I like the old TV shows best), and all that other cute fun Halloween-y stuff.  It’s all about the embrace of ‘the other’ isn’t it?

I have a feeling as the days roll by we’ll be shuffling through the leaves and into hotter, more forbidden Halloween topics. ; >  But for now, I love the innocent, goofy “if-you’re-weird-and-ya-know-it-clap-your-hands” kind of vibe as much as I love anything else about Halloween.

We’re having a THE CRAFT movie watching party  on facebook Wednesday night, October 4th.  Join us! It’s at 8:30pm CDT.

Fantastical & Romantic:

October is the perfect time of year for one’s over-the-top urges, whether it’s dressing up, or more fully exploring your pagan side.   For me there are many movies & TV shows that are so flawed, and yet…they feature the kind of fantastical costuming & majestic vibe I lurv so hard.  Here are a few:

Bram Stoker’s Dracula (directed by Francis Ford Coppola) — This movie is flawed, but this side story where poor Lucy is mesmerized, ravished, and then succumbs to Dracula–and how her relationship plays out with her bestie Mina–is to me the most evocative and best part of the movie.

#sowrongsoright —
Lucy having erotic-no-holds-barred sex w dracula inmonster form. On one hand: ew. On the other hand, she’s clearly getting off big time.

Have I got a tale to tell you. Hands down best part of Bram Stoker’s Dracula was the homoerotic/innocent scenes between Lucy n Mina. Thus a thousand fan fic stories were born….

Lucy gets the best and worst of it, clearly. But her costumes were definitely the best part.

Penny Dreadful — I’ll confess I couldn’t make it through this TV show.  Slow pacing and just unorganized weirdness.  But on the other hand, I slobberingly adore Eva Green–esp in her “we’re all doomed” kind of mind-set.

Crimson Peak — didn’t care for the bloody slithering spooky parts of this film that tried to add a dash of horror in what otherwise was a perfect gothic set piece.  The costumes and the set were to die.  I worship it in this Lady Smut blog post and again talking about women in Gothic romances & movies.

What are those things hanging down from the ceiling? I wants them.

Sleepy Hollow —  Just watched this the other night.  There’s a complicated backstory that’s hard to follow–and we just don’t care.  There’s a complicated mystery that Johnny Depp must piece together, but it’s hard to stay focussed with all the over-the-top mayhem and Christopher Walken magnificently chewing the scenery.  The story just gets lost, people.  BUT — Christina Ricci (though her role is dumb) is so angelic and yummy and delicate you just want to strangle her to death.

A+ costumes for Sleepy Hollow!

Underworld — the styling of the first movie is as good as any of the rest of it.  The vamps are cool as f*ck.  Just sayin’.

A Sense of Wit & Humor:

If Halloween were a hero, he’d be the one quietly laughing at himself.  I love humor in all Halloween movies & TV shows. Have you seen all of these?

  • Crazy Head (British, TV)
  • Santa Clarita Diet (Netflix)
  • iZombie (TV)
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer (TV)
  • Warm Bodies (Movie, Romance)
  • Shawn of the Dead (Movie, Zombies, Satire)
  • Scream (Horror Movie)
  • Ghostbusters (Movie, Humor)
  • An American Werewolf in London (Old 80’s Horror Movie)

Gothic, Perverse, & Grotesque:

Something about fall gives me an almost manic sense of possibility.  A go-to-hell attitude that spurs my imagination, allowing me to uphold my true love for all things a wee bit twisted.  In fact, my Pinterest board Halloween Smexy is a document of my favorite Halloween cultural delights.

Today I’m fixated (again) on AMERICAN HORROR STORY: COVEN.  There’s such a dark-girl-power theme, I can’t f***ing get enough. Shivers.

Speaking of dark-girl-power! I’m going to be at this Barnes & Nobel event in Charlottesville, VA on Saturday October 28th, from 12 to 3pm. (singing) It’s gonna be freaking awesome…We’re talking about the world of genre fic — specifically the world of SFF–and ‘what it feels like for a girl‘ in this genre, whether we’re attending cons or being someone with a vagina amongst all the writer-men.
Queens of Damned postcard, Barnes & Nobel event

In summation, because of the ebullient change of seasons, the dark embrace of Halloween, and all it’s fantastical, twisted, grotesque excellence–I vote October sexiest month of the year.

But Wait! There’s More!!!!

Here are two other events I’ll be attending this season:

This Sunday, Oct 8th, 2017, I’ll be at the HEARTS TO YOU, WRW Luncheon for bloggers and readers.  You want to sign up? It’s not too late.  Click the link for the registration form.

Click on this photo to go to the registration page…

The other event on Nov 4th is at the LOUDEN COUNTY Library. I’ll be talking plot and how character is king! Click on the link:


And if that’s not enough of me, you know you can always subscribe to my newsletter or find me on fb.

Witchy kisses & hugs to you! XOXO, Mads


Crimson Peak: More Bloody Than a Tampon–And I Relished it

18 Feb
Got a sinister hero? Then you've got my interest.

Got a sinister hero? Then you’ve got my interest.

by Madeline Iva

I was attracted to the preview for Crimson Peak, and even more attracted to Tom Hiddleston, who stars in it. Yet I couldn’t tell from the preview if the movie was a horror film or romantic suspense.  Not loving horror films, I waited to watch it on video where I could fast forward through the scream-y parts if need be.

I shouldn’t have worried. Crimson Peak is a Gothic Romantic Suspense movie—capital G, emphasis on the ick.

Gothic? Horror? Gothic-horror? What’s the difference, you’re wondering. Some say it’s not horror if there’s no blood splatter on the wall. Oh, Crimson Peak has blood splatter a-plenty. Not just on the walls, but also the carpet, the snow, the clothes, the skin. Never since Carrie has a movie audience been so drenched in red dyed corn-syrup.

But a Gothic sensibility is all about the build up. We revel in the hints of secrets, and spend a lot of suspenseful time wondering what—what chilling secret could be in the creepy investigator’s file? In the locked rooms of the ancient hall, in the gooey red brick pits in the basement, in the locked luggage next to the gooey pits…

We’re looking for twisted hidden secrets. We want them revealed and brought out into the light of day–or at least twilight if that’s all there is to be had in the gloomy climate of Northern England. The dangerous horror part is only a small component of the whole.  We’re much more involved in the building psychological strain and suspense. (What could it beeeeee in that bedroom?)

Excellent Gothic stories always ends with a goodly amount of implosion. We want the mansion destroyed by fire, we want the mad-woman jumping off the roof–only to drown in the pond.  We want the carriage plunging over a cliff. (Bonus points for managing such a feat without harming the horses.)

In this way, CRIMSON PEAK is most definitely a gothic movie. I was worried about horror elements, when in fact (SPOILER ALERT!)

what we have here is merely……really ugly ghosts, trying to deliver helpful messages.

What the movie doesn’t deliver in horror, it delivers in gothic architecture and gowns. Is there any better satisfaction for the Gothic enthusiast than a once-gorgeous house pocked with decay like swiss cheese? Better yet is the house that delivers some weird and extravagant folly. Fluttering moths on the walls? Check.  Mine shaft in the basement? Check. (Yes, I’m not kidding, there really is!)

HouseCrimson Peak’s also got gothic quatrafoil bannisters, fan vault trim, and oculus glass up the wazoo. Spindle carvings drips from beamed ceilings panels, and gingerbread sprawls across the stairwells. It’s like being in heaven for those who know they really belong in hell.

Gowns billow in haunted breezes, Nightgowns hug the neck like a confining clasp of a strangler.  Robes of silk outline heaving breasts, and glorious hip length locks run in a dark river across the neck and down the ribs. Do I sound orgasmic? I was. I still am, a little.

TomTom Hiddleston is the anti-hero who stands in the center of all this wanton glory. Is there any better man to play a twisted romantic hero? I think not.

Tom…Tom…let me count the ways.

His intelligent sensitivity, his understated sensuality…his ice blue eyes that nevertheless melt with innate sympathy, yet tragic acceptance that no…there’s no help for you.

I get ovary spasms just from listening to the way he explains what Gothic romance is on Charlie Rose and how repressed sexuality bursts forth in ghosts, mayhem and horror —

Jessica Chastain, meanwhile, plays his evil sister in a repressed matronly way worthy of Mrs. Danvers (The nasty housekeeper in REBECCA). We’re not quite so interested in her while Tom is on screen–how could we be?  But at the same time, yeah, she’s workin it.

Frankly, I would have been just as happy if they decided to change the tale to that of a twisted incestuous couple who rid themselves of the shallow American heiress so they can live in lecherous macabre delight—an alternative HEA. (What’s that I hear?—It’s the sound of a thousand fan fiction posts launching on Wattpad.)

JessicaBut Crimson Peak is not a perfect movie for us Gothic fans. Alas, there are bad American accents, cheesy overdone bloody effects.  I like over the top as the much as anybody, and didn’t mind the costumes and sets (who doesn’t like a mind shaft in a basement? Or leaves and snow falling gently through the gaping hole in the ceiling?) But the blood-like clay seeping from the walls? Okay…a leetle bit over done. Actually WAY overdone. Why Guillermo? Why? The writer/director crossed the line a few times, and in doing so seemed to aim his movie towards a less refined audience. Sad.

However I respect any movie in which two women, heroine and villainess, battle it out at the end. I warn those of you who couldn’t hack the Psycho shower scene to quickly avert your eyes during their epic throw down. Talk about death by a thousand cuts—and in billowing bloodstained nightgowns!

Back to our Gothic Rules of Attraction. I like it that the heroine loves the bad guy, Tom Hiddleston (again a favorite trope) even after she discovers his dark secrets. Does he loves her? Agh! We sit and wonder. And! If he does love her–can they get out of that house alive together before it tumbles down and sinks into the oozing clay, a la The House of Usher?*Gown

That’s the question that kept me going all the way through the gory ending.

Alas, this movie was a little watered down for my taste. A little more lowbrow than it needed to be. I liked chewing on parts of it, but the best of gothic suspense tradition is not about hack and slash, it’s all about the revealing twitch of an eyebrow, the moment the locked door creaks open and our heroine will never again be innocent again.

*I’ve always wanted to own a house that comes with a black tarn.

Thanks for tuning in, readers! And follow us at Lady Smut, where we devote ourselves to bringing you shivery, sexy fun.

Madeline Ivaimgres writes fantasy, paranormal, and contemporary romance.  Her novella ‘Sexsomnia’ is available in our LadySmut anthology HERE, and her fantasy romance, WICKED APPRENTICE, will be out Spring, 2016.

Sexy Regencies? A Q&A with author Elf Ahearn

3 Apr

roses2A traditional definition of Regency romances imcludes setting in the British Regency period (1811 – 1820), strict and accurate attention to historical detail, an emphasis on intelligent, fast-paced dialogue, and on the developing romance between the protagonists. It does not, however, generally include explicit, sensual sex scenes. But that didn’t stop author Elf Ahearn from writing the kind of Regency she likes to read, which amps up the heat in a most satisfying way. Her new release is A Rogue in Sheep’s Clothing, and she joins us today to talk about her book, her work as an actress, and what’s in store next.

ELIZABETH SHORE: Hi Elf, thanks for joining us today! Why don’t we start out by talking about the setting for your book. Of all the historical time periods that a writer could choose from, you’ve picked the Regency era for your series. Could you talk about why that specific time appealed to you?

ELF AHEARN: My sister is totally into Regency romances, she won’t read anything else, so to guarantee at least one sale… well, I had no choice (Not true – she’d read any dribble I scratched on paper).  The real story is that the Regency chose me. I wanted to write something with sex and adventure – women risking everything – their reputations, their lives, their fortunes, for love. It’s very freeing that Ellie Albright, the heroine in A Rogue in Sheep’s Clothing, can’t clap a cell phone to her ear and call the police when she’s in trouble; Hugh Davenport, my hero, can’t access a therapist to work out his hostility towards his mother, and my villain can’t be found via his credit card purchases. Working in the past is awesome.

 ELIZABETH: Did you start out writing A Rogue in Sheep’s Clothing knowing it was going to be a series, or were you thinking it was going to be a single book that later evolved into a series?

ELF: It took me four years to write this book. Romance is a genre that has very set rules – I had to learn those rules to my bones before I could really create, plus, I’m stubborn. I had to write a scene first – even if my critique partners warned me in advance – before I learned that it didn’t work. If I’d thought about a series before I started, I probably would have quit. So, the answer is, no, I didn’t have a series in mind, but as I learned to relax into the genre, know my way around a little, romance writing became such a joy that I had to start another book.

ELIZABETH: As I mentioned in the intro, Regency romance readers may be surprised by the heat level in your books as regencies are traditionally more “tame” than what you’ve written. Inquiring Lady Smut minds want to know, why are your books steamier?

ELF: One of the first Regency romances I ever read was by Sabrina Jefferies, whose love scenes are scorching hot. I thought, heavens to Betsy, I could never be so graphic! My hand may have even clutched my heart, I can’t remember. Once the story got underway, however, my inner poet seized on the sex. Beyond the throbbing members and heaving bosoms, I thought, ‘What does a man’s leg look like in moonlight – that slash of shadow under a taught thigh muscle… and what does the curve of a woman’s hip feel like to a man when he first runs his hand over it – the skin, smooth and soft, the bone fitting perfectly into the cup of his hand… Well, you get the picture.

ELIZABETH: Oooooh, I sure do! OK, as I fan myself to calm down . . . You’ve said that you think a good tag line for your books is “Regency romance with a gothic twist.” Could you talk about that?

ELF: “Regency romance with a Gothic twist,” is my warning label. Not all Regency romances, but most Regency romances, are what I think of as parlor dramas. The hero and heroine have a personal battle that takes place, typically, in the confines of a magnificent English estate. In A Rogue in Sheep’s Clothing, there’s a struggle between the hero and heroine, but also an exterior conflict where the stakes are life or death. Pretty dark for a novel taking place in 1816. I didn’t want readers taken by surprise by the book’s intensity. And the sequel, Lord Monroe’s Dark Tower, is even more “Gothic.”

ELIZABETH: And what about the horse who plays a prominent role in Rogue. What’s the appeal for you?

ELF: Growing up, The Black Stallion by Walter Farley, one of the greatest young adult novels of all time, was my bible. I was mad for horses, and when I became an adult, I vowed I would seize my chance to write a horse race and give it all the Walter Farley magic I could muster. Hopefully, the clash of thoroughbreds in Rogue is more exciting than a worm versus a slug. Readers, let me know.

ELIZABETH: In your past you were very active in the theater. Has your theater background helped with your career as a writer?

ELF: Yes, absolutely. I have a highly dramatic sensibility and that all stems from my days trodding the boards. It has nothing to do with my personality, which is exceedingly calm, cool and collected (I lie). But truly, theatre gave me a good feeling for dialog and dramatic structure that serves me well in writing fiction.

Aspiring writers! become an actor first, starve for several years, forage for food, then take up fiction, then starve for several years…

ELIZABETH: Oh but we’re SO happy  you’ve made the sacrifice! Tell me, are you blogging? Where can we find you?

ELF: A few years ago I started a blog exclusively about my cat, Sufie. It became such a pain, though, chasing her around every day with the camera. She wouldn’t stay in the poses, she resented the intrusions on her privacy, the interviews weren’t going well. I gave up. Now, I’m planning a blog titled, The Writer’s Cat, and I’m looking for others to submit stories about their felines. I’ll sit back and let everyone else do all the work, while Sufie soaks up the peace and quiet. Hopefully a few gals from Lady Smut will make contributions. As for where you can find me, my Web address is elfahearn.com.

ELIZABETH: Great! So what’s next for you?

ELF: Crimson Romance, my publisher, bought the second book already, Lord Monroe’s Dark Tower, so hopefully it will be coming out in the next six months or so.

ELIZABETH: Sounds great!

Elf Ahearn is a professional writer with nearly two decades of experience. Her first novel, A Rogue in Sheep’s Clothing is available at Amazon.com, and BookStrand.com. She lives in New York with her wonderful husband and her pesky (yet adorable) cat.

Thanks for being our guest today, Elf!

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