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Tag: contemporary gothic romance

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Anastasia Blackwell Interview on Trap of Women Who Marry for Money

In a recent interview at the Ashland Shakespeare Festival in Oregon I was asked about the character of Ruth Sandeley, wife of wealthy Ramey Sandeley in The House on Black Lake. Here are my thoughts:

 

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Anastasia Blackwell Reveals Inspiration for Novel 'The House on Black Lake'

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Author Anastasia Blackwell Interview on Taming Bad Boys

 

In a series of interviews set in Jacksonville, Oregon I was asked about the bad boys in The House on Black Lake. Here is an excerpt from the interview:

 

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Photographs From "The House on Black Lake" Music Video

Trapezepro Circus Arts in Sonoma

A provocative music video depicting scene from contemporary gothic suspense, "The House on Black Lake" , filmed by Frazer Bradshaw is currently being edited. This site is currently not taking the large file sizes, so will download others as site allows.

Anastasia Blackwell

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Top 50 Romance Novels With Cheating Heroes

 
              It is a little known fact that many woman love to read about cheating heros. The House on Black Lake is filled with betrayal by both men and women. Ramey Sandeley is married when he first meets Alexandra Brighton, but that does not deter him, as he has cheated his entire adult life. Of course there is a price to be paid for cheating and that requires the hero fall hard, be punished for his trangressions, leading to the secretly enjoyed grovel scenes, to ultimate redemption. However, as in real life, this does not always happen.
               I have listed the top fifty romance novels that feature cheating heros. My information was culled from talking with romance enthusiasts and popular romance sites, (thanks to Amazon romance community, esp. Vanessa). Photograph is from "The House on Black Lake" trailer.
 
     Please Note: The list is not in not in order of popularity. Tastes of readers are can be vastly different.
 
l.  Perfect Marriage by Laurie Bright
2. The Fourth Child: 9 Months Later  by CJ Carmichael
3. The Ultimate Betrayal by Michelle Reid 
4. Redemption Karen Kingsbury
5. A Morning Like This, by Deborah Bedford. 
6. Some Enchanted Seasonby Marilynn Pappano
7. A Reason to Believe by Kathleen Eagle
8. Bold Angel by Kat MartinRuth Sandeley catches glimpse of her husband, Ramey Sandeley, confronting her friend (h) Alexandra Brighton afte
9. Perfect Sin by Kat Martin
10. Love and Other Natural Disasters by Holly Shumas.
11. Some Enchanted Seasonby Marily Pappano
12. Mirror Bound by Nissa Gordon
13. Bygones by LaVyrle Spencer
14. Slice of Heaven by Sherry Woods
15. First Time by Joy Fielding
16. Innocent Wife by Melanie Milburne
17. Baby of Shame by Malanie Milburne
18. A Father's Promise by Helen R. Myers. 
19. The Dream by Kat Martin
20. Dreaming of You by Lisa Kleypas
21. Lightning by Danielle Steele
22. The Adultery Club by Tess Simmons
23. The Substitute Wife by Dallas Chulze
24. Lover Eternal, by J.R. Ward 
25. Mercy   by Jodi Picoult
26. The Perfect Sinner by Penny Jordon
27. Waiting For Revenge -by Autumn Piper
28. Something Borrowed by Emily Griffin
29. The Familiar Stranger  by Christina Berry
30. On Mystic Lake by Kristin Hannah
31. More Than Friends by Barbara Delinsky
32. Just Breathe by Susan Wigg
33. Seducing Sullivan by Julie Elizabeth Leto
34. Tempt Me Tonight by  Toni Blake
35. The Taming by Jude Devereau
36. Fall From Grace by Kristi Gold
39. The Velvet Promise
40. Home Song by LaVyrle Spencer
41. Love Will Find A Way" by Barri Bryan.
42. Long Walk In Wintertime by Libby Purves
44. Loving Lies by Lora Leigh
45. Deception by Jenny Penn
46. His Lady Mistress by Elizabeth Rolls
47. The Reinvention of Chastity by Eve Vaughn.
49. My One by January Rowe
50. The Ultimate Betrayal by Michelle Reid.
 
I was recently interviewed about my thoughts about cheaters. Here are my comments:
 
 

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Mature Heroines in Romance Literature

THE HOUSE ON BLACK LAKE HAS BEEN ADAPTED TO SCREENPLAY. GO TO HOME PAGE TO VIEW PROVOCATIVE CINEMATIC TRAILER

During my travels in promoting The House on Black Lake I have spoken to many women frustrated that most romance novel authors cut off heroine age at around 36, an age when most women have only begun to fully mature into their innate beauty and strength. Yet a good number of these authors are well into their 40s, 50s, 60s, 70s, and even older.

When I set out to write The House on Black Lake I could not imagine featuring a woman who was not fully mature in my book. All of the women featured in my novel are over forty, and there is an extremely seductive character well into her sixties. In the course of the trilogy that constitutes the entirety of the story of heroine, Alexandra Brighton’s journey, she and the women in her sphere will age with incredible beauty, dignity, strength, and romantic passion.

I do not promote a social structure that demeans women in their prime because they pursue what nature deems their best course, including mating with a young, healthy male. I say no, and so does my heroine.  Alexandra is desired by all of the conflicted males in the tale, and torn between the seductiveness of the younger male and the depth of her intellectual , sexual, and emotional equal, Ramey Sandeley. The elder patriarchal elite, represented by Roger Sandeley, find her both a treasure and threat, as she carries the ultimate power.

 We learn in the prelude to Alexandra’s story that she was a beautiful young woman taught to accept the role society had laid out for her. When she suffers a disfiguring affliction after child birth, she makes a vow at St. Andre’s Shrine, “Truth for Beauty” – a promise to follow her divine destiny in return of an unblemished face. As she attempts to follow her chosen path she finds herself demeaned and diminished by society. And when she leaves her powerful, wealthy, controlling husband, the court strips her of her children and financial security. Ultimately, she is left broke and alone. The journey into the underground of Black Lake is her only hope of salvation.

 The greatest fear of most mature men is abandonment and failure, and that is why mature women are stripped of their power when they choose to compete with, leave an older man, or cast eyes at younger men.  What is more inconsionable is that women strip themselves of their own and other women’s power by buying into stereotypes and myths, competing with other women, and accepting that beauty and money alone have value. And yet, it is the patriarchal elite who have the most to lose, for they squelch their only hope of a soulmate to nurture them at home and unite to govern the world with humanity and grace.

The House on Black Lake is a woman’s journey through the underground of society, subsequent transformation, and empowerment. The men and women who do not live by society’s rules, the gypsies, witches, and mystics, are Alexandra’s tutors in redefining what constitutes power and beauty.

Strange female creatures are being created in operating rooms all over the world as women accept a twisted notion of what allures, while the guile and determination that defines charm is further buried. Many mature women give up altogether  and live through their daughters. The opposite should be the norm, as young girls must learn from the vibrant females of our world, and not the opposite. They shall earn their place when they have passed through the trials of financial struggle, work, motherhood, sorrow, loss, and as well as travel, adventure, and passionate love.

 I yearn for the guidance of the goddesses of the past, and strive to become one worthy of following. I say it’s time for revolution, a revolution of mature heroines storming into modern society, a new breed to lead the younger generations.

Writers need to know what their followers desires. Contact them on their websites if you seek to learn more about powerful females and their adventures.

Scene from trailer/novel where sexy young artist Andre Labat (Tosh Yanez) seduces heroine, Alexandra Brighton, (Anastasia Blackwell)  a mother of two and well into 40's. He is one of three successful and powerful men who vie for her attention.

Another character, Luna Sandeley, is in her 60's with a wealthy husband, a younger lover, and the adoration of many others

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Trapeze Artists In Rehearsal for Music Video for "The House on Black Lake" at Trapeze Pro in Sonoma

Trapeze artists Tany Hoover and Marek Kaszuba of Trapeze Pro in Sonoma are in rehearsal for a music video based on a scene from the novel. The piece titled "Dangerous Games" will integrate an intoxicating new song and music  by Peter Busboom along with special effects. Actor's  will recreate scene culminating in trapeze act. The rare combination of static and flying trapeze is a sensuous interpretive movement piece that illuminates the dangerous game of love.

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Book Clubs - Romance Novel Discussions

THE HOUSE ON BLACK LAKE HAS BEEN ADAPTED TO SCREENPLAY. GO TO HOME PAGE TO VIEW PROVOCATIVE CINEMATIC TRAILER

 In the process of promoting my novel, I have spoken with many romance enthusiests and spent time researching forums devoted to the romance genre.  I have compled a list of the fifty most popular themes. Asterisks are placed next to topics touched upon in The House on Black Lake.

Book Clubs may want to use  list as  beginning of discussion, or have members write their own and create an extended list that can be forwarded along to community sites. Knowledgable readers may add title examples for each topic to create a resource for individuals to find books that appeal to them.  It is also helpful to the writers of romance novels to be aware of what their readers desire to experience. This is especially true if topics considered taboo are broached. Reading offers a great opportunity to release fear and repressed desires, and explore various aspects of ourselves and our life journey through the experiences of others.

 A number of the themes listed below, such as alpha males, dominant males, cheaters, and forced love are dealt with in my other blogs, including reading examples. I plan to add lists, and will soon make site open to readers suggessions, so please return for more information as it is gathered.

The list of popular themes in in no particular order.

l. A broken heart. The greatest reading choice for this seems to be "Stormfire.*

2. Man uses woman for revenge, kidnapped, seduced, etc. "Stormfire" again, this must be a great read.*

3. Good sex scenes, either explicit or implicit.*

4. Heroine nearly dies, hero is terrified, realizes how much he loves her. Even better, is when hero is directly, or indirectly responsible for putting heroine in jeopardy...*

5. Second chance ex-spouses.

6. Cheating hero.* This one is very popular. But, some want him to realize he loves his wife and family and wants them back.

7. Less than perfect heroes/heroines – scarred or disabled.

8. Rugged cowboy-types.*

9. Hero helps deliver his baby.

10. Heroine saves or rescues hero from harm.

11. Bad Boys.*

12. Pent up sexual frustration – repression.*

13. Great grovel scenes – where rugged hero breaks down.* This is very popular, and an ideal topic for discussion.

14. Hero disappears and reappears years later.

15. Steamy AND emotional scenes between lovers.”*

16. Romance – candlelit dinners, walks in the park. Etc.*

17. Obsessed or deeply in lust.*

18. Villain in love with heroine.*

19. Dominant, alpha males.*

20. Romance and thriller.*

21. Widowed hero grieving over first wife.

22. Vampire and paranormal love.

23. Vikings!.

24. Smutty historical romance.

25. H/H in historical garb.

26. Men with long (preferably dark) flowing hair*.

27. Alpha female who isn’t borderline abusive*

28. Hero bribes heroine to be with him.

29. Heroine playing hard to get.*

30. Drunken sex.*

31. Bad boy falls for nice girl.*

32 Virginal or repressed heroine who falls apart at the touch of the RIGHT man.*

33. Forced mate scenario in paranormal.

34. Jealous bad boy.*

35. Ménage romance.*

36. Incest.*

37. Two men competing for woman.*

38. Forced sex where h/h have strong connection.*

39. Sheik books and big hunky H’s and the feisty heroine.

40. Bad boy who bosses H around until they fall in love.*

41. Spanking/forced sex scenes.*

42. Love triangles.*

43. Bisexual love.*

44. Older women/younger men.*

45. Rugged/outdoorsy men.*

46. Heroine enjoys sex.*

47. Haunted places/ghosts.*

48. Tattoos, piercings, branding, etc.*

49. Beauty and the beast themes.*

50. Time travel – men in kilts, on island, or anywhere ancient.*

Well, that’s a beginning. The list says a lot about what women really want, and discussing these topics is a great exercise in female empowerment.

When Alexandra Brighton enters Black Lake she only knows what she has been taught by contemporary society. The lessons she learns in the underground teach her about her deeper desires and instincts. Some of the topics are a bit disturbing, but I believe all women desire to reconnect with baser animal instincts and enjoy the powerful union between the sexes.

Most of us love a good vampire tale.

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Rebecca - A Classic Gothic Romance

“Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again. . .” is the most quoted opening line from Daphne du Maurier classic gothic romance, “Rebecca”.  The novel, which was written during her husband’s tenure in Alexandria, Egypt and published in 1938 in the UK, is one of the most well known examples of gothic romance.

“While working as the companion to a rich American woman vacationing on the French Riviera she becomes acquainted with a wealthy Englishman, Maximilian (Maxim) de Winter. After a fortnight of courtship, she agrees to marry him, and after the marriage accompanies him to his mansion, the beautiful West Country estate Manderley.

Only upon their arrival at Manderley does the new bride realize how difficult it will be to lay to rest the memory of her husband's first wife, Rebecca. Rebecca is understood to have drowned in a sailing accident off the coast next to the mansion a year before, but her memory has a strong hold on the estate and all of its inhabitants and visitors, especially the domineering housekeeper, Mrs. Danvers, one of literature's most infamous female villains.

Mrs. Danvers, who was profoundly devoted to Rebecca, tries to undermine the second Mrs. de Winter, suggesting to her that she will never attain the urbanity and charm that Rebecca possessed. Whenever the new Mrs. de Winter attempts to make changes at Manderley, Mrs. Danvers describes how Rebecca ran Manderley when she was alive. Each time Mrs. Danvers does this, she implies that the new Mrs. de Winter lacks the experience and knowledge necessary for running an important estate such as Manderley. The second Mrs. de Winter is cowed by Mrs. Danvers' imposing manner and complies with the housekeeper's suggestions.

Lacking self-confidence and overwhelmed by her new life, the protagonist commits one faux pas after another, until she is convinced that Maxim regrets his impetuous decision to marry her and is still deeply in love with the seemingly perfect Rebecca. The climax occurs at Manderley's annual costume ball. Mrs. Danvers manipulates the protagonist into wearing a replica of the dress shown in a portrait of one of the former inhabitants of the estate—the same costume worn by Rebecca to much acclaim the previous year, shortly before her death.

In the early morning hours after the ball, the storm that had been building over the estate leads to a shipwreck. A diver investigating the condition of the wrecked ship's hull discovers the remains of Rebecca's boat. It is just prior to this shipwreck that Mrs. Danvers reveals her contempt for and dislike of the second Mrs. de Winter. Taking the second Mrs. de Winter on a tour of Rebecca's bedroom, her wardrobe and luxurious possessions, which Mrs. Danvers has kept intact as a shrine to Rebecca, she encourages the second Mrs. de Winter to commit suicide by jumping out of an upstairs window, but is thwarted at the last moment by the disturbance created by the shipwreck.

The revelations from the shipwreck lead Maxim to confess the truth to the second Mrs. de Winter; how his marriage to Rebecca was nothing but a sham; how from the very first days of their marriage, the husband and wife loathed each other. Rebecca, Maxim reveals, was a cruel and selfish woman who manipulated everyone around her into believing her to be the perfect wife and a paragon of virtue. She repeatedly taunted Maxim with sordid tales of her numerous love affairs and suggested that she was pregnant with another man's child, which she would raise under the pretence that it was Maxim's and he would be powerless to stop her. Maxim, truly hating her, shot Rebecca and disposed of her body on her boat, which he then sank at sea. The narrator is relieved to hear that Maxim had never loved Rebecca, but really loves his new wife.

Rebecca's boat is raised and it is discovered that holes had been deliberately drilled in the bottom and the sea-cocks were opened, which would have caused it to sink. There is an inquest and despite it not being clear who drilled the holes, a verdict of suicide is brought. However, Rebecca's first cousin (and also her lover) Jack Favell appears on the scene claiming to have proof that Rebecca could not have intended suicide. Favell attempts to blackmail Maxim because he believes that Maxim killed Rebecca and then sank the boat.

Rebecca, it is revealed, had an appointment with a Doctor Baker shortly before her death, presumably to confirm her pregnancy. When the doctor is found he reveals Rebecca had been suffering from cancer and would have died within a few months; furthermore, due to the malformation of her uterus, she could never have been pregnant. The implication is that knowing she was going to die, Rebecca lied to Maxim that she had been impregnated by another man because she wanted Maxim to kill her. Maxim feels a great sense of foreboding and insists on driving through the night to return to Manderley. However, before he comes in sight of the house, it is clear from a glow on the horizon and wind-borne ashes that it is ablaze.

It is evident at the beginning of the novel that Maxim and the second Mrs. de Winter now live in some foreign exile. The events recounted in the book are in essence a flashback of the narrator's life at Manderley.”

The novel did not receive critical acclaim when it was published, although the novel was very popular. It continues to this day to be a pristine example of the gothic romance genre which include supernatural forces, a woman trapped, repressed sexuality, powerfully erotic undertones, and a charismatic male with unclear intentions. Most notable in “Rebecca” is the figure of Mrs. Danvers, a female antagonist obsessed with the diseased Rebecca, who incorporates a homoerotic thread that seeks to break the bond of male and female. The book was translated into a stage play by du Maurier and subsequently adapted to film and television. The story is a classic tale that in its essence explores the unequal power of a man and woman.

Plot summary from Wikipedia

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A Miracle at St. Joseph's Oratory on Mt. Royal

The prelude to "The House on Black Lake" describes a woman's experience of having her face paralyzed after the birth of her first child. The paralysis comes nine month's to the day since she laid eyes on a charismatic man that turned her "perfect world" upside down. After living nearly a year as a recluse and viewing herself as a freak, she makes a pilgrimage from the U.S. to St. Joseph's Oratory where the faithful are said to be healed. Coincidentally, the man resides in Montreal, nearby the sacred spot, although he is more akin to heathen than saint. She kneels at St. Andre's alter and makes a vow ,"beauty for truth" - an unmarked face for a pledge to seek her manifest destiny. Unfortunately, that means she must give up everything she has been taught to believe. Soon, her life is in shambles and she begins to sorely regret the pact she made in the sacred church.  In order to find resolution she travels to Montreal to confront the man so that she can regain some measure of closure and peace.

I personally experienced a similar miracle, a divine intervention, at the Oratory and believe it holds special powers, but one must always be prepared to pay a price for a miracle, as nothing is given back without a debt to be paid. In some ways "The House on Black Lake" is my repayment, as it is a story of transformation and redemption.

A visit to the sacred place is a powerful experience, both for those who walk away healed, and those who seek a spiritual experience. Rarely does one see a wall filled with the canes and crutches of those who have walked away healed. More can be learned about St. Andre and details regarding visitations can be found at:

http://www.saint-joseph.org/en_1001_index.php