So you found your dearly-departed grandma’s stash of vintage romance novels hidden in the attic and read them. Despite their flaws, the books gave you a thrill unlike no other. Now you want to read more old-school romance! Although, you’re not sure where to find them. They’re not sold at your local Barnes and Noble and they don’t rank on Amazon’s best-seller lists.
I’ve not read too many gothic romances, but The Curse of Kenton is definitely one of the better ones I’ve come upon. My Avon 1972 first-edition features the typical Gothic cover, with a heroine (wrong hair color alert: she’s brunette, not blonde) screaming in terror as she runs away from a dark castle.
In this case, it’s Castle Kenton, a place shrouded in a dreadful mystery, as is always the case in these Gothic Romances.
Barbara Ashe is an orphan who works as a pharmacist for a country doctor. One day two dashing lords come racing through town, and the darkly handsome Duke of Kenton requires her services as he is gravely ill. Gilbert is a veteran of the Napoleonic Wars and suffers from a secret, fatal malady which makes him bitter and dissolute.
Step-back cover exterior & interior The Jacaranda Tree, Rebecca Brandewyne, Warner Books, 1995, Elaine Duillo cover artist
From the back of the book:
A sense of foreboding had gripped Arabella Darracott when she left England to join her guardian in Australia. Years before, a gypsy fortune-teller had told her of a purple blossomed tree, a far-off shore, and a devil of a man who awaited her there. Now, as she neared her destination, shipwreck and fate threw her into the arms of a rescuer, “Demon” Lucien Sinclair, the notorious ex-convict who had become rich in the gold fields of New South Wales. Lucien – wild and wickedly handsome – was the fallen archangel of her dreams. But the crime in his past was linked to a dangerous secret. And the passion awakened under the Jacaranda tree could cost Arabella her future, even her life…or give her Lucien forever to cherish, forever to love.
Across a Starlit Sea was a tempestuous romance written by Rebecca Brandewyne. This was a sequel to one of my all-time beloved love stories, Upon a Moon-Dark Moor, and this was one of the rare Brandewyne novels with Warner Books that was not illustrated by Elaine Duillo. Instead, her daughter Melissa Duillo-Gallo painted the cover.
The Cornish coast setting made for a dark, gothic feel to this historical romance. I enjoyed the first-person narrative in both books as the heroines told their life stories from youth to their first love to true love to married life with children and into old age. Expect to see here Brandewyne’s standard purple-prose writing and in-depth descriptions of history.