The idea of eternal love spanning centuries, despite all the odds against it is pretty hard to resist for the reader, as well as for the writer. Add a couple of hot males, some devious witchcraft, a curse, and whoa…you've got the makings of a great story. Did I mention hot sex, passion, and a pretty impressive vampire? The Gothic, the dark, the beautiful, the haunting, the sex, and the tragic, Andre has all those elements.
So, just what is Gothic literature anyway and why is it so seductive? Loosely, it is a literary style characterized by gloom, the grotesque, and the supernatural. It became especially popular in the late 18th century. More specifically, gothic horror is fiction that combines horror and Romanticism. Its origin is attributed to an English author named Horace Walpole. In 1763, he published the novel The Castle of Otranto. The Gothic was very popular among readers in the second half of the 18th century and also in the 19th as witnessed by Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein and the works of Edgar Allan Poe. Not to mention, around this time, came Bram Stoker’s Dracula. The name Gothic refers to the (pseudo)-medieval buildings in which many of these stories take place. Even though the genre's height of popularity lies in the past, the Gothic is still alive and well. Take the recent television series Penny Dreadful, for example, which draws on all these gothic elements. Penny Dreadful is actually named for a series of stories.
I've always loved Gothic literature, be it combined with the paranormal or simply melodramatic romance, like in Bronte's Wuthering Heights. I love vampire movies and Dracula, especially when the stories are given a twist of the modern. I've been a fan of all the vampire and paranormal series on television and still am.
I want to believe there is some undetected magic out there. I like the idea of living forever. I feel for the creature that is different, the outsider, with magical powers, feared, misunderstood, and uncelebrated, hunted for acts that are beyond his/her control. I don't believe the Gothic influence will ever entirely disappear from popular culture. Characters like the Frankenstein monster and Count Dracula are deeply engraved on the collective unconscious, a reflection of the human condition. Writers will most likely continue to reinvent the Gothic, thanks to those like Shelly and Stocker. I look forward to the next spin on the Gothic and I hope you enjoy mine.
From the moment he sees a photograph of Dalton Manor, a 17th-Century estate located in the picturesque English countryside, Joel Howard knows he must stay there while on vacation, in spite of the lack of nightly distraction to be had in London’s gay village. After arriving in England with his friend Shelley, Joel immediately arranges to visit the grand estate, and during a tour, he sets eyes on the portrait of the handsome Patrice Dumont and his lovely young bride, Rosalie, the owners of the manor three hundred years ago.
Joel cannot explain the emotion he feels as he stares at the portrait, or his particular obsession with an ash tree he views on the property later that night. He also can’t explain why the ancient estate seems to talk to him, literally, or why the ghostly voice coming from inside the walls keeps calling him by the name of Andre.
As the moments tick by, Joel comes ever closer to the edge of danger and soon learns the answers to his questions...in every horrifying detail...
...“This place is incredible, isn’t it?”
“Beautiful,” she said. “Good move telling them I was your sister so we could have a double room. The rooms are really expensive.”
I smiled. The price wasn’t a problem but Shelly said she didn’t want to stay in a room alone because these old places could be “spooky.”
“You are my sister except for the blood thing.”
She jumped on the bed and gave me a kiss.
I laughed and pushed her off. “Don’t get all mushy now.”
“Can’t believe how old this place is, seventeenth century. Wow.”
When I surfed the Internet for possible places to stay in London, the minute I saw a picture of this place, I fell in love with it. Something about the old Dalton Manor called to me.
Shelly had been shocked when I showed her the pictures and suggested we stay there. We had five days in Britain, and she’d been sure I’d want to stay in London and frequent the gay bars in Soho.
“What are you going to do there?” Shelly had asked. “It’s on the outskirts of London. There are no gay bars there. What about your promise, to visit a gay bar in every European city before you die?”
I shrugged. “I can still go into London one night when we’re there.”
“So,” Shelly was saying now, “what do we know about the place?”
“I know it was built by a Lord Dalton,” I said, reclining on the bed and getting comfortable. “He was apparently a favorite in the court of Queen Elizabeth. It was passed down in the family, and finally Lord Chance Dalton, a prominent figure in the court of Charles the Second, gave this place to his only daughter as a wedding present.”
“Oh look,” Shelly said, skimming the brochure we’d been given when we checked in. “It says Rosalie Dalton married Patrice Dumont, who was rumored to be the illegitimate son of the King of France.”
“Louis the Fourteenth,” I murmured. “That’s interesting. Patrice Dumont. It’s a nice name.” My eyes were closing with that name on my lips. “Patrice,” I whispered. I had a case of some wicked jet lag all of a sudden and it was dragging me into sleep.
The last thing I heard was Shelly saying something about going downstairs for coffee, and then I drifted off. The smell of roses was suddenly heavy in the air, although I didn’t remember there being any roses in the room. I inhaled deeply and the perfume drew me down the paneled hallways with the flagstone floors to a large room with exposed oak beams and a roaring fireplace.
I saw a man in the room. His back was turned to me. He was tall and broad shouldered, his jet-black hair tied back at the nape of his neck. I almost said hello but something was off. He was there, yet…he wasn’t. He looked like he’d stepped out of another time.
The man turned and smiled at me and I caught my breath. Beautiful. He was the most beautiful man I’d ever seen. His soulful dark eyes looked right at me, or were looking right through me? It had to be a dream. The way he was dressed was really unusual. A long, brocade coat pulled tight at the waist flaring out over his hips, and black pants tied just under the knees and met by white stockings. His shoes were black with square heels and decorated with fancy buckles. They were a weird shape, surely designed by some New York designer. Sanderson or Aquazzura?
No. The guy had to be an actor the manager had hired to create period ambience at the hotel. I was about to ask the man if he were a tour guide, but the image faded away right in front of me.
I shook myself and blinked several times. I looked around. What a strange dream...
Andre by D.J. Manly is now available at Amber Allure.
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