A Thousand Steps

A Thousand Steps
A Thousand Steps by T. Jefferson Parker

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

The Shadows of Stormclyffe Hall by Lauren Smith- Spotlight, Author Interview, + Review

A thrilling gothic romance from Entangled’s Otherworld imprint…

To defeat a dark evil, they must face his family’s past…

Bastian Carlisle, the Earl of Weymouth, doesn’t believe in ghosts. Even though tragedy and mysterious hauntings have driven his family away from his ancestral home, Stormclyffe Hall, he is determined to restore the castle to its former glory. His plans are disrupted when a stubborn American shows up on his doorstep hoping to pry into his family’s tragic history.

Jane Seyton, an American graduate student, is convinced there’s more to the tragedy of Stormclyffe Hall than history claims. Ever the scholar, she is determined to discover the truth, even if it means putting up with the arrogant, yet sexy, Bastian.

Although Bastian wants nothing to do with the pushy American, it soon becomes clear that something evil is in the house—and that something is targeting both Jane and Bastian. The two must join forces to purge the ghosts of Stormclyffe Hall once and for all—even as they try to fight a physical attraction between them that grows more and more impossible to deny.


The Shadows of Stormclyffe Hall (Dark Seductions, #1)The Shadows of Stormclyffe Hall by Lauren Smith
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Shadows of Stormclyffe Hall by Lauren Smith- (Dark Seductions#1) is a 2014 Entangled Select Otherworld publication. I was provided a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Jane is hard at work on her dissertation which requires she study the Weymouth family history, a family riddled with untold tragedies since the 1800's. She is so excited to travel to abroad and to Stormclyffe Hall and uncover it's sordid secrets. But, it's also a calling, something about the castle that Jane connects to, dreams about even. Unfortunately, Jane is going to have to deal with the Earl of Weymouth, Bastian Carlisle, who is adamant that the pushy American stay out of his family's dark secrets.

Bastian is trying to restore Stormclyffe Hall and doesn't have time to deal with the young American. She can't stay at the castle and she can't look at the family papers. Period. Until a strange bond with Jane occurs that leaves them both very sexually aroused and unsettled at the same time.

In the 1800's Richard married a innkeeper's daughter, Isabelle, for love. In the process, he deeply offended a woman who thought she was certainly the best choice for an earl's wife. From that point on the family suffers great loss, especially for the women who marry into the family. Now it seems the family line is about to fade out since Bastian is not interested in marriage.... or so he thinks.

Gothic literature is something I actually study. I am a huge fan of the genre, so these days when someone tacks the word Gothic onto their book description, my first thought is excitement, but skepticism follows quickly after that. Why? Many labor under the impression Gothic novels are supernatural in tone and usually this means vampires. Don't get me started on that misnomer. I won't give my standard lecture here, but suffice it to say it's a sore spot with me and I feel those novels should be labeled as Paranormal or Fantasy since they really do not adhere to the standard rules of Gothic fiction.

However, in this case, the author has followed the rule of Gothic fiction by setting the story in an old storied castle, the women are the target mostly, and the hero has a dark, brooding, and moody personality which is perplexing to the female protagonist. The supernatural elements to the story do not romanticize the forces which are reeking havoc on the lives of the characters. Instead these forces are dark and sinister, if not outright evil.

The romance is woven through time with the present day Bastian and Jane and with Richard and Isabelle from the past. These passages are some of the most powerful in the book and I could almost feel the spirits of the past forging their way through to the present, to save lives and a family heritage, and using their strong love for one another to accomplish their goals. The intimacy is deeply sensual and has a strong erotic pull, although the scenes are not all that explicit. I was thankful to see that someone out there is still capturing Gothic elements and staying true to the genre while making the story modern and appealing to the contemporary reader.
Overall this is an excellent start to the series and I am eager to read more stories like this one. 4.5 rounded to 5

Find The Shadows of Stormclyffe Hall on Amazon.com


Lauren interview questions:

What compelled you to write in the Gothic/ Paranormal genre after writing Historical Romances?

  1. I have always loved gothic and paranormal books and my natural writing voice tends to be on the gothic side. I wanted to see if I could combine those two genres into a gothic/paranormal story that would appeal to readers and also have a touch of the historical genre through stories and flashbacks. I think there is a great many stories that can be told by combining gothic, historical and paranormal.

What author has been your biggest influence?

  1. Christina Dodd. She was the first romance novel author I ever read and when I decided I wanted to write romances, I went to my first Romance writers of America conference in 2012 and had the chance to meet her. I told her I was there today because of her books and was close to achieving my dream. She was incredibly gracious, and unbelievable sweet and we all got teary-eyed, even her assistant! It was a wonderful experience and she still inspires me to this day.

Is there a genre who would like to write in?

  1. I’d like to write in every subgenre of romance except for sweet/inspirational. I’ve got my eye on writing some sci-fi romances in the future and am very excited about that.

What was your favorite book as a child?

  1. This is perhaps the one question I really can’t answer…but if I did have to try and pick favorites it would be Redwall by Brian Jacques.

Are you a plotter or a panster?

  1. Most definitely a punster. I plot the very big plot concepts and know several key events of what will eventually happen, but getting from point to point, I let the story flow by itself.

What is the oddest request or comment you have received from a fan?

  1. I had someone once say that my books were so hot (steamy scene wise) that she got a hotflash at work while reading one of them.

Coffee or tea? Favorite Dessert? Favorite Season? Dogs or Cats?

  1. Tea (but I prefer Diet. Dr. Pepper if I get a choice). Favorite Dessert- Chocolate mousse with raspberry sauce. Favorite season- the fall. Dogs and cats both.

Who is your favorite hero?

  1. When I first read this, I immediately thought of Comic book heroes rather than book heroes haha. My favorite comic book hero is Oliver Queen (the Green Arrow). My favorite hero from a romance novel is James Malory from the Malory books by Johann Linsdey. My favorite real life hero is Teddy Roosevelt.

Where can readers find you?

Twitter @LSmithAuthor

What are you working on now?

I’m currently finishing up the third book in my contemporary “Surrender Series” which is a bit like my League of Rogues series, only set in the present day with American bad boy friends on Long Island’s north shore. Think the Great Gatsby opulence, but set in today’s environment. If readers like my historical, they should give the Surrender series a shot, it’s hot, but emotional and has the same style as my previous books in other series. The first book The Gilded Cuff comes out February 10, 2015.

Do you have a favorite quote you would like to share?

Far better is it to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure... than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much, because they live in a gray twilight that knows not victory nor defeat. – Theodore Roosevelt



Lauren Smith is an attorney by day, author by night, who pens adventurous and edgy romance stories by the light of her smart phone flashlight app. She’s a native Oklahoman who lives with her three pets: a feisty chinchilla, sophisticated cat and dapper little schnauzer. She’s won multiple awards in several romance subgenres including being an Amazon.com Breakthrough Novel Award Quarter-Finalist and a Semi-Finalist for the Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley Award.

Born and raised in Tulsa, Lauren Smith spent the first twenty-two years of her life in Oklahoma, bridging the worlds between urban girl and cowgirl. After high school she attended Oklahoma State University where she earned Bachelor of Art degrees in history and political science. Drawn to paintings in museums and obsessed with antiques, she has satisfied her fascination with history by writing and
exploring exotic, ancient lands.
Over the years, Lauren’s studies have opened doors throughout the world. From spending two summers at Cambridge to attending classes at such divergent places as Ireland and Chengdu, China, she has discovered fascinating opportunities for enrichment wherever she goes. After completing college, Lauren moved to Michigan to attend law school at the University of Detroit-Mercy and University of Windsor in Ontario, Canada. Armed with two Juris Doctorate degrees from both countries, she returned to Tulsa and became an intellectual property attorney.
Since third grade when her English teacher proposed that all students should craft a story for a young writers’ conference, Lauren has been hooked on writing. Her first self-illustrated manuscript described the mysterious disappearance of rare brown bats that were being captured by scientists bent on using them as carriers for an incurable disease. The immense sense of joy in sharing that story with others, and discussing plots and characters, made it clear to Lauren that writing was her true passion.

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