The definition most commonly found for gothic romance is a romance that deals with desolate and mysterious and grotesque events. But, in my opinion there is really much more to it than that. The beginnings of gothic novels can be traced back to the late 18th and early 19th centuries. These stories were mysterious and suspenseful, heavily tinged with horror and terror, and often involved supernatural elements. The settings also played an important part in these novels. They had dark backgrounds, such as castles, medieval ruins, and monasteries. These usually were equipped with subterranean passages, dark battlements and hidden panels. Some examples of these stories can be found within the pages of The Castle of Otranto by Horace Walpole, The Monk by Matthew Lewis, Frankenstein by Mary Shelley and the works of Ann Radcliffe.
During the 1960’s gothic romance re-surged to a new audience and became enormously popular in England and the United States. These stories were heavily influenced by the novels Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë's and Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier. The basic elements remained the same. The main character was usually female and written in the first person point-of-view, giving the novel a feel of urgency and mystery since readers could only see the events through the heroine’s eyes. These women were often governesses or new brides, sent to live in gloomy mansions or castles with a man who might be the hero or who could possibly be the villain. The covers for these novels were easily recognizable, with a terror-stricken woman standing on or near cliffs with the ocean crashing on the rocks below. Above her looms the gloomy mansion or castle and typically there is one window mysteriously lit from within.