Color Me Gothic – Netflix’s Rebecca is a Technicolor Disappointment

What are we all looking for in this Covid-colored world? A retreat from all the madness outside? Sure. For a bit. But how long can we live wrapped in all things Hygge? It’s also infinitely comforting to dive into the world of gothic suspense. The clothes scream of drama. The setting is mysterious and gloomy. Our inner world of Covid angst and high despair is splayed all over the world of shadows and twisted imagination; we revel in it.

Thus, how sad to witness the remake of Rebecca. I had read all the critical thrusts of displeasure and so I went in with low expectations. While I can see (unlike other reviewers) how Lily James was able to capture some of the high strung beauty of Joan Fontaine, for my taste there is too much egg yolk in this version. The South of France should be dipped in sun, yes…But this movie is relying too heavily on our minds zoning out out on the clothing, furniture decorations, sets, and flowers. I would happily zone out–if all the ‘stuff’ matched the suspense elements of the movie. But it doesn’t–or only in a blatantly obvious way: Max is filmed in warm tones, Mrs. Danvers in cool tones. Look people, Max is a cold, oblivious, autocrat for most of the film. Why should he get warm colors? He’s as much an adversary as Mrs. Danvers until…[No spoilers.]

Mrs. Danvers in shadows and cool tones. Kristin Scott Thomas brings all goth sensibility there is to her role.

I’ll admit when watching something awful like Gossip Girl I *do* spend half the time looking at the peony flowers and Blake Lively’s chunky, bo-ho necklaces. Still. Although someone put a lot of work and effort into creating a lush aristocratic dream, they weren’t smart enough to realize it’s the wrong flavor.

And people–you know I adore Armie Hammer right? But can he play British?


His very lines point to the problem. He mentions the thorny issue of not having an heir. His sister’s sons, he says, are very nice, but their last name isn’t De Winter. His sister’s sons are probably saying to each other “Why is there a Yank living in our ancestral home?” That’s not a British accent, Armie.

If we’re not paying proper attention to the movie it might also have something to do with scandal hovering over the film. I’d heard about the Dominic West thing going on with Lily James. Then I sat puzzling over the problem of Lily James and Lily Collins the first few minutes of the movie. They’d become a bit confused in my mind. (Both named Lily, both on Netflix, both shows set in France…) At any rate I sorted it out–one is sweet and has eyebrows the other is a cheater.

Let’s face it, Kristin Scott Thomas’s portrayal of Mrs. Danvers aside, the best parts of the movie are Lily James and Armie Hammer smooching and getting it on. But that just wound up distracting me again. Cause Armie just left his wife. He blames Covid. But the Daily Mail is giving Lily the side eye.

Should we pin a bright scarlet ‘A’ onto the chest of women like Lily James? I’m on the fence. If Lily James, for instance, was ashamed that she was an agent of hurt for Dominic West’s wife and children, then you know what? I might be happy letting it go. But she’s not. Her response indicated she’s mortified that he and his wife are showing a united front. Not classy, Lily. Yet we despise women cheaters with so much more venom than we do male cheaters. She’s probably getting hate tweets, death threats, etc–completely out of proportion to what she might deserve. But instead of going down that rabbit hole I’ll just say this:

In the end, I like my stories of secrets and betrayals on the screen, thank you very much. The secrets, lies, and betrayals in Lily James’ celebrity life were not translated into this version of the story. Though I hate to join with the nay-sayers–give this movie a pass.

THE BODYGUARD Delivers Sexy Intense Feels & Brainy Scheming Brits

Netflix’s new show THE BODYGUARD is edgy and hot.  David Budd is a Scottish sergeant, back from duty in Afghanistan, working in Protection Command as a bodyguard.  His marriage has dissolved and his temper is a ticking time bomb.

Yet he’s got to hide his PTSD-ish unravelling to keep his job.  When on duty, he’s relentlessly vigilant in protecting the Home Secretary in London.  [The Home Secretary is the British equivalent of Director of the FBI.]  Her code name is Lavender and as she’s shuffled around London in cars to meetings with the Prime Minister, etc, David is all square chin, clenching jaw muscles and cold eyes. Yet later, when he discovers his estranged wife has started seeing someone those cold eyes melt with pain.  There’s a real throb of sensitive agony in this moment***.

David starts off charged up, and grows in intensity through the first few episodes.  He must stuff his intensity into ramrod vigilance ‘whilst’ on duty.  Is he going to explode? Is he going to implode? Should his wife be afraid of him? Should his boss?

Or is protecting women at the utter core of his character?

It’s a shivery role to play.  Many women in power surround David in his job—(what dream world is this? I like it.) And the actresses are great. I enjoyed Gina McKee as a stiff cool beauty in The Forsythe Saga.  It’s a surprise to see her cast as head of the Metropolitan Police’s counter-terrorism unit.   Pippa Haywood was a joy in Green Wing, here she plays the Chief Superintendent Lorraine Craddock, Head of Protection Command and Budd’s superior. Again this is a very different role for her–and I like her in it.  Both women occupy senior positions in Scotland Yard, and while I want to root for them, David is sleeping with their biggest enemy and each is a bit (A bit? Ha!) manipulative.

At a certain point (but you knew the show was going there) things heat up between the Home Secretary aka Julia Montague and Our Man.  Their passion is problematic–not just in terms of clashing of employer/employee relations–but there’s also a real clash in political points of view.  Love it! What guilty fun watching two people have sex with a shot of guilty bitter regret.

At this point in the show our hero David seems #SorryNotSorry.  We’ll see if that’s because he’s formulating Very Bad Intentions or what.   We think David is a hero–but is he?  One side of his personality is straightforward and sincere.  The other side has been embittered by war and is unravelling.  He carries homicidal rage towards the vain-glorious politicians who demanded the f*ck fest of what happened in Afghanistan.  Richard Madden** is very believable as a reasonable, caring good guy.  He’s even better as a man tempted to do bad things.  Will his inner demons come to rule?

**You probably know this Scottish actor from Game of Thrones. I *knew* he looked familiar and it tickled the back of my brain for the longest time.

***I admit that while I love an unfiltered Scottish accent, it defeated me at times during the first few episodes. In the end I put on the close captioning (in English).

Sexy PNR Romance–Perfect For Halloween

Hello Shadow Children,

October is the most glorious time of the year!  Are you looking for a little gloomy Halloween gothic joy? Like this Halloween Romance Facebook Page.   We are watching movies and TV shows while cracking wise on fb, discussing our obsession with Crimson Peak and other sexy Halloween & romance related topics. Perhaps you’re looking for a sexy PNR romance to read this season.  Look no further…

Did you know my Gothic Lair newsletter comes with a shiver-licious novella called SEXSOMNIA?  It’s the perfect Halloween sexy romance cause it’s just a wee bit creepy around the edges.  Sign up for the newsletter and you not only get an ebook copy of Sexsomnia for free, but also an entertaining email from me once a month.

Fall is a time to remind ourselves that death can be gorgeous.  Remember to take long walks through the mist and scarlet leaves.  This morning I’ve poured myself a giant cup of nettle tea and started pounding the keys.  Next week I’m blogging about the horrible families in movies you’ll relish. 🙂

New Cover!

SEXSOMNIA: Jenny needs to figure out what she’s been doing at night—and who she’s been doing it with.

She’s suffering from a rare sleeping disorder, but when cravings and curiosity overwhelm common sense, Jenny sets out to explore what she does while her mind is asleep and her body is awake.  

What starts as a sexy fantasy soon grows into a creepy nightmare.  With the help of a hot biologist named Turner, Jenny is ready to start fighting her real enemy–the paranormal demon inside her.  


by Madeline Iva Hello lovely people! How are you? I’m pretty obsessed these days with one thing and one thing only: dark, gothic feels. I like all aspects of suspense–preferably set in intriguingly gloomy surroundings, and chock full of complex, morally ambiguous or hard to read characters. I love how gothic reads make the heart… via […]

via The Science Behind Dark Gothic Feels — Lady Smut — Fantasy & Paranormal Author

Calling All RT Orphans — Party at #LadySmut During RT Dates

Hey all —

I met someone who once said that the kids without dates for their prom banded together and had a “Loser’s Party”.  The concept has stuck with me ever since.  I don’t really want to go to RT–but I lust for some alternative party to go to.

Well, we at #LadySmut are having our own alternative RT party on Twitter.  Hop on Thursday, Friday, or Saturday to play games and win books.  Meanwhile, if you’re actually at RT but shifting around on ouchy feet while waiting in line for an event–check us out!

Follow me at @madelineiva and follow us at @ladysmut1.  See you Thursday!

Loving the Monster – at Raven.Con

Hi all!

I’m excited to check out this panel LONGING FOR THE LOVE OF MONSTERS at Raven Con this weekend.  Here’s a description of the panel:

Romance and the grotesque in science fiction, paranormal, and fantasy.

Short but pithy.  However, for a fun little peek into what draws us to Paranormal Romance and the love of monsters — check out this blog post I did for Harper Impulse a few years back.

Meanwhile — I’ll have my books and swag at the Charlottesville Speculative Fiction Society table in the distributor’s room.  If you’re at Raven Con — come check it out! 🙂

shape of water


Help Me Out Peeps–And Maybe Win Some Pretty-Pretties

Hi darling readers!

As an author my life is so unstructured.  So I get a little over-excited about things that I can count.  One thing I can count is my Book Bub followers– 271. I’m only 29 follows away from reaching 300 Book Bub followers.  (I know, I know–but I’m so *excited* about topping 300.)

Would you like to help me get there?  Sign up for this contest by clicking on the link below.  I get another book bub follower when you enter the contest and you might win some pretty prizes.  It’s fun! 🙂 Here’s the link:

The Science Behind Dark Gothic Feels — Lady Smut

by Madeline Iva Hello lovely people! How are you? I’m pretty obsessed these days with one thing and one thing only: dark, gothic feels. I like all aspects of suspense–preferably set in intriguingly gloomy surroundings, and chock full of complex, morally ambiguous or hard to read characters. I love how gothic reads make the heart…

via The Science Behind Dark Gothic Feels — Lady Smut

Endorphin Rush: Post-VDay Sale Ending

Need to quell your post-Vday chocolate cravings? (I do. Seriously.) Here’s just the thing to distract you from binging at the candy store — this Valentine’s Day Speculative Fiction Sale is STILL going on!!! It was supposed to run from Feb 13th to the 15th, but I just checked the link and lots of the books…

via Endorphin Rush: Last day of SFF VDay Deal!!! — Lady Smut

Dragons DuJour: Shifter Romances Are Having a Dragon-y Moment — Lady Smut

By Madeline Iva We seem to be having a dragon moment in Romance-landia, so let’s take a wee look at three books doing the dragon thing and talk about why someone like me–who may be somewhat like you–finds myself diving into dragons even though I’m usually not into the shifter thing. 1,363 more words

via Dragons DuJour: Shifter Romances Are Having a Dragon-y Moment — Lady Smut

You Had Me At ‘Psycho-Sexual Unravelling’ RAW: Feminist Horror Movie — Lady Smut

by Madeline Iva There’s nothing like a good feminist horror movie to get you in the mood for Halloween. And such is our society that for the first thirty minutes of Julie Ducournau’s feminist allegorical film RAW, she doesn’t even have to go out of her way to create horror–she just turns the camera on…

via You Had Me At ‘Psycho-Sexual Unravelling’ RAW: Feminist Horror Movie — Lady Smut