I read this for the Gothic square for Romance Bingo. "If I was a new governess come to Manorbrier," he said, drawing out each word, "I would pay no mind to the Round Tower. No mind at all."
OR you people could tell her the reason why she should stay away instead of overacting your side-eye, ghoulish, and secretive roles. This was so gothic, it was a bit paint-by-numbers; every trope and characteristic from the genre was added. The dark lord, murder mysteries, disappearances, and gloom are always going to be present in gothics, along with the melodrama but the usual lingering questions that aren't or can't quite be answered yet that create the mystery was so incredibly forced. Our heroine is told death is in the tower and to stay away. The spoiler is the explanation for this, so don't read if you don't want to know because you don't get the answer until the second half.
Why, at no point, did he or no one simply say this to the heroine?!? Drove me batty. If your story falls completely apart because of forcing off one simple explanation, that's pretty weak.
I get that the usual culprit in gothics is supernatural and the author makes it
here, which works because of the time period but it was ridiculous how this explanation just wasn't said right away. If you couldn't tell, this ruined the story for me. Felt like insta-love, too many inner thoughts from heroine, villain was clever and mysterious; wish that had been the only focus of the mystery and built up more over time to give its shocking conclusion.
I thought the first one was much better in characterization and story.