If you are looking for an author you can give you a sense of drama, suspense, and romance similar to Charlotte Bronte; who also writes beautifully and produces vivid characters; who can deliver a powerful reading experience; a few of these might do the trick.
Mary Stewart is the mother of modern romantic suspense novels. (She also is known for her Merlin Chronicles but that’s not what we are dealing with her.) Stewart’s stories are fast-moving page turners. They usually feature intelligent and resourceful heroines who must keep their wits about them and discern the true nature of others. Some gothic tropes are present such as secluded locations and unsuspected perils. Stewart is known for her well crafted settings and beautiful writing. Start with Nine Coaches Waiting (1964). A young woman arrives at French chateau in order to take up her new position as governess but she begins to suspect that someone has designs on her young charges life… It has been described as Jane Eyre meets Rebecca.
Other titles to try: The Moonspinners (1962) and The Ivy Tree (1961). Have some fun checking out her work here.
Kate Morton’s books feature family secrets that emerge from the past to touch the present. The sympathetic characters, intricate plots, and atmospheric settings draw the reader into the mysteries at the heart of the stories. Morton’s work is carefully crafted, with lovely language but a dark air. They unfold at a more leisurely pace but the detailed story-telling is engrossing. Try The Forgotten Garden (2008) in which a grand-daughter tries to discover her grandmother’s origins. Interestingly, The Forgotten Garden references and echoes The Secret Garden, which in a way is a Jane Eyre for kids; a girl without a home comes to a strange, new place and discovers her place in the world, but must grapple with secrets to get there.
Other titles to try: The House at Riverton (2007) (original title: The Shifting Fog) and The Secret Keeper (2012).
P.D. James is the queen of detective mysteries. Unusually, they are subtle, leisurely placed and character-driven. Her detective, Adam Dagleish, is a sensitive yet dogged investigator. The stories are moody and atmospheric, with claustrophobic, bleak settings, which come through in James’ careful attention to detail and rich vocabulary. Start with Shroud for a Nightingale (1971). A nursing student dies during what was supposed to be a harmless demonstration, but it is clear it is murder when a second student dies a matter of days later…
Other titles to try: Cover Her Face (1962) and A Taste for Death (1986).
Winston Graham is the author of the powerful and dramatic Poldark family saga which is told over a series of books. The series is moody and atmospheric, set on the rugged and wild coast of Cornwall in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century. The series begins with Ross Poldark (1945). Ross, who shares some similarities with Mr. Rochester (moody, explosive, emotionally adrift), returns home from the war in American, hoping to resume is life but his homecoming is far from a happy one… A word of warning: the series is known to be a bit addictive.
Next in the series: Demelza (1946)
Jane Urquhart is a critically acclaimed Canadian author known for her lyrical prose and haunting, melancholy, slightly magical stories. Her character-driven plots cross time and place, often focusing on the impact of the past on the present. She creates multifaceted stories that have a touch of the gothic about them, with intense relationships and a palpable sense of place. In Changing Heaven (1990), Urquhart intertwines the stories of a turn-of-the-century balloonist and a modern day Bronte scholar, in a book about artistic creation, obsessive relationships, single-minded passion, and weather.
Other titles to try: The Stonecarvers (2001) and The Whirlpool (1986).