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With This Curse

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Can a curse strike twice in a woman's life?

I was a seventeen-year-old chambermaid in 1854 when the Gravesend curse tore my life apart. I was dismissed from Gravesend Hall for having fallen in love with Richard Blackwood, the younger son of the house, and was forced to make my way alone in the world as a seamstress. The curse dealt its cruelest blow when Richard was killed soon after in the Crimean War.

A proposal...

Now more than eighteen years have passed, and Richard's twin, Atticus, has sought me out with a strange proposal: if I agree to marry him and live with him as his wife in name only to ease the mind of his dying father, Atticus will endow me with a comfortable income for the rest of my life. I know he is not disclosing his true motives, but with no remaining options for an independent life, I have no choice but to become his wife.

A deception...

Returning to Gravesend as a bride brings a sense of triumph... but also great unease. Not only must I pretend to be a wellborn lady and devoted wife to a man whose face is a constant reminder of my lost love, but ominous portents whisper that this masquerade brings grave danger. "This house will take from you what you most treasure", my mother once warned me. But the curse has already taken the man I loved. Will it now demand my life?

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First published February 1, 2014

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About the author

Amanda DeWees

41 books143 followers
Amanda DeWees received her PhD in English from the University of Georgia and wrote her dissertation on 19th-century vampire literature—the perfect training, although she didn’t know it at the time, for writing Victorian gothic romance novels. Her books include With This Curse, winner of the 2015 Daphne du Maurier Award in historical mystery/suspense, and the Sybil Ingram Victorian Mysteries series.

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5 stars
145 (28%)
4 stars
200 (39%)
3 stars
118 (23%)
2 stars
32 (6%)
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6 (1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 81 reviews
Profile Image for Inishowen Cailín.
676 reviews27 followers
February 29, 2016
It has been a long time since I've read a good Victorian gothic mystery. Amanda deWees far exceeded my expectations in 'With this Curse.' If I could make the 5 stars extra shiny in gold I would. I loved this book so much.
It has everything you would expect from the genre; a dark old mansion with strange inhabitants, an overall atmosphere of menace, a mystery, danger, love and betrayal. I was enthralled with the story from start to finish. I enjoyed the slow romance between Atticus and Clara. They are both great characters with a well developed history. Both are easy to relate to and I couldn't wait to see them get together. I really liked that their romance is taken in a sedate pace with more emphasis placed on their inner feelings rather than the two getting their kit off at the first opportunity. It is for these reasons that this book will suit most people, especially anyone who prefers romance/mystery to be plot driven and without the smut.
The threat of the curse looming over the household created a dark atmosphere in the story and it contributed to the gothic feel of the novel without making it oppressive and heavy.
The narrator, Elizabeth Klett, did a brilliant job of reading the story and performing the voices of the various characters. She has a lovely tone of voice, easy to listen to and you soon find yourself lost in the story, not concentrating on or being distracted by her narration.
I didn't want this story to end and I was quite sad when it was over! I wasn't ready to say goodbye to Clara and Atticus and they stayed with me long after I had finished it.
Luckily there's a sequel, 'Cursed Once More,' which I immediately delved into.
Profile Image for Julia.
2,512 reviews67 followers
January 1, 2016
As much as I enjoy a good gothic romance, WITH THIS CURSE dragged a bit for me. The sinister elements are so close to the surface, I found myself impatiently reading to confirm suspicions rather than enjoying a slow unfolding of dread and mystery. Simone St. James did a better job of building anticipation and dread.
Profile Image for Mara.
2,467 reviews228 followers
December 17, 2015
A cute and engaging novel, but it had too many problems for my tastes, a 20 year old feeling based on fluff, no real mystery, too many martyrs to be acceptable.
It's on offer as December 2015, so you might want to check it out.


The sequel seems even worse, so I'll stay clear.
Profile Image for Renee.
987 reviews167 followers
August 1, 2017
A main character who garners sympathy & admiration from the first chapter on. A kind, compassionate hero. Together the two overcome past hurts & betrayals & inspire the best in each other. Lovely writing. Dialogue that patterns the time period. Great vocabulary. Family dynamics plus the typical gothic mystery with a slight paranormal touch. Wonderful narration from Elizabeth Klett. I'm glad I "discovered" Amanda DeWees. 5 Stars!
Profile Image for Maurice.
7 reviews1 follower
February 11, 2014
Fans of classic genres can often find themselves in a bit of a bind: Of course we all love the well-used conventions, but how often have you picked up a classic mystery story or Gothic romance only to quickly put it down again after wading through stale, lifeless, by-the-numbers prose that hits all the right elements and yet somehow hits all the wrong notes?

Amanda DeWees elegantly avoided those problems with her stylish Gothic romance/mystery "Sea of Secrets." Her latest book, "With This Curse," once again demonstrates her mastery of the Gothic romance genre as she makes the familiar fresh and unexpected, and brings a new cast of unforgettable characters to life in a captivating narrative that keeps you guessing right up to the final chapter.

As with "Sea of Secrets," DeWees creates a world of vibrant characters and environments in "With This Curse" that surprise you not only with their authenticity, but with their individuality. There are no stock characters in an Amanda DeWees story - even people who only come into the story for a few brief pages feel like creations of flesh and blood rather than creations of story convenience. I walked away from this one not only wanting to read more of Clara and Atticus's story, but feeling that several of her supporting characters could feature in stories all their own! This scrupulous attention to detail extends to every aspect of the book, whether it's the vivid depictions of period fashions or the tender - and sometimes heartbreaking - relations between the principal characters. Although it's become somewhat popular to ascribe anachronistic qualities to the characters in these type of romances, DeWees instead chooses to immerse the reader in a more authentic experience, bringing as much care and attention to the integrity of the time and setting as she does to every other part of the story.

Fans of the classic Gothic romances will appreciate the clever ways that DeWees incorporates the conventions of the genre into the story while never allowing things to become rote or stale. It's a witty, charming world of engrossing fantasy, but one grounded in the reality of the time period and, perhaps more importantly, in a sincerity of emotional depth and feeling that her somewhat overheated contemporaries never quite seem to achieve. It speaks to a soul more consumed by the essence of romance than by the mechanics of it. In Amanda DeWees's world, romance is neither coarse nor crude, and beauty and tenderness are much more essential to breathless romance than an index of interfacing body parts.

If you've read "Sea of Secrets" or immersed yourself in the world of DeWees's Ash Grove characters, you will surely enjoy "With This Curse." If you've never read DeWees before, but love the feel of the classic Gothics, "With This Curse" is a great place to introduce yourself to her work. It's not just a great Gothic, it's a great book, and one that you keep you captivated until the end.
Profile Image for Alisa  Jenkins.
619 reviews39 followers
August 30, 2015
This is a hard review to write.
I liked many things about the book, but there were a few things I disliked as well.
At one point, I felt it was a lot of rambling. But I know there were a lot of details needed to make the reader understand the story.
I felt the injustice of Clara being sent away from Gravesend, and the injustice of her own mother not believing her and at least making a small stand in her honor. The loneliness she felt on her own at the young age (young to us now, but an adult in that period of time). I am proud of the woman she became and the path(s) she choose when she could have done much much worse.
Strange that Atticus choose her, and tracked her down as he did. I do love the nickname of Atlas, it really does suit him.
Lord Telford, was strange, almost demented in his old age. His creepy collection, well I don't know how Clara sat with him and visited. Although, after a few visits we don't hear if they continued or not.
Clara was perfect as lady of the manor, she was fair to the servants- because she knew what it was like.
So spooky occurances did happen, but not to the point the reader would be scared witless.
Genevieve, she was quite annoying to me most of the time. I felt she acted way younger than her 17 years when she first arrived at Gravesend and continued for sometime. There were times though she did seem and talk much older. I felt along with Clara, at first that there was something strange between Genevieve and Atticus and it seemed wrong. But we do get clarity on that issue.
I do wish I knew more of what was whispered and fought about between Atticus and Lord Telford. Other than the surprise we get at the end. I feel there was much more to it, and more to it than Lord Telford knowing of Clara's true origins.

*Ms. DeWees has also put Discussion Questions at the end of the book.
I was given a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Peggy Holloway.
Author 30 books44 followers
April 7, 2014
I was so pleased to find this author and am glad to see she has more books in this genre. I have always had a special place in my heart for the Romantic Gothic. This one rivals anything Daphne Du Maurer or Victoria Holt wrote. The storyline has many surprises and twists. The author doesn't use sex as a crutch, i.e. she doesn't fill page after page with detailed sexual scenes to increase the word count, like so man other authors. Instead, there is clean sensual undertones. The character development is wonderful, and I love the way she handles dialog. The only thing that keeps the novel from being a five star, for me, it the slow pace and the long sentences strung together with "and." I plan to read all of this author's Romantic Gothics and hope she writes some more.
Profile Image for Jacky Faber.
305 reviews5 followers
June 10, 2015
One thing that irritated me was how stupid Clara was at times, especially concerning Richard. Plus, it was difficult to believe
that Clara still felt so much "love" for Richard after 18 years had passed and especially when their relationship had happened when she was a nieve girl of 17. Supposedly Clara was supposed to be an intelligent, resourceful woman but when it came to Richard, she seemed incredibly stupid.
Profile Image for Sussann.
61 reviews
March 29, 2016
Just Meh. Clara was incredibly vapid and it was really irritating. She is so shallow, she has been in love for 18 years with someone who was equally superficial and a bully. I mean Clara thought Richard was clever and amusing for taunting his disabled older brother! I just felt I was unable to respect her at all.
593 reviews4 followers
September 26, 2022
This book is a throwback to novels that I and my high school best friend, Mary, loved to read, shiver over, talk about, re-read. Amanda DeWees as an author is akin to Victoria Holt, Mary Stewart, Anya Seton, and, most notably, the Brontë sisters. A crumbling old manor house, an ominous curse, a troubled but heartstoppingly handsome young lord, ghostly sights and sounds, secret passageways, murder most foul—this is an entertaining instance of deja vu for me, as well as a precious reminder of a friend who has been gone now for more than a decade.
Profile Image for Peyton.
91 reviews16 followers
February 14, 2014
A glowing 5 stars.

This was such a fun read. I honestly could not put it down—there was much "multitasking" on my part, and my poor children had early bed times for those couple of days I was reading it. Sadly, this poor author just cannot keep up with my appetite for her books (cruel of me, since she has released 5 and a short story in the last 2 years—go, buy them all).

Dewees has such a great knowledge of the time period and her setting. Her enthusiasm for the subject is evident in her descriptions and her characters behaviors, and it really makes the stories come to life. The occasional frustration did arise in that OMG, THESE VICTORIAN CHARACTERS WERE ACTING SO DARNED VICTORIAN in their inability to actually discuss any taboo topic. This led to a cringe-inducing moment or two, but can we really blame these poor characters for acting like they were raised in the setting they were placed in? (Answer: No, we cannot. Good job.)

Atticus Blackwood is my new imaginary boyfriend. This is such a wonderful hero, the requisite gothic drama notwithstanding—honorable, generous, strong, clever, and even humorous and genial until tragedy strikes and the thrills and tension really ramp up. Our heroine, Clara, was also quite enjoyable—mature, intelligent, humanitarian, bold. (When I did occasionally wonder at her ability to completely overlook her first love's negative qualities, though, I just fell more in love with Atticus's willingness to not break her heart by point out her delusion.)

I will admit to guessing what the shocking twist would be toward the end of the first half of the story, but there are only so many gothic elements to choose from when needing to properly torment our hero and worry our heroine, and the climax was dramatic and exciting nonetheless. "Master of the genre" might be a little early to declare, but I think that her understanding of the qualities that make up gothic romance surpasses many, and her ability to blend all these attributes into something that is still new and gripping is really excellent.

I can't wait for her next one. Next month, please?


This review is based on an ARC provided for me by the author. I'm still going to buy the book anyway, when it comes out as a dead tree.
Profile Image for Leanna.
26 reviews2 followers
February 8, 2015
I started reading the kindle sample at around 1 AM and ended up buying and reading it all the way through until 5 AM... it was *that* good.

I'm not going to bother summarizing the story, as anyone can get that from goodreads or an online bookstore, but I wanted to highlight that if anyone has avoided this book out of fear it could be a bodice ripper, its nothing of the sort. "With This Curse" is more of a Gothic love story with the lurking elements of mystery, hints of supernatural, murder, deception... as it unfolded I found myself resisting re-reading passages from chapters past to confirm my suspicions; preferring to experience it along with the first person account of the narrator/heroine instead.

It really is worth going back and re-reading, this author's skill at Gothic suspense is something I have not encountered elsewhere. I greatly look forward to other works by her.

Level of Romance:

Recommended for: Gothic mystery lovers, historical mystery fans, appreciators of Du Maurer or Dumas storylines.
Profile Image for Joyce Wetherbee.
112 reviews5 followers
July 30, 2014
DeWees has taken me back to the very first romance I ever read. They were dark, mysterious, set in Victorian England and perfect for a young girl's dreams. With this Curse had me hooked at the first page. A young girl and her mother in dire straights are hired by the lord of Gravesend Hall. Dismissed at seventeen for falling in love with Richard Blackwood, Clara Crofton must make her way alone in the world. She lays the blame for her trouble and Richard's death on the curse that was laid on the Blackwood family more than a century ago.

Returning to Gravesend more than eighteen years later as the bride of Atticus Blackwood should have been her day of triumph. As the least favored son, taking a bride should have made his father's last days happier. Clara is reminded again of the curse as whispers in the night, shadowed figures disappearing around corners and accidents that seem to have no rhyme or reason begin to plague her.

DeWees has proven herself every bit as talented at weaving a tale of love and suspense as those grande dames she enjoyed so much herself. Beautifully written, her characters took on a life of their own keeping me turning page after page. A romance I can heartily recommend for any age, I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book.

I was gifted a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Paola.
27 reviews1 follower
May 25, 2017
I’ve got it! I must keep clear of Ms DeWees’s novels and sure will do in the future. I was so disappointed with “sea of secrets” but nonetheless when I read the blurb of “with this curse” I got intrigued; besides GR reviews were excellent! But the thing is I’m disappointed again! I don’t see how this novel can be described as a gothic tale since it lacks a gothic atmosphere altogether! I mean, Clara heard a voice whispering her name in the hallway and glimpsed a shadow that resembled Clara’s dead sweetheart…. are these two episodes enough for this book to be considered a Gothic novel? Naah, I don’t think so. The terrible curse which caused such a great fear and foreboding among the characters was dismissed at the very end in a very stupid way like… ah, the curse, well no, there’s not really a proper curse at Gravesend, just life / destiny that in the course of centuries can be unpredictable and cruel and strike some families more than others. What was really totally predictable in this book was the mystery! which was brought into the plot very late, by the way, almost in the last chapters…. Until then “with this curse” had dragged with pages and pages of a boring romance, which is not exactly my cup of tea… served me well for not choosing some other novel by Wendy Webb or Simone St. James over this one!
Profile Image for Christoph Fischer.
Author 41 books474 followers
August 2, 2014
"With This Curse" by Amanda DeWees is an excellent historical romance. The writing is simply fantastic: it is elegant, competent and stylish; the setting is atmospheric and moody, right up there with the Bronte sisters: dark, gothic and utterly captivating,
The story is intriguing with the mystery of an old curse, but there are some great developments and turns in the plot to keep the interest and the curiosity up throughout.
Much is not what it seems when our heroine Clara enters a marriage of convenience, without ever quite knowing the real reasons behind this arrangement. The 19th century setting comes off as very convincing and engaging, the class system, the characters and the portrayal of the times provide an excellent background for the romance.
I have read all of DeWees's published work so far and have always slightly favoured "Sea of Secrets", which is similar in style.
If you like historical romances then you will find it hard to find fault with this one. A gem amongst its peers.
Profile Image for Linda Baker.
915 reviews18 followers
June 30, 2015
I have been reading some rather dark stories lately so With This Curse was just the thing to counteract that. I read TONS of gothics as a young adult so it's a genre I have a lot of affection for. This one does not disappoint with an upright heroine, a cursed house and a hero who is a refreshing change from the mysterious dark stranger type so usual in gothic romances. I also liked the fact that the heroine was considerably older than the usual, with much more life experience. I had the story "twist" figured out long before our heroine though and that is my only quibble about the story.

Elizabeth Klett's narration is excellent with an impeccable British accent. It was a very enjoyable story, well told by her. This audiobook was provided by the author, narrator, or publisher at no cost in exchange for an unbiased review courtesy of AudiobookBlast dot com."
October 8, 2019
A Gothic romance novel, With This Curse caters to readers who favor this genre else this is no Rebecca.
Gravesend Hall is a mansion seeped in history and tragedies with a curse that affects not just the residents but even the servants. Clara as a naive 17 yr old falls in love with the master of the house Richard and is sent away in disgrace, 18 yrs later she's back as the mistress of the hall but as a wife to the twin brother Atticus. The relationship slowly grows in strength with trust, respect and then love but the past comes back to haunt them. The story is good even though the big twisty surprise can be guessed at by most. It would have been interesting to have more of a ominous feel in the story coz the dread wears off after the first few chapters. Overall a good Gothic romance.
Profile Image for Tina Nelson.
Author 1 book22 followers
February 9, 2014
I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review
Yes, as always I will not summarize the book. YOU REALLY HAVE TO READ IT!

Wow!!!!
This gothic romance was beautiful. I love the genre, I love the time it plays in. I just loved everything about it.
The characters were all (except one... grrrr) likable and very believable.
And of course, if it would have been up to me the book could have gone on for several more chapters.
Amanda DeWees has a distinguished way, pulling me into her world of writing.
Sea of Secrets already has been amazing (and if you haven't already READ THAT AS WELL. Seriously!) But With this Curse, has topped that.
Profile Image for Darlene.
197 reviews17 followers
June 2, 2015
If you like the old school romantic suspense novels,this book is for you. I'll be picking up other books by this author,and watching for more in the future. A very enjoyable read,and I would recommend it to fans of Victoria Holt and Barbara Michaels.
Profile Image for Kacey Gilpin.
161 reviews35 followers
January 2, 2015
Rebecca meets Jane Eyre. Ominous and well-written, DeWees evokes the same fascination and suspense in her readers as Bronte and de Maurier. Fans of gothic historical fiction will love this book!
Profile Image for Daneesha.
382 reviews6 followers
February 28, 2016
I loved this. A clean, Gothic-like historical mystery/love story told in first person.
1,041 reviews27 followers
October 28, 2017

I picked up this book to follow along with the Smart Bitches book club. That didn’t happen due to a technology glitch, but still so happy I read it.

It’s classified as romantic suspense and described by some as gothic, though I did not find it nearly as scary or suspenseful as anticipated. (I thought the second book in this series fit the gothic theme much more).

Our heroine, Clara, was dismissed from her position as a made after falling in love with the master’s son Richard, whom she learns dies in the war a year or two later. She makes her way in the world, at a factory and then as a seamstress. Suddenly, Richard’s twin, Atticus, tracks her down and propositions her. He wants to make his father happy by marrying before the father passes away. Clara refuses at first, but when she loses her position and is black-balled by a former boss, she has little choice.

This decision involves returning to Greyhurst, the cursed manor, where she spent much of her upbringing. There she meets Atticus’ ward and his father. Being there brings back memories, good and bad of her romance with Richard.

Strange and dangerous events begin to unfold, including murder, kidnapping and attempted murder as we learn more about everyone’s deep secrets.

At times I found the foreshadowing a bit ham-handed, but did enjoy the book and the main characters. In fact, I immediately bought the next book in the series. 3.75/5
Profile Image for Julia Sarene.
1,204 reviews127 followers
June 14, 2022
Another brilliant Amanda DeWees! As my first book of hers I read was the Christmas short story, which takes place after this book, I already knew how this book would end. That didn't hamper my enjoyment one bit though!

I liked Sybil Ingram as a main character, but I think I love Clara even more. She's a much more down to earth character, and yet is more than up to fighting for the people dear to her.

This is another story that is a great mix of victorian romance, mystery, suspense, manners and a dash of gothic vibes.

The characters who act like real humans, within their societal borders, were a big draw for me, and I enjoyed both the main and side characters tremendously. No one did stupid things just to further the plot.

I was hooked from the first page on, and while I guessed the big secret, it took me long enough to have me thinking and puzzling along with Clara to more than satisfy me!

I'm absolutely in love with this author's writing, and now have to forcefully keep myself from binging her stuff right away, so I have some left....
Profile Image for Sabaah Jauhar-Rizvi.
35 reviews8 followers
March 20, 2019
It's a nice, quick, rainy day kind of Gothic tale. It's not quite as dark or sinister as Monk Lewis' works, but more along the lines of Victoria Holt. This author has a good eye for detail, giving enough to help you set the scene in your own mind without going overboard. The pacing is fast and the build up is full of suspense. The ebook had a few loading issues, but I contacted Amazon and they had me unload and reload it, and then it was loading fine (technology is not always our friend). I think a previous book of the authors I liked a little bit more, but I enjoy her writing styles and regardless of the tale, I know that they will be enjoyable and fun to read. I'd really like to give this 3.5 stars, but they don't allow half stars here. Pity.
Profile Image for Malia.
857 reviews22 followers
October 24, 2017
I will read Gothic romances until the end of time. This one dragged a bit in the middle, but really satisfied hitting the tropes I love: curses, crumbling manors, mysterious wards, long lost brothers, all that good stuff. Plus death masks! Plus since the heroine was a seamstress, you get some good descriptions of dresses. I am ALWAYS all in to read about bombazine and cartridge pleats.
Profile Image for Brandy.
442 reviews21 followers
September 6, 2021
Fun gothic romance to round out my reading staycation! This one had characters I enjoyed, a lavish setting but… a predictable conclusion. The “twist” didn’t get me at all, but was still very much my cup of tea!! Will certainly be reading the next book in the series AND keeping my eye in this indie author!!

I ♥️ Gothic Romance!!
January 27, 2022
A great gothic thriller

This great gothic thriller has romance, murder, mystery, family drama, the traditional haunted gothic mansion and an eye for the fashion and the class distinctions of the Victorian era. All the best, and least preachy elements of a morality play and a grand sense of foreboding. More importantly, it's a great read and lots of fun. Highly recommend.
55 reviews
January 20, 2019
Wonderful atmosphere

Fantastic way with words - felt the suspense and questions build throughout. In some ways it reminded me of Victoria Holt. Did not see the identity of the "villian" but the author did not cheat - there were foreshadows of the identity.
Profile Image for Karel .
201 reviews2 followers
May 7, 2019
Gothic Mystery

I loved this book! It was well written and the characters were fascinating. The plot was twisted however it does answer your questions. I look forward to reading more books in this series.
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