THE SEDGWICK CURSE by Shawna Delacorte
Harlequin Intrigue #846
Original Print Release: May 2005
eBook Reissue: January 17, 2012
eBook ISBN:
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To learn the truth behind her great-grandmother's past—and the curse that still surrounded both her family and the old woman's tiny country village—Taylor MacKenzie made her way to England. But from the moment she arrived at her ancestors' manor house, an eerie chill echoed the evil of the past and a shadowy figure seemed to follow her every move.

Donovan Sedgwick, the new lord of the manor, had eyes that pierced Taylor's soul and held her in an otherworldly thrall. But he seemed ravaged by demons of his own—demons that only her kisses were able to calm.



Romantic Times (May 2005)
Rating: 4 out of 5

A hundred years ago, The Sedgwick Curse damned Lord Donovan's family.  Donovan doesn't believe in the dire prophecy, which promises the resurrection of Donovan's tyrannical great-grandfather, a crazed murderer.  But he can't shake the impending sense of danger that haunts him or explain away the grisly discovery of a new murder on the estate grounds.  When Taylor, a temptation with a hidden agenda, visits Sedgwick Manor, Donovan realizes she holds the key to the horrors of the past and to his future happiness.

Shawna Delacorte pens a fun read with lots of spooky ambience and a daring twosome.


CataRomance (May 2005)
Rating:  4 Stars out of 5

Have you ever had that creepy feeling when the hairs stand up on your neck and you just know someone is watching you?  THE SEDGWICK CURSE by Shawna Delacorte will definitely have you on the edge of your seat and checking your back as you read faster to find out what happens next.  Ms. Delacorte's handsome brooding hero and beautiful compassionate heroine lead us on a thrilling foray full of romance, danger and suspense.

Donovan Sedgwick is the new lord of the manor and has not only inherited the Sedgwick estate but also the Sedgwick Curse.  One hundred years ago his great grandfather murdered two tenants and brought a curse on the family.  It is rumored that his ancestor's ghost will come back to kill again.  The curse seems all too real as the former Lord Sedgwick commits suicide and a mad man commits a series of homicides.  Could Donovan's blackouts have anything to do with the deadly happenings?

Taylor MacKenzie corresponded with Donovan's late father and was invited to stay at the manor to research British country festivals.  Her true reason for coming to England is to discover what happened to her Grandmother's murdered parents.  She finds out more than she bargains for as she seems to be watched by a lurking evil presence.

Donovan and Taylor sense an uncanny connection and find solace in each other's arms.  They work closely together to find answers to the many unanswered questions surrounding the murders.  But will Taylor be the next victim and can Donovan truly be trusted?

THE SEDGWICK CURSE by Shawna Delacorte is a spine tingler from the very beginning.  I spent a nail biting evening racing through the pages to a wonderfully, satisfying, aha ending.  Lovers of romantic intrigue and suspense will be totally captivated by THE SEDGWICK CURSE.


Rendezvous (June 23, 2005)

Still getting over the shock of his father's death, Lord Donovan Sedgwick is surprised to learn that his father had made arrangements for a journalist to visit during the festival.  This was a bad time—someone had bombed their crypt and his enemies continue to fictionalize stories.  He's trying to keep the scandal his great-grandfather caused from being revived.  They both are surprised when they meet—Donovan was expecting a man and Taylor MacKenzie was expecting someone older.  But neither is prepared for the spontaneous combustion between them.  At first Donovan was going to try to convince her to leave, but after each person she talks to are found murdered, he decides the only way to protect her was to keep her close to him.  Is the curse affecting him—the headaches and blackouts were getting more frequent.  The strange incidents all seem to be happening because of her resemblance to Emily, the person his great-grandfather supposedly murdered.  Together they set out to discover who is behind everything.

Every emotion is felt by the reader in this dramatic story which mesmerizes the reader as it builds to one shattering revelation after another.  A cast of secondary characters add spice to the story.


Read G-rated Excerpt inside front cover
Read Excerpt #1 (G-rated)
Read Excerpt #2 (G-rated)
Read Excerpt #3 (G-rated)
Read Excerpt #4 (G-rated)
Read Excerpt #5 (G-rated)


G-rated Excerpt inside front cover:

She whirled around, her gaze staring into the darkness of the garden. Someone was watching her, staring from the safety of some hidden place. She gasped for air as if all the oxygen had been taken away from her.

"Who's there? Who…?" The words came out as a whisper then they died in her mouth. Her heart pounded in her chest and the sound roared in her ears. A wall of fear surrounded her. She forced her feet to move, to carry her toward the house. Her plodding steps turned into a run as she headed for the light at the kitchen door.

"Where have you been?" The words came at her from the darkness. A jolt of adrenaline raced through her body before she identified the voice as Donovan's. Then he grabbed hold of her arm and pulled her toward him….


G-rated Excerpt #1 (The Curse)

Alex tried to suppress a chuckle without much success. "You're not talking about that stupid curse thing, are you? How did that go? To rise from the ruins—what is born of the fires of hell cannot die. Some demented old man who was supposed to have mystical powers utters some ambiguous words as Great-Grandfather's body is being sealed in the crypt and says the curse would come to fruition in one hundred years. I could understand some ignorant and superstitious villagers in the eighteenth century buying into all this curse stuff, but not a mere hundred years ago when all this happened. And now in the twenty-first century everyone is suddenly jumping at every shadow because of some coincidental explosion that probably has some very logical explanation."

Donovan snapped out his irritation. "That's not funny, Alex." He stared out the window into the blackness of the night. Another tremor of apprehension rippled through his body, leaving him very unsettled. "Something extremely bizarre is going on and I don't have any rational explanation for it." And that included the blinding headaches that had attacked him several times in the past two months since the death of his father, like steel bands tightening around his head. They left him confused, disoriented and with memory lapses—and frightened about what it meant and what the future held.

The two men talked for a few more minutes, then Alex went to the room he had been occupying on his visits to the estate since he was a little boy. Donovan remained downstairs in the entry hall staring out a window, trying to force his eyes to see whatever it was he sensed lurking in the darkness.

The police had left a light at the site of the crypt explosion. He watched as fingers of fog crept across the ground, edging their way around the tombstones belonging to generations of the Sedgwick family—generations too numerous to count and, according to many, better left forgotten. The ground fog blanketed everything in a damp shroud just as it had that night a century ago. The light electrified the mist with an eerie spectral glow. A shudder swept through Donovan's body, causing him to hunch his shoulders as if warding off a cold wind.

Donovan continued to stare out the window, lost in his own thoughts and unspoken fears. He wasn't sure how much time has passed before the sound of the doorbell startled him back into reality. He opened the door to the late night visitor.

The low, throaty voice floated toward him through the night air. "Hello. I'm Taylor MacKenzie."

"You…you're Taylor MacKenzie?" Donovan stared in disbelief at the beautiful woman standing at the front door, bathed in the soft glow of the porch light. He felt the tightening in his chest as a quick surge of heated energy darted through his reality. Something about her looked so familiar, as if he should know her, but that was impossible. No man with a spark of life in him could ever forget having met this vision who jolted his senses and nearly took his breath away. But still…he couldn't shake the strange, almost overwhelming sensation of déjà vu.


G-rated Excerpt #2 (Chasing Shadows)

Taylor glanced at her watch. Five minutes after midnight. This was her opportunity to explore the house without anyone knowing what she was doing. A moment of hesitation told her how unsettled she was with her decision. She had deceived Donovan to the point of perpetuating her lies after he had confronted her about her true identity. And now she was taking advantage of his generosity in allowing her to stay in the house by snooping behind his back. It was not a very honorable thing to do, and under normal circumstances she would never consider such an objectionable action.

But these were not normal circumstances. And something was terribly amiss. If only she could shake the uneasiness churning inside her, that constant edge that set the tiny hairs on her arms on end and left her nerves rattled. She attempted to shove away her concerns, but the best she could do was relegate them to a corner of her mind without really dismissing them.

Taylor quietly ascended the stairs to the third floor. She paused at the top of the staircase and shone her flashlight down the length of the long hallway, peering into the darkness as far as the beam of light penetrated. A cold movement of air brushed across the back of her neck. A ripple of fear made its way through her body, depositing a hard lump in her throat. She whirled around, fearful of what she would see. The only thing that greeted her was silence and an empty hallway. Another shiver jittered across her skin, electrifying her nerve endings.

Maybe she couldn't see anything, but she most certainly felt it—a sinister presence hiding somewhere in the shadows. Someone was watching her, someone who radiated menacing vibrations.

The ripple of fear she experienced at that moment came from a real person—someone made of flesh and blood. At least that's what she had to believe, otherwise the implications would be too frightening.

A sound, very soft but ever so real, reached out and grabbed her. She froze on the spot. Her heart pounded in her chest and the blood raced through her veins. Her first impulse told her to run back to her room and barricade her door. But her feet refused to move. A shortness of breath caught in her lungs. She forced her words, but they came out as a frightened whisper.

"Who's there? Come out where I can see you."

She strained to hear the noise again, to identify the sound. It seemed to be coming from down the hall, beyond the reach of her flashlight. As much as she wanted to get out of there she knew if she ran she would only be taking her fears with her, whether they were real or imagined. She tentatively took one step forward, then another as she waved the flashlight from one side of the hall to the other.

She froze in her tracks. There it was again—that sound. The blood rushed in her ears, almost drowning out the mysterious noise. She forced a tenuous calm to her rattled nerves as she tried to concentrate. The sound seemed to be a cross between shuffling feet and what she could best describe as wind whistling through an air vent. Donovan had told her the third floor had never been modernized. So what kind of air vents could there be if the heating system didn't extend to the third floor? She again forced her gaze to the limits of the beam from her flashlight. Then a slight movement caught her eye, a shadowy figure disappearing around a corner.

In a moment of hesitation she wondered if it was wise for her to pursue the shadowy figure. Was she behaving like the feisty heroine from one of those old Gothic novels who stomped her little foot in determination, then ignored the warnings and foolishly descended alone into the dark cellar where several other young women had disappeared?


G-Excerpt #3 (Spying on Taylor)

It was well past midnight when the shadowy figure moved silently down the hallway, then entered a linen closet on the second floor of the old wing. He moved a cupboard aside, then slid back a small panel and peered into the adjoining room. The soft light from the reading lamp fell across the woman's face. Three large pillows propped up her back. A book rested in her lap. She appeared to have fallen asleep while reading.

Without even a whisper of a sound the secret door that led from the hall linen closet into the clothes closet in her bedroom swung open. The centuries-old house was filled with hidden doors and secret passages, and he knew all of them.

He stood inside the closet and watched her from behind the hanging clothes. Her long, dark lashes rested against her upper cheek. The gentle rise and fall of her breasts told him she was sleeping. She was his. She always had been and always would be...till death do them part.

He had time, it was still two weeks until the festival. It would be just as it should have been a century ago. It had been his intention that they should pledge their love to each other the night before the beginning of the festival, even though a couple of months earlier her husband had grown suspicious of his attentions to her. But this would be different. This time there would not be any interference.

He stepped out of the closet and silently crossed the room, coming to a halt next to her bed. He reached out his hand and lightly touched her hair. What had she done to her hair? Where were the glossy raven tresses that had so captured his attention, the beautiful raven tresses that fell to her shoulders? Had his memory played tricks on him? He reached out his hand to touch her hair just as she began to stir. He quickly withdrew as a soft moan escaped her throat and her hand moved toward her hair.


G-rated Excerpt #4 (Alex, Donovan's cousin, and Constance, a woman from the village)

A twinge of something jabbed at Donovan as he watched Alex's all too obvious manner and easy flirting with Taylor. He wasn't sure he really wanted to put an exact word to the feeling. Could it be jealousy? He didn't want to admit that the instant attraction he felt for her had gotten under his skin.

Donovan fought to keep the irritation out of his voice. "Don't you have someplace to be, Alex?"

Alex crossed the room to the door. He gave Taylor one last libidinous glance and an easy smile. "I'll see you at dinner tonight."

Alex hurried to his car and drove the five minutes to Constance's house. He gave two quick raps on the front door, then opened it and walked in without waiting to be invited. "Connie? Are you ready to get to work?" His familiarity said they were much more than casual acquaintances.

Constance Smythe emerged from the back room. Her blond hair hung to her shoulders, her makeup perfectly applied. She glanced around, then her gaze landed on Alex. She tightened the sash of her silk robe. "You're alone?"

Alex studied her for a moment. She claimed to be thirty-one, but he knew she was closer to forty. She'd maintained a youthful appearance and an appealing body, especially for an older woman—older compared to his twenty-seven years. In fact, there were a lot of things he knew about Constance that he was sure no one else knew.

He looked around, feigning a hint of confusion about what she might have been searching for when she entered the room. "You were expecting Donovan to be with me? Or perhaps you were hoping for Donovan by himself." He reached out and tugged at the silken sash until it came loose, allowing her robe to fall open, revealing the sheer nightgown she wore.

A sly smile curled the corners of Alex's mouth as he raked his gaze over her obvious charms. "Ah, yes…I see you were hoping for Donovan solo. Well—" he removed his jacket and tossed it over the arm of the couch, "—never let it be said that I failed to help out a lady in obvious distress." He tugged on the front of her robe, slowly drawing her toward him.

Connie stepped away, closed her robe, retied the sash and leveled a steady gaze at him. "You're quite the randy lad, Alex…always ready for a tumble."

Alex winked at her. "As you know from personal experience—ready, willing and very able."

"Well, you'll have to put all of that 'ready, willing and able' aside until another time and another place. Right now we have festival business to discuss."

"Whatever you say. Business first—" he cocked his head and shot a questioning look in her direction, "—and pleasure later?" He retrieved a notebook from his jacket pocket and seated himself at her dining room table.

Constance picked up the file folder from the corner of the table and withdrew several sheets of paper. "I've compiled a list of what needs to be done and what I've already accomplished. I think we're in good shape for this year's festival, just the last-minute details to take care of."

Alex took the list from her, but didn't bother to look at it. "You know, Connie—" he pulled her into his lap, "—it's not doing you any good to set your sights on the status that being married to Lord Donovan Sedgwick would give you. After all, Donovan has rebuffed your increasingly blatant overtures in that area. Even before Uncle James died, you had decided on Donovan. I assume you believed that uncle James's age meant that Donovan would be coming into the title sometime very soon. And by a strange quirk of fate, he came into it sooner than anyone anticipated. But even you though decided Donovan is going to be your next husband—"

"Next husband?" Constance jumped to her feet and took a couple of steps away from Alex. "Whatever are you talking about? Everyone knows that I've never been married."

A sly grin turned the corners of his mouth. "Sorry, Connie…I keep forgetting about the myth you insist of perpetuating."


G-rated Excerpt #5 (She looks so familiar)

Donovan stood at the door of the informal dining room. He watched as Taylor poured herself a cup of coffee, then stood in front of the window staring at the gardens. He continued to be bothered by the strange sensation that he knew her from somewhere. He closed his eyes for a moment, but the image continued to swirl around in his mind. He was inexplicably drawn to her, almost as if she had cast some sort of a spell over him—as if some unknown force had pulled him into a fateful liaison fraught with unknown danger.

Taylor turned toward him as he entered the room. He drank in her features—the shape of her face, the creamy texture of her skin, the set of her eyes, her slightly parted lips and the fullness of a mouth that deserved to be repeatedly kissed as often as possible. He tried to shake away the powerful urge to kiss those tempting lips as the heated desire again settled low in his body, fighting with his attempts at maintaining a businesslike attitude.

"Is there something wrong?" Donovan's intense stare sent a small tremor of anxiety through her body. She was determined to track down her family history. Her grandmother had filled her in on as much as she knew, but there were still so many missing pieces. Her grandmother had been born on the Sedgwick Estate where Taylor's great grandparents were the last of the tenant farmers to live there. Her grandmother had been sent to Canada as a small child to live with an aunt and uncle.

All Taylor knew of her great-grandparents, Clark and Emily Kincaid, was that they had been murdered by Lord William Sedgwick, a crime for which he had been swiftly convicted and then executed. She knew nothing of the details, but was determined to seek them out. Only now that she was actually at the Sedgwick Estate, standing face-to-face with the very appealing Lord Donovan Sedgwick….

"Do I have jelly on my face or an orange juice mustache?" She forced a nervous chuckle as she moved her fingertips to the side of her mouth as if to wipe away an offending smudge.

Donovan's hand followed hers, his fingers lightly touching her hair, then brushing against her cheek. He quickly withdrew his hand and took a step backward. He hadn't realized he was still staring at her so intently. "I'm sorry. It's just that…well—" he awkwardly shifted his weight from one foot to the other, "—you look so familiar, as if I should know you from somewhere, but I can't quite place it. We, uh, we haven't ever met…have we?"