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JEWEL OF THE EAST

(The Devil DeVere #5) 

Victoria Vane

Having once lived his life only for larks, laughter, and ladies of easy virtue, Captain Simon Singleton has returned from the war with the colonies a shambles of a man. Now free from six years of captivity, he’s still fettered by irrational fears that confine him to a life of seclusion.   

Once the crowning jewel of the most lavish brothel in London, the exotic Salime finds her reputation and livelihood destroyed by a bitter rival. With a closely guarded secret stripped away, Salime fears no man will ever desire her again. Seeking aid from one who once saved her life, Salime accepts a proposition to repay her debt by becoming a companion to his war-scarred friend. 

 Circumstance brings these two damaged souls together; but fate ignites a love story worthy of the Arabian Nights.

EXCERPT (in which the stage is set)

         Medford Abbey, Kent- 1785

A sharp rap soon sounded on the door. Ludovic, Viscount DeVere glanced up from his periodical to the entrance of a liveried footman. “A message for you, my lord.” 

The servant offered the wax-sealed missive on a silver salver. “It was delivered by a most…unusual…courier.” The footman gave a sniff of disdain.

“Indeed? What do you mean?” Ludovic asked in a bored drawl.

“‘Tis a behemoth blackamoor, my lord.”

“Mustafa?” Ludovic threw down his periodical and snatched up the missive. “What the devil?”

“He awaits in the kitchen. Insufferable rude creature he be. Just stands all akimbo. Refuses to speak or to depart without an answer from your lordship.”

“The man cannot speak. He has no tongue. They took it when they castrated the poor devil.”

The footman’s eyes bulged. He involuntarily crossed his legs. Ludovic broke the seal and scanned the contents with a deepening frown. 

Most honored Efendi,


It is with the greatest humility that I appeal to he who once safeguarded my life. It is with exceeding distress that I must entreat you once more, being much in need of a friend and protector. 


Your most devoted and obedient servant,

Salime

Ludovic read the cryptic note once more. Salime in want of a protector? What a sticky situation that created. At first he wondered why she’d appealed to him, but then again, there were few people she trusted. Given their shared history, he would never deny her aid. Moreover, Salime had been instrumental in helping him to achieve his present state of connubial bliss. For that alone he owed her his undying gratitude.

“Tell him I shall be in touch with his mistress shortly…and that she should notify me at once should her circumstances become any more…distressed.”

“Aye, my lord.” The much-chagrinned footman departed.

Ludovic glowered after the departing servant. Salime had never been in want since coming to London. He wondered what could be behind her request, but then abandoned both letter and the dilemma the moment another surprise came bursting into his library. “Ned?” Ludovic leaped up to greet his best friend. “What the devil has brought you all the way from Yorkshire to Kent?”

“I have most portentous news, DeVere,” Ned sputtered with excitement. “News I could hardly relay by messenger. So I came down myself.”

“What kind of news? Out with it, Chambers,” Ludovic commanded.

“Mayhap you should pour us a drink first.”

Ludovic lifted a sardonic brow. “A drink? Not so urgent after all?”

“‘Tis fortification you’ll need for the shock you’re about to receive.”

“Shock? Me? You know I am not easily shocked, Ned.” Ludovic paused with his hand on the brandy decanter and a slight frown marring his face. “Come to think of it, I’m damned if I can recall a single occasion that has wrought from me such a profound reaction as shock.”

Ned flung himself into Ludovic’s favorite chair. “There’s a first for everything, DeVere. Now that drink?”

Ludovic sloshed amber liquid into two glasses, handing one to the would-be herald, who downed it in one draught. Ludovic quirked a brow.

“It was a devilish long ride,” Ned explained.

“All to deliver this shocking report of yours?” Ludovic perched a hip on the corner of his mahogany desk.

“Yes! It’s Lazarus all over again!”

“Lazarus? Am I to surmise that someone has been miraculously raised from the dead?”

“Actually, he might as well have been,” Ned declared. “I can hardly countenance it after all this time.”

“You are trying my patience, Ned.”

“It’s Simon. He’s returned.”

“Good God!” The glass slipped from his hand to shatter at Ludovic’s feet. “You can’t mean Sin is alive after all this time? He was pronounced killed in action six years ago.”

“I mean exactly that!” Ned exclaimed. “He is indeed alive and may even be in London as we speak. I have the news straight from Baron Singleton. His ship was expected to arrive several days ago.”

“Why am I only hearing of this now? I see the bloody Singleton regularly at Parliament.”

“Probably because the good baron doesn’t like you, DeVere. He believes you were an abominable influence on his son.”

“Then he would be right.” Ludovic smirked and then stared at the shattered glass at his feet. 

“Looking a bit white there, my friend. This is known as shock.”

“Admittedly, I am incredulous. How can this be? Where the devil has he been?”

“Interned as a prisoner of war for the greater part of six years.”

“Six years? In all that time there were no exchanges?”

“Very few. The colonials refused to give up ours when they claimed their men were only released on the point of starvation and death. I daresay ’tis no exaggeration. I’ve seen a number of reports on the deplorably inhumane conditions of our prison hulks. Indeed it’s said that the colonial prisoners set fire to the Whitby, choosing to go down in flames, rather than die of starvation and disease.” Ned shook his head. “What a hellish business war is.”

“But if Sin was a prisoner, he should have been released nigh on a year ago when the treaty was signed.”

“Apparently he was too ill to travel. Only made it as far as Bermuda before he was struck with the bloody flux or some such and required months of convalescence…poor sod.”

“We must go to him, Ned. At once.”

“He’ll not be the same man,” Ned voiced what they were both thinking.

“No,” Ludovic shook his head. “Likely never again.” 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Victoria Vane is an award-winning romance novelist and history junkie whose works range from wildly comedic romps to emotionally compelling and intensely erotic romance. Victoria also writes historical fiction as Emery Lee and is the founder of Goodreads Romantic Historical Fiction Lovers and the Romantic Historical Lovers book review blog. Look for Victoria’s sexy new contemporary cowboy series coming in summer 2014.

DeVere Fan Site: http://thedevildevere.com

Facebook: Author Victoria Vane

Twitter: @authorvictoriav

THE

DEVIL DEVERE SERIES AWARDS AND ACCOLADES

A Wild Night’s Bride (book#1)

The Virgin Huntress, (book#2)

The Devil You Know (book#3)

The Devil’s Match, (book#4) August 2012

fence 3Quite a while ago, before my brain was frostbitten, the poem below was published for a holiday issue of Soul Engravings.

Recently, I came across it and had to smile because it reminded me of how this blasted winter storm in Michigan, with its unforgiving icy prisons and below zero temps has affected the attitudes of many people around me.

***

Frozen Decadence

Usually, I can force
all who have desires to hastily drink up
and drown in a spiral of never-ending wants.
I can lick souls to death and catch hope on fire;
it’s almost too easy, but someone has to do it.
Most days, the game of manipulation brings
forth sparkling innocence, which I shred to pieces
with only a glare of sugary lust.
I can blind those who would otherwise give
and I can deafen those who habitually listen.

But, alas…when the autumn air chills
and snowflakes fall upon my misery,from aaron ice2
I seek refuge for a smidgen of time and freeze.
Strange red and green balls of light
drape over my power and weaken me.
Silver and gold tinsel, surely infused with optimism,
strengthens my everyday victims; they do not feel me.
Quite foreign to the likes of me, hope rules without fear.
I am left abandoned in an abyss of frigid solitude
where I fester until ‘tis the season is over.

True, in the poem hope rules, but heavens! Has anyone noticed the winter blues…more like blustery grays, have saturated optimism and replaced it with negativity dipped into chilly dispositions? A friend of mine got her little car stuck in a huge snow drift and since no one stopped to help her, and her cell phone refused to work, she walked about twenty-five frigid minutes back to her home. Even with all of her winter attire, she said it took hours for her body to warm up.

ryan outside2Now, almost the same thing happened to my daughter, although she had the good fortune of a neighbor with an awesome truck to assist. So, yes, not all is lost! I like to think this visit from Jack Frost will not completely destroy hopes and wishes for 2014.

Many stories swirl around in my head most of the time, yet I’ve never introduced “weather” into the storyline as a driving force. Sure, weather conditions are in my stories, and a demonic storm does attack Jake Cottrell in The Twelfth Paladin much to his dismay. This latest bout with Jack, with his mind numbing temps, skin slicing wind, and so much snow cars disappear into drifts has inspired me to use weather much differently. Too cold, too dark, day after day and then maybe into months…what might happen to people not used to it, like me? I hate being cold! I sip on either hot chocolate or hot tea all day and night. Just the warmth of it helps, you know?

If your imagination is held captive by Jack, don’t let him triumph! Consider how the weather might enrich a story or poem you are working on.

• Frosty temps with snow, ice, high winds, loss of electric, and gasoline shortages lead to desperation settling in. How will your characters react? Can they hunt for food? Did they plan for a disaster, or were they caught off-guard?
• It’s so cold your characters no longer feel their limbs. Starving, who will survive? Who stands out as the leader, and who falls well below everyone’s expectations? Are any of the characters willing to sacrifice big time for others?
• Possibly, a character once believed to be mundane, weak, or simply irresponsible is the one who has the smarts to rise to the occasion and think his/her way to beat Jack at his own game. Or, turn this around. The supposed genius of the group proves to be unable to function once fighting for basic needs comes to play.

Have the harsh winter conditions changed your attitude? If so, what prevents your spirit front2from ice overload? Have you considered using the weather as a character in your work? Feel free to share!

Off I go! It’s tea time.
Thanks for visiting the Noracast.

*Also a big thanks to Aaron and Ryan for the lovely pics!