(This new edition has been re-edited to stand alone)
In this fourth installment of the award-winning Devil DeVere series, Diana has come to London as her goddaughter’s chaperone. Wanting to avoid her erstwhile lover at all costs, she nevertheless has no choice but to appeal to DeVere for help when Vesta mysteriously disappears. Although once nearly consumed by her passion for DeVere, four years has reduced the former inferno to bitterness and ashes.
Ludovic’s time abroad has only served to deepen his debauchery. He’s become jaded, world-weary, and bored. He also recognizes with self-annoyance that the marks of his discontent have only increased upon a certain person’s arrival in London. When Diana makes her appearance in his den of iniquity in all of her glorious self-righteous fury, he suddenly feels alive again.
“Damn you to hell, DeVere!” she cried, jerking out of his hold. “Yes, I want you now, but I would despise myself for it the moment we finished.”
“Why?” he asked, confounded.
“Why? Because I once confused passion for deeper feeling. I won’t make that mistake again.”
“But don’t you remember how it was between us? I can bring you rapture. You know that. What harm is there?”
She scoffed, “Surely the same words the serpent whispered to Eve.”
While DeVere is once more hell-bent to have Diana back in his bed, she will do whatever it takes to bring him to his knees.
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EXCERPT (mature content)
DeVere House Bloomsbury 1783
“What the devil is it, Winchester?” Viscount DeVere snapped at the appearance of his majordomo. “I thought I clearly communicated that we were not to be disturbed.”
The flushing servant diverted his gaze to the ceiling in an obvious effort to ignore the ongoing orgy. “But there is a lady to see you, my lord. She is most insistent.”
“Another one?” Lord Malden chortled. “By all means, have him send the baggage in. Damn me, DeVere, but you are well-supplied.”
“I am, indeed,” DeVere answered. “It is a most amicable arrangement with Madam Hayes, but I had not requested another.” DeVere gave another long, lazy pull on the stem of the hookah proffered by his scantily-clad companion, and cast a sadly indifferent gaze at the temptress who knelt between his legs.
The servant flushed. “You misapprehend, my lord. This lady—”
“Will not be turned away.” Diana stepped boldly into the room and Ludovic felt his pulse jump at his first glimpse of her in over four years.
Although a black veil obscured her face, Ludovic could have identified her proud carriage and sultry voice amongst a hundred similar women. He was careful to maintain his air of careless indifference, commanding the woman who serviced him, “Put your playthings away, my pet for we have an unexpected guest.”
“So this is what you have reduced your life to, my lord?” Diana asked with icy hauteur.
He gave her a taunting smile. “It is fortunate that I don’t give a damn for your opinion, madam.” In defiance, he caressed the bare breast of his would-be odalisque and took another pull on the hookah, blowing purple-cast smoke rings into the air. “Now, to what do I owe the privilege of your queenly condescension?” He could almost see her hackles rise, a reaction that gave him a peculiar twinge of pleasure.
“How dare you ignore my messages and compel me to come to this…this…den of iniquity!”
He couldn’t suppress his chuckle. “It was your choice to invade my domain. Thus, it is not for me to concern myself with your injured sensibilities. I already conveyed to you that the girl is safe. There was nothing further to be said.” He gave her a bland lift of his brow, inwardly enjoying the hell out of her reaction.
“Nothing further! Where is she?” Diana demanded. “She was last in your charge and has not returned! I found her maid locked in her room! If anything has happened to her—”
“I assure you she is perfectly safe in my brother’s keeping.”
“Hew is involved in this? I don’t believe it. He would never—”
DeVere’s mouth kicked up in the corner. “Perhaps I misspoke. It would be vastly more correct to say he is in hers.” The girl was a tiny virago. He almost felt pity for his brother.
Diana looked befuddled. “What on earth are you talking about?”
“When Vesta revealed to me that she was determined to have Hew, I agreed to lend some small assistance in the matter.”
“That’s ludicrous! Vesta hasn’t even had her come-out. It is far too soon for her to be thinking of anyone!”
“Nevertheless.” He shrugged.
“Is that all you have to say?”
“For the nonce. Conversation is not my chief pursuit at the moment, but should you be inclined to join me…” He surveyed her with a slow and deliberate appraisal, a look meant both to insult and to incite. He was pleased to note the rapid rise and fall of her breasts, proof that his power to inspire her lust had not waned in the least.
“You revile me!” Diana spat. “I will expect your call with a full explanation at nine o’clock on the morrow.”
“An ungodly hour,” he replied. “I doubt I shall have risen before two.”
Diana spun toward the door. “You will call, my lord, or you will much regret my methods of rousing you.”
She had meant it as a threat, but Ludovic could picture her face behind the veil, the high color staining her cheeks, the passion borne of righteous indignation blazing in her green eyes, the very things that had most appealed to him four years ago, aside from her magnificent breasts, that is. “I doubt that, my dear,” he replied. “You may rouse me any way you like.”
The room rumbled with snickers and guffaws.
Though he’d only meant to goad her, he felt himself growing rock hard at the vision of her once again in his bed. He had determined upon their first meeting that he would have her one way or another. She had been a challenge, but in the end he had, indeed, had her. Several ways in fact, but still not enough to satisfy him. She was the only lover with whom he hadn’t grown bored. He told himself it was only the brevity of their liaison; it simply hadn’t had sufficient time to grow tedious. The realization had sprung from nowhere, but there it was, just as she, staring him in the face.
“A tolerable, handsome figure,” Lord Malden remarked to her departing back, “but a tongue like a shrew.” He added sotto voce, “Perhaps you can teach her a better means of employing it, eh DeVere?”
Oh, he had done that and more. He had taught her many things and she had proven both eager and wonderfully sensuous, but her education remained incomplete. Unless…He wondered with a stab of something-he-didn’t-care-to- identify, if Diana had taken other lovers in his absence. Would it really matter if she had? He paused to examine that question and found it didn’t diminish his desire for her in the least. His brother was now out of the picture, not that he would have allowed that courtship to have progressed any further.
At the door she abruptly turned to confront her detractors, her bitterness a living, breathing force. He could almost see her livid gaze penetrating through the veil. “Better a shrew than a sheep, my lord. For hapless sheep are devoured by ruthless wolves.”
He chuckled as the door clicked behind her. So that was the way of it. He had introduced her to passion and left her to her own devices, and for that she resented him. For there was no doubt in his mind that this sheep desired nothing more than to be devoured slowly and deliberately by a wolf’s mouth, and he would be only too happy to oblige her.