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 ashambles 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,
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.”
Victoria is giving away 2 ecopies of THE TROUBLE WITH SIN to two (2) lucky commenters. What do you think of soldier heroes? Giveaway ends @12am est on 1-27-14 with the winners announced shortly thereafter. Good Luck!
Victoria Vane is an award-winning author of smart and sexy romance. Her collective works of fiction range from historical to contemporary settings and include everything from wild comedic romps to emotionally compelling erotic romance. Her biggest writing influences are Georgette Heyer, Robin Schone, and Sylvia Day. Victoria is the founder of Goodreads Romantic Historical Fiction Lovers and the Romantic Historical Lovers book review blog. Look for her sexy new contemporary cowboy series coming from Sourcebooks in 2014.
I began writing in September 2007 never knowing if I would ever finish the story, that it would be published, or that six years later I would be writing as a full time career. WOW. The journey still takes my breath away.
I had worked in advanced diagnostic medical imaging, a highly technical field, for sixteen years, and had climbed the ladder to a middle management position. It was the logical path for me but while I had achieved a certain success in my field, and brought home a decent paycheck, I was miserable and unfulfilled, mainly because I worked under a boss who stifled any original ideas or creativity. I grew more frustrated as time went on and began writing a story. I had never written anything before and in the beginning it was mainly an outlet for frustration, but I was resolved to finish what I started. To this day I don’t even know where my first idea came from. I can only credit it as an inexplicable gift from above.
Flash forward 12 months – the economy took a huge nose dive and I found myself out of a job. The paycheck I had taken for granted was suddenly gone, and there were no other jobs in my field in the area where we lived. I continued to write during the ensuing months while I sought new employment. I finished my novel, a story that combined my passions for history, romance, and horses. My fourteen month long labor of love was complete. What now?
In for a penny… as they say.
Knowing absolutely nothing about the publishing process, I surfed the net and learned about query letters. Six weeks and thirty letters later, I got a phone call from an editor who loved my story. I was incredulous. Within days after that call, I had an agent and a publication deal. Fifteen months later my debut novel, THE HIGHEST STAKES, hit the book shelves. I proposed a sequel to my publisher and my second novel, FORTUNE’S SON, released the following year.
By now I was working again in my field, having found another position at a large teaching hospital but it was a thousand miles away. I lived and work apart from my family for 18 months while struggling to establish myself as a writer. We finally sold the house, paid off debts and downsized, but our marriage was suffering from the long geographic separation.
It was time for a major leap of faith.
With my husband’s support and agreement, I quit my job and we all moved in with my Mom. For the next two years my husband shouldered the bills while I continued to write, but the failing economy had also affected publishing. Book sales were down and mine were not up to my publisher’s expectation. I got dumped. Shortly after that, my agent quit the business, leaving me high and dry. It was another low point with even fewer job prospects now that we were living in rural Georgia. After weighing my options, I had no choice but to start all over again…from the beginning.
Once more my husband and sons stood by my dream to write, consistently and unwaveringly encouraging even as I ventured into new and unknown waters by reinventing myself as an erotic romance writer. Their faith paid off when I once more found a publisher for my first erotic romance, A BREACH OF PROMISE.
I’ve come a VERY long way in the twenty-one months since, with many more ups and downs, but through it all, my husband and two sons have been there—ever loving and supportive. 2012 was a fantastic year for me with six published books and sixteen reviewer awards and nominations.
Where am I now? 2013 has been a time of tremendous growth, mainly through new endeavors in Indie publishing. I have learned so very much about this business. At times it’s been hard as hell, but the experience has been personally fulfilling and empowering. In the last months I have established my own publishing company, have regained the rights to, and re-released my DeVere series, and have now independently published THE SHEIK RETOLD, A steamy retelling of E.M. Hull’s classic, THE SHEIK. I am also working on my very first contemporary project —a four book cowboy series set in southwest Montana (ironically, with the publisher I started with!)
We all have different meters for success. Some people are satisfied to write for the pure joy of it, but my goals are more practical – to do what I love but also to generate a comfortable income doing it. (I have two sons in college, after all!) While I’m not there yet—I do hope to be soon. My writing journey has involved several leaps of faith, sometimes blindfolded, but my family’s love and belief in me has allowed me the courage to make that jump.
THE SHEIK RETOLD by Victoria Vane and E.M. Hull
The Desert Was Never Hotter!
Pride and passion vie for supremacy in this steamy retelling of E.M. Hull’s romance classic.
A haughty young heiress for whom the world is a playground…A savage son of the Sahara who knows no law but his own…When pride and passion vie for supremacy… blistering desert days are nothing compared to sizzling Sahara nights…
DEVIL IN THE MAKING a prequel to the heady Georgian Devil DeVere series is currently free at Amazon!
ABOUT VICTORIA VANE
Rakes and Sheiks and Cowboys, Oh My! Victoria Vane is an award-winning romance novelist and history junkie whose collective works of fiction range from wildly comedic romps to emotionally compelling 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 Contemporary Cowboy Series coming summer 2014 from Sourcebooks.
When I first conceived A Wild Night’s Bride, a Georgian set, Hangover-inspired romantic comedy, I had no idea that one devilish secondary character would spawn an entire series, but Ludovic,ViscountDeVere, proved to be a dream come true. This larger than life character has captured the hearts of so many fans who have begged for more DeVere. In response to these requests, I have not only decided to continue the series, but have recently commissioned an amazing artist to render gorgeously detailed full color illustrations for my DeVere stories! My goal is to offer a wonderfully enhanced reading experience to fans of my series.
The first book to be illustrated just in time for all those glorious full color and graphics capable Christmas e-readers, is Devil in the Making, The Illustrated Edition. This book will feature a gorgeous depiction of the key scene in every chapter. If this experiment is successful, I will be illustrating the entire DeVere series (old and new) over the next 12-18 months. As a holiday greeting, I am attaching a sample of the absolutely stunning photorealistic artwork that will grace the new book cover as well as the inside pages! Now, without further ado…. Here is how it all began….
Devil in the Making: A Devilish Vignetteby VictoriaVane
Every devil has a beginning… A rebellious young nobleman’s prank with the king’s lion goes comically awry, leading to a startling chain of events. A riotous Georgian romp in the tradition of Fielding’s TomJones and a prequel to the Devil DeVere series.
“But I know that look, DeVere, and it always bodes ill.”
“Come now, Ned,” DeVere cajoled. “With only weeks until matriculation, we may never get another chance to serve up some revenge on ole’ Trasker.” “What have you in mind?” Simon asked. “Since our dear pedagogue is so fond of bear-leading, why not procure one for him?” Ned looked stunned. “You wish to buy a bear?” “Of course not,” DeVere answered. “Thank God,” Ned replied with a sigh of relief. “I only wish to borrow one.” “A bear?” Simon repeated. “Yes. It can be a small one. As to age, size, or gender. I am not particular.” “And how do you propose to find one?” Ned asked warily. DeVere replied with a look of pure devilment. “I propose a midnight foray to the Royal Menagerie.”
Devil in the Making: The Illustrated Edition will be available in e-book early December 2012. A print anthology will follow later in 2013.
A lover of history and deeply romantic stories, Victoria Vane combines these elements to craft romantic historical novels and novellas for a mature reading audience. Her writing influences are Georgette Heyer for fabulous witty dialogue and over the top characters, Robin Schone , Sylvia Day, and Charlotte Featherstone for beautifully crafted prose in stories with deep sensuality, and Lila DiPasqua for creative vision in melding history with eroticism. Ms. Vane also writes award nominated romantic historical fiction as Emery Lee
I never knew when I began writing my HANGOVER-inspired novella A WILD NIGHT’S BRIDE that a character who began as a rakish sidekick would nearly take over the story and then inspire several more, but that’s precisely what happened when I introduced the character of Viscount Ludovic “the Devil” DeVere. Hence, the birth of THE DEVIL DEVERE series, four scorching hot intertwined Georgian era romance novellas whose characters all connect through the deliciously devious DeVere.
No “fake rake”, DeVere is a quintessential and utterly unrepentant, Georgian bad-boy:
(From THE DEVIL YOU KNOW)
She looked to DeVere with a scowl. “I don’t relish the mortification of collecting my husband from the round house come morning. Do you understand me, my lord?”
DeVere smirked. “Absolutely, my lady.” He added toNedin an undertone, “Since I don’t see the ring in your nose, I can only imagine she’s put one through your ba—”
“Ah! We’ve arrived!”Nedpronounced as the carriage lurched to a halt. “I’ll escort Annalee inside and return directly.”
Ludovic watched them depart arm-in-arm, musing how three short years of so-called connubial bliss had nearly emasculated his best friend. He pulled a flask of brandy from his breast pocket, up-ending it in a salute to the beneficent guardian angel who had allowed his own near escape from the same woeful fate.
(From A WILD NIGHT’S BRIDE)
“What is your name, my pet?”
“Kitty,” she replied.
DeVere threw back his head with a guffaw. “Kitty? How delightfully apropos!” His erstwhile companions forgotten, he patted a muscular thigh. “Come then, Kitty, my sweet, little puss. Sit on your master’s lap, and I’ll stroke you ’till you purr.”
While DeVere is not the hero of the first book in his namesake series (A WILD NIGHT’S BRIDE), or even of the second book (THE VIRGIN HUNTRESS), he is an integral part of both. His own story is as highly complex as is his character, and took two books to tell. (THE DEVIL YOU KNOW and THE DEVIL’S MATCH).
DeVere is meddlesome, manipulative, and acutely perceptive of human nature, but also intensely loyal and protective of those he cares about; though he would rather they didn’t know it. In A WILD NIGHT’S BRIDE, DeVere is willing to go any distance to return his best friendNed to the land of the living when he perceivesNed is mourning his life away.
WILD NIGHT’S BRIDE: What happens when a struggling actress and a grieving widower come together in a night of unbridled debauchery orchestrated by a machinating rake?
Phoebe Scott, alias Kitty Willis is a lonely lady down on her luck. Sir Edward Chambers is steadfast, respectable and avowed to a life … of celibacy. Devil in disguise, Viscount Ludovic DeVere is simply bored and hell-bent to return his best friend, Ned, to the land of the living. But with the devil in charge — there will surely be hell to pay
In THE VIRGIN HUNTRESS, when DeVere’s younger brother, Hew, has returned from the American war a shadow of his former self, he induces (bribes) him to find a wife, but then takes devilish measures to intercede when he perceives Hew is about to make the wrong choice.
THE VIRGIN HUNTRESS : Desperate times call for devilish measures… The coddled and pampered Lady Vesta Chambers is accustomed to getting what she wants and what she wants is Captain Hewett DeVere, but what’s a girl to do when the man of her dreams has eyes for another? Younger brother to Viscount Ludovic “The Devil” DeVere, “Hew” has returned from the American war scarred, disillusioned, and looking forward to settling down with the right woman. When Hew shows interest in Vesta’s godmother, Diana, Vesta vows to prove to Hew that she is no longer a little girl, but a woman with the passion of…a huntress.
(DeVere and Vesta):
“You are in love with Hew.”
“Madly. Desperately. Passionately.”
“Does my brother know of his good fortune? Does he share your sentiments,LadyVesta?”
“But how can he when he is blinded by her?” her voice quivered, “When he hasn’t even had a chance to look in my direction?”
“So in truth, you seek only to enlighten him of the treasure that lies under his very nose?”
”Yes! Do you not see that this is the only way?”
“But of course I see, my pet.”
”Then you will help me?”
“My dear, should I search the world over, I can’t imagine finding a more perfect match for my revoltingly straight-laced brother, Hew. Moreover, I have considerable, some would even say nearly infinite resources, all of which I am willing to unwaveringly place at your disposal.”
Later in THE DEVIL YOU KNOW, DeVere’s layers begin to peel away to reveal glimpses of the real man when what begins as a simple game of seduction becomes so very much more.
THE DEVIL YOU KNOW: When dealing with the devil it’s easy to be burned… especially when passion ignites the flames.
Who can find a virtuous woman… Beautiful, respectable, and dutiful, Lady Diana Palmerston-Wriothesley has long resigned herself to her decade-long loveless and childless marriage to a feckless husband…until his gambling pushes them to the brink of financial ruin. Sometimes the devil is in disguise…as a gentleman… Viscount Ludovic, “The Devil DeVere”, is a man accustomed to taking what he wants according to his whim and heedless of the cost…until he encounters a woman who won’t be had at any price. When dealing with the devil, it’s easy to be burned… When Diana discovers a secret that shatters the carefully built façade concealing her private pain, she seeks aid and comfort from the most unlikely place…the devil’s arms. But will a single night of heavenly passion damn them both forever?
She wanted him too. He could see it in the rapid rise of her breasts. He could smell her budding arousal and would relish bringing her to full bloom. God, how he loved this dance! She had taken the first tentative steps, yet she still fought her desire, refused to give in to it, but he would lead her now. He was a master…and a ruthless bastard.
He moved behind her, taking possession of her waist, his fingers riffled gently through her hair. He closed his eyes to inhale her faint rose scent mixed with womanly musk. He dipped his head, letting his breath tickle her ear. She shivered. He whispered low and sultry. “Do you wish me to name the ways I can please you? I am delighted to comply if that excites you…although it would please me far more to demonstrate.”
My story will conclude with THE DEVIL’S MATCH (August 24) when DeVere’s past catches up with him and an old flame finally brings the devil to his knees!
THE DEVIL’S MATCH:
Once burned twice shy… but when old flames come together…passion reignites… When burned once… Arriving in London as her goddaughter’s chaperone, Baroness Diana Palmerston-Wriothesley wants to avoid her erstwhile lover at all costs. Once nearly consumed by passion, four years has reduced the former inferno to bitterness and ashes. By an old flame… A world-weary master of seduction, Ludovic “The Devil” DeVere is bored with his chosen life of debauchery. When Diana’s charge disappears, she is forced to seek help from the devil’s lair, and their mutual desire reignites with undeniable ferocity. Fire is best fought with fire… While DeVere is hell-bent to have her back for keeps, Diana is equally determined to bring him to his knees…by acquiring some sensual secrets of her own.
DeVere’s gaze narrowed. “Why so concerned for my brother? One might think you have feelings for Hew.”
“What if I did?” she retorted. “It’s no business of yours! Besides, your abominable machinations have already destroyed any potential of that.”
DeVere rose and came to her, perching himself on the arm of the settle. “My honorable and straitlaced brother could never satisfy a woman like you, Diana. He could never plumb the depths of your passion…unlock your secret desires.”
His voice was low and seductive, and the flickering blue fire in his eyes heated her insides. Diana fiercely tamped down the smoldering sensation that threatened to reignite feelings she’d struggled to suppress. “And what would you know of my wants and desires after four years?”
“A great deal.” He gave her a slow, confident smile. “Given that I was the one to unleash them.”
Diana averted her face with a bitter laugh. “Thus you presume to have an exclusive claim to me?”
“Has any other exerted one?” he asked softly. He reached out a hand and traced a long, manicured finger along her jaw. “You are still unwed, Diana. Have you taken another lover in my absence?”
“It is none of your business whether I have or not, and you are grossly impertinent to ask.”
He laughed long and low. “I think I have my answer.”
She glared at him, and thus they remained, silently challenging one another for an interminable beat. Then suddenly his mouth was on hers, taking, possessing, as if it was indeed, his singular privilege.
Diana leaned into him, teasing his lower lip with her tongue and sucking it eagerly into her mouth before sinking her teeth into it. Hard. Savoring the coppery taste of his blood.
“What the hell!” DeVere jerked back with a cry. He touched his lip and examined the crimson stain on his fingertip, his expression a mix of outrage and bemusement.
“You took without invitation,”Diana said. “It was a warning not to do so again.”
A lover of history and deeply romantic stories,Victoria Vane combines these elements to craft romantic historical novels and novellas for a mature reading audience. Her writing influences are Georgette Heyer for fabulous witty dialogue and over the top characters, Robin Schone, Sylvia Day, and Charlotte Featherstone for beautifully crafted prose in stories with deep sensuality, and Lila DiPasqua for creative vision in melding history with eroticism. Ms.Vane also writes award nominated romantic historical fiction as Emery Lee.
THE DEVIL DEVERE SERIES (Must be read in order!):
A WILD NIGHT’S BRIDE, Breathless Press 4/27/12
THE VIRGIN HUNTRESS, Breathless Press, 6/29/12
THE DEVIL YOU KNOW- Breathless Press, 7/27/12
THE DEVIL’S MATCH – Breathless Press 8/24/12
You lead a double life, writing historical romantic fiction as Emery Lee, and erotic historical romance as Victoria Vane.
Why did you decide to branch into the erotic side of romance?
Actually, it wasn’t originally by choice! It’s a long story but I’ll try to be brief. It all began exactly a year ago when my agent quit the business, leaving me high and dry with no contract in sight. I couldn’t find another agent and my publisher had taken a wait and see attitude on 3 manuscript proposals. I was really floundering and depressed when a friend, Diana Gaston, who writes for the Harlequin Historical and Undone imprints suggested I try to write something short to help get me through the dry spell.
My first attempt was a 15K word story intended for Harlequin Undone, a line of short and sexy historical romances. Unfortunately, after waiting three months for a response, I learned that Harlequin wasn’t at all interested. By then, however, I had already submitted the story to several other publishers, certain one of them would snatch up my little gem.
Wrong again. I got several more rejections. Deciding then to shelf the story as a “failed experiment,” you can imagine my shock when I received an email from Ellora’s Cave, expressing interest in this manuscript that I had submitted under their Blush (non-erotic) imprint. The offer I received was conditional on my willingness to further develop the romantic relationship of the story and to amp up the heat level to suit their erotic historical (Legend ) imprint. Having never written explicit sex, (my Emery Lee titles are PG-13) the idea was daunting, but I perceived a golden opportunity to stretch myself as a writer and gain new readers. Easy, right? NOT!!! Bringing genuine emotion into a story is one of the most difficult undertakings of any writer, but to integrate this into sex scenes is exponentially harder. It is a true gift when done well. Wanting very much to do it well, I set out to find authors who meld strong emotion into explicit love scenes, authors I wished to emulate. I read a number of beautifully crafted, highly sensual stories by Robin Schone, Lila DiPasqua, Charlotte Featherstone, and Sylvia Day. Inspired by these wonderful authors and with a new shift inmindset, I re-wrote all of my love scenes in A BREACH OF PROMISE. I can only hope my efforts have succeeded and readers will experience true passion through Marcus and Lydia.
Bugger it all! This was not going at all according to his plan. The blasted woman was bound to defy and repulse him at every turn! He raked a long, lust-filled gaze over her and felt his frustration growing in more ways than one until a disconcerting thought jolted through him. “There is someone else!”
“There is no one,” Lydia answered. “Though I may be a fool for having waited for you, I am not a faithless fool.”
“Why else would you break with me?” Marcus persisted, more convinced the longer he considered her. What man would not give his eyeteeth to have such a woman? “I demand to know who it is.” So I can hunt him down and throttle him.
Her chuckle began as a low sound in her throat and grew to a hearty eruption of wry mirth. “Is it truly beyond your comprehension that I might wish to salvage such a pitiful thing as my self-respect? Your vanity is a truly wondrous thing, Lord Russell.”
“You make unfair accusations, Lydia.”
“On the contrary,” she replied. “I think I have your full measure simply by observation. Actions, or perhaps I should say inactions, speak much louder than words.”
“What is that supposed to mean?”
“Just that you are not to be trusted.”
Marcus gave an inward groan. Why was she making this so bloody difficult? She was right of course, but it would be a cold day in hell before he’d grovel. He opted for a new tack. “Lydia, will you at least agree to a détente?”
“What do you mean?”
“A truce of sorts.”
“I know what détente means! I just fail to see how it applies.”
“I’m asking for a relaxation of hostilities.”
“You believe I bear you hostility?”
Marcus’ answering rumble only emphasized his point. “You positively bristle with it, my dear.”
She gave an indignant sniff. When she tried to avert her face, he captured it in his hands, forcing her to meet his gaze. “Lydia, there are many things you don’t understand.” Like his guilt—something he could hardly reconcile even with himself. “Can we not let bygones be bygones?” he asked. “Simply let go of the past and deal with the here and now?”
“There is no point. I already know we will never suit.”
Marcus scowled. Regardless of what she might think, he had never really been averse to her. Indeed, he recalled with fond amusement the memory of her tippling champagne from the tree swing, if perhaps a bit less fondly the clumsy events that followed.
He was suddenly struck with another disconcerting notion—could it be that Lydia held that night in quite a different light? Did she anticipate dissatisfaction in their marriage bed? If that was her concern, he was determined to lay that vagary to rest.
“On the contrary, my pet. There is one area at least where I’m certain we would suit very well.”
Her eyes flashed. “You actually think I’m still attracted to you?”
“You dare deny it?” He flashed a smile meant to disarm if not to altogether devastate.
“It matters little whether I am or not. Animal lust is a most feeble foundation for marriage.”
“Animal lust?” He laughed outright. “Mayhap my appeal is stronger than I thought?”
Lydia’s eyes flashed. “You twist my meaning!”
Marcus stroked a finger down the column of her neck and noted her heaving breasts with satisfaction. “I think not. Nevertheless, attraction, magnetism, lust, whatever you choose to call it, is a stronger basis than most marriages seem to be founded upon. Why do you suppose so many men take mistresses? And why so few offspring are produced in aristocratic marriages? Never underestimate sexual desire, Lydia. It is a powerful and often overwhelming force.”
“You will never persuade me that it’s a sound basis for marriage.” Lydia’s pink tongue flicked over her lips, clearly betraying her confident words.
“Is that a challenge, Lydia? Shall I prove it to you?”
“There is absolutely nothing to be gained by the effort.” Her convulsive swallow once more gave her away. She added with greater force, “Like a mountain, Marcus, I shall not be moved.”
Marcus relished the sudden apprehension in her wide eyes when his gaze slid down to her mouth and held there. “Fair enough, my pet. If the mountain will not come to Mohammed, let Mohammed go to the mountain.”
Lydia was transfixed, powerless under his intense stare, as if he’d put her under some wicked spell. Though she tried, she couldn’t bring herself to pull away. His eyes—dilated pools of blackness—held her, spreading heat from her core to every tingling inch of her. Her pulse thrummed with the sheer awareness of his physicality.
She closed her eyes against the sensations but they only intensified, his sweet tangy scent thickening the air and causing her breath to come in short, quick rasps, his warm breath fanning her skin. His gaze fixed upon her mouth and his hand brushed over her cheek to cup her jaw. Ignoring her inner protest, her body acted on its own volition, upturning her face and softly parting her lips. Her whole body quivered in anticipation of this kiss.
Her breathing hitched when his lips met hers, at first brushing over them in a warm caress, then sliding, nipping, melding until he took utter possession. Her feeble attempt at protest gave him added purchase to take her lower lip between his teeth and gently tug on the soft flesh. His tongue followed, deliciously teasing, tasting her lips before sliding into her mouth.
She had been kissed once before but nothing like this. His hot, wet tongue tangling with hers made her stomach flip and her passage clench, pooling with warmth and dizzying desire. He deepened the kiss, his hands working into her hair, pulling it down, scattering pins. “Don’t fight me, Lydia. I can show you paradise if you’ll only let me.” When Marcus murmured those seductive words against her skin, she yielded with a muted whimper.
The kiss was uninvited, unexpected, and shocking…and Lydia found herself clinging to it for dear life.
Lydia tore away with a stifled cry, confounded how he managed to exert such a terrifying magnetic force on her with seemingly no exertion at all. Outrage mixed with self-recrimination, she gathered up her skirts and fled, nearly running smack into Mariah upon her reentry through the terrace doors.
“I was coming to find you,” Mariah said. “Lud, Lyddie!” She gaped at her cousin’s rumpled and bewildered appearance. “You look positively debauched! You mustn’t let anyone else see you like this.”
Mariah pulled her into the empty music room, where Lydia caught sight of herself in the gilt mirror poised over the mantel and gasped in horror. Her color was high, her eyes shone feverishly bright, and clumps of her hair hung in disarray.
“Did that vile scoundrel accost you?” Mariah asked.
Heat infused Lydia’s already flushed cheeks. “Sadly, no. Although I would like nothing more than to accuse Marcus of importuning me, the fact is I made not the slighted protest.”
“What did he do to you?” Mariah asked in an excited whisper.
Lydia’s lips quivered in outrage. “The worst thing imaginable. He has kissed me senseless.”
Can you tell us about your Devil DeVere series? The first of which, A WILD NIGHT’S BRIDE, was recently released?
A WILD NIGHT’S BRIDE is a racy, rollicking Georgian romp, and is, as you stated, the first title in my brand new erotic historical romance series called THE DEVIL DEVERE. This unique series is comprised of four scorching HOT historical romance novellas that fit seamlessly together to tell the story of my six main characters and their respective romances, with each of these novellas ending with an epilogue that leads directly into the next story. I think readers will really enjoy this fresh and different approach that makes it almost like reading a serial novel. The first title introduces the main characters, all of whom are somehow connected through Viscount Ludovic “The Devil DeVere.”
DeVere is a fabulous character, a master manipulator and quintessential rake, who plays a major secondary role in the first and second books, while the third and fourth are both dedicated to him. That may seem highly unusual, but the romantic liaison between DeVere and Diana was so complex that it could be done justice in one book. Thus, I decided to tell their history in THE DEVIL YOU KNOW and their HEA in THE DEVIL’S MATCH. These are also the longest stories. For those who MUST have a happy ending, I advise you to read these titles back-to-back. Incidentally, these two novellas will be combined for release in a trade paperback in late August or September.
Why novellas for this series? Great question! I answered part of it already when I described how I began writing erotic romance. It all began with a romance novella called, A BREACH OF PROMISE that I wrote as an “experiment” during a lull between agents and publishing contracts. This story was a complete departure from my other work in both its light tone and high heat level. It was also my first attempt to write anything short. A romance story does not always have to be lengthy to be good, but I believe it does take a special set of skills to write well-developed characters and plot in such an abbreviated format. A BREACH OF PROMISE was my first attempt in that direction. To my surprise, I discovered I had the ability to pack a powerful punch in a novella, and best of all- it was great FUN!
Have you always loved history? I have been a history geek for as long as I can remember. I still read history books for pleasure. Research is never work for me. I love it. I get lost in it. I have to drag myself away from it!
What drew you to the Georgian era vs say Regency or Roman? I love the elegant decadence of the era as well as the paradox. Everything was so graceful and refined on the outside, but venial and corrupt on the inside. I’ve written a great deal about this era in my Georgian Junkie blog and have recently acquired a fabulous blog partner in a fellow historical author and Georgian aficionado, Lucinda Brant. I hope you will visit us there.
I’ve read that you’re a stickler for historical detail. Has that attention to detail ever made it harder to write a character or storyline? On the contrary, history inspires everything I write! I am always seeking the opportunity to use history to add more dimension to what I am writing. I strongly believe that even in my erotic romance, using actual people, places, and event gives my writing so much more color and makes it come alive. For example, in A WILD NIGHT’S BRIDE, a major scene takes place in a brothel. I could have just said that and then described the brothel, but that’s just not good enough for the history geek in me!
So it’s not just a high-end brothel. It’s King’s Place, St. James, one of four exclusive establishment run by a notorious former courtesan named, Charlotte Hayes. And the occasion wasn’t just any run-of-the-mill orgy, but it was the Otahetian Feast of Venus, an event that Madam Hayes brilliantly conceived when she started losing valuable patrons to her competitors – of course I put my own spin on it!
What traits do you consider necessary for your heroes and heroines? Personally I tend to dislike the uber-alpha heroes and damsel-in-distress heroines. I try to always create multidimensional characters, those who are rarely what they first appear. My books are character-driven and I write the characters as I seem them without adhering to any particular archetypes.
Have you ever had a character or story take off in a direction you hadn’t planned? ALWAYS! LOL! I despise writing synopses for that reason and try to keep them as vague as I possibly can because I do NOT plot. My characters drive the stories and tell them to me as we go along. It’s really scary sometimes, but it does seem to be working!
Is there another genre you’d like to explore, historical mysteries maybe? I will never rule anything out! Three things I never imagined writing were: erotic, mystery/suspense, and paranormal. But lo and behold! I’m now building a career on erotic romance. THE DEVIL YOU KNOW has some elements of mystery, and THE WIDOW’S WARDROBE (coming in 2013) is an erotic historical paranormal! A note to anyone who reads my work, expect the unexpected because I despise rules and formulas!
What do you consider “must haves” to be able to write? My personal space and my baroque music are absolutes. I am blessed with a wonderful office in my home with a fabulous reading nook. It’s perfect. I also do my best writing late at night, generally between 8PM and 2AM!
You point to some of my favorite authors as inspirational to you, Lila DiPasqua, Georgette Heyer, Charlotte Featherstone, Sylvia Day, and Robin Schone. Haven’t read the latter but do have one of her books. With all the authors out there, why these in particular? I consider myself a very picky reader and these are the authors whose work I most admired and enjoyed for various reasons. Of all the authors mentioned, I am most influenced by Georgette Heyer. I adore her witty dialogue and over the top secondary characters. I was incredibly flattered when my first editor , Deb Werksman at Sourcebooks, (who acquired the rights to all of Ms. Heyers titles) said my voice was highly reminiscent of Heyer. A BREACH OF PROMISE was very much a tribute to her. I always think of it as “Heyer-esque with added heat”!
What do you enjoy most about research? Discovering exactly what I’m looking for, or even better, discovering something interesting or unusual enough to build my entire story around.
Do you have “go to” authors you use to bring you out of a funk, or as a mood changer or enhancer? If anyone, it would be Georgette Heyer again. Her wit always makes me laugh. I’ve tried very hard to channel it! LOL!
Are you currently reading a book you’d recommend? Sadly, after writing 150K words (the equivalent of two full-length novels in only four months), I’ve had precious little reading time. But the most recent book I read and gave a rare 5 star rating to was FIRELIGHT by Kristen Callihan. LOVED it and I’m not generally a paranormal fan.
I haven’t read A BREACH OF PROMISE but it’s definitely on my list. Thank you so much for joining us Victoria. I’ve enjoyed it! It was my pleasure!
Victoria is offering one fortunate commenter an ecopy of A WILD NIGHT’S BRIDE. Meaningful comments only. Giveaway ends @ 12am est 5-23-12. Winner announced shortly thereafter.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
A lover of history and deeply romantic stories, Victoria Vane combines these elements to craft romantic historical novels and novellas for a mature reading audience. Ms. Vane also writes award nominated romantic historical fiction as Emery Lee