Spotlight: Victoria Vane – Jewel of the East (The Devil DeVere #5) ~ @authorvictoriav

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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.

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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.”

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Another Excerpt ~ Salime is first introduced in The Devil’s Match

(also included in the three book compilation A Devil Named DeVere)

“There is a female creature wishing to see you, my lady.” Polly gave a sniff of disdain.

“Oh?” Diana raised a finely arched brow. “Have you a name or a calling card for this so-called creature?”

“She says she’s a salmon, an acquaintance of Lord DeVere. I say she looks right fishy, indeed. She ain’t the least respectable, my lady—paint on her eyes and lips and wearing some heathenish dress. Shall I turn her away?”

“Is she alone?”

“Nay, but her footman’s equally queer—a behemoth beturbaned blackamoor!”

Diana frowned. “That’s peculiar indeed. No, Polly. Please show her to the drawing room.”

A few minutes later, Diana paused on the threshold to study her unexpected caller. The woman was, indeed, as exotic and incongruous as Polly had described her. She was garbed in diaphanous Turkish trousers and a silk tunic in jewel tones with an exquisitely embroidered girdle about her waist. Rings covered her fingers, and gold bracelets jangled on both arms. Her hair was black as sable and coiled in a braid atop her head with a cap and scarf secured by a jeweled clip draping from her coronet of hair to partially conceal the left side of her face. Dark, almond-shaped eyes lined with kohl regarded her with overt curiosity and more than a hint of hauteur when Diana advanced into the room.

“I am Salime,” she said, the bells on her kid slippers softly jangling as she rose to her feet. She sized Diana up with a languorous but unreadable gaze, as if she was appraising her worth.

“And who is this?” Diana inclined her head to the giant who hovered at the window with arms crossed over his massive chest.

“Pay no heed to Mustafa. He is but a eunuch.”

“A eunuch?” Diana repeated dumbly.

“A man with no—”

“I know what a eunuch is. I just don’t understand why he is here.”

“He is my servant,” Salime answered matter-of-factly. “Eunuchs are common where I come from.”

“And where is that?” Diana asked, indicating her guest should sit. Salime did so, reclining with casual indifference while Diana stiffly settled her voluminous skirts. Despite herself, Diana’s curiosity and fascination regarding this woman was growing by the minute. “Do you care for tea?” Diana offered.

Salime made a face. “An insipid drink. Have you coffee?”

“I’m sorry, I do not drink it,” Diana replied.

Salime waved a dismissive hand. “No matter. The English method of preparation is tasteless. The English senses are bland and dull. It is what I miss of my home. The food. The spices. The scents.”

“And where is home?”

“A land far away, a place in the East you call Constantinople.”

“How did you come to be in England?”

“It is a long story and not relevant at the moment. I have a purpose in coming here, Khanum.”

“I don’t understand. Polly said you are an…er…acquaintance…of Lord DeVere. What brings you to me?”

The woman’s mouth formed a subtle smile. “I bring instruction, Khanum. To be chosen Iqbal, the favorite of such a man as my lord, is a great honor. Thus, I am come to tech you.”

Diana’s eyes widened. “Just what is it you intend to teach me, Salime?”

The woman’s smile broadened in a show of pearly white teeth. “The most valuable and treasured secrets of the erotic arts, Khanum. How to bring my lord utter rapture melded from mind, body, and soul.”

“He sent you for this!” Diana shook with uncontained rage. “Of all the unmitigated gall!

“Efendi does not send me.” Salime scowled.

“No? Then why have you come?”

“Has he not chosen you above all others?” Salime asked.

Diana emitted a scornful laugh. “He may choose whomever he likes, but I will have none of him!”

Salime’s brows drew together, and her mouth puckered with an air of disdain. “You would refuse the honor to become the Iqbal, his favorite?”

“Yes, I refuse him altogether.”

Salime rolled her eyes and expelled air in a sound of disgust. “How dull of understanding you English women are! Do you not realize the power a woman may wield with her hands, her mouth, her sex? In my land, the woman who pleases the sultan commands the key to his kingdom. For a satisfied man is but wet clay in her hands.”

“I assure you there are some English women who understand that concept well enough. As for me, I have no desire to command his kingdom or anything else.”

Salime appeared skeptical. “I think not, Khanum. When you came to him that night, your face may have been hidden by your veil, but your fire was not. I think mayhap you do desire the key to his heart.”

“You are misguided if you believe he has one.”

“Are you blind as well as dull-witted, Khanum?” Salime asked.

“I am inclined to accept our differences with reasonable tolerance, Salime, but I shan’t bear your insults,” Diana snapped.

“The truth offends you?”

“The truth? The man is shallow, self-absorbed, and devoid of integrity. He is incapable of deep feeling.”

Salime shook her head with a scowl. “He is also a fool to care for one who does not even know him.”

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abouttheauthorVictoria 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 Victoria1emotionally 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.

 

CONTACT:
victoria.vane@hotmail.com
Web: http://www.victoriavane.com
Blog: http://victoriavane.wordpress.com
Twitter: @authorvictoriav

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THE DEVIL DEVERE SERIES AWARDS AND ACCOLADES

**Library Journal Best E-Book Romance 2012**

LR Café Best Series nominee 2012

A Wild Night’s Bride (book#1)

Night Owl Reviews Top Pick

Ind’Tale Magazine Rone nominee

IRC Reader Choice Best Historical Nominee

The Virgin Huntress, (book#2)

Night Owl Reviews Top Pick

Ind’Tale Magazine Rone nominee

The Devil You Know (book#3)

The Romance reviews Best Erotic Historical Romance 2012 nominee

Night Owl Reviews Top Pick

The Romance Reviews Top Pick

LR Café Best Historical Romance nominee 2012

Two Lips Reviewer’s Choice Winner 2013

Ind’Tale Magazine Rone nominee

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

Night Owl Reviews Top Pick

The Romance Reviews Top Pick

LASR Reviews Book of the Month December 2012

Swept Away by Romance Best Historical Romance of 2012

Two Lips Reviews Recommended Read

Ind’Tale Magazine Rone nominee

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2 Comments

  1. Thanks so much for the spotlight! XO Victoria

    Like

    Reply
  2. I feel more than a bit of empathy for poor Mustafa. At least I still have my tongue.

    Like

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