The Devil DeVere Series
Library Journal Best E-Book Romance 2012
Every Devil Has A Beginning…
In this first of three prequels to the award-winning Devil DeVere series, we meet Ludovic, Ned, and Simon as youths in this riotous Georgian romp written in the tradition of Fielding’s Tom Jones.
Since their first meeting at Westminster, Ned, Simon, and DeVere had forged an iron-clad bond that had maintained them through nearly six years. From the outset, Ludovic’s scandalous family secrets had set him apart from the other aristocratic scions as an “untouchable.” Deny it as he tried, the ugly truth remained that his mother was indeed the biggest whore in England, and his presumed father, the viscount, no less than a pox-ridden madman.
Likewise, Simon Singleton’s poetic proclivities had instantly made him the bullies’ mark, and even Edward Chambers’ great size had served as little deterrent for the upper classmen’s taunts when accompanied by adolescent awkwardness and a broad North Country drawl.
By the end of the first form, however, DeVere’s finely honed shell of arrogance, Ned’s increasing brawn, and Sin’s rapier wit, had given birth to an unholy triumvirate that came to wreak perpetual and unchallenged havoc upon Westminster School. Now, it appeared their illustrious reign had come to an inglorious end.
Intent on serving up revenge on their tyrannical schoolmaster, a prank with the king’s lion goes comically awry, leading to a startling chain of events.
Westminster School- 1764
“The epic poets of ancient times composed histories of Greek heroes in rhyming verse, chanted by the Rhapsodes in accompaniment by the cithara. The meter employed was dactylic hexameter…” Dr. Trasker’s droning monotone faded to the far periphery of Simon’s consciousness as he reviewed the first lines of his own poetic composition, An Ode to a Milkmaid of St. James Park.
Lovely Lavinia, a comely lass,
With ripe pink teats and plump white arse,
Ha’penny paid will fill your cup
He thoughtfully chewed the nub of his quill.
But for a shilling, she’d liefer tup…
He flourished the last line with a self-satisfied smirk.
“Master Singleton.” The stentorian voice halted the rhythmic scratch of Simon’s quill.
Simon looked up blankly.
“I await your response,” the schoolmaster intoned.
“Homer and Hesiod,” Ned coughed from behind.
“Master Chambers!” The schoolmaster’s rebuke turned upon the second offender.
“Sir?” Ned answered.
“Since you are so desirous to impart your scholarship, you shall now stand and enlighten the class on the Elegiac couplet.”
“The Elegiac couplet?” Ned repeated.
“Now, Master Chambers,” the taskmaster commanded.
Ned stood, his ears reddening with the snickers of his classmates.
“You seem unprepared, Chambers,” the pedagogue accused.
“N-no, sir. Indeed not. I only wish to understand. Is it the meter for elegy, or the couplet itself that you wish me to explain?”
“You are stalling.”
“Beware, Ned,” DeVere whispered from across the aisle, “lest you inspire him to invoke the holy name of the birch. The goddess of discipline. The handmaiden of higher learning.”
Ned cleared his throat to disguise a choke of laughter and then recited, “The Elegiac meter is customarily described as a dactylic hexameter followed by a dactylic pentameter, which together form an Elegiac couplet.”
Trasker’s beady eyes narrowed. “That is correct, Master Chambers. Now then, let us hope your benighted classmates have been equally attentive.” With visible disappointment the pedagogue took up his notes to resume his lecture.
Perceiving his chance to share his bawdy masterpiece, Simon reached across the aisle to DeVere— just as Trasker’s bespectacled gaze rose from his notes. Simultaneously, Simon and DeVere snatched back their hands, leaving the lone sheet of parchment to drift slowly to the floor with the quiet grace of an autumn leaf.
“What is this?” Trasker snapped, advancing upon them with a militant look.
“Bugger!” Simon muttered.
The sixth form collectively inhaled as Trasker retrieved the fallen parchment and scanned the brief lines. He then transfixed a sulfurous stare back upon his first victim, demanding, “Master Singleton? Are you the author of this lewd and scurrilous verse?”
Simon closed his eyes with a gulp, knowing full well what would follow his confession. He drew courage and then drew breath but another spoke before he opened his mouth.
“Mea culpa,” DeVere volunteered.
Trasker spun toward DeVere, his gaze narrowed to a slit. “You, my lord?” An evil smile thinned his lips. It was no secret that Trasker, who had advanced to his position by scholarly merit alone, despised the rich and indolent— and none more than the impudent heir to a viscountcy, Ludovic DeVere.
This could not be good.