The Devil You Know

The Devil DeVere Series

Library Journal Best E-Book Romance 2012 

TDYK

Sometimes the Devil is disguised as a Gentleman…

In this third installment of the award-winning Devil DeVere series, DeVere is finally center stage when Ned, Annalee, and her cousin Diana Palmerston-Wriothesley arrive at DeVere’s estate for a weekend of horseracing. From the first meeting, DeVere makes his interest in Diana acutely known. Although she sees no harm in a light flirtation, she doesn’t intend to be another notch on his bedpost. Nevertheless, DeVere fascinates her.

 Ned gave her a meaningful look. “I hope you’ll take extreme care in any dealings with him. He is ruthless and calculating when he chooses to be and has a strong predilection to manipulate and exploit the vulnerabilities of others—when it suits his purpose. He just can’t help himself. It’s not that he’s evil incarnate, or anything like that. It’s just he has low tolerance for weakness, incompetence, or buffoonery.”

Diana lifted her brow. “You know I am no fool, dear Edward. I take full responsibility for my actions and have already made clear what I am willing and not willing to sacrifice.”

Although DeVere is indeed, arrogant, ruthless, unpredictable, and manipulative, the private man is quite another creature—intensely loyal and fiercely protective of those few he cares about. Diana also maintains a false front to the world. Her twelve year marriage is a mockery and she feels unfulfilled and undesirable which makes her all too vulnerable to DeVere’s dangerous charm. After events take an unexpected turn, Diana’ most erotic fantasies become reality when she seeks comfort and affirmation in the devil’s arms. But little does she know that the fire he ignites within her will burn long after she leaves Woodcote Park.

“I’ve come to count on Victoria Vane to deliver delightful, erotic romantic escapes. But this book signals a new turn in the Devil DeVere series, and it has now become an addiction for me… While it might be an entertaining read for  newcomers, the rewards to starting this series from the very beginning are too many to mention—and the enticements of the next new release will surely have you coming back for more!” – The Romance Reviews 

“I’ve been hooked from the beginning, like with no other series I’ve ever read. It’s filled with mystery, mischief, adventure, romance and oh yes, sex that will leave you gasping for breath as you soak up each page of this sensual, romantic experience.”  -Night Owl Reviews 

 “If you still hadn’t fallen in love with DeVere, now you’ll surrender yourself. I’m getting addicted to Victoria’s writing, it’s like a drug.”  – Reading Romances

EXCERPT

It was with a feeling of déjà vu that Diana entered the viscount’s bedchamber. The rooms were much as she had envisaged in her dream, her footsteps muffled by the deep plush carpeting, the massive tester bed with its curtains drawn back, the flickering candle in her hand, except that when she drew near, she found the bed empty. Her heart dropped like a stone.

Her first thought was that he had not yet retired, but the house was deadly quiet, and Ned and Annalee had turned in hours ago. Then it dawned on her—Caroline, and Diana cursed herself for ten kinds of fool. She knew they were lovers. Why would she ever have imagined he would have gone to his bed alone, that he would be waiting for her? Especially after she had repulsed him, not once, but thrice.

Diana tried to convince herself that it was all for the best, that she was not the kind of woman to carry on an illicit intrigue and would only live to regret it if she had carried out her plan. But the truth was heart-sundering disappointment. She had wanted—no, needed this. Desperately. She turned to depart, but froze at the angry assault to her ears.

“Damn it, Caroline! I thought you had departed this afternoon for The Oaks. I’ve already made my sentiments perfectly clear. Why must you make this so bloody difficult?”

She could find no voice to reply when he rose from the chair by the hearth and moved toward her with a purposeful stride. But he saw her and stopped dead in his tracks.

“You?”

“Yes. Me,” she croaked from a throat made of sandpaper.

They stared at each other in interminable silence before his sensuous mouth formed a slow, wolfish smile. “Well, isn’t this a surprise.”

Her pulse raced. Her tongue darted nervously over her lips. “It was urgent that I see you.”

“Urgent? Then why did you not sup with us? Surely we could have spoken then or shortly thereafter.”

Her mind scrambled for an answer. “I wasn’t well earlier.”

His mouth curved a wicked turn. “You look exceedingly well to me.” He took another step forward with a gaze that burned through the thin layer of silk to heat her skin beneath. He looked as if he would devour her whole.

Diana retreated two steps back, but it was not far enough to ease her sudden sense of vulnerability, nor the startling physical awareness of him.

“There is something you must know before the race tomorrow,” she said.

He glanced at the mantel clock and regarded her with a sardonic lift of his brow. “By my account, tomorrow is already come.”

“My apologies again for disturbing you at this late hour, but I had to speak in private. No one else must know of this.”

“Disturbing me would be a vast understatement,” he replied. “I find myself unusually agitated at your change of heart.”

“You misunderstand,” she said, the same heart now sounding a frantic beat for retreat. “This is about the race. Reggie has fixed it. He has bribed your jockey.”

DeVere took possession of her hand, caressing her knuckles with his thumb. “I thank you for the warning, my dear.” He drew her fingers to his mouth, kissing them with deliberate languor, his hot breath against her cool skin sending tremors racing up her arm. “But you worry needlessly. For I already know.”

Her gaze fixed on his mouth. She tried in vain to ignore the warmth of it, the soft sensuous lips. “B-but how? How could you know? There was no one else about.”

“I treat my people very well, and they are devoutly loyal to me for it.”

Diana worried her lower lip. “What will you do now?”

“Whatever your heart desires.”

She shook her head sharply, unsettled by his continued attempts to unbalance her with his persistent innuendoes. “I’m speaking of the race.”

“The matter is taken care of.”

“You have confronted Reggie?”

His face hardened. “No. I have quite another method of dealing with this.”

“You won’t tell me?”

“I will not. It is a most unpleasant topic that I would rather not dwell upon when there are far more fascinating subjects at hand.” He stroked her cheek with the backs of his fingers, and she broke away from him with a strangled sound.

“That’s not why I’m here. I came to protect my personal interests. To warn you about the race.”

“In nothing but your wrapper? Tsk, tsk, my pet. Untruths are so unbecoming. Yet it is precisely your most personal interests, your intimate needs, that are foremost in my mind right now.”

She opened her mouth to protest, but he advanced and silenced her with a finger across her lips. He traced the curve of her mouth with a whisper touch that made her ache for his kiss. His thumb lingered, caressing her lower lip and making it tingle with exquisite sensation. She closed her eyes and bit her tongue to suppress the urge to lick him.

“If I had had any doubts about you before…” he murmured, “they were laid to rest the instant I set eyes on that feckless husband of yours. There are no words to encompass his unworthiness of you, Diana. You were made to be worshipped. Say the word, and I swear to atone for the grievous neglect you’ve suffered.”

He had spoken her own deepest feelings, her darkest desires. She averted her face in an attempt to ignore the heightened awareness of him. The big, strong, near-naked body. The powerful chest exposed by the loose banyan, the even more powerful urge to touch him.

“I’ve not given you leave—”

“To touch you? To address you with such intimacy?” He laughed. “You and I both know you crossed that boundary at the threshold to my bedchamber. Someone damn well needs to touch you, Diana. Someone, preferably me, needs to make amends for your husband’s disgrace and fuck you senseless.”

She stared at him, speechless.

“Don’t look so affronted, my dear. I know how to give you profound pleasure, Diana. We both know that’s why you came to me. You have only to admit it.”

Her heart surged as he moved in for the kill with the ease of a practiced predator. Dipping his head, he drew her lower lip into his mouth, gently biting, sucking, and sending a jolt of molten lightning straight to her core. She melted into him with a whimper. He slowly released her with a feral gleam in his eye. “Just tell me you want me, and I will show you many ways I can please you until you beg for your release.”

Dear God, but he was right. She had crossed the threshold. There was no turning back now.

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