The Devil DeVere Series
Library Journal Best E-Book Romance 2012
This second prequel to the award-winning Devil DeVere series is a comedic romp featuring aspiring poet, Simon “Sin” Singleton.
The Trouble with Sin … Is the devil within… Sin has lived only for larks, laughter, and ladies of easy virtue, eluding defying, and flouting all manner of authority until his impetuous misdeeds finally catch up with him.
Ned asked, “Are you not still bound for the clergy, Sin?”
Simon heaved a deep sigh. “It is my dear Mama’s fondest wish for me to join the church, but I fear my nature is quite incompatible with a theological vocation. I have searched deeply, and cannot seem to summon an inkling of pious sentiment, which makes me an exceedingly poor candidate for the clergy.”
“Even so, why would you wish to dirty your hands with something like this?”
“The answer is simple, Ned—I need the money.”
“But you receive a more than adequate allowance.”
“That he mostly squanders on women of easy virtue,” DeVere drawled.
“Admittedly,” Simon confessed, unabashed. “But now my father has reduced my quarterly and demands a full account of every ha’penny. I tell you, it is humiliating in the extreme! Unless I wish to live under such a yoke for the next three years— which I positively do not— I must make my own living. If I must travail for my bread, how better than by the fruits of my pen?”
“So you seek to combine your love of poetry and lewd women by writing poetry about lewd women?” Ned replied dryly.
Simon clapped Ned on the back. “Precisely! Don’t you see the ironic beauty of it?”
“What do you suppose will happen when your dear, devout mama gets wind of this?” Ned asked.
“I have taken every precaution to ensure my anonymity.” Simon retrieved the book from DeVere. “My contribution to this little work is, and shall forever remain, a well-kept secret.”
The wage of Sin… is twenty-five percent of the net! It seems a fantasy come true when Simon is offered an independent income by combining his two great passions— poetry and lewd women. Unfortunately, maintaining anonymity may be much harder than he thought…
Simon awoke with the evil glare of sunlight striking his face and the throbbing awareness of an exploding head. Brigid, or was it Bronaugh, God love them both, lay blessedly naked on top of him. But weren’t the twins supposed to have been with Ned?
Where the devil was Ned? Simon turned his head to discover a particularly ugly foot beside his left ear. It was attached to an equally unappealing and hairy leg. Dear God, how much royal punch had they consumed?
The plan, of course, had been to hinder Ned’s departure long enough to convince him of his folly, but Ned had more than proven his head for drink. Simon and DeVere had raised so many cups extolling the various virtues of the bride-to-be that Simon feared he’d run out of lyrical allegories of her charms. He and DeVere had finally begun pouring their own glasses under the table for fear they’d pass out before getting Ned upstairs, where Brigid and Bronaugh awaited.
The twins had been easily conscripted into the game even before they got a vision of the strapping Ned Chambers. But the moment they’d got him into the chamber, the giant idiot had gone crashing to the floor like some great felled oak. At least they’d got him upstairs first.
The rest of the night was now a bit of a blur, but judging by the battered feeling of Simon’s body and his exploding head, it must have involved a great deal of physical exertion…and noise.
As Simon deliberated how best to extricate himself from the octopus-like tangle of four sets of limbs, a great shadow came over him. He looked up with a grimace.
“Ah, Ned. I was just wondering at your absence, though I doubt this bed could contain yet another.”
“Where are my clothes, Sin?” Ned demanded, his gaze a mere slit.
“Clothes?” Simon repeated blankly.
“Yes. Clothes.” He crossed his arms crossed over his broad chest. “I seem to be devoid of any.”
Simon smirked. “However did you lose them?”
“I’m not in a humor for humor,” Ned replied. “Don’t make me drag your arse from the bed.”
“It would be a wasted effort, for you’ll find I have no clothes either.” Simon chuckled. He raised the sheet that only partially covered the four bodies. “Indeed, none of us seem to have any clothes.”
“Pox on you and DeVere both!”
Ned took hold of the sheet and gave a great tug that sent DeVere and Bronaugh—or was it Brigid?—tumbling to the floor with a respective thump, groan, and shriek.
Ned replied with a murderous look, “I need my clothes. I must be off to Yorkshire at once!”
DeVere sat up. “Still about that business, eh? Have you truly taken leave of all good sense?”
“My good sense tells me to take my leave of you!” Ned growled. “I will not humiliate Annalee by failing to appear for our betrothal announcement. For the last time, send for my clothes or you will both suffer the consequences.”
DeVere’s stony gaze flickered to Simon and then to the fists balled at Ned’s side. “I’m sorry, Ned. We just can’t do that.”
One of the twins cried out as Ned’s fist smashed into DeVere’s jaw, crumpling him to the floor. “I gave you fair warning, DeVere. I won’t say I’m sorry.” Ned massaged his fist and then turned his attention to Simon, who raised his hands in surrender. Ned, however, ignored him, proceeding to snatch up the bed sheet and wrap it about himself toga-style. “I’m going to leave now, Sin. There is nothing more you can do to stop me.”
“Think of what you do, man!” Simon cried.
“I know precisely what I do. I’m abiding by the code of a gentleman and upholding the honor of a lady.”
“Codes? Honor?” Simon repeated. “I don’t follow you.”
“Damn it all, Sin! If you two misguided miscreants must bloody well know everything, I wed because Annalee could be carrying my child.”
Simon broke into a chuckle. “Damn me, DeVere, mayhap we’ve misjudged him. It appears Ned’s not such a dull dog after all!”