Discovering history is like peering through a telescope to encounter a mirror.
We think people lived differently in eras gone by, yet they were still people.
Life in the past only seems different at first glance. Look again and see that nothing has changed at all.
The past stays within reach of our fingertips, no less familiar than yesterday, no more distant than the page before.
Luke Devenish author
Glamorous guests and steadfast servants; secret spies, deluded collaborators, and utterly contemptible Nazis. Drawn from real life characters and extraordinary events in the world’s most famous hotel in wartime…
France, April 1940. The Phony War against Hitler’s Germany is yet to see a shot fired upon French soil. Orphaned sixteen-year-old Polly Hartford has been sent across oceans to live with her Aunt Marjorie, a relative she knows only from letters. But the aunt of reality is a somewhat different woman, burdened by wartime secrets. When Marjorie shockingly dies on the Riviera train, Polly is left with a legacy: her aunt’s loaded pistol in a beautiful Hermès handbag.
Polly finds herself “given” to Marjorie’s three closest friends: an elegant Comtesse, a gutter-born film star, and a big-hearted American millionairess. Yet secrecy is second nature to these women, too, bound by friendship—and the truth of what happened on the train. They bring Polly to their home in the Hôtel Ritz, where those who live there think money protects them from War. This delusion is shattered when the Nazis invade.
As Paris deteriorates, those at the Ritz face the horrors of the Occupation with courage, humour, and style. Polly meets Tommy, a handsome waiter for whom secrecy is also essential. Together they commit to the growing Resistance—while denying what’s in their hearts. Yet for Polly’s three guardians, compromises made for friendship start to look like collaboration. As the Liberation approaches, those who survive at the Ritz must face a day of reckoning…
The Secret Heiress has been translated for Russian publication by Hemiro.
Listen to me talking about The Secret Heiress on Radio 3CR's Published or Not here.
A fabled house. A fabulous fortune. Beautiful identical twins...
Dark shadows fall across the golden summer of 1886. Naive country girl Ida Garfield longs to escape the farm. When Miss Matilda Gregory, the elegant mistress of Summersby House, offers Ida employment as a housemaid, Ida leaps at the chance. Yet it’s not for her servant’s skills that she’s wanted. It’s her inquisitiveness...
Miss Gregory is found dead before Ida starts her first day. Fearing her one chance of bettering herself lost, Ida comes to the funeral, hoping that someone else from Summersby will still want her.
Someone does. Handsome blond Englishman Mr Samuel Hackett is the late Miss Gregory’s fiancé. He expresses a keen need for a housemaid – and a friend.
But Miss Gregory’s will brings to light an extraordinary deception and a terrible wrong from the past. Summersby has a secret heiress, whose name is also Matilda Gregory. A strange, ethereal girl with an irrevocably broken memory...
Who is this mysterious heiress, and why is Ida bound forever to the truth?
(Photo of the Russian edition of The Secret Heiress taken in Red Square, Moscow, by Yulia Popova)
"A fabulous upstairs, downstairs drama."
Australian Women's Weekly
"Luke Devenish is a master at the dramatic cliffhanger."
"A deviously dark and dramatic tale."
"All the Gothic elements plus a little bit more."
Sydney Morning Herald
"I thought I knew exactly what to expect... I was wrong. This book is so much more... and the twists at the end were well worth it."
New Zealand Herald
It is 44BC and the rival clans of Rome are driving the Republic towards a violent, blood-soaked end. The jealous Claudians covet the power of the Julians, who are kings in all but name.
A tiny infant utters the prophecy of a goddess. If the darkly beautiful thirteen-year-old Livia Drusilla marries her bastard cousin, eleven-year-old Tiberius Nero, four great kings of Rome will spring from her womb. Four great Claudian kings…
Livia and her child groom begin their star-crossed marriage—but Livia has dangerous ideas. She believes herself greater than the gods and she doubts the interpretation of the prophecy.
When Julius Caesar is murdered the fortunes of the Claudians take a sudden, deadly turn. The great patricians become paupers. Livia and her husband must flee Rome—or face being killed as criminals.
But Rome falls under the spell of Caesar’s golden-haired nephew, Octavian. The youthful dictator in the making offers Livia and her boy husband forgiveness. Yet Livia sees more than mere forgiveness in Rome’s most desired new man. She sees Octavian as the true sire for her prophesised kings—and she sees her own chance for power…
So begins a murderous tale of sex, corruption and obsession as Livia pursues her great destiny. No crime is too shocking. No sin is too low. No evil is beyond her grasp.
Narrated by the 100-year-old slave, Iphicles, and set in a time where no woman could hope to wield power, DEN OF WOLVES brings life to the legendary women behind the legendary men. With ambition, beauty and cunning as their weapons, the women of Rome are history’s unsung survivors.
(Photo of the Spanish edition of Den of Wolves taken by Francisco Sánchez Cid)
Rome is bathed in blood as the Emperor Tiberius is tormented by drug-fuelled terrors of treason. The innocent are butchered while the guilty do evil in darkness.
None are guiltier than the Emperor’s devoted and deluded ‘son’, Sejanus.
In this city of poison three beautiful women are locked in a lethal rivalry…
Agrippina. Driven mad with grief, her obsession with revenge for her murdered husband imperils the lives of her children.
Apicata. Robbed of her eyes and embittered in her heart, she schemes in the shadows to empower the husband who despises her.
Livilla. Sensual and sly, she is gripped by a lust for a lover as deadly as he is desirable.
Moving stealthily among them is Iphicles, arch schemer and slave, whose haunted heart is lightened by the eunuch Lygdus, his willing apprentice in murder.
With paralysed Livia now a helpless captive to her slave, it is the repellent brat Little Boots’ turn to profit from prophecy. But as Iphicles’ deadly plan to enthrone Little Boots unfolds, Livia struggles secretly towards recovery with the help of the sorceress Martina.
Rome is a nest of vipers, and Livia, the one true Empress of Rome, is hell-bent on wreaking her vengeance…
(Photo of the Serbian edition of Nest of Vipers taken in Dasia, Corfu, by Jelena Ristic.)
As well as writing novels and plays, and thanks to my background in television, I teach screenwriting at the University of Melbourne.
Together with my colleagues Ben Michael, Annabelle Murphy and Philippa Burne, I won a prestigious award for Programs that Enhance Learning as part of the Australian Federal Government’s 2017 Awards for University Teaching.
Decidedly smutty fun was had in September last year when I joined fellow novelists Anna Campbell and Kate Forsyth in reading out our very best/worst sex scenes, to the horror/delight of our fellow Historical Novelists Society Australasia Conference attendees.