The experience of discovering history is like peering through a telescope only to encounter a mirror.
People might have lived differently in eras gone by, but they were still people.
Life in the past only seems different at first glance. Look again and we can see just how little life has really changed at all.
I don't think of the past as yesterday. For me, it is simply the page before.
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…
The South of France, April 1940. With the Phony War against Hitler’s Germany yet to see a shot fired upon French soil, sixteen-year-old Polly Hartford is haunted by the loss of her father. Longing to do good in a turbulent, uncertain world, Polly’s life falls to pieces when a fresh family tragedy sees her dreams for the future abandoned.
Polly finds herself “given” to three best friends: an elegant Comtesse, a gutter-born film star, and a big-hearted American millionairess. Together, they take her to their home in the heart of the Hôtel Ritz in Paris—to the lap of luxury—where guests and staff cling to the belief that money will protect them from War. This illusion is shattered when the Nazis invade.
To idealistic Polly comes the chance to achieve the dreams denied her when she meets Tommy, a handsome waiter who is leading a life of secrets.
As Paris deteriorates, those at the Ritz face the horrors of the Occupation with courage, humour, and style. But when even wealth and position can’t save them, one by one, the denizens of the Hôtel Ritz step up—and fight back against the terror of the Nazis.
From shattered illusions in the lap of luxury grows the soul of the French Resistance.
More details about The Heart of the Ritz will appear on this website in coming months.
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 by Yulia Popova)
"A fabulous upstairs, downstairs drama... Devenish's plot is as thick as Biddy's broth."
Australian Women's Weekly
"Luke Devenish is a master at the dramatic cliffhanger."
"You can never be quite sure what you are seeing..."
The West Australian
"All the Gothic elements plus a little bit more."
Sydney Morning Herald
"I thought I knew exactly what to expect: a fabled house, old money, and identical twins. 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.
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…
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.