The Surrender of a Lady

The Surrender of a Lady

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by Tiffany Clare
     
 

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In the first of a stunning new series, a young English lady is thrust into the decadent life of a harem—and into the arms of the man she has never been able to forget…

THE PRICE OF PASSION…

Sold. With one word, Lady Elena Ravenscliffe’s destiny changes forever. Forced into Constantinople’s slave market

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Overview

In the first of a stunning new series, a young English lady is thrust into the decadent life of a harem—and into the arms of the man she has never been able to forget…

THE PRICE OF PASSION…

Sold. With one word, Lady Elena Ravenscliffe’s destiny changes forever. Forced into Constantinople’s slave market to pay off her late husband’s debts and save her son, Elena reinvents herself as Jinan—a harem girl adored by the rich lords who bid on her favors. But one man instantly sees through her façade.

…IS COMPLETE SURRENDER

Griffin Summerfield, Marquess of Rothburn, let Elena slip through his fingers years ago. When he recognizes her on the auction block, he pays an outrageous sum to possess her even if it is for a short period of time. But when his deadline looms, Griffin will risk all in a desperate bid to make her his—and his alone…

“Tiffany Clare is a brilliant new talent in historical romance.” —Anna Campbell

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Salacious sensuality doesn't quite trump an unlikely setting in this intensely erotic but otherwise incoherent debut. Lady Elena Ravenscliffe is sold by her gambler husband to a vastly improbable harem located in 1840s Greece and populated by Persian-speaking Turks who engage in orgies and hold high-priced slave auctions. Elena willingly serves prince Amir in exchange for the life and support of her infant son and is quickly introduced to a life of pleasure by Amir and his international group of clients. Always veiled to mask her identity, Elena is unable to hide from her long-ago first love, Griffin Summerfield, who kidnaps her from the harem, rapes her twice, and imprisons her until she agrees to love him again. While the searing sex scenes are exceptionally well-written, many readers will find the abusive hero and Orientalist setting off-putting. (Oct.)
Booklist
With its exotic, evocative setting and complex, complicated characters, Clare's lushly written, lusciously sensual debut will sweep readers away on a spellbinding voyage of scorching passion and unforgettable romance.
RT Book Reviews (Top Pick!)
Debut author Clare bursts onto the scene with a unique, unforgettable, sensual love story sweeping from the harems of the east to staid Victorian ballrooms. Watch out for this sizzling new talent to rise to the top.
Fresh Fiction
Tiffany Clare has written an exceptionally exciting and heart-wrenching story of devotion and survival of a young mother, sold into the most despicable of circumstances. I found this to be fast-paced, full of suspense and totally exciting with each turn of the page. A new and refreshing plot has been woven for the reader.
Romance Junkies
Emotion-packed, THE SURRENDER OF A LADY, the first book in an exciting new series, is a heartrending, very sensual historical romance that will touch your heart.
New York Times bestselling author Lisa Kleypas
Tiffany Clare writes a swoon-worthy romance filled with rich details and vivid characters. Any readers wishing for a bold and sweeping historical romance need look no further—Tiffany Clare is a treasure of an author!
author of Till Dawn with the Devil Alexandra Hawkins
Exotic, bold and captivating. Tiffany Clare's rich, sensual prose is delightful indulgence!
author of My Reckless Surrender Anna Campbell
Dazzling, daring and different! Exotic and erotic! The Surrender of a Lady will have you turning the pages until you finish, no matter how late it gets. Tiffany Clare is a brilliant new talent in historical romance.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781429946469
Publisher:
St. Martin's Press
Publication date:
09/28/2010
Sold by:
Macmillan
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
336
Sales rank:
312,808
File size:
0 MB

Read an Excerpt

The Surrender of a Lady


By Tiffany Clare

St. Martin's Press

Copyright © 2010 Tiffany Clare
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-4299-4646-9


CHAPTER 1

Slave Trader


1841

Constantinople


"What do you mean, you'll work this out? You've gambled me away! I'm your wife, for heaven's sake!"

"Elena, please. Calm yourself. I'll think of something."

Did he really think to placate her after such a proclamation? She was entitled to more than a fit of rage right now. She was livid. "It's a little late for alternatives."

With her hand clutched over her chest, Elena felt the frantic beating of her heart beneath her thin nightgown. She was desperate to calm it and her nerves; otherwise she'd never think this through rationally. What he said couldn't be true. It was outrageous and too despicable to contemplate. A sickening sense of fear had her itching to crawl through the floor.

Two eunuchs flanked her husband. One was pure ebony, with a wide, firm frame common to the palace eunuchs, and a severe, menacing posture that terrified the wits out of her. The bitter fear made her want to retreat to the other side of the room. Out of his reach. The other was shorter and fatter, with a round, pockmarked face and a red sash about his waist that accentuated his girth. Whenever he spoke to her husband, she caught a glimpse of gold teeth behind his anger-thinned lips. The sight made her quiver in disgust.

Both projected an air of command. They wore traditional caftans, and their forearms bore large gold cuffs, their fists were loose at their sides. One couldn't mistake their intent. Nor did their poised outward appearance fool her; they would not be stopped from collecting payment. It was just a matter of sorting out what that payment was.

"Tell them to leave, Robert. We will think of something." They would leave Constantinople to escape what her husband had done. Start afresh, just as they'd done last year. This place was supposed to have been their refuge. A place where their son could grow up without being looked down upon by society because of his father's recklessness.

Foolish of her to think Robert had changed. He never did the decent thing by his family. How had she been duped into believing he'd mend his bad habits after all these years?

"I'm afraid it's not so easy as that."

She knew he played at being calm with those men hovering around. They were almost enough to frighten her into silence. But she knew her husband wouldn't defend her, he never had. Not from the first moment he'd set his sights on her.

She swallowed back the fear closing in around her and stilled her shaking hands by clasping them together. She needed to remain strong, to remember that Robert was a betraying swine. If she focused on that thought, she might be able to talk her way out of this.

She would not be the bargaining chip for his gambling debts.

Tilting her chin up, she looked down her nose at her husband. "I refuse to go."

Yet she knew in her heart that payment had been made in the form of one young, nubile wife, not yet six months from the birthing bed. She began to believe these men wouldn't leave without her, but what did they plan to do with her, a woman still showing the signs of childbearing? Did they fancy such sport as she? She was no pale-skinned odalisque.

There had to be a solution, something to stall them. She just didn't know what would work.

The back of her knees hit the worn damask settee. She sat with a thump, fingers worrying a small tear on the edge of the seat. If one looked around the room it was more than obvious money was not abundant in this household. The floral printed paper on the walls was peeling in many places, the carpets underfoot pitiable, threadbare. The furniture, scratched and dented over the years, looked as worn out as she felt. Even the china didn't match. Anyone who came into their home knew immediately the impoverished state they lived in.

It was unlikely the eunuchs could be convinced with promise for payment. But there must be a way to bribe them.

The maidservant had heard the commotion and came in looking askance at her. Elena knew she wasn't here for her sake, though. Everyone in the household would want to know if their wages would be paid, as her husband kept promising. Now they would all know Robert had gambled away what little money remained. It was no secret that the servants had been collecting bets on the span of her husband's life. Robert played a dangerous game. He was a foreigner here and easily swindled out of their pittance. This wasn't calm and proper England but a hostile land with hostile natives.

The smaller man said something in Turkish to her husband. She wasn't used to the language and only recognized smatterings. None of what they said made sense. Robert ran a hand through his hair, his words careful as he asked them in his most authoritative voice — sorely lacking a tone of command since the devolution of their old life — to leave his home.

The one who had spoken shook his head and placed his hand on his hip, perilously close to the bloodred handle of his scimitar. An ominous sign.

Elena swallowed what little saliva she had and watched her husband's Adam's apple bob. The eunuchs weren't moving. Robert's only reaction was to clench his jaw and take a step away from them — clearly done arguing on her behalf. Giving up on her so easily.

It shouldn't surprise her. Still, she fought tears of sadness for how little she meant to the man who had shared the last five years with her. It didn't matter any longer that he'd secured their marriage through deception, cornering her in Lady Aberney's study, approaching her with a wicked gleam in his eye. She had been won, so fun in the chase was lost after that night.

The silent guard looked to her. Elena stared him in the eye, unwilling to cower before eunuchs who on further assessment could only be slave traders, not palace guards.

She was safe in her own home. She had to be. She would not leave. She made that resolve clear as she looked at him. But it was lost. The eunuch's eyes held no expression. No pity, no sympathy for what her husband had done. Those were the empty, soulless eyes of a man who had seen and lived a hard mercenary life in a world with too many cruelties to keep a compassionate heart for those less fortunate — she being the less fortunate.

She was a noblewoman. They couldn't possibly mean to take her! How could they take her away from her baby?

Forcing her gaze away from the eunuch, she glared at her husband. "What of the silver, Robert?" There were candlesticks that could be melted down, some cutlery, too. Was that enough to send these ruffians on their way?

Robert stepped toward her. Looking to the maidservant, he jerked his head in a violent fashion that had the woman leaving the room posthaste. Elena could imagine the maid's whispered words to the rest of the serving staff. Would they stay on after this? She really didn't care. She needed to sort all this nonsense out so she could hold her son. She would fix this. She always fixed her husband's blunders.

He stood before her, looking down but not meeting her gaze. One hand grasped her shoulder; he gave it the smallest squeeze in reassurance. It was lost in the gravity of the situation. "Listen to me, Elena. I've had a bad turn of luck —"

She snapped her head to the side as though struck by his words and glowered. He found some courage to look her in the eye when she let out a hiss of air between her teeth.

"You've always had a bad turn, Robert! You promised me you wouldn't fall into old habits!" She pounded her palm against the seat. "You promised me a new life when our son was born." Her fingers clutched the edge of the settee, grasping for any sort of balance to her lopsided, unfair life.

"I know. And I did keep that promise, Elena. I restricted my outings to a gentleman's establishment. Ali Admen came in for a round of loo with a mutual friend, so I agreed to sit for a hand. I was doing well and stayed on at the table. A little blunt would have not been remiss." He shook his head as though recalling the exact moment of his downfall. "Before I knew it, luck wasn't about me."

She took a deep breath. She must remain calm. Even though the voice in her mind screamed for her to get out of here. As fast as possible. A dread was building in her blood that she would be taken away from her son. God knew what else they'd do to her. Bile rose in her throat. She closed her eyes, breathed in deeply through her nose and out through her mouth. She clenched her hands so tightly into the seat she thought she'd tear right through the material.

"You always lose," she said between gritted teeth. "I will not go with them."

I will take my son and head back to England the moment you turn your back, you swine.

"Elena ..."

"I mean it, Robert. They'll have to drag me out of here." Her voice caught on those words, and she had to force out the next, "I refuse to go anywhere."

Eyes flooding with angry tears, she really looked at the man who was supposed to be her husband. How could he do this and without so much as a shrug? Was she so worthless?

"Please, Elena." Again his hand swept through his hair, never a good sign when his agitation got the better of him. "I'll talk to Ali Admen's man of affairs tomorrow. We'll work out another arrangement. We cannot afford —"

"No! You disgust me, Robert. What made you think you made a morally sound judgment wagering your own wife for a hand of cards? How dare you! I will not leave. This is my home. In case you've forgotten, our son needs us. He needs me." She pressed her clenched fist to her heart, voice breaking on a sob. "You would take away his mother?"

Elena trained her eyes on the larger and quieter of the eunuchs. His expression held nothing useful for her. She stared into those mud-brown eyes and wondered how to mend this before falling into the snare of those deep wells.

The sound of the baby crying had her on her feet and at the door in a trice.

This was her chance. She'd leave Constantinople and never look back.

"Elena —"

She glanced sidelong at Robert, hand already around the door latch, her heart tripping faster than ever as she looked at her husband for the last time. She had to leave here as quickly as her feet could carry her.

"If you think for one moment I'll let Jonathan cry through your good-for-nothing negotiations, you're mistaken. You can take my place in their slave quarters until you fix this! I'll be with the baby, should you come to your senses and wish to make amends."

One of the eunuchs grasped the base of her neck, and spun her painfully around. As he pushed her to the closed door, all the air whooshed from her lungs. Her shoulder ached from its impact against the molding. She refused to cry out her pain and bit her lip till she thought it would bleed.

Realization dawned as she tried to dislodge his hand unsuccessfully; he could snap her just like this. Hopefully, she was worth more alive than dead. His hand was unrelenting, and with his weight behind it, it proved almost impossible to drag any air into her lungs.

She tried to squirm out of his grasp. She brought her hands up to his chest to push him away but his grip tightened, his body pressing hard and heavily into her, rendering her powerless to move. Deep down, she knew there was never a hope for escape. Why she attempted it, she didn't know. Foolish bravery, perhaps.

No. She attempted it for her son. Her son. God, what would happen to her son?

A thin knife rasped against her flesh and jabbed into the vein that beat a furious tempo above the eunuch's thumb. It was the only thing to stop her from pushing at him again. Nothing more than the threat of the sharp tip held her down, the still weight of an ox standing behind that deadly pinprick. Her hands dropped to her side in defeat.

If she were dead, she wouldn't be able to help her son.

The eunuch loosened his grip. From her peripheral vision she saw his other hand swoop down toward her temple. She ducked the blow too late.


"She'll fetch a pretty price. She has nice form. Skin's tight and free of blemish."

The tall, thin Englishman was the one who spoke, his spectacles resting on the end of his nose as he pinched various parts of her flesh in his inspection. His touch was light but no less invasive than some of the crueler handlings she'd had over the days. It angered her that he talked as though she were a fine piece of horseflesh and not a human being.

This was the same man who'd looked her over three days ago. The first Englishman she'd seen in this pit worse than any hell imaginable. She'd begged his help then, tried pleading that her being here was a grave misunderstanding. Told him that the life of her baby rested on his goodwill.

He hadn't listened. So Elena said nothing, just bit her lip to still her shaking. She wanted to cry when he prodded at her naked breasts and touched her bare stomach through the tear in her chemise. No sense in crying out. That would earn her another beating. She'd given up begging for help days ago — or was it a week? Time was irrelevant; days leached into night then back into day. No one cared about her here. She was just another slave in their dark, cold gazes.

When she had awoken in this dilapidated warehouse the first thing she noticed was the dingy faded ashen walls. When her head had stopped throbbing she was nauseatingly assaulted with the smell of unwashed human bodies. The stench of excrement and urine so thick in the air it was as though it had sunk into the very foundation of the building. When she breathed through her mouth she tasted that awful, stale reek of dirty human bodies. Better to smell that rotten stench.

Heavy muslin over the large windows stopped the light from reaching its warm rays out to her and blocked fresh air from cleaning out her aching lungs. The slave handlers bound her with thick rope, looping it through a rusted metal collar that tethered her to the wall. She'd been treated like an animal since her arrival. Poked, jabbed, humiliated with their scrutiny and quibbling of a price over her.

She should be happy they hadn't completely forgotten her like some of the other slaves huddled in their own reek and filth. They gave her a grayish sludge they called food once a day. Sometimes there was rice or pilaf, which she'd refused at first. But after a couple days of dire hunger, she'd learned to close her eyes and eat around the cockroaches infesting the food. She pretended the wriggling of their bodies was merely a product of her overactive imagination.

Every man who looked her over had torn more of the meager clothes she wore, all in an effort to see her in the flesh. She tried to cover the exposed parts, but it did her no good. Most of her nightclothes were shredded or gone. All that remained was her undershirt and drawers, soiled from the grime crusted on every surface. They'd even taken her slippers and stockings. Her left heel had blistered something fierce on the first day, when she'd tripped over the chain nailed into the floor.

At first, she'd begged and cried that they spare her some privacy. All to no avail. Having had enough of her antics, the guard had hit her so hard in the stomach she'd fallen over gasping for air. The pain still bothered her, a low persistent ache, but it lessened as the purplish bruises faded to an unsightly green. She had learned her lesson that night. Now she only cried out her misery when the slaves bedded down on the hard earth at night. She didn't beg to be released after that, realizing they might do worse next time. If they did treat her any worse, she might never escape. Not that she knew how she would escape.

"Yes, but she's used goods. They don't like their women in this state in the high court."

The other man said this and then grasped one of her engorged breasts, squeezing the areola and nipple until milk flowed down her torso. She let out a cry of distress and pain with the release of built-up fluid. Mostly it was a cry against the abject humiliation of being handled in such a fashion. That milk was for her child. Her child that she might never see again.

God, she did not belong here. She could not survive here much longer.


(Continues...)

Excerpted from The Surrender of a Lady by Tiffany Clare. Copyright © 2010 Tiffany Clare. Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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