Ruined Hearts

by Natasha Perry

Melissa Markham, daughter of an Englishman and a Chinese concubine, wants something her mother never had—respectability. Wealthy lumber baron, Ethan Trent, a man of erotic, dominating appetites, decides he wants the exotic woman for himself. Even though Melissa fights her attraction for Ethan, she also finds herself craving his domination. Can two headstrong people find a way to heal their ruined hearts, find love, and discover they both want to share the same thing—an unusual passion for each other?


Excerpt

Chapter One
London, 1875

 Mei Lin had no choice but to flee Great Britain.

For the past six months, she'd been a lofty bastard's whore; and as Charles Litton, the Earl of Windhaven's slave, Mei Lin'd had no choice but to obey. She hated every moment as his captive. If she didn't fully cooperate with his sadistic desires, he'd beat her.

Her loss of pride was another matter, however. For too long she had suffered this man's abuse. Mei Lin recalled her plans to escape, vowing they would work, or she would die trying. The opportunity had finally occurred, after several months of captivity. The earl had grown overconfident, believing she'd always be obedient, and, of late, had left her unguarded. Litton controlled her body, but he would never control her mind or her heart.

All during her horrid captivity with him, she'd never forgotten his betrayal to her and her mother. Her mother had protected her from learning how to become a concubine; wanting more for Mei Lin. Tears ran down Mei Lin's cheeks as she recalled the last day she saw her mother; her poor mother had told her how the earl had promised Mei Lin a better life in England. The earl had betrayed both of them.

After six months, Mei Lin had found the strength, courage, and opportunity to make her escape. She had no intentions of failing. She'd laced the bastard's Absinthe with laudanum, praying she'd put enough in his wine glass to leave him incapacitated. Hope filled her heart when he gulped down every drop. Then later, as he slipped into unconsciousness, Mei Lin made her escape. Once he became incapacitated, she'd rushed to her small dungeon of a room to change and gather her meager possessions, and tossing them into an old tapestry bag.

Once back in the library she stole the key to his safe out of one of his vest pockets. After opening the safe, she picked up one large, bound bundle of currency. The bastard earl owed her this much, if not more. Mei Lin jammed the money into the bag and fled the earl's home and her bondage. Running down the road, she made a promise to herself; never again would she be a slave to any man, unless the choice was hers.

Mei Lin became very determined to make things change for the better in her life. There was no reason to return to China since there was no one there for her. Her mother had died months past, and her brother had gone to America several years ago to make a life for himself, promising to send for her and her mother once he did. They never heard from him again.

America was the only choice and there she would try and find her brother. First fury that he hadn't sent for them tore through her, and then worry filled her heart that some misfortune had fallen upon him. Mei Lin had spent several months working as a maid to Lady Maureen Cavendish from Ireland. She'd accompanied the woman from England to her Ireland, learning how to be a lady. Melissa had stolen enough currency from the earl to make her way to America, but had secured the position as maid to Lady Cavendish, in order to learn proper manner of speech, dress, and style befitting a well-bred English woman. Mei Lin didn't tarry too long in the position, for fear of being caught by the earl, who, no doubt, would be out for revenge.

Now, Mei Lin studied her reflection in the mirror of the tiny room she had rented near the docks. She'd bathed from a basin, then attired herself in a forest green silk bombazine traveling gown Lady Cavendish had helped her choose—and had purchased for her, even though Mei Lin had protested, to no avail. The Lady had assisted Mei Lin in also selecting black kid leather boots, stockings, corset, under drawers, and a cloak. Never had Mei Lin owned such beautiful clothing.

Dressed now in the fashionable clothing, her transformation was complete. Her long, thick hair, swept up in the most popular style of the day, gave her face a western look. It would take some time to glance at herself and not see her mother's eyes staring back at her. However, her father's features interested her, features her mother had explained to her when Mei Lin first realized she did not completely resemble the woman who bore her. How she'd longed to meet the man who fathered her, but alas, it never happened, because shortly after her arrival in England Mei Lin had learned he'd died in a carriage accident.

His fair hair made hers less coarse, black–softer, and browner. His high cheekbones, unlike her mother's round, moon face, had given Mei Lin an exotic look; one that she knew turned heads. She would take his name. No longer would she be Mei Lin Kwan, daughter of a Chinese concubine. From now on, she would be Melissa Markham, daughter of an English lord. Mei Lin fastened the velvet ribbon around her throat, pulled on her newly purchased black silk cape and stood, ready to go board the Britannica for America; ready to leave her old life behind.

 

Natasha Perry "Ruined Hearts"

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Genres

Historical
Romance
Erotic


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