Silver-fortune heir Brock St. Clair and Chinese fortune-cookie maker Blossom Sun meet a few days before the 1906 San Francisco earthquake in this debut title in a planned historical romance trilogy.
Rugged, handsome Brock ventures into Chinatown to fulfill fiancee Clarissa’s request to have fortune cookies at a dinner party she’s having for fellow Nob Hill socialite girlfriends. The visit proves life-changing. While buying the cookies, Brock spots Blossom, the lavender-eyed baker. They’re instantly attracted to each other. Blossom summoned the nerve to talk to Brock as part of a dare from two Chinatown pals, telephone operator Anna Mae and high-class prostitute Monique, to flirt with the first man she sees and not allow her father and grandmother to determine her life by marrying her off to a hulking Chinatown butcher. Brock and Blossom meet several times, and she visits at his ranch on the outskirts of town. The couple is there when the earthquake hits, causing them to rush back to the city to search for survivors, and Blossom receives earth-shattering news. First-time novelist Lentz weaves an effective underlying thread of suspense into what might otherwise be a rather tame from-different-worlds romance by heading up all chapters with a note explaining just how close the historic earthquake and its accompanying “firestorm” are to upending the characters and their plans. Adding spice are some surprisingly nuanced characterizations, with Clarissa not quite the snob cliché that one would expect and artistic aspirant Blossom more of a modern woman than wilting flower. Lentz also sets up some interesting tensions, most particularly intrafamilial competition. Overall, an admirable debut.
A promising start to a California-set historical romance series.