The forbidden world of 19th-century China opens its gates to a wandering Scottish lord and the beautiful Eurasian girl who serves as his guide.
Born to a Scottish trader and his Chinese wife, Troth Mei-Lian Montgomery is fluent in both English and Chinese. Although her elderly uncle took her in out of kindness and a sense of duty, he has now forced her to adopt the dress and name of a man in order to spy on the foreigners who throng Canton’s trading companies in search of fortunes in tea and precious goods. But Kyle Renbourne, Viscount of Maxwell, is an adventurer and romantic in search of more than mere wealth. Captivated by the legends of this ancient land, Kyle yearns to journey to its heart to see the mysterious (and fictional) inland temple of Hoshan. He quickly discovers that his guide is a woman, and a lovely one at that, but both must travel in disguise. So Troth leads him to Hoshan, earnestly explaining centuries of Chinese history and customs along the way. Once there, they become lovers but are quickly found out, whereupon Kyle is thrown into prison to await his inevitable execution, though first making Troth his wife with a handclasp ceremony traditional among the Scots. Afterward, Troth goes to Scotland to tell his noble family of his death—although, unbeknownst to her, he’s still alive. He too returns to Scotland, there to battle with the unprincipled trader who cheated Troth’s father long ago and who wants to kill Kyle now. Troth calls upon her kung fu skills to save her love and her life, vanquishing the enemy easily. Putney (The Wild Child, 1999) weaves the threads of her story deftly, with scarcely a pause until the dramatic conclusion. She does her utmost to give her non-English characters dignity and presence, scrupulously avoiding pidgin speech and ethnic stereotyping.
Delicately sensual East-meets-West historical romance.