There was more passion, murder and intrigue, and the lure of the infamous Pingkangli. If you want to read this book the FREE way you may be able to read it on loan from Freading.com(if your library participates) or you have the option purchasing on Amazon or Barnes and Noble. Send me a comment/email if you are interested in receiving this fascinating book on loan. Now, on to the summary…
Welcome to the infamous Pingkang Li–home of the celebrated Lotus Palace courtesans, and a place of beauty and treachery…
Charming and seductive, Mingyu is the most sought-after hostess in the pleasure quarter. She has all men wrapped around her finger–except Constable Wu Kaifeng, the one man she can’t resist, the only man to have placed her in chains.
Wu Kaifeng’s outwardly intimidating demeanor hides a reluctant, tation she presents threatens to destroy them both when a powerful official is murdered and they find themselves on a deadly trail. Amid the chaos, a forbidden affair could change Mingyu’s fate forever, for following her heart is bound to have consequences…
~Summary taken from Amazon
In this book, there is mention of Goat Hours, Classic Tea and I learned more about the “Red Light District” of China.
“The Market Gong sounded the Hour of the Goat”(12).
Don’t think that the Chinese Zodiac only refers to the year you are born. Nope. The Hour of the Goat is roughly 1p.m. to 3p.m. I love how the book referred to the hours in this way and according to Wikipedia, most Asian countries like Korea, Japan,and Vietnam use these as hours too. I was born in the year of the Dog by the way.
Second, Mingyu knows a lot about tea and how to serve it well. The book mentions about the Classics of Tea, so once more I hunted for some information about tea(I love tea!). The characters in the story are refreshed and relaxed around the simple act of pouring and drinking tea.
The Classic of Tea by Yu Lu is a treatise on the beauty of and making of tea. The original is gone and the earliest manuscript goes back to the Ming Dynasty actually, however the link provided will give a breakdown the mysterious importance of this drink. I’m thinking of ordering the book myself.
Finally, let’s talk about the Pingkangli or the “Red Light District”
In my last review of the Lotus Palace, I mention how the Chinese courtesans are more than prostitutes, they are musicians, poets, and overall hosts to a great many men of different statures of life.
But the brutally honest truth is these are women/girls are courtesans belonging to brothels. Some brothels more lavish than most like the one Mingyu is from.
According to the book Red Light Districts: The Lives of Sex Workers Postsocialist China,
“The owners received 30 percent of the profit for their courtesan while the courtesan(prostitute) received 70 percent.”(37)
In the novel, Mingyu is basically a slave to Madame Sun. In fact, this almost makes Constable Wu believe he can never have Mingyu because she is often courted by and has lain with rich men.
In the Red Light Districts book, it details the lives of those men who do take a courtesan as a wife and often they learn the hard way that the courtesan is used to a lavish lifestyle and marriage does not last if the money doesn’t.
So that’s it for this installment of Truth In Fiction. I absolutely enjoyed this book and highly recommend it!
Any questions or if you have inquiries about books you think I should review here, let me know.
I have read the most amazing, sensual historical fiction romance and I have to share it with you. Here is a brief part of my review from Goodreads.com,
For Bai Huang the most handsome, wealthiest guy in Pingkangli, he never thought it would be difficult to court the servant girl with the interesting face but the path to her love may be a path to his own bright future…if they don’t get killed first.
I love stories from medieval China- and good love stories at that! This one had me swooning because Bai Huang is seriously Bae. Not only is he handsome but he has the right words and right touches to convince even the ultra cautious, Yue-ying, to give him a chance.
The glittering part of the story is Huang’s patience with Yue-ying. She is a servant in one of the courtesan houses, born with an interesting red birthmark on the side of her face and although reserved, she is smart and strong. Being sold into prostitution from an early age has made her cold (Read more)
Even though the book is fiction, there are three things I took from this amazing story and it is a life changer for this writer.
I never heard of a Duanwu Festival until I read this book. In the story, the lovebirds attend one. A Duanwu Festival is a Dragon Boat Festival(much like a race car event but with boats) occurring during the summer solstice in China and it typically begins on the 5th day of the 5th lunar month. Where did this originate? The story may surprise you and it sure did shock me. It involves a poet and minister who committed suicide and people raced in their boats to…well, you can read the rest on Wikipedia.
THEY ARE MORE THAN A GEISHA
The author of the book, in her intro, makes a point that the women courtesans are more than prostitutes. Apparently, these women were elegant, well mannered and “fiery” women. In the book, Yue-ying’s body was used for pleasure but she, like the other girls aspired to be more than “sex pots” or alluring. They were smart and Yue-ying was resourceful. Kind of paints a different picture for you now, doesn’t it?
It has been quite some time since I’ve read a good, and I mean good historical romance. There was a time I read them all day. Thanks to Beverly Jenkins, my love for historical has been rekindled by reading Wild Sweet Love(2007). I seriously did not want to leave the story behind. It has roped my heart in.
Teresa July is a known outlaw. When she is finally captured, she is sent to a corrections house but released early for good behavior. One catch: She cannot go back out West but to Philadelphia to live in the city and learn to be a lady. For one year she can no longer drink, shoot a gun, or get caught doing anything wrong.
“You’re pretty combative aren’t you?”
“And you probably prefer your women a lot more docile. Docile women don’t make the newspapers.” (Wild Sweet Love, pg. 28, 2007.)
Madison Nance does not know what to think when his mom brings in a short haired, ashen, petite woman into his home. When he learns it is the infamous train robbing Teresa July he is astounded, but as the weeks go by and Teresa blossoms before his eyes, he can not help to think that maybe he is not destined for a princess but someone who is wild yet sweet.
The book has so many strengths: historical accuracy, fully developed characters and settings that place you square in the moment.
What really held my attention to this book of course was Madison and Teresa. Teresa is very strong willed and I enjoyed the progression of her going from appearing unattractive to Madison, to her “enthralling him” with her black Seminole eyes and skin. Their banter had me laughing out loud and cheering on the love I knew would sprout between them.
The juxtaposition of the two lovers was also important. Madison, a banker, used to be a gambler too. A wily one at that. Teresa is the gun slinging, fast talking rebel and little did she know, Madison is not all prim and proper as she once thought. The passion shared between them two was so darn hot and sweet; seemingly a perfect blend of tangy and spicy.
It was also interesting to read about a fascinating, hot headed woman of color. The characters were diverse of course and even though at some points I felt as if I were given a history lesson(complete with dates) instead of seeing it play out, the book was incredibly good.
Teresa July’s transformation was not forced either. I loved how the author allow us to see Teresa grow while still allowing her to remain who she was. Madison was by no means a weak male. He was an alpha male who respected and desired his alpha woman.
Definitely a five star book. Highly recommended if you enjoy historicals filled with romance and outlaws.
Sunday school teachers and preachers told Samson’s and Delilah’s story like this:
“She was a vixen that tricked Samson. The end.”
But if we are talking about true accounts of the bible, it may have been more complex than that right?
These were real people, right? Is that what we’re assuming…?
Well, thank goodness for writers like Angela Hunt of the Beauty series. Her story about Samson and Delilah painted them in such a human light, that I can believe that version rather than the one I heard about.
When I compared Angela Hunt’s version to Scripture, I find that Samson was kind of a “ladies man” and the bible say he fell in love with Delilah. This was not some woman he met in two seconds and then she betrayed him…
Then again, I was not there.
Here is a snippet of my review from Goodreads,
Delilah is harmed by her own stepbrother, abused in every way and on top of that her mom has been sold into slavery. Surviving only off her wit and the help of a friendly few, Delilah finally settles down in Gaza but now she wants revenge. Enter Samson. The strongman. Everyone has heard about his mighty strength, even though he doesn’t look so strong. He meets Delilah one day and falls in love with her, but what happens when the taste of revenge is stronger than the taste of true love?
My Reaction: From the very first page of this book I was enthralled. The author captured the atmosphere of ancient Philistia very well(read more of my Delilah Review)
Here is my question to bookworms and Christians.
Has there ever been a time when a author captured the essence of the past so well, their version was more believable? Is it wrong to do this? Does it encourage you to do your own research or did you view it as healthy entertainment?
*Interview can also be seen on my former publishing hub Examiner.com*
Julie Lessman has thankfully agreed to an email interview where she was very candid about her passion for writing sizzling but sweet books for the wide Christian audience. You will find that next to her love of words and books, she has a sense of humor and a sense of duty to write about love.
The Write Web: Okay. A Passion Most Pure had me turning the pages quickly. Which is odd for a book about 300+ pages taking place during WWI. But I think it was the love triangle and passionate scenes. How much research went into writing this book and how long did it take to complete the manuscript itself?
Julie Lessman: How long did it take me to complete the manuscript?? Ha! Would you believe almost 40 years? You see, I actually started APMP at the age of twelve after reading Gone With the Wind. From the moment Scarlett seared Rhett with a look on the winding staircase of Twelve Oaks, I was a goner, and my “romance-writing career” began with a 150 single-spaced manuscript that became the basis for my debut novel, A Passion Most Pure. Hard to believe that almost forty years passed before God breathed new life into that early attempt and inspired me to finish my childhood novel of passion—only this time the “passion” would be for Him!
As far as research, I had to learn the language, dress, mores, etc. of a whole new world, so quite a bit of research was necessary … and quite a bit of juggling dates and plot points, too, in order to stay true to the WWI time period.
TWW: My favorite character, unbelievably so, was Collin. Faith was a close second. Which character was your favorite and which was hardest to write?
JL: Since there are seven books in the O’Connor family saga (including a prequel entitled A Light in the Window for the parents, Marcy and Patrick), I’d like to apply that question to the entire saga rather than just A Passion Most Pure if I may.
I do love ALL of my characters, but there are ones that are easier to write because I connect with them more. For instance, Faith is my spiritual self, so every single spiritual conversation or habit you see her do in the books are taken straight from how I live my life, right down to the anger at God on the ship in A Passion Most Pure. Faith felt like He had boxed her in and ruined her for the world because she had tasted His love and could never go back to living without Him. That’s exactly how I felt at times when I was a new Christian, so Faith comes by it honestly!
But as far as favorites, this is going to shock some people, I know, but Charity O’Connor is right up there. Charity—goodness, my heart goes out to her and the woman I used to be—selfish, manipulative, lost… I suspect God looked at me back then—with eyes full of love and hope that we all can become new creatures in Christ Jesus.
The hardest character to write? Oh, goodness, that would have to be the hero of book 3, John Brady of A Passion Denied, Collin’s Godly buddy from the war. In book 3, Brady is a Billy Graham-type character, full of fire and faith for God, a spiritual rock and anchor for everyone he meets, so I had trouble relating to him because of my own checkered past as an agnostic wild child of the 70s.
TWW: The story would not be as juicy without Charity. The charming, extremely beautiful blond sister. This is the one Collin is courting, but Faith is in love with him and he finds Faith amazing and does not know why. I have not read Charity’s story, A Passion Redeemed, but what inspired you to write her story- or was the series planned in that way?
JL:When I wrote A Passion Most Pure, I never intended to continue on with a series, but by the end of the book, it just seemed a natural progression to continue on with Charity’s story. I’ll be honest, however, both my editor and agent were concerned about Charity’s like-ability as a heroine since she was the “vixen” in book 1. So much a vixen, in fact, that I actually had some readers write and ask me to “slap Charity for them” or wanted to see her “killed or maimed.” Frankly, I was fascinated by the challenge of redeeming her, which was a slow and painful process that begins in book 2, A Passion Redeemed, and continues on throughout the six-book family saga.
TWW: Out of all the books in the Daughters of Boston Series, which was fun to write? More difficult to write?
JL: The most fun book to write? Oh, without question that would be book 2 in The Daughters of Boston series, A Passion Redeemed, which is my VERY favorite of all three books of that series. In fact, I SO loved delving into Mitch and Charity’s story that I actually wrote this nearly 500-page doorstop in two months while working a part-time job.
The hardest book to write? Professionally, that would be the third book in the Daughters of Boston series, A Passion Denied. It was difficult to write for a number of reasons. First of all, I hit the wall on that book because I was reading another author whose incredible talent made me feel like I wanted to puke on my keyboard whenever I read my own writing. And secondly, it was difficult because I was attempting not only to tell a very complicated and dark love story about the third daughter, but also weaving in second-tier stories about the parents and each of the other daughters.
TWW: Any new projects?
JL: Well, I’m very excited about a contemporary I just finished called Isle of Hope. I knew I wanted a locale on the Eastern Seaboard, and I’ve always loved Hilton Head and Savannah, so I prayed about it. Imagine my surprise when I checked a map and found a lovely place called Isle of Hope, Georgia, which is just 15 minutes away from Savannah and is actually a peninsula that becomes an island when the tide comes in. It’s perfect for my story because it’s a charming little community with a rich history. They filmed part of Forrest Gump there and other movies because it’s so pretty. And my story is all about the restoration of hope and relationships, so the title is—at least for me—truly inspired.
TWW: How much creative input do you have over book design?
JL: With my traditionally published books, my publisher does ask for both my input and my feedback, but ultimately the final say goes to them. For my award-winning indie-published book, A Light in the Window, however, I had total control since my artist hubby created both the cover and the video utilizing my daughter as the model. So you might say it was a family affair, and trust me, we had a blast!
TWW: Some authors say early morning is the best time of the day to write. Is this the same for you? Why?
JL: Yes, I’ve discovered that first thing in the morning is the most creative, fluid time for me to write, I guess because my brain is fresh. Also, I’ve discovered that I can spike my creativity by hopping on the treadmill for 30 minutes or so, which really starts the ideas/dialogue percolating in this old brain.
TWW: Any advice for Christians interested in writing romance?
1.) Join ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers, FHL (Faith, Hope & Love and RWA (Romance Writers of America), both to get connected with other like-minded writers and to learn a lot about your craft.
2.) Take a fiction-writing class or attend a writing seminar or conference.
3.) Join a critique group (you can do that through ACFW).
4.) Purchase and study writing books such as Self-Editing for Fiction Writers by Renni Browne and Dave King or Writing the Breakout Novel by Donald Maas, AND invest in a great thesaurus such as The Synonym Finder by Rodale Press.
5.) Enter contests for invaluable feedback, growth, confidence, networking opportunities and to get your name out there.
6.) Frequent websites/blogs that deal with writing, such as The Seekers , a group blog that I belong to whose theme is “On the road to publication. Writing, contests, publication and everything in between.”
7.) Go for an agent first, publisher second.
8.) Pray your heart out and put it in God’s hands.
TWW: After reading A Passion Most Pure, I browsed around on your site and found you’ve written a guide Romance-ology 101. What can aspiring writers expect from such a book?
JL: Hey, Erica, thanks for checking out my website! Romance-ology 101: Writing Romantic Tension for the Inspirational and Sweet Markets is a short and “sweet” romance-writer’s workbook that offers tips for ramping up the WOW factor with romance that is both sweet and swoon-worthy.
In a world all-too-often dominated by the likes of Fifty Shades of Gray, sweet and inspirational authors have to work a little harder to create that wonderful wholesome sizzle with merely the touch of a hand, a look, or a simple kiss. Romance-ology 101 is simply another tool to help do that, offering insight with such subjects as Getting inside the Hero’s Head with Internal Monologue, Maximizing Use of Beats in Dialogue, Utilizing Dual Point of View, Using All Five Senses for Heightened Effect, Cashing In on the Kid and Pet Factor, and much, much more.
TWW: Fun: First thing that pops into your mind when I say the word: GLOW
JL: HA! My Irish love story, A Light in the Window, because both my daughter and a candle are aglow on the cover!
Thank you Julie again for sharing your wonderful, enlightening and informational story with the world.
If you want to learn more about what happens in the Daughters of Boston series and Julie’s other books, check them out on Julie Lessman’s website.
Nancy Herriman’s writing can be described as lovely, on time, and true. Her characters’ personalities and their flaws is what makes “The Irish Healer” such a wonderful read.
It is the 1830s and Rachel Dunne is leaving her home in Ireland to be an assistant to a physician in London. Back at home though, she was accused of murder and the town was set to gossip. At least in London working for the elusive, handsome Physician James Edmunds, Rachel may have a chance to start afresh and perhaps leave healing alone all together.
James Edmunds no longer trusts God with his medical practice or his family anymore. After his wife passed away, he had his sister in law take care of his daughter Amelia- to keep at bay his own mistakes from the past, yet when he meets Rachel Dunne, his new assistant, he wants her around more and more and he wonders if God may be giving him another chance.
What makes this story grand and pleasing, is that both characters are at odds with God. They have both placed their trust in Him at some point before but when things went sour, they lost their faith. So not only does Mr. Edmunds push against the grain of God’s will, Rachel does too as she refuses to help anyone sick for fear she may kill them, yet God keep placing her where she needs to be-
Especially when James Edmunds own daughter falls ill and it may be up to Rachel to push past her hurt pride to help. She endures the stereotypes and dreadful words from those who hate her simply because she is Irish but she does meet a few nice folk along the way who help put her faith back in place.
*Book was received from Worthy Publishing for my unbiased review.