THE CHINA BRIDE by Mary Jo Putney (see her website)Ballantine Publishing, Random House, August, 2000
Troth Mei-Lian Montgomery lost her Scottish father to a storm and lives in China, disguised as Jin Kang, a Chinese man. While Chenqua, her master, takes good enough care of her, he forces her to act as a spy on the foreign traders who threaten to swarm over China in 1832. She longs for the ability to be a woman but knows that she is caught between two cultures and can be accepted in neither.
Kyle Renbourne may be an English Earl but he has been running from that responsibility all of his adult life. Now he's in China but denied the ability to explore beyond the narrow bounds allowed foreigners. He feels an immediate bond for Jin Kang, a bond that grows when he discovers that she is a woman. He knows his soul is incomplete--and he can never love another woman, still he enters into a bargain with Troth. If she will help him explore China and see a temple whose picture has haunted him since childhood, he will help her return to England and Scotland where a woman can have at least some freedom.
THE CHINA BRIDE alternates settings between China and Britain. As they travel together, the two find each other perfect lovers, but each wants and needs more. Troth knows she can never be accepted into the English society Kyle travels in. Kyle lost the great love of his life and fears to offer what he has left.
Mary Jo Putney (see all BooksForABuck.com reviews of novels by this author) writes a powerfully emotional novel set between two fascinating worlds of high culture. She is as deft with adventure as she is with love. Troth, in particular, is a wonderfully drawn character caught between two cultures that cannot fully embrace her and struggling to create a third way of her own.
Purchase THE CHINA BRIDE from Amazon.com (hardback).