Review of WHITE TIGER by Kylie Chan
Harper Voyager, August 2011
When her boss at the school where she teaches asks her to spy on the man who hires her part-time, Engish teacher Emma Donahoe quits her job and soon finds herself working full-time for the mysterious and sexy John Chen. According to Chen, and Chen's daughter, Simone, Simone is a frequent kidnapping target for "bad men." Emma knows that Hong Kong can be dangerous. She doesn't realize exactly how dangerous until some of those bad "people" attack--and turn into muck when American bodyguard Leo destroys them. Her boss and his daughter are both targets of demons.
Standing around helplessly waiting to be rescued doesn't appeal to Emma and she soon takes up martial arts training with Chen. It turns out that he's a gifted teacher--supernaturally gifted, in fact. Emma makes fast progress as a martial artist, soon becoming effective against low-level demons. Unfortunately, many of the demons interested in taking Chen's head are high-level and it takes more than martial arts skill to handle them. In the meantime, Emma's attraction to Chen grows--an attraction that he seems to reciprocate, despite claims that the two can never be together.
Chen's demon problem continues to escalate as the supernatural world learns that Chen is becoming weaker and weaker.
Author Kylie Chan writes a nice female-centered action adventure, set in a fascinating Hong Kong (with side trips to China, Paris and Australia), and with a strong dose of Chinese mythology. There's a strong romance underlying the adventure as Emma's interest in Chen evolves from fascination over the mysterious, brooding male to something more healthily balanced. Meanwhile, she has fun with bodyguard Leo, exchanging practical jokes between demon assaults. Chan's writing is proficient, keeping us involved in the story as it moves from one cliff-hanger to the next.
There isn't a lot of character angst, and Emma is a bit too perfect as she quickly picks up martial arts skills that others train a lifetime to achieve while simultaneously learning to control energy magic. Bottom line, this book is about the magic, about a sexual tension that cannot be resolved, and about martial arts in the context of Chinese mythology. To me, that sounds like fun... and it was. If you're looking for steamy sensuality or a complex study of a magical world, though, you'll be disappointed.
Too generous? Too stingy. Or did I miss the whole point? Send your comments to firstname.lastname@example.org. I'll publish the best letters I get so let me know if I can use your name.
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