I’ve reviewed this book before—most recently for All About Romance—and God knows I keep bringing this book up in conversation. Why? Because it’s the Worst Book Ever. I’m not joking. You think you’ve read awful books before, books that made you wonder how they got published? Read this one. This bad book will cock-slap your bad book AND RAPE IT IN THE ASS, guaranteed.
Sarah asked me today whether I remembered the plot. The answer is: yes. Yes I do. Oh god. I wish I didn’t, but it has been seared into my brain, alas. I wish I could forget it so I could make space for useful things, cool things—things such as pi to 1000 places, or where I left my keys, or Sumerian mythology. But this was not meant to be, because remembering the travails of Lee-Lee and her erstwhile and eternally erect lover, Timothy, clearly hold precedence in my brain.
The story’s set in the mid-19th century. When she’s ten years old or so, Letitia Whatserface is shipwrecked off the coast of China; she’s the only survivor on her entire ship. She’s rescued by the son of some Chinese Big-Wig Dude, and when said son brings her back home, Chinese Big-Wig Dude, instead of turning her over to the authorities, is all “Hey! I have a GREAT idea! Let’s totally adopt her, only not really, and not only that, let’s totally treat her like shit AND make her appear Chinese.”
Which involves renaming her to Lee-Lee, dyeing her hair black, powdering her face (because Chinese people are PALER than you round-eyed types, yeah?) and—I shit you not—binding her breasts once she hits puberty so she looks more flat-chested. Because her bodacious bazooms are not nearly Chinese enough.
Anyway, when Lee-Lee is eighteen or so, some Hot American Dude shows up at Chinese Big-Wig Dude’s place, looking to make a deal. And Lee-Lee wants to meet him, because Oh How She Longs For Familiar Round-Eyed Face and to Feel the Air Of Freedom On Her Creamy Skin, Freedom, I Tells Ye, and she comes up with a brilliant fucking plan: Dress like a male coolie and leap in front of the American Dude’s carriage in the middle of the night to stop it.
Timothy, being every bit as quick of brain as Lee-Lee, tries to whip her out of the way, because that’s what you do when you try to avoid trampling on somebody with your horse carriage, you BEAT THE EVERLOVING SNOT OUT OF THEM WITH YOUR WHIP, and manages to give her a nasty cut on her hand.
And forsooth, he discovers she has bazooms. And forsooth, he takes her back to his ship to bandage her up. And forsooth, he is overcome by lust and fucks her senseless, because fucking like a crazed weasel is totally what you want to do with strange people in drag who leap out at you in the dark in a strange city in a foreign country.
Thus begins a cycle of fucking and estrangement. All sorts of other things happen in the book—shipwrecks, and the Gold Rush, and a search for missing relatives in America, and your standard issue Vile Fiancée Who Tries to Fuck Shit Up, etc. But all you need to know is this:
Timothy and Lee-Lee fight a lot.
Timothy and Lee-Lee fuck a lot. Usually after fighting.
With those two, it’s a wonder they didn’t have perpetually sore throats and sore genitalia.
Anyway. Worst. Book. EVER. You need to read it, if only because it’s so bad on every imaginable level. The characters are annoying, the grammar and punctuation are, uh, creative, and the Chinese words are gibberish.
This was my introduction to romance novels. Is it a wonder I mostly stayed away from them for six years?