Book Review

Desire’s Blossom by Cassie Edwards


Title: Desire's Blossom
Author: Cassie Edwards
Publication Info: Zebra 1999
ISBN: 0821764055
Genre: Historical: Other

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?

Comments are Closed

  1. Helen M says:

    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.

    So you didn’t like it then? Heh.

    Is it wrong that your hating it so much makes me want to go find it, just so see how bad this book really is?

    I’m surprised you ever read another romance, if this was your introduction to the genre!

  2. Candy says:

    So you didn’t like it then?

    My mother always did praise me for my circumspection and tact.


    If it were in any way practical to give a book the MST3K treatment, I’d do it to this one.

  3. belmanoir says:

    Dude, if you gave the book the MST3K treatment, I WOULD PROBABLY READ IT.  Because just reading this entry made me laugh so uncontrollably my roommate gave me funny looks (and I laugh to myself A LOT while reading, so that takes really excessive amusement).

  4. L. Francesca says:

    Goddamn. Shit, Chinese people know when someone’s ass isn’t Chinese. =

  5. HaikuKatie says:

    Shit, that isn’t the worst book ever. The worst book ever was given to me as a Christmas present last night. It is: a Star Trek: TNG and X-Men CROSSOVER.

    Storm and Picard HAVE SEX.

    This book! Was PUBLISHED! WTF?!

  6. Miri says:

    It is: a Star Trek: TNG and X-Men CROSSOVER.

    Storm and Picard HAVE SEX.

    Were there… you know..(cough) Pictures?

  7. AJArend says:

    I’ve read only one other book by Cassie Edwards, and I thought THAT was the worst romance book ever. I felt like I was reading a bad fanfic story by some pre-teen. However, this one sounds so very much worse. Seriously…how does this woman continue to get published?

  8. shannon says:

    Star Trek: TNG and X-Men CROSSOVER.

    oooowow!! I sooo want to see Warf ,Data and Wolverine do a 3 way ! I have the popcorn and band-aids ready !!!

  9. DS says:

    She has masses of fans.  Also if you have access to a library with a copy of How to Write a Romance Novel and Get it Published with Edwards essay in it (I’m sure there is more than one book by that title) READ IT.  She talks about doing research for her first Indian books by trying to interview some male member of an Indian tribe.  He wouldn’t cooperate so she had to make it up!

  10. Arethusa says:

    Whoa. When I read that he “whipped” her out of the way I assumed it was figurative and somehow…I don’t know how, he swung out of the carriage thing and grabbed her or something. But no. He whipped her with a whip. Was it because she was dressed as a coolie?

    That book sounds dangerous.

    (I have a chinese friend who’s rather blessed in the chest area. Do you think New Year’s Eve would be the appropriate time to tell her that her whole life has been a lie?)

  11. Whittam says:

    But were the sex scenes hot?

    Actually, there’s a question – are there other people who’ve read books where all good sense and taste revolted, but the libido defied both sense and taste by – erm – liking them?  I remember reading Janet Inglis’ ‘Daddy’ which is all about a guy seducing his underage stepdaughter, Lia, and still finding it erotic.  Hugely disturbing, very verboten, and downright wrong – but still erotic, even though I wanted to report the hero to Child Services throughout.

  12. Anonymosity says:

    I went on Amazon and read the first couple of pages using their “Take a peek at this book” feature.

    Jesus, Mary, and Dale Earnhardt Junior!

    It was as if someone gave Amy Tan a lobotomy and made her swear on the lives of her children to write the worst novel of all time.

    I love how they Caucasian-ized her Chinese brother to make him seem “more attractive”. I’m also curious as to who bought in to her clever disguise. Dyed hair and rice powder! Well, I’ve always wanted to be in Ebony magazine. Maybe I should buy an afro wig and rub soot on my face. It couldn’t be any more insulting or stupid than what Edwards is suggesting.

    I also love how it took like, 10 pages for him to answer a simple question. “Did you sell enough opium to pay for our passage to America? Did you? DID YOU? HUH HUH HUH??!?!?” Edwards kept interrupting the damned dialogue to take us to The Land of Backstory and Plot Points. I wonder if it is normal for people to spend twenty minutes reminiscing about their shared childhood when they’re trying to have a discreet midnight meeting.

    I am a huge fan of literature concerning the Chinese culture. I actually asked for and received “The Joy Luck Club” and “The Kitchen God’s Wife” as Christmas presents because I borrow them from the library so often. This book seems to me as if she swallowed a couple of Chinese stereotypes and vomited them on to paper. What was her research when writing this novel? Watching half an hour of Disney’s ‘Mulan’ and ordering Chinese take-out?

    I also browsed through her other titles on Amazon and have noted that she’s butchered other cultures as well. I’m amazed the American Indian community, as a whole, hasn’t stormed her house and burnt it down. Word has it that they don’t appreciate being called “Savages” very much. Perhaps Edwards watched Pocahontas and felt she was well educated on American Indian culture after that.

    I absolutely loathe patronizing crap like this. It reminded me of those cultural stereotypes in elementary math problems.

    “Juan and Pablo are making tacos for a fiesta! If Juan makes three tacos and Pablo makes four…”


  13. Kalen Hughes says:

    I am now officially afriad for Candy to read my book! LOL! I think I’ll send it to Sarah . . . *GRIN*

    What’s up with the flat-chested Chinese? Some of the Chinese women I work with have “huge tracts of land” to put it in Monty Python terms. Have you seen Gong Li lately?

    my word verificatin is “research48” so fricken me! *grin*

  14. Lauren says:

    Her “Indian” romances with “Savage” in the title were enough for me

  15. Helen M says:

    If it were in any way practical to give a book the MST3K treatment, I’d do it to this one.

    oooh, I’d pay money to see that MST3K-ing!

    There’s a TNG and X-men crossover? Oh, I want to see it, and not only for the Picard-Storm action! (Shannon, I’ll bet that somewhere in the wilds of the internet, a Worf/Data/Wolverine fic exists) I know I’ve seen the crossover with Kirk’s lot, but I was always a TNG girl.

  16. kate r says:

    I have to find and read the book now. Maybe that’s how she gets her sales. People can’t believe it’s *that* bad and have to find out for themselves.

    I know the AAR reviews for her books have made me curious, kinda like the sideshow exhibits on Coney Island. The horror and pathos!

  17. Audrey says:

    I read a Cassie Edwards once, I think one of those aforementioned Savage ones, a girlfriend gave it to me to read.

    My exact words to her when done? “Don’t you EVER give me ANYTHING by this author again!” She laughed like hell.

    Trouble was, I had nothing on hand for payback since I’d given away my Constance O’Banyon….

  18. dl says:

    I learned early on in my reading to avoid all Cassie Edwards & Beatrice Small…like the plague. 

    But I recently ran across a really baaad book, Dressed To Slay by Harper Allen.  Example of why Bombshell is TU.

    Years ago finally realized that I have no obligation to finish reading a crap book…just toss the damn thing and move on.

  19. Karen Scott says:

    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.

    You say that like it’s a bad thing.  (g)

  20. Robin says:

    She has masses of fans.  Also if you have access to a library with a copy of How to Write a Romance Novel and Get it Published with Edwards essay in it (I’m sure there is more than one book by that title) READ IT.  She talks about doing research for her first Indian books by trying to interview some male member of an Indian tribe.  He wouldn’t cooperate so she had to make it up!

    DS, do you know which edition of that book the essay is in?  There are several on Amazon.  I checked Edwards’s website to see if she listed it, and came across this in her bio section:

    Cassie has won ROMANTIC TIMES ‘Lifetime Achievement Award’ for her first Indian romance, SAVAGE OBSESSION. Her heart goes into every book that she writes, especially when she is writing about our Native Americans. Eachtribe is unique in its own way. Each book she writes is well-researched and authentic and she is striving to write about every major Indian tribe in America.

    There is also a page dedicated to an organization aimed at assisting Native Americans gain adequate housing.

    I have seen so many well-meaning people butcher Native American histories and cultures beyond recognition or respect that it doesn’t stupify me quite so much anymore.  I believe that there are so many readers of work that engages in this butchering 1)because the melodrama is so high and irresistable, and b) because so many people still hold totally ass backward stereotypes about Native Americans, so much of this stuff doesn’t seem an exaggeration.

    Part of me wants to read an Edwards book just to what she does, since I can’t judge what I haven’t read.  But another part of me is afraid I will relive the trauma I suffered after reading Brenda Joyce’s The Conqueror—from which I still haven’t totally recovered.

  21. Wry Hag says:

    Now this is precisely why this site is so insidious.  Candy and Sarah are actually trying to promote trashy books.  But I refuse to be manipulated.  I WILL NOT let my fingers blaze a trail to my credit card.  Uh-uh, ain’t gonna happen. 

    Curses, foiled again, Candy and Sarah!

  22. DS says:

    Published by Signet 1990.  About 3 pages.  If I can get it flat on the scanner and if no one will report me to Cassie Edwards I’ll put it in a PDF file.

  23. Sara says:

    We won’t breathe a word, DS!

  24. L.E. Bryce says:

    Surely Cassie can’t be worse than Laurel K. Hamilton?  Oh, dear!

    Makes me glad neither Sarah nor Candy has discovered any of my books.

  25. Alex says:

    Christ on a rickety crutch! I, too, sought out the “look inside this book” feature at Amazon. Now I have a burning desire to poke out my eyes with a sharp stick and pour Tabasco in the bleeding sockets.

  26. Stephanie says:

    I read the excerpt.
    Sweet mother of man titty!
    I choked, I laughed, and I felt so much happier about editing my second novel, because no matter its problems it cannot compare to the horrors perpetrated in Desire’s Blossom.

    I know writing instructors who would flay students alive for writing this sentence: “She knew that she had changed due to circumstances beyond her control.”
    Exposition + cliche = baaaaaad writing.

    Thank you for sharing. Your pain has truly brightened my day.

  27. Kassiana says:

    I couldn’t find the “look inside this book” feature for this pile of … sweetness. Yes. Sweetness.

    The Gods must have been with me, protecting me from ocular distress.

  28. kate r says:

    Bah, your review at AAR is so calm—no frothing at the mouth.

    Ms. Edwards is awesome though. Every single one of her books gets an F grade at AAR. Seven of ‘em! At first I thought she rated a D and even a C+, but no, those go to those other Edwards girls, Susan and Rachelle.

    Can you think of any other author who has consistently netted F’s over there? and from a variety of reviewers too. The woman is a wonder. (as in you have to wonder)

  29. Nathalie says:

    Okay, I’m a virgin at posting my opinion on books, so bear with me. No really, I’ve never vented my opinion on books or movies because we all like different things. But that book, that little peek I took…it makes my eyes burn.

    I HAD to peek inside, of course. The temptation was too hard. Damn you Candy. Damn you.

    Edwards writes “Lifting its shiny silkiness…”.

    When was the last time you looked at yourself in the mirror (the old mirror ploy to allow readers a look at the character) and referred to, well, any part of you while thinking “shiny silkiness” in your head? No, seriously. Romance novels do that a lot. Characters looking at themselves in the mirror and whispering about some back info bits the author feels we ought to know? Pah-leeze!

    It reminded me of SFF author C.J. Cherryh’s 1995 essay “Writerisms and other Sins”.

    “mirrors….avoid mirrors, as a basic rule of your life. You get to use them once during your writing career. Save them for more experience. […] If you haven’t read enough unpublished fiction to have met the infamous mirror scenes in which Our Hero admires his steely blue eyes and manly chin, you can scarcely imagine how bad they can get.  Limpid pools and farm ponds: I don’t care what it is, if it reflects your hero and occasions a description of his manly dimple, it’s a mirror.”

    How right she is.

    Shiny silkiness… This is more than just differing tastes in books. It’s just lazy, habitual writing.

    I need a drink. *sigh*

  30. Kaite says:

    My grandmother (God rest her soul) used to read Cassie Edwards. I think she sells to that particular demographic (I’m not talking age, either, or at least not completely) a lot more readily than to others.

    And my little password below is “getting69”. Heh-heh-heh.

  31. Kassiana says:

    Rebecca Brandewyne has four reviews on AAR, all F, all deserved. Who else consistently calls her heroes “satanic” and has the most schizophrenic heroines in the world, screwing up a storm one second and the next getting all boo-hooey over the fact that they screwed up said storm?

    Demand the best. Brandewyne. Purpler than purple prose.

    Sadly…erm…must admit that as a teen, I deliberately read her stuff.

    I got better! Really!

  32. Jess says:

    Oh dear Lord!  I thought you were exaggerating. Then I read the first chapter.

    Excuse me while I insert incredibly clunky exposition into my dialogue. And proceed to ramble for pages. 

    This would be better than coals in a Christmas stocking…

  33. Amy E says:


    You know, I started to pick phrases to snark, but I was spoiled for choice.  There’s just too much.  And looking back to pick the worst of the worst is too dangerous.  I escaped with my sight once.  I might not do so again.

    But… for the love of God, DID YOU SELL ENOUGH OPIUM?!?!?!

  34. Wry Hag says:

    Y’know, I had a chance the other day to buy up a few Cassie Edwards titles at ten cents a pop from my local resale shop.  Can’t kvetch about the price, but those books had such godawful faux Native American/Indian/red-man covers and titles (must’ve been part of a series) that I just couldn’t justify the expenditure.  I am not shitting you.  Thirty cents plus tax could buy me…well, probably something better than what those novels seemed to offer.

  35. dav says:

    My apartment building has a “community library” with textbooks the students leave behind (gems like “Macroeconomics for the 1980’s”) and there were three Cassie Edwards.  I read them all.

    One of them combines Indian *and* Chinese mythconceptions.  Oh, and the heroine becomes fluent in Chinese.  At age nineteen.  In less than a year.  Oh, and she wears a wig and powders her face, too.

    Somewhere in the back of my mind, my feminist prof is screaming about eroticization and Othering, but I can barely hear her because I’m consulting my Asian students about how I might pass.  So far they’re still laughing.

  36. suzycat says:

    Oh my God. I have to have this book.

  37. Dragoness Eclectic says:

    I refuse to believe this book could possibly be as bad as Jenkins & LaHaye’s “Left Behind” series. I will concede this may be the Worst Romance Novel Ever, though.

  38. Ifer says:

    Silly me.  I thought all of this was an exageration.  Then I too checked it out on Amazon.

    For the sake of all that is Holy! 

    This was published?

  39. sandra says:

    Awful as it sounds, I refuse to believe that it could be worse than Jude Devereux’s COUNTERFEIT LADY, which will always be the standard by which I judge bad ‘romance’ novels:  the ‘hero’ is a spineless drunk, the ‘heroine’ is a doormat who might as well have ‘Wipe Your Feet On Me’ tattooed on her forehead, and the villainess is fat. This is mentioned, over and over, as if that alone is proof of her evil.  Yeecch!

  40. Kevin Graham says:

    You really make me want to check out her books. And if this was your intro to romance and you hated it so much how did you end up writing for a romance readers site?

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