Sunday, 10 May 2015

Review: Captive Bride by Bonnie Dee

3 stars

Captive Bride by Bonnie Dee is a short and sweet historical romance set in San Fransisco in 1870.  Huiann was given away by her parents in China, with the expectation that she would be taken to America and marry a wealthy Chinese-American businessman.  But after a long steamship trip, she  quickly realises their naivety. She is not to be a wife, but a whore. When Huiann escapes from the luxurious brothel where is imprisoned, she is taken in by Alan, a local shopkeeper. Despite their lack of a common language, he offers her a position as his housekeeper and they build a relationship.  

I did enjoy Captive Bride, but I couldn't help but feel that it never really achieved its potential. It was largely memorable for its setting.  Having the two protagonists not being able to communicate in a shared language is always tricky, but I felt like the relationship between Alan and Huiann was rushed, and neither's characterisation was as strong as I would have liked. To me, this kept it in the realm of 'good' rather than 'excellent'. I also have some doubts about Huiann's protrayal, which I can't really put into words.

While I may have my doubts about the central relationship, the setting of the novel was deftly drawn and made for fascinating reading; I found the author's note that outlined the context of Chinese-American relations in this time to be one of the book's most interesting parts. 

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