CORNERED TIGRESS - Jade Lee
Tigress Series, Book 5
Shanghai, China - Late 1800's
Su Jian Lie learns from his Number One slave that Tan Kui Yu and his wife, the Tigress of Shanghai, have been arrested. That leaves his property and all his business contacts open for a man strong enough to take them. Only Little Pearl, an instructor at the Tigress school, is left behind. Surely, he can use fear or seduction to overcome Little Pearl and enlarge his already overflowing coffers. But Little Pearl is strong when faced with the sudden disappearance of Kui Yu and his wife. It falls to her to run everything, and most important of all, keep soup cooking in the kitchen. Born a Chinese aristocrat with bound feet, Little Pearl has a past she tries to alternately forget and despise, and now a fear of the future. How can one woman handle everything?
Captain Jonas Storm has come into Shanghai with his regular cargo, and a secret cargo Kui Yu helps him sell for much profit. When everything is confiscated by Customs Official Chen, Jonas needs Kui Yu to sell his hidden cargo before his ship and his life end up in ruins. But when Jonas finds Kui Yu gone and probably arrested, the sight of Little Pearl trying bravely to run things makes him offer to help her in exchange for the list of Kui Yu's contacts who would buy his goods.
In CORNERED TIGRESS, two more different characters for a novel cannot be considered. Little Pearl, a former prostitute and now a practitioner of the Tigress sect, and Jonas, an English sailor who has forsworn pleasures of the flesh because of his history. Jonas's mother died a whore, and despite living with his brother the clergyman for several years, the lure of the sea was too much, and Jonas left England forever. The road to their relationship is fraught with beatings, poisoning, and danger behind every turn.
To enter the sect of the Tigress, you must suspend your inner reality and let yourself be transported to a land of strange beliefs and a religion never talked of here in the United States. Women are trained to catch men's semen, or yang, for it makes them stronger. A trained Tigress can manage a man's dragon and capture all his power for herself, and as a trained Tigress, Little Pearl has no equal. Except when she meets Captain Jonas Storm. Even though he is a "white ghost," Little Pearl can feel he is different from other men. When he stays and helps her save the Tans' compound at risk to his own ship, the byplay between them is serious and yet touching. Together, can they reach Heaven and become Immortals?
Secondary characters are mainly Su Jian Lie, a man favored by the Emperor and a knowledgeable businessman who means to take over the Tans' property any way he can, including murder. Jonas's men from the ship have small parts to play, and his brother back in England is seen through letters that passed between them over the years. But mainly, Little Pearl and Jonas must come to terms with their differences, and yet try to explain the things that happen when they are together.
CORNERED TIGRESS is third in the TIGRESS series, after BURNING TIGRESS (June 2006) and DESPERATE TIGRESS (November, 2005) and I would say it stands alone. In fact, the explanation of the Tigress lifestyle is perhaps explained best here and helps us to learn just exactly what they strive for through sexual means. As always, this series is for the person who enjoys the unusual type of historical novel, one especially set in China in the late 1800's.