Award-winning author Mary Jo Putney captivated the hearts of readers everywhere with her breathtaking hardcover debut, The Wild Child. Now, in her spectacular new novel The China Bride, she has created another brilliantly moving love story, and a very special heroine--a rare beauty torn between two cultures who valiantly struggles to discover the woman she is destined to be. Born to a Scottish father and now living in China, Troth Montgomery grew up speaking several languages and thinking of faraway England as home. Enduring life as a concubine, she never imagined that one day she would leave the Orient, arriving in bitter winter at the estate of a stranger--the brother of the man who had briefly been her husband. Kyle Renbourne, Viscount of Maxwell, had taken Troth as his bride shortly before his apparent execution in a Chinese prison. Now, as his widow, she is entitled to the home she always dreamed of but remains haunted by the memory of a dashing husband and the brief, forbidden love they shared.
Nineteenth-century China, England and Scotland are the settings for Putney's continuing saga of the Renbourne twins, Dominic and Kyle, begun in The Wild Child. There, Kyle handed over his unwanted betrothed, Meriel (a match arranged at birth), to his twin brother, Dominic, and escaped to Spain with his terminally ill mistress, Constancia. Ever since his true love's death, Kyle has been exploring the world. In 1832, he is in Macao. His father's health is failing, however, and Kyle plans to fulfill his lifelong dream of seeing the Temple of Hoshan, "an image of peace and unearthly beauty," then return to England to resume his duties as Lord Maxwell. Unfortunately, China is closed to all Fan-qui (foreigners) and Kyle must stay within the confines of the Canton Settlement, a narrow strip of warehouses serving as shipping point for all European and American trade companies. In order to sneak into the Chinese countryside, Kyle enlists the aid of Jin Kang, who he thinks is a young male Chinese interpreter. Jin is actually Troth Mei-Lian Montgomery, feisty daughter of a Scottish trader and Chinese concubine, who is forced to make her living by spying on "foreign devils." Kyle's rash escapade is predictably unsuccessful, as he is discovered and sentenced to death. He marries Troth (symbolically) and dispatches her to England to tell his family of his fate�which, of course, turns out to be different from what she imagines. In chapters alternating between Troth's experiences in England and flashbacks to her adventures with Kyle in China, Putney contrives an awkward tale, dependant for its drama on Kyle's belief that he can never love again, and on Troth's fear of rejection by Kyle's family. Though the conflict rarely grips, the sex scenes are adequately steamy, and Putney provides plenty of atmospheric details. (Aug.) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information. -- PUBLISHERS WEEKLY.
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July 30, 2001
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Excerpt from The China Bride by Mary Jo Putney
Shropshire, England December 1832
She hadn ' t expected it to be so cold. Troth Montgomery shivered as she stepped from the shabby hired carriage, pulling her cloak more closely against the bitter December wind. She ' d known that Britain lay far to the north, but a life spent in the tropics had left her ill-prepared for this bone-chilling climate.
Though she had yearned to reach the end of her long journey, now she was frightened at the prospect of meeting these strangers. Delaying, she asked the driver, ' This is really Warfield Park It is not what I expected. '
He hacked a cough into his gloved hand. ' Aye, it ' s Warfield, right enough. ' He hauled out her single carpetbag, dropped it onto the driveway beside her, then wheeled his horses to make a fast return to his home in Shrewsbury.
As the carriage rumbled past her, she caught a glimpse of herself in the window. Though she wore a sober navy blue gown, the most respectable and English-looking garment she owned, the reflection she saw was still hopelessly ugly, her dark hair and Oriental eyes blatantly foreign.
But she could not turn back. Lifting her carpetbag, she trudged up the steps of the sprawling, gabled structure. In summer the gray stones might appear mellow and warm, but in winter twilight, Warfield looked stark and unwelcoming. She didn ' t belong here ' she didn ' t belong anywhere.
She shivered again, this time not from the wind. The owners of this house would not welcome her news, but surely, for Kyle ' s sake, she would be granted a bed for the night, if nothing else.
Reaching the door, she banged the massive knocker, which was shaped like a falcon ' s head. After a long wait, the door was opened by a uniformed footman. His brows arched at what had turned up on his doorstep. ' The servants ' entrance is on the other side of the house. '
His scorn made her raise her head in a show of defiance. ' I am here to see Lord Grahame, on behalf of his brother, ' she said icily, her accent at its most Scottish.