In presenting an interesting premise for a sensual read, the plot centers around the Taoist ideal of `enlightenment through ectasy, through rigid control of the body and mind, etc.'. With this in mind, the reader will not be disappointed.
In 1898 China, Shi Po had devoted her life to that Taoist ideal. As a tantric sex teacher, and a famous Tigress, she had aspired to that ideal of immortality, yet it was two of her students who seemed to have found their way to immortality and heaven. What disturbed her more than anything was that these two former students were white barbarians! Feeling a complete failure, as well as having brought danger to her family by sheltering a monk, her greatest wish was to die. One man would deny her final wish - her husband Tan Kui Yu.
Kui Yu wasn't quite sure why it was so important to him but he knew that he and Shi Po had to attain Heaven together, in spite of the threat of a powerful General who threatened their lives. Being jailed together, gave them the chance to discover that happiness and heaven could only be attained through discovering and admitting to their own secret of love.
*** The portrayal of a woman's life in China was an eye opener and some of the practices of the wealthy, specifically binding a female childs feet was so barbaric that it seemed to take away some of the enjoyment from the romance aspects. Kui Yu, was a strong lead and while he had the utmost respect for his wife - an unusual aspect for an oriental man - he was that rare and unusual type of husband, gentle and kind who would do anything to save his family. The growth of the relationship between Shi Po and Kui Yu was brilliantly built to a satisfying conclusion as he strived to probe the mind of Shi Po. This was very sensual and a good story, but as a stand alone I feel it would have been much more enjoyable and easier to follow if I'd read the prequels first.