Format: .mobi (provided by Penguin Publishing through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review)
Release Date: August 6, 2013
A thoroughly English girl raised in Hong Kong, Julie Jane Parham has spent her entire life walking the line between two worlds. When her closest friend, Su Mi, becomes the victim of an arranged marriage gone horribly wrong, Julie travels to San Francisco in order to buy back her freedom and soon finds herself in over her head.
On a rescue mission of his own, Will Keegan uses his saloon, The Silken Angel, as a front to whisk Chinese prostitutes away from the city’s ruthless brothel owners to a life of freedom, risking his own hide in the process.
Sparring with a spirited British lady is the last thing Will Keegan needs, but he isn’t about to let lovely Julie throw herself headfirst into danger. And as the urge to protect her turns into something more, Will knows he must get Julie to trust him, or chance losing her forever…
Will Keegan is tortured by memories of his best friend Jame's first wife, whom he was desperately in love with and was devastated when she died. Terrified that he might be repeating the same mistake with Jame's second wife, he resigns from his position as vice president of the firm he runs with James, and moves to San Fransisco. There he sets up the Silken Angel Saloon as a front for his true purpose in the city: Rescuing girls who are being sold into prostitution.
Will is prepared for anything that might happen.
Except a nosy, red-haired woman named Julia Jane Parham (aka Julie).
Used to the meek, docile Chinese women, Will finds Julie's blunt speech, brazen manner and unflinching loyalty to her cause refreshing, even though he doesn't quite know how to handle her. He certainly doesn't know why she's going around asking questions that no missionary should be asking, but he does know she's likely to end up dead if she keeps asking them.
Raised as a lady, with all the refinements and luxeries money could afford in Hong Kong, Julie is every inch the lady. Believing that she was to be married to an honorable man when they arrived in California, Jane's friend, Su Mi was instead sold into prostitution in San Francisco. Without any hesitation, Julie embarks on a dangerous journey to rescue her friend from the cruel life she's been forced into. She just didn't count on meeting a man who could help her, or ruin her.
I enjoyed this story very much, author Rebecca Hagen Lee is new to me but I enjoyed the storyline and I especially enjoyed the heroine Julie.
While there is a romance developing between Will and Julie, A Wanted Man isn't all sunshine and rainbows, the grim circumstances enforce the sense of urgency and danger that Will and Julie face. Tragedy seems to follow these two around and though they've had their fair share of tough breaks, Will and Julie refuse to succumb to the negativity around them.
There's a lot of information to digest about the sale of innocent girls into the slave trade and for some readers it may make the overall pace of the story seem like a slow crawl. At times it seemed like A Wanted Man was more about inciting a response to what was being done to these girls rather than a romance. I felt a little guilty about wanting more of a romance between Will and Julie, like I was brushing off a very realistic conflict and victims in favor of the cat and mouse game between a man and a woman.
Then I mentally slapped and reminded myself that this was a romance novel and it's okay to want more romance between the two lead characters.
A Wanted Man was an interesting read for me. The conflict wasn't a so much a person but a situation that had to be stopped at all costs. Parts of the book were less predictable than the romances I'm used to reading and did make me tear up at times. The second book in a series, it can be read as a stand alone without fear of major spoilers.
Just FYI, the hero of the first book is Will's best friend James, and may offer more insight to Will's motives and character. I plan on reading that book soon.