Shanghai Love by Layne Wong

Shanghai Love by Layne Wong
Publisher: She Writes Press
Genre: Action/Adventure, Historical
Length: Full Length (321 pgs)
Heat Level: sweet
Rating: 5 stars
Reviewed by Aloe

Shanghai Love is a gripping novel about the unlikely love story that develops between a Chinese herbalist and a Jewish refugee in Shanghai during World War II. Peilin is betrothed to Kwan Yao, the only son of a wealthy pearl farmer. However, months before their wedding, Yao is killed by the Japanese in the Nanjing Massacre. The Kwans insist on proceeding with the wedding and beautiful Peilin is married to a ghost husband. When an uncle passes away, Peilin is sent to Shanghai to manage the Kwan family herbal shop. Meanwhile, in Berlin, Henri graduates from medical school just as Hitler rises to power and unleashes prejudice and violence against the Jewish population. He flees to Shanghai where he’s befriended by Ping, a young disfigured rickshaw driver. Ping introduces Henri to his sister Peilin. Through her kindness, Henri becomes fascinated with Chinese herbs as well as the exotic culture surrounding him. Shanghai Love is a classic story of love’s triumph over adversity.

This story caught my attention because one of the main characters was married to a ghost. Her marriage was arranged years ago and by her wedding day, her potential mate had been killed in the war. I knew about arranged marriages, but not about ghost weddings. Can you imagine being wed, living in his parent’s home and serving his mother with no hope of a real wedding and life? I can’t!

Ms. Wong sets her story back in the 40’s when the Nazi’s were persecuting Jews. She peppers her story with weak people who become strong due to circumstances. That’s a very realistic way to look at life. Her words flow well and I felt like I was back in a simpler time when all that mattered was having enough to eat and a place to live.
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She makes her characters human. Each has suffered great sorrow, each is moving on because there is no other choice. Henri is Jewish and just barely escapes Germany with his life. He uses the single ticket available to go to Shanghai because his Uncle insists. Peilin has lost her family in a fire and sent to Shanghai to take over an herb shop and help people use herbal remedies for their problems. She’s also searching for her brother. He’s her last relative and she wants to reunite with him.

This romance is very sweet. He’s white and Jewish; she’s Chinese. Their own traditions keep them apart. They enjoy their time together but feel there is no hope for more. I really enjoyed how the author handled this part of the story. She shares Chinese traditions and makes them seem real. They were foreign to me, but I can see the beauty of their traditions.

Another thing that I learned from reading this story was that there were quite a few Chinese and Jewish refugees in Shanghai. I like reading books I learn from. I also really liked this romance. The author did a lovely job of teaching you some facts and making you love her characters. I was impressed enough with this story that the book is going in my personal library as a keeper.

Why don’t you give it a read and see what you think? I bet the author steals your heart, too, with this story.

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