Anna Thompson is a flawed but wonderful heroine, she is an opium addict in late nineteenth century China. In fact, the reader's first glimpse of Anna is during her opium high. Later Anna is on the run from her adopted father, an opium dealer, and the Empress's Enforcer, Zhi-Gang, who becomes both Anna's kidnapper then savior. Zhi-Gang is determined to rid China of opium and the trafficking of women which is the preferred method of payment for drug dealers. These are profound issues to tackle in a romance and Jade Lee portrays man's depravity and greed with real depth.
It is in this dark world that Anna is introduced to opium. She becomes an addict through horrible circumstances. Fortunately she is courageous and is desperate to quit her addiction and escape China.
Zhi-Gang captures her and is intent upon killing her when his soul is surprisingly stirred. At first, he is truly an unlikely hero, he is arrogant and unkind and has some racial bias. Quickly, though, his character shifts as he spends time with Anna. He finds her beautiful and fascinating and he recognizes her sharp mind, strength of character, and compassion. He is not blind to her addiction and is determined that she will not touch opium again. He is exorcising his own demons and Anna's troubles remind him of his own shortcomings. Therefore, he will do everything possible to assist her in her quest to leave China.
Anna is pragmatic and resigned. She wants to live and if it means sharing her life with the Enforcer, well, she will be obliging, so she is startled to realize that he can be charming and sensitive, moreover, he is her fierce guardian, and gentle lover. She falls in love in spite of herself.
There's lots of action in this novel but the romance never gets lost. The feelings these two have for each other are so moving that I reread passages. This is by far the best of Jade Lee's Tigress series.