A WANTED MAN – Rebecca Hagan Lee
San Francisco – 1874
Will Keegan needs to move on. For years Will has been working for his best friend, Jamie Craig, as the supervisor for Craig Capital, a banking firm based in Hong Kong. Now in California, Will has realized that his growing affection for Jamie's wife is dangerous, as dangerous as the love he had for Jamie's first wife, the late Mei Ling. Will knows if he stays it will just get worse as he sees the happiness Jamie and Elizabeth share with their adopted Chinese daughters. But when he tenders his resignation to Jamie, it doesn't go as Will planned. Instead he agrees to take over a side business in San Francisco—one of rescuing the many Chinese girls who have been shipped to the city for all the wrong reasons.
Will finances and builds a saloon, the Silken Angel, as a front to smuggling the girls he purchases from brokers out of the area and into safe places. One day, however, a zealous missionary, singing Bringing in the Sheaves at the top of her voice, smashes the front window of his saloon, and Will gets into a situation where he will have to keep his emotions in check.
Born in England, but raised in Hong Kong, Julia Jane Parham, the daughter of a Royal Navy officer, has traveled to San Francisco to find her best friend, Su Mi. But when she arrives in California, she realizes how difficult it will be. The “marriage” that was arranged by Su Mi's uncle was a sham, and she was sold to a broker upon her arrival in the United States. Julie goes to the Salvationists where she sheds her expensive clothes to don a grey dress and take a tambourine into the streets to try and infiltrate some of the saloons where Chinese girls are taken to be used as prostitutes. That's how she meets Will Keegan.
Will and Julie don't exactly warm to each other after she breaks his window. But when he realizes that she is putting herself in danger, his protective instinct kicks in. It may be too late, though, when Li Toy, the powerful Chinese woman who buys and sells girls, contracts her paid San Francisco police officer to track down and kill Julie.
A WANTED MAN tells the story of not only the two well-meaning lead characters, but of the dark history of the Chinese slave trade that blossomed in San Francisco after the Gold Rush. Both Will and Julie, who speak fluent Chinese, must penetrate the dangerous streets of China Town to save not only Su Mi, but as many other unfortunate girls as possible.
Excellent research, well rounded characters, and the backdrop of the back streets of San Francisco make A WANTED MAN a terrific read.