The Perfect Tea Thief
Robert Fortune detests the Celestial Kingdom and its people the minute he lands in China after the devastating Opium Wars in 1843. Under the guise of a plant hunter for the British Horticultural Society, his secret mission is to steal China's secrets of tea production, a brazen act of industrial espionage that will devastate China's 5,000-year-old civilization. He audaciously ventures into prohibited lands to collect flowers, plants, seeds, and birds. Seduced by the Flowery Land, he pursues exquisitely beautiful Jadelin from the House of Poe, unaware she is trained as a warrior as is everyone in her family who attempts to sabotage his every move and destroy him. The Perfect Tea Thief is a tale of deceit and lies, in a country of tradition crumbling under the powers of industrialization in a clash of Empires.
Advance Praise for The Perfect Tea Thief
"When haughty Scottish gardener Robert Fortune, who hated everything about China, set out for the Middle Kingdom during the Opium Wars as an employee of the British Horticultural Society and under the pretext of collecting flowers, he didn't anticipate that a formidable slip of a girl-warrior, Jadelin of the powerful House of Poe, would capture his closed heart.
Presuming himself immune to the power of love, Fortune pursues a secret mission that will, if successful, enable Britain to steal the secrets of China's coveted teas that had enabled its economy to prosper and dominate the tea industry. The deeper Fortune ventures into the forbidden inland mountains, the more he is seduced by the country he scorns until he, too, dresses and acts like the Chinese and speaks their language. He pursues Jadelin, oblivious of her deadly skills to protect her 5,000 year-old culture, and befriends her brother, unaware that he will prove to be both his savior and enemy.
The Chinese have a saying, "You don't know where you're going if you don't know where you've been." The Perfect Tea Thief takes the reader back to the source of the tensions today between China and the West in a fast-paced and captivating read based on the real life and letters of Robert Fortune."
—Barbara Bundy, PhD
Founding Executive Director Emerita, University of San Francisco Center for Asia Pacific Studies