Harlequin Extreme Blaze, $4.99, ISBN 978-0-373-79378-5
Contemporary Erotica, 2008
The Tao of Sex catches my attention because it features a Chinese hero, a Hong Kong dude to be exact. Therefore, despite my allergy to Harlequin Blaze in general and my huge reservations about what I read in the back blurb, I decide to give this book a try.
Nathan Gao, a “walking Chinese sex god” according to the author, is a student at the University of Illinois. No doubt trying to put what he learns in his MBA classes to work, Nathan goes around putting up pamphlets advertising his services as an “experienced Dragon Master” who will teach you “the secrets of sexual immortality” for ten bucks per class. He’s holding those classes in one of those apartments in the block belonging to Tracy.
Our heroine, Tracy Williams, has a crush on Nathan but she also believes that she cannot allow those classes to be conducted on her premises. After all, when the authorities bust Nathan for holding such a class – and she knows it’s only a matter of time before they do – she may lose the university approved housing status of her apartment block. She has a brother’s tuition fees to support as well as her own, you know. Determined to evict that fellow from going around teaching people the secrets of sexual immortality, she spots him in class with several students of his, all of them topless, and oh my, what was she thinking again?
Because a woman who doesn’t approve of him holding such classes must surely be frigid, Nathan decides that the best solution to all their problems is him showing her the, er, secrets of sexual immortality and awakening her “tigress”. Seriously, I can’t stop laughing every time I type those phrases. I also have a hard time imagining that there is this temple in present day Hong Kong where these hot guys will awaken one’s “tigress”, but I have an even harder time imagining that these two characters, who spend most of their time early in the story moaning about not having enough money to get by, will easily find a sponsor who will pay Tracy’s flight ticket to Hong Kong so that she can learn at the temple how to let her immortal sexy tigress do tricks.
Why does Tracy need to go to Hong Kong, you ask?
Let Nathan explain:
“To progress as a tigress, you need to cut ties with the teacher. You cannot keep your energy – your personal power – if you give it to your instructor. You cannot use it to reach the immortal realm if you give it all to me.”
I’m sorry, but is that some kind of code for “I think we need to see other people”?
And, you know, I don’t get it. With all that agonizing about needing to make ends meet, these people spend more time having sex than looking for actual jobs. Nathan keeps saying that he could be making ten bucks per person by just letting women look at his bare torso, but I can’t help thinking that he could easily make more by stripping and dancing around a pole in a gay club. What, am I being too pragmatic? Let’s be real here, we Chinese are born knowing how to make money. Nathan is embarrassing his people by not realizing this sooner, I tell you. Wasting hours babbling to silly women about being immortal tigresses for thirty bucks or so a night – how silly. He can easily get more just shaking that behind at drunk randy patrons, even more if he go sign up as a “straight guy” at those online sex websites where people pay money to see “straight guys” go at each other. Seriously, Nathan is such a wimp for not coming up with these solutions.
What, this story? I’m sorry, perhaps it’s the fact that I am too familiar with Chinese culture to buy the mystique that the author is selling here, but I just find the whole “immortal tigress tao’ed my dragon” premise here a laugh-out-loud hoot. What works in the author’s historical romances is so ridiculous when it’s set in the present day. The problem with The Tao of Sex is that the story is merely a flimsy excuse to set up the whole tao-the-magic-dragon sex thing, so the reader has to appreciate all that eat-my-dragon thing to love this story. In the case of me and this story, I find myself laughing at the sheer hilarity of the sex scenes. It’s not the mechanics that get to me, it’s all that talk about dragons and immortals. I nearly caused the neighbors to call the cops when I positively howled in laughter at that part where Nathan in all seriousness insists that Tracy could have been a “goddess” because he can feel her “power”. I’m amazed that Tracy can keep a straight face while listening to him, but then again, Tracy is not exactly Marie Curie here. She’s better at being a martyr for her ungrateful brother and a blow-up doll for Nathan’s inner dragon than she is at thinking.
Still, at least this one makes me laugh so hard, so I’ll take all these golden sex kung-fu dragon dudes to those braindead sheikhs any day.