Dana reviews The Great Wall (Made in China Book 1) by Z. Allora (Published by Dreamspinner Press, January 9, 2018, 280 pages, 2nd edition) A copy was provided in exchange for an honest review.
Why I read this: Several reasons. I am a fan of Z. Allora’s writing. I love her Dark Angels series and one of the secondary characters in that series is going to appear in this series so I am so so excited. 😀 Also The Great Wall is a friends to lovers story in a place where their love is forbidden and I am a sucker for those tropes.
Made In China: Book One
Destiny will be decided by a battle between heart and mind….
Jun Tai “Styx” Wong loves two things: playing the drums, and his best friend, Jin. But being a good Chinese son means he can’t have either—he’ll have to marry a girl of his parents’ choosing and settle into a traditional job. His move to the bigger city of Suzhou is both a blessing and curse, as living with Jin makes it harder for Styx to suppress his desires. Nearly dying while trying to eradicate his feelings serves as a wake-up call for Jin, who takes extreme measures to keep Styx safe from harm.
When given a second chance at life and happiness, will Styx be able to claim the future he wants with Jin, his bandmates, and his music? Can love and hope grow with the constantly looming threat of Styx’s parents ordering him home? Great things await—if Styx finds the courage to break down the wall that stands between him and everything he wants.
The Great Wall is a very good introduction to this series. It is a little slow going and takes place over a long period of time. Styx had feelings for Jin when they were younger but learning how wrong it is to love another man in his country makes him repress those desires. Time passes and we see the two men grow and become adults.
Z. Allora showcases her knowledge of Chinese culture and sights in this book very well. The culture demands that Styx has an obligation to his family. He must marry and have children because each generation must take care of the one before it. He is set to enter into a loveless marriage but his friend Jin has a way for Styx to at least temporarily hide from his destiny. They go to Suzhou to work and eventually they meet Indigo and Li and explore making music. Jin isn’t held to the same standards as Styx because his father is German and his mother had passed away. But he has hidden feelings for Styx all the same.
It is a slow burn romance and the infrequent moments of sexual content between Jin and Styx is appropriate for their upbringing and where they live. There is a bit of kink in the way Jin shows his possessiveness of Styx. I could understand Styx’s reluctance to further their mutual desire because he didn’t want to hurt them both more than they already would. They can’t resist though and I really liked watching them drop their inhibitions a little. Now I know that the author would not leave her characters without a happy ending but when Styx has to return home, I began to worry how it would all be sorted out. It does though, and in a surprising way.
There is more to the story as the band begins to play and find a lead singer. This story doesn’t include their rise to fame, but I am hoping it will happen soon. The side characters are great. Li and Indigo are also in a relationship, but an open one. I have no objections to open relationships. I am curious about the dynamics and like to read about them, but only if they are working for both characters. In this book I don’t really think it is working for either of them honestly, so I am really looking forward to their story. The lead singer Tian Di is fun and interesting. Li and Jin’s uncles are friends in this story and they seem to be there for the band members.
All in all, this is a very good set up for the series. It is a bit slow going, but I can see how it might pick up in the future. I am very excited to check out the next books when they come out and definitely recommend this book and author.
8.5/10 pots of gold equivalent to 85% recommended or 4.25 of 5 stars
Z. Allora believes in happily-ever-afters for everyone. Z. met her own true love through the personals and has traveled to over thirty-three countries with him. She’s lived in Singapore, Israel, and China. Now back home in the USA, she’s an active member of PFLAG and a strong supporter of those on the rainbow in her community. Z. wants to promote understanding and acceptance through her actions and words. Writing rainbow and yaoified romance allows her words to open hearts and change minds.
Facebook: Z Allora Allora