Saturday, September 7, 2019

BLOG TOUR - Dragon Lady

Today is my stop on the Blog Tour for Dragon Lady by Autumn Bardot.


Prostitution required the violation of my body. Piracy required my soul. The first enslaved me. The second set me free.

A young girl is taken from her home and sold into slavery to a floating brothel. Xianggu begins as a servant, but soon her virginity is bought by the highest bidder. Ambitious and determined, she learns the business in hopes of earning her freedom from the madam. Her dreams are washed away when a midnight pirate raid changes her life.

Kidnapped by the notorious Red Flag boss, Xianggu embarks on a journey that demands beauty, brains, and brawn. But Xianggu must do more than learn to wield a sword, sail a ship, and swim across the bay, she must become indispensable to the pirate boss if she hopes to survive. The winds, however, never blow in the same direction, and Xianggu must make a decision that requires her to battle jealous men, ancient prejudices, and her own heart.

The triumph of the notorious Zheng Yi Sao is a sexy, fierce, and unflinchingly realistic story of how a prostitute became the most powerful and successful pirate in the world.

In 18th century China, when men made and enforced the rules, the Dragon Lady lived by her own.


Title:   Dragon Lady
Author:  Autumn Bardot
Genre:   Historical Fiction
Publisher:  Flores Publishing
Format:  Kindle ARC
No. of Pages:   444
Date of Publication:   August 1, 2019
My Rating:   4.5 Stars

From daughter of a peasant to prostitute to pirate in 18th century China. When Xianggu is sold as a slave at the tender age of 13, she is forced to become a prostitute for several years. Resigned to live the life of the lowest class, her life becomes tedious. Xianggu was a fighter. She plots but cannot seem to change her fate.  

Xianggu starts off in the hands of Madam Xu. The madam works Xianggu incredibly hard, and even goes a step further. This is by training Xianggu in the skill of paper cutting. Beyond that, Madam Xu and her girls are working on a flower boat, which is simply a term for a brothel. Xianggu's skills become that of a different nature altogether. 

The flower boat is eventually attacked and although Xianggu's life is spared, many others die, including Madam Xu. This puts Xianggu into the hands of a man on a new boat, and he is Zheng Yi Sao, 
captain of the Red Flag. Zheng Yi is enamored with Xianggu, so much so that he makes her his wife. 

Yes, so much has happened to Xianggu. Her life was never easy, and being Zheng Yi's bride has some advantages. However, there are still many troubles facing her. Xianggu is rather adept at using each and every experience to her advantage, and eventually makes history. She becomes a chieftain, a pirate, a female leader. Yes, she is The Dragon Lady.

What an incredible story! This time in history, with life on the high seas, was wrought with danger, so the story is not pretty at times.  Despite the intensity laid before us, I simply could not put this book down. The pacing never lets up, and there is romance, intrigue, action and so much more. 

What I found to be even more impressive than the story and the incredible writing, however, is the extremes that the author, Autumn Bardot, went to in her research. Although this is a fictional story, Ms. Bardot has used real historical people and experiences as a basis for Dragon Lady. Quite naturally, the author takes on her own creative flair in order to turn history of this sort into pleasurable reading. I highly encourage readers of this book to read the Author's Notes at the end.

Many thanks to Flores Publishing and to HFVBT Blog Tours for this ARC to review. This is my honest opinion.

Please enjoy the following excerpt:

The moneylender’s announcement seemed to double the people, noises, and odors. In an instant the dock became my whole world. Anyone could buy me. The old man striking one coin against the other and holding it to his ears. The man and woman who pointed to our little group and shook their heads. The young husband in need of a kitchen slave. Anyone.
“Come.” The moneylender jerked the rope tethered at our ankles.
We shuffled behind him.
It was then that I noticed the difference between the straggly gray hair hanging from the moneylender’s chin and his too-thick queue black as a moonless night. Only the vainest of men wore a false queue.
The moneylender stopped, held a hand to his brow, and stared into the harbor.
I followed his gaze and my pulse quickened. So many boats! Small crude sampans, ornate long dragons, boats with one, two, and three masts—some so tall they touched the sky. Boats for fishing. Sampans for carrying cargo. Floating islands of boats, boats, boats.
We waited in the sun while the muttering moneylender tapped his foot. My body had just begun to sway with fatigue when a pale middle-aged woman approached and snapped me to attention.
She was rich; her skin powdered white, her lips dabbed with red, her arched eyebrows plucked thin. Atop a gauzy dress, she wore a red robe embroidered with peonies and birds. Behind her, a young girl held a purple tasseled umbrella over her head.
“What do you have for me, uncle?” The rich woman’s haughty tone sounded nothing like the humble quiet voices of Mama and the other women in my village.
“Healthy strong boys and girls.” The moneylender pointed to Mei. “This one has bound feet—poorly bound feet—but since she’ll spend most of her time on her back it won’t matter.” He let loose a throaty laugh, dislodged thick yellow phlegm, which he spit on the ground.
The woman’s pale hand grabbed Mei’s face, and her long, pointed nails dug into Mei’s cheeks. The woman clicked her tongue as she turned Mei’s head this way and that. “Open your mouth. Ugh, crooked teeth,” she said the moment Mei opened wide. “Ugly skin.” She patted Mei’s breast. “Plum-sized.” She pinched Mei’s ear. “Are you a virgin?”
Mei’s lips quivered. “I’m only fourteen years.” The woman smacked her cheek. “I didn’t ask your age.” She scowled at the moneylender. “Is she deaf or stupid?”
“I’m a virgin,” Mei whimpered, tears welling in her eyes.
The woman shifted her attention to me, her eyes moving downward. “Hideous feet!”
I shrunk back, curled my toes.
The woman gripped my chin, examined my face. “Open.” She nodded approvingly as she inspected my teeth. “This one is ugly. Good for nothing but a serving girl. No man will want such an ugly beast, but since her feet are big she’ll make a sure-footed slave. I’ll buy this one and the one with bound feet.”
The moneylender and the woman haggled over the price. Mei’s was double mine.
“Don’t be afraid,” I whispered to Mei as the moneylender untied the rope around our ankles.
The woman slapped my cheek. “That’s for your insolence. Slaves must be silent.” She next struck Mei with an open hand. “That’s for the bad fortune of having a talkative friend.” She pulled a red ribbon from her sleeve, wrapped it around our wrists, connecting us together like a double gift.
“I am Madam Xu,” she said as we followed her across the quay. “If you’re dutiful and not worthless your life will be agreeable enough. If you displease me or show a surly face, I’ll throw you into the sea where if you’re lucky you’ll be eaten by a big fish before you drown.”
Madam Xu stopped before a brightly painted sampan covered by a curved rattan canopy strung with red tassels. A girl holding an oar waited at the rear.
Madam Xu stepped into the sampan and sat on a carved chair with the air of an empress. “Get in. Be quick about it.”
The girl holding the umbrella pushed us forward. Despite the gentle rock and heave of the sampan, I boarded it without stumbling, my bare feet wide and steady. But Mei, with her tiny bound feet, lost her balance. She tumbled into me and, since we were tied together, I fell down with her.
“You must learn to walk on a boat. Clumsy girls make no money.” Madam Xu pointed to the floor. “Sit.” She uncoiled Mei’s braid and spread it over her shoulders. “Coarse like straw. My girls will show you how to make it feel like the finest silk.”
The umbrella-holding slave picked up an oar and together the two girls rowed us into the floating mass of red, green, blue, and orange. Each brightly painted boat was crowded with possessions. Some were little more than crude barges stacked with bamboo cages and old crates. Others had baskets hanging down the sides. Their rattan roofs went from end to end.
As we glided through the floating throng, we passed two women balanced on a ledge, their posture as natural as though standing on a street corner. On the other side, three naked brown-as-dung children leapt from their boat, splashing and playing. More life was squeezed into this bobbing water town than my village.
“Do you sing?” Madam Xu directed her question at Mei.
Mei nodded.
Madam Xu’s face puckered with skepticism. “Do you play an instrument?”
“The lute,” Mei said with more enthusiasm than I had ever heard.
Madam Xu smiled and nodded. “Did your mother teach you to dance?”
“Mother died when I was young.” Mei’s face clouded as she stared down at her hands. “My amah taught me only a few.”
“Feet too big to be silver lotus and not quite accomplished.” Madam Xu sighed. “Why did your father sell you?”
Mei’s face colored with shame. “To buy more opium.”
“It’s ruined many men.” Madam Xu picked up a wide fan, whacked it over my head, and then dropped it into my lap. “I’m hot.”
I fanned with a steady rhythm until our sampan veered into a narrow waterway. The smell! I cringed. I was used to the sweet perfume of blossoming oranges trees, not the stench of brine, fish, and sweat. My perfect fanning faltered. I would have pinched closed my nose, but I dare not risk offending Madam Xu.
Mei, however, clapped her hand over her nose.
Madam Xu swatted Mei’s hand away. “That’s the smell of money, stupid girl.”
Money!? It was the smell of Water People, wicked worthless sea gypsies forbidden to live with good people on the land. Mama said they had webbed toes and breathed underwater.
I stole a look at Madam Xu’s feet, but they were hidden beneath her dress. Madam Xu looked nothing like a Water Person. Nothing like the dark-skinned skinny men who wore only short wide pants. And nothing like the tired-faced women in their loose plain tops, not a stitch of embroidery or button to be found.
Madam Xu was definitely not a Water Person. Those bad people wore dŏulì on their heads. Or leaf hats. A few men had turbans. Everyone was barefoot. But I did not see a webbed foot among them. Amid the splashes and clatter, I caught snatches of their conversations, a coarse, vulgar dialect with many unfamiliar words.
Madam Xu pointed. “Your new home.”
Mei grabbed my hand and squeezed tight while my mouth hung open in disbelief.

Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, September 2
Review at Gwendalyn’s Books
Review at Books In Their Natural Habitat

Wednesday, September 4
Friday, September 6
Review at Coffee and Ink
Saturday, September 7
Review & Excerpt at Robin Loves Reading

Tuesday, September 10

Excerpt at Maiden of the Pages

Thursday, September 12
Review & Excerpt at The Book Junkie Reads

Friday, September 13
Review at A Chick Who Reads

Monday, September 16
Review at 100 Pages a Day

Wednesday, September 18
Review at Locks, Hooks and Books

Friday, September 20
Feature at Historical Fiction with Spirit

Monday, September 23
Review at Beth’s Book Nook Blog

Wednesday, September 25
Excerpt at BeadyJans Books

Friday, September 27
Feature at CelticLady’s Reviews

Monday, September 30
Review at Passages to the Past

Thursday, October 3
Review at Al-Alhambra

Friday, October 4
Guest Post at Passages to the Past

Saturday, October 5
Feature at Broken Teepee

Monday, October 7
Guest Post at Myths, Legends, Books & Coffee Pots


During the Blog Tour, we are giving away a paperback copy of Dragon Lady! To enter, please use the Gleam form below.
Giveaway Rules
– Giveaway ends at 11:59 pm EST on October 7th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
– Giveaway is open to the US only.
– Only one entry per household.
– All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspicion of fraud will be decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion.
– The winner has 48 hours to claim prize or a new winner is chosen.


Autumn Bardot writes historical fiction and erotica about sassy women and daring passions!

Her erotic fiction includes Legends of Lust, Erotic Myths from around the World, published by Cleis Press. Confessions of a Sheba Queen (erotica) will be available Jan 2020.

The Impaler’s Wife is her debut historical fiction, released in April 2019.

Autumn has a BA in English literature and a MaEd in curriculum and instruction. She’s been teaching literary analysis for fourteen years

When Autumn’s not writing or working, you’ll find her hanging out with her ever-growing family, spoiled husband, and pampered rescue pooch. Her favorite things include salty French fries, coffee, swimming, and a great book.




  1. You are awesome! I am thrilled that you enjoyed Dragon Lady & we thank you for the great review & for hosting the tour!

    HF Virtual Book Tours

  2. This sounds intriguing. I do love a good pirate story.
    Gemma @ Gemma's Book Nook

  3. Great review. The book sounds interesting.

  4. Great review, this book looks and sounds absolutely amazingly fantastic, I'm glad you fully enjoyed reading this book. Thank you so much for sharing your awesome post.

  5. Looks like a good book, but not for me.