The China Memoirs of Thomas Rowley

Written by Dean Barrett
Review by Bryan Dumas

Based on the once lost memoirs of Thomas Rowley, this novel takes the reader on an erotic and subservient journey through the Taiping Rebellion (1850–64). Rowley is an American soldier for hire serving in China under “the devil soldier” Frederick Townshend Ward. Within the first few pages, Rowley finds himself fighting, and then captured by, the Taiping women warriors – women who held a zealous grasp on the contorted Christian beliefs of the Taipings and ferocity in battle defending it. Upon his capture it is left to Taim Moi (Sweet Little Sister), a girl of no more than nineteen, to break Rowley like a horse is broken and mold him as her slave. Rowley endures beatings that leave his backside raw, the humiliation of being ridden naked like a horse, and the mischievous sexual slavery of Sweet Little Sister as she matures into a young woman. Despite it all, Rowley finds that he is falling in love with Sweet Little Sister and, in the end, is willing to sacrifice his own life to protect hers.

From a historical fiction perspective, The China Memoirs offers a unique perspective of the Taiping Rebellion, and Barrett’s command of Chinese history is strong. It is laced with folktales (a place called Peach Blossom Springs) and well-written battle scenes. But, it is also a candid exploration of the erotic worship one man will learn to have for his captor. Strongly recommended.