I am sorry to say it, but this book reminded me of why I almost always avoid so-called Christian fiction. From the first page, it was as preachy as all get-out -- and that's unfortunate.
Elizabeth King, the protagonist, goes to work for Donaldina Cameron in Cameron's Chinatown mission. Miss Cameron was a crusader against human trafficking of young girls (some as young as 8) in the Chinatown brothels, and worked very hard to get them out.
Why is Elizabeth doing this? Well, she's interested in social justice -- even in 1908 -- but mainly she thinks she needs to be punished for having been seduced by the promises of an older man who has a great deal of power over her. The book is rife with Elizabeth being told, indirectly (because she keeps her secret) that she is worthless and needs to repent for what amounts to having been raped (there, I said it). Even the young man she meets, Charles McKinley, tells her he could never love a woman who "surrenders her virtue."
This is the worst kind of preachiness, to me. The author is clearly blaming women for their own harassment or rape ... which is absurd. Sure, the book takes place in 1908 ... when society as a whole still talked about "ruined women." But that didn't mean it was necessary for the author to gas on throughout the entire book about how certain Elizabeth is that God won't love her anymore.
It really is unfortunate, as I said above. The story of Donaldina Cameron's work is an important one, and the book touches on other issues like the Chinese Exclusion Act. This information is generally glossed over in history courses, and it needs to be talked about. I just wish it hadn't been talked about in this context.