Martha MacNamara, a violin player, comes to San Francisco because her daughter Elizabeth called her. However, Martha doesn’t find Elizabeth – her daughter, a talented computer programmer, has disappeared. Martha meets an Asian gentleman, Mayland Long, who offers to help her. It turns out he is helpful indeed, with his wisdom of a 2,000 years old Chinese dragon. While they look for Elizabeth, a romance develops between the two.
Both Martha and Mayland are amazing in their own way. Martha is a person who doesn’t care about being rich or famous, she loves playing the violin and as long as she gets to do it, she doesn’t mind crashing on a friend’s couch. Another wonderful thing about Martha is a rare quality of accepting people the way they are.
Martha doesn’t tell anyone how to lead their lives; she doesn’t have “issues” (she’s never hysterical or demanding that everyone does what she wants them to do) or a chip on her shoulder. Martha is at peace with herself and at peace with the way other people are (of course, if someone tries to harm her daughter, she isn’t going to be nice). That enables her to accept a man who tells her that he is actually a Chinese dragon.
Mayland (his real name is Oolong, after the tea) seems mildly puzzled sometimes, because being in a human body is still new to him, but he accepts his fate with a calm attitude. The only thing he insists on is that he is a black dragon, with five fingers, not a green one with three or four fingers. Mayland doesn’t have any superpowers; while he seems very strong, it comes from his ability to use the full potential of the human body.
This ancient dragon in a human body doesn’t really know what to do with himself, how to lead his new life. He’s looking for a person stronger than himself, for someone capable of teaching him, and he believes he found such a person in Martha. Mayland seems innocent like a child sometimes; while he’s certainly not a child, he is quite inexperienced as a human.
While the idea of a Chinese dragon in San Francisco in 1983 seems silly, in this novel it comes naturally. There are no special effects; when Mayland Long speaks, he does it in a poetic way, so hearing him say he is a dragon sounds just as the way he sees himself.
Although this book is part urban fantasy, part romance, there are no sex scenes in it. Yes, Mayland Long falls in love with Martha, and she falls in love with him. The entire novel, in spite of the adventure and in spite of the romance, is in a tone too calm for a hot scene between the sheets. And it doesn’t need such a scene; the true action, the emotional one, is there.
If I was to take one book with me on a deserted island, Tea With the Black Dragon would probably be that book. Its calm, its wisdom, its wonderful, accepting characters would make great company. Of course, you don’t have to go to a deserted island to read this wonderful book; you can enjoy it in your own home (drinking tea while reading it is optional).