Dragon of Life (parts 1 and 2) by Mathew Macau Moon Tiger International There are people who deserve to inherit wealth through their generosity of spirit alone. They are the natural social aristocracy, people who have an eye for quality over ostentation, who appreciate the gentle art of conversation and yet who are willing to take a risk on a new venture. Luke Whitaker, the lead character in Mathew Macau's eight-part Dragon of Life series, has been moulded in this image. The well-educated, well-dressed scion of a Seattle hotel entrepreneur, Luke is not only a liberal tipper and a good listener, he's young and cuts a fine figure in a regimental tie as well. He trots the globe with little more than his good name, an American Express card and a passport in his top pocket. When we meet him, it's 1967 and Luke and his scuffed leather valise are landing in Honolulu to complete the sale of the last hotel in the family's chain. Over the decades the chain stretched from Valparaiso to Vancouver and Shanghai to Singapore but, in the last years of his life, Whitaker Senior broke up the accommodation empire and started selling the businesses to groups of local employees, rewarding them for their years of outstanding service. The Honolulu Pearl Trader, like Luke, is the last in the line. Here, at the end of this beginning, Luke meets Martha dressed in turquoise silk and is immediately captivated by her excellent cheekbones and the faintest possibility of catching a sniff of her hair. Martha, it turns out, knows her halyard from her ratline and has sailed to Hawaii on her 43-foot Scandinavian-built ketch from Auckland, where she was working as a nurse. Their time together in Honolulu is brief but a business card, a navigational error and some difficulties at sea throw them back into each other's orbit on the other side of the Pacific. Along the way, we meet Luke's entourage, which includes Adolph, a German driver who came into the family by way of South America; JJ, a creative accountant who doubles as a parent; and Mei Liew, a woman with more than business links to the past. The Dragon of Life series has the look of chick lit but the first two books at least belong to an older, more nostalgic category - the romance novel. The characters 'breeze', 'idle' and 'wisp' their way through scene changes, outfits and turmoil, and our sentimental hero is a one-damsel man, equally capable of landing a punch as ordering a sidecar. The books recall a faded age before mobile phones and online ticketing but they also wear their exposition heavily. The first one clunks under the weight of excerpts from Jack London novels and descriptions of Martha's ever-expanding wardrobe of slacks and blouses. The pace picks up in the second book, set in Hong Kong; the locations are familiar, even if it's hard to believe that people once worried so much about the ice in their drinks.