Love Finds a Way


While researching the 1906 San Francisco earthquake, for my April book, HIS SUBSTITUTE BRIDE, I came across some amazing personal stories.  The story I’m about to share with you is one of my favorites.  This account is adapted from the book San Francisco is Burning by Dennis Smith. 

Miss Donalda Cameron of the Chinatown Presbyterian Mission had fifty Chinese and Japanese girls in her care, most of them rescued from terrible circumstances.  The younger ones had served as household slaves.  The older, teenaged girls had suffered an even worse fate.  Yuen Kim, the eldest of the girls, was pretty and bright.  Miss Cameron had arranged for her to marry a worthy young man named Henry Lai, an immigrant from China who’d settled in Cleveland Ohio.  The two had met six months earlier when Henry had come to San Francisco for an interview with Miss Cameron.  Even in that brief time, they’d grown fond of each other. 

The wedding was set for April 21.  At 6 a.m. on the morning of April 18, Henry arrived in San Francisco to sf-fire-1meet his bride.  The quake had occurred less than an hour earlier.  He found the city in chaos and beginning to burn.  The streets were filled with terrified people, and there was no sign of Yuen Kim or Miss Cameron.  In a panic, he ran from street, asking for them everywhere.  By the end of the first day, much of Chinatown had burned.  Henry knew he couldn’t give up.  His bride had to be somewhere.  She had to be alive. 

 Meanwhile Miss Cameron was doing her best to get her charges to safety.  Loaded with what they could carry, the girls marched in a tight line through the streets to the shelter of another church.  From there they planned to take the ferry to San Anselmo across the bay.   It’s possible they passed near Henry, but he failed to see them. 

After three days of searching, someone directed Henry to the mission.  He found it in flames, surrounded by soldiers, with no Chinese people in sight.  He tried to ask where Miss Cameron’s girls had gone, but between the noise and Henry’s poor English, he could get no help.  At last he found a man who looked like a minister, and he was able to make himself understood.  Miraculously, the minister knew where Miss Cameron had taken her girls.  He gave Henry directions to the ferry and to San Anselmo. 

When Henry reached the ferry, he found thousands of frantic people trying to get on.  One boat left without him.  He fought his way forward to the next boat.  A sailor, seeing his desperation, opened the gate just enough for him to slip through.  He made it to San Anselmo and found his bride.  Henry and Yuen Kim were married that day, April 21, in an ivy covered chapel.  After the wedding, they boarded a train back to Cleveland and a new life.  As Donalda Cameron would write, “…So romance with its magic touch helped us for a time to forget our great losses.”  

substitute-bride-coverSpeaking as a romance writer, that last sentence says it all.

And now to my question, why do you read/write romance?  How do these romantic stories enrich your life?



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32 thoughts on “Love Finds a Way”

  1. Hi Elizabeth, What a wonderful story. Love the quote at the end. I write / read romance because I really do believe in “Happily Ever After.” My parents were married 44 years before my dad passed on. My inlaws are at 52 years. My husband and I will celebrate 29 years next month. Amazing! Marriage isn’t always easy, but it’s worth it. I sure like knowing my husband has my back and I have his.

  2. Good morning, everyone. Goodness, you’re an early bird, Vicki! Congratulations on the long, happy marriages in your family, especially your own 29 years. I, too am a believer in happy endings.

  3. This was a truely amazing story. I think that is why I have always been drawn to reading romance, because they make you believe that true love does exsist. I believe that true love does conquer all. That true love you will get through anything that life throws at you.

  4. Good Morning Elizabeth and Fillies!

    I’ve missed you all so much and what better time to drop by and post than today, with such a lovely example of true love!

    I read, write, live romance for this very reason…the hope and the PROMISE of everlasting love and Happy-Ever-After.

    No matter how many stories I read/write I still find the story of Jesus’ love as the example of what love should be…to give one’s self so completely…isn’t that what we do?

    Isn’t that what our characters do?

    I think so as do so many others – which is why the romance genre is the highest selling in the industry – next to the bible 🙂

    Great post!

  5. Wow, what beautiful comments Kathleen and Pam. Your belief in the everlasting power of love and the promise of Happily Ever After is inspiring.
    Thank you for making my day!

  6. ELIZABETH!!!!!!!!!!! I love that story.
    I’ve got chills.
    Although it’s possible some moron turned the air conditioner on in my building. April in Nebraska and air conditioning is just not a good idea.

    Still…….I’m sure it’s your story. 🙂

  7. What a beautiful story. I, too, read romance as an escape from the reality of life. To go to a place where I know everything will end, if not perfectly, at least the way that it is supposed to, and for sure, happily.

    I’m so looking forward to His Substitute Bride – I loved The Borrowed Bride. And what a fabulous setting.

  8. Hmmm. Maybe what you need is a really HOT story, Mary. No suggestions, mind you. And here in Salt Lake City, we have SNOW on the ground this morning. This storm is supposed to be moving East so tell the moron to turn of the AC.

  9. I read for escape, too, Lori and anon1001. I love books that transport me to another time, another setting, or even let me be another person having a thrilling experience. Maybe that’s why I love historicals.

  10. P.S. I find it interesting that in these dismal economic times, romance books are still selling. People seem to need romance, escape and happy endings more than ever.

  11. Hi Elizabeth, I just loved Yuen and Henry’s story. Set amidst the chaos of that earthquake, it’s almost like fiction!

    I read and write romance because I love happy endings. So in my opinion, Gone with the Wind isn’t a romance.

    And I believe those happy endings happen in real life, too. I still remember the moment my hubby looked at me across a crowded room at a Christmas party. Yay. We’re been together ever since (37 years including 35 years of marriage this August). And that was after going to high school together where he was football team captain and I was a dork! (Apparently I blossomed during college 🙂

    So I gotta pass on that love somehow! Thanks for a wonderful post.


  12. I’m with all of you – love happy endings. Unless we are watching golf or Nebraska sports, the only thing my spouse & I agree on to watch are movies on the Hallmark channel. They always seem to have happy endings.

  13. Hmm–you’re right, Tanya, Gone With the Wind isn’t a romance, although it is a great escape. However your own love story sounds like a real romance. Congratulations on 37 years and on passing along the love.

    And thanks for your comment about the Hallmark movies, Sue. They always leave you feeling good, don’t they?

  14. Loved the post! I’m a romantic at heart and firmly entrenched in romance of all kinds. Great story about the Chinese man and woman in SF. I’m so glad they got their happy ending.

    I’ve tried to read other types of fiction but I always come back to romance. There’s nothing that gives me the satisfaction that romance does. I’m a sucker for a man and woman who search for and find love. I can’t imagine life without a deeply emotional connection with someone.

    Thanks for the beautiful story!

  15. Good morning Elizabeth – What a wonderful romantic story. It really touched me and shows everyone the power of love. It sort of reminded me of the movie Australia. I read romances for the HEA. I love to see people fall in love.

  16. My husband and I watch those Lifetime movies a lot, too. How interesting.
    He’s more a zombies and machines guns guy, which is when I leave the room with my book.
    But lately, he also can watch a good Lifetime Movie.
    Phew. My ear plugs were getting worn out.

  17. And thanks for your beautiful comments, Paty and Linda. I’ve heard and believe that a well-written romance story allows the reader to enjoy that emotional experience of falling in love and finding happiness all over again.

    And I didn’t think about “Australia” until you mentioned it, Charlene, but there are some similarities of the lovers searching for each other amid terrible disaster. Would love to see a San Francisco movie.

    Zombies and machine guns? LOL,Mary. What is it about men and why do we love them for it?

  18. Like in the Calgon advertisements, romance stories “take me away” from the everyday! A few of my favorite words on love: “Love…….always protects, trusts, hopes, and preserves. There is nothing love cannot face.”

    This is a big anniversary year for our family: Honey and I celebrated our 48th anniversary last week, son Joel and his wife Tiffany celebrated their 19th last week, daughter Missy and her husband Vincent will celebrate their 19th in November!

    Pat Cochran

  19. Elizabeth. . .

    What a charming post. I started writing before I read a “romance.” When I decided to shop around my first novel, I took a course in publishing a novel, and one of the speakers was from RWA. As she talked, I realized that my book WAS a romance. I was writing hope, love, challenge, overcoming odds, and happy ever after. I couldn’t write anything else. Romance exists and prospers because it creates smiles. Just like this story.

  20. Congratulations on the anniversaries, Pat C. Sounds like there’s plenty of love going on in your family.

    And I love what you said about romance creating smiles, Pat P. I started out writing big epic historicals but they always had romance in them and that was my favorite part. What a blessing for us all that someone with your storytelling gift took up writing!

  21. What a great story! The Chinese had such a struggle to even come to America. Makes one wonder about Henry, how he came here and why he settled in Ohio. I’m so glad he found his bride.

  22. Thanks, Kathi. I’ve wondered about Henry, too, and would love to see a photo of him and his bride. She would have her own story, too, probably a very sad one before being rescued. Thanks so much for joining us today.

  23. What a great story Elizabeth! I read romance for the happy endings. We all need these in our lifes.

  24. Hi Elizabeth! What a heartwarming story and great blog. Love makes the world go ’round. That’s why I read and write them.

  25. Thanks Quilt Lady and Kate. Glad so many of you enjoyed this true story with a happy ending.
    True or fictional, I agree that we all need happy endings in our lives.

  26. It is nice to escape our chaotic but ordinary lives for a while. I especially like historical and time-travel romances because history is a favorite of mine. I know what today is like, I want a window into another time and place. Romance is a part of life and a good way to view a period in time. As your story of Henry, Miss Cameron, and her girls shows, we can see the events from a different and personal perspective. You can learn much from the way personal relationships were structured and managed in society at any time.

  27. Didn’t get your comment till this morning, Pat, but it’s a real keeper. So much food for thought. I love historicals and time travel for the same reason you do–A couple of years ago I wrote an entire Western time travel. No editor would buy it. How I wish those books would come back. But everybody just wants vampires.
    Thanks again for your very thoughtful comment.

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