In the year 1900, amid China being torn asunder by the Boxer Rebellion, seventeen-year-old Lotus Shang is kicked out of her house for coming out as a lesbian. When her parents are murdered, her six-year-old sister Jade is left in her care. Aided by Lotus’s spirit guide, a shape-shifting ghost named Huli Jing, they travel to New York City in search of a new beginning.
They find refuge in a bordello called The Night Sky, where Lotus becomes romantically involved with a young female Persian beauty who also works there named Desert Rose, and also becomes best friends with an African-American transvestite courtesan named Black Velvet. Amid backstabbing, xenophobia, sibling rivalry, pettiness, bitterness, and sabotaging, Lotus strives to do right by her sister, no matter the cost. Their story begins in Streets of Gold. Living a lie is hard, but living truthfully is even harder.