McMAHON's book deals generally with literary developments in Chinese narrative fiction during the Ming and early Qing dynasties. These periods saw an increase in depictions of "behind-the-scenes" events, especially erotic activities. McMahon spends some time on romantic stories about love and sex between men and places these and other romances against the cultural background of a period that delighted in subverting conservative ideologies through literature. He points out, however, that while many of these stories celebrate love between males, at the end of most of them the protagonists must return to a "normal" life of marriage and children.