I love each new book this author writes in her Tang Dynasty series that just makes Ancient China and its people come to life for me. It doesn’t hurt that there is mystery, adventure, passion and colorful interesting characters. In this case, there is a tie to a previous book, The Sword Dancer, that is great for fans of that story, but this one can still be read as a standalone.
The story opens with Bao Yang still on a quest for vengeance against a ruthless warlord even after Yang’s assassination attempt failed and now he has a price on his head. He hopes to regroup and pull in the help of others who want the warlord taken down so he heads into the city to gain support from Magistrate Tan. Only Yang gets sidetracked by Tan’s bold and lovely daughter, Jin-Mei. He accidentally compromises her and agrees to her father’s insistence that he save her reputation.
Jin-Mei has been attracted to Yang since the first time she encountered him a few years before. She knows what sort of man he is, but even an older, wiser Jin-Mei still feels the pull toward Yang. She is not disappointed when they are forced to marry and dreams of a good marriage and a future. But then a shocking betrayal and Yang’s confession of the truth about his past and his need for revenge sends them on the run, hiding from the authorities. In spite of his confessions, Jin-Mei still wants her new husband and hopes to change his mind about revenge.
This story had all the good things I love about a Jeannie Lin Historical Romance. The settings were drawn like a work of art and I could easily picture the scenes. The layered plot and pace was nice with a variety of heart-stopping danger, quiet times, humor, passion, and the build up to a shocking climax. The main characters who share the narration are both engaging. They have to grow, learn and grow together. It was done well. Then there is the issues driving the plot. I loved the twists and turns of the story and was pleasantly surprised when familiar characters slipped in and out of the scenes: Han and Li Feng as well as Li Feng’s mysterious brother. I really want his story next.
The romance starts as an arranged marriage, but the author managed to balance the strong chemistry between the two and the need for them to get to know each other and grow their romance. The passionate scenes just sizzle even though Yang must teach his new wife the way of physical love. I liked how the natural tension of the story was handled. They are at odds over Yang’s revenge, but it doesn’t get angsty.
All in all, this was a fantastic story and I love the feel that I’ve just visited Ancient China for some romance and adventure. Historical Romance fans might want to pick this book/series up.
My thanks to Net Galley for the opportunity to read this book in exchange of an honest review.