Review: Butterfly Swords by Jeannie Lin

Posted July 17, 2018 by Sophia Rose in Reviews / 26 Comments

Review: Butterfly Swords by Jeannie Lin
Butterfly Swords

One StarOne StarOne StarOne Star

Series: Tang Dynasty #1
Genres: Historical Romance
Published by Harlequin Historicals
Released on October 1, 2010
Pages: 288
Format: Paperback
Source: Purchased

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The Delight

Years ago, I picked up My Fair Concubine which is book three in the Tang Dynasty series.  I fell in love with this colorful and culturally rich Asian historical romance.  I went on to read each new release from the author, but never went back for the earlier books in the series.  Until now…


Butterfly Swords is the debut book in the series and maybe for the author as a whole, but it didn’t read like an early effort.  It was as tight and lavish with setting, historical backdrop, characters, and plotting as any of the later ones.  The Tang Dynasty is a series that can be enjoyed in any order though there are faint trails of connection from book to book.

This story opens with a young princess who was all set to do her duty by family and the empire in going into an arranged marriage with a powerful political rival of her father’s to secure him as an ally.  All that ends abruptly when she learns that he was involved in the death of one of her brothers and he’s an enemy of her father for the Chinese imperial throne.  She has to warn her family of this betrayal so skips out on her wedding journey.  Right when she’s about to be captured by bandits, she is rescued by none other than a blue-eyed barbarian from outside the kingdom with his own issues.  The unlikely pair team up and have harrowing adventures and forge a connection on their journey to return her to her family.

Ai Li is a highborn Chinese Imperial princess in a time when any foreigner is considered an uncouth barbarian and lower than their lowest class.  After the betrayal of her fiance’, she doesn’t know who to trust so keeps secret about her status from Ryam, the barbarian, even if she comes to trust him with her life.  Meanwhile, Ryam is from the Lost Legion who were given a place on the border near the Great Desert to guard the Jade Gate into the Empire.  He got mixed up in a betrayal that has him down on himself for being a poor leader that got good men killed and made him an enemy of the empire.  He really shouldn’t be headed to the heart of said empire and was on his way back to his leader and the relative safety of the Lost Legion headquarters when he can’t help, but rescue and keep a beautiful young aristocratic woman (no matter how much she tries to disguise herself, otherwise) safe.

There is action when Ai Li and Ryam get busy with their swords and calm moments when this pair learn to understand and appreciate each other’s ways a little more and develop an attraction, respect, friendship, and an agonizing want for more though they know its not possible.  There is exciting political intrigue swirling around them as rivals for the control of the empire since the last Emperor’s demise left a power void that has the wolves circling.  China may be torn apart if General Chen who steps in as Emperor can’t hold it together.  It was fascinating reading about this tumultuous time in Chinese history on a grand scale, but also the detailed cultural and social differences for the people themselves.

The romance was conflicted for many reasons, but I did enjoy this pair as individuals and together.  They brought out the best in each other.  They didn’t jump on their building attraction because of their class differences, the cultural norms, but also because she is an innocent and he respects her while she is suspicious of someone with that much experience.  Yes, there was some humor moments mixed into it all.  But, they do eventually tumble into bed and there are some nice spicy scenes there.

In summary, this was a treasure of a read for those who enjoy historicals set in Asia, class difference romances and lots of adventure and intrigue tossed in for good measure.  I will definitely be finishing up with the series backlist sooner rather than later and can heartily recommend this series and any others the author has penned.


Romance Roundabout #231 HR
Mt. TBR #89
COYER Summer #29



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I was born and raised near Sacramento, CA. I have read since I was four years old and developed tastes that run the gamut of literature. I went away to college and have a degree in education, a certificate in family history research, and a certificate in social work. I worked for a non-profit agency with low income families for 20 years which included being responsible for the children’s library and promoting/teaching adult literacy. I have lived in Southeast Michigan for the last 18 years and I am currently a book addicted homemaker with a cat and husband who keep me grounded. Recently, I made it a challenge to review each book that I have read as a favor to author friends who said reviews are important. I have done reviews for Good Reads, Amazon, eBay, and Smashwords, but mostly at Goodreads and Amazon.

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  • Oooo, historical romance, in Chinese history! That’s pretty rare. I’ve not read anything set during the Tang dynasty. I love it when a romance novel is also quite political. Makes the story so much more complex. 😀 I’m glad you enjoyed this book, Sophia!

    Have a lovely week. =)

    Alyssa @ The Eater of Books!

    • I agree, Alyssa. The political intrigue just adds to the story.

  • Karen

    Oooh I’ve been meaning to read this one for years. I did read something else by her (can’t remember the title atm lol) and loved it.

    Karen @ For What It’s Worth

    • Ha! You sound like me, Karen. I’ve been working to dig out the dusty ones and finally get around to them. Slowly, but surely I’m doing it and finding lots to love. 🙂

  • I’ve read and enjoyed this author, so color me intrigued! Great review Sophia.

    • You bet, Kimberly! I loved discovering that this first one was just as good as newer releases. I’ve got one more novel-length in the series and a passel of novellas I hope to read soon.

  • Debbie Haupt

    Nice review, great cover. Jeannie is a local St. Louis author who I have met! Thanks for sharing

  • I do’nt think I’v ever tried a story set in Asia or I don’t think so so I’m definitely curious!

    • Yes, these are great and give so much background that helps me understand Chinese history better.

  • That sounds good and I do like the cover.

    • Oh, she was a little firecracker with her swords, Mary. It was a good time. 🙂

  • There just aren’t enough books set in Asia. I read a couple in high school, but can’t remember what they were called or the author so sad??? 🙁 Maybe I should visit my old high school again and search. I might still look young enough hehe

    I am planning on picking up this series before the end of the year so I can’t wait. Wonderful review…as ALWAYS!!

    • LOL! I can just imagine you infiltrating your high school to reconnoiter the library shelves. 🙂

      Oh cool! You’re in for a treat with these. I agree that there are not many adult Asian historical or contemporary romances, but I’ve seen a few more this year with the #ownvoices movement happening in publishing.

  • I don’t know if I have ever read a romance set in Asia. This sounds really well done. I am glad you enjoyed some of her older work.

    • I’ve only caught a few Asian romances. I gravitate toward the historicals. I love her books and am glad to finally be getting back to the older ones.

  • I remember reading this awhile ago and loving the blend of action and romance. Been meaning to read more of her works too for more of the Asian theme.

    • Yes, she balances the action and romance so well in her stories. I have the next book and then the novellas to still enjoy. I hope she keeps going with her steampunk series, too.

  • Oh that sounds fantastic and unique! I remember seeing it and thinking it looked good. And maybe some vague thing about a pen name? But heck if I can remember who the name was linked to.

    • I thought these were rather unique in the historical romance genre, too. I’ve read a few indie Asian HRs, but not many big name publisher ones. Are you talking about that erotic one she wrote as Liliana Lee? I haven’t read the trilogy yet, but I’ve been told that it has a whole different vibe than these.

      • Hrm no I know about those but I thought a different name. I could be confusing her name with one similar. I’ll let you know if it pops into my head.

  • I haven’t read many Asian historicals, but I’m always up for one – and this sounds like a great read. Adding this to my TBR!

    • I don’t get to read many, either, but I keep my eyes peeled because I love the ones I have read. Hope you enjoy this one when you get the chance, Crystal.

  • RO

    This one sounds really unique and interesting, and glad you enjoyed it Super Sophia! Hugs.. and Happy Tuesday! RO

    • It is a lovely series and I loved learning about the old Chinese dynasties. Thanks, Ro!