Genres: Historical Romance
Published by Harlequin Historicals
Released on January 1, 2011
It’s Pacific Asian Heritage Month so what better way to celebrate than to grab up a historical set during China’s Tang Dynasty during an exciting time of shifting alliances and loyalties, intrigue and excitement. The romance is as tumultuous as the time period between two most unlikely people- a warlord and a former Imperial consort.
The Dragon and the Pearl is book two in the Tang Dynasty series and acts as a direct follow up to the events in book one when the main pair were introduced as side characters. In fact, Tao was the villain. So, yes, read book one first.
As I just stated, the hero of this story was the perceived villain. He’s a ruthless warlord who controls his territory with brute strength and cunning and people are whispering at court into the new emperor’s ears that General Tao is disloyal. Tao is making moves and preparing, but in his mind war with a rival warlord and maybe the emperor himself is inevitable. But, what is the significance of the recently dead emperor’s breathtakingly beautiful consort? He thwarts assassination attempts on her life and takes her into his keeping as either a viper to his bosom or the key that could take down his enemy if he can pry her secrets from her.
Suyin has been exploited and used all her life from the pleasure houses catering to the wealth and powerful and into the cut-throat world of the imperial court. She had finally earned her reward living isolated on a lonely estate at peace until something she knows makes her a danger to one man and a weapon to be wielded by another. This time, she will not be used. She will take what she wants. Does she want this ruthless, ungentlemanly warlord who is set on self-destruction because he only knows one way to get what he wants? Perhaps what she has learned about subtle methods at court can serve them both well if he will only trust her when she has never been known to be particularly trustworthy.
I have read nearly everything this author has published. This one and a few short stories were all I had left to read. I knew after reading Butterfly Swords last year that I really wanted this story. Both characters appeared in that story and they were vastly more interesting to me than the main characters- not that the main characters were not enjoyable. I am a sucker for political intrigue and a pair of strong, clever and driven characters who have a little larceny in them.
Though both Tao and Suyin have risen from their original gutter rat status as children to be accepted at the height of power, they don’t forget the ruthless survival instincts that have kept them alive until now. Their first encounters are memorable as they both try to hold the power position and twist the other to their advantage. The romance was slow burn and had to advance out of their suspicion and dislike even while other events are also in motion. She is a courtesan and trained in a top pleasure palace so the dynamics are different for their coming together.
The end of the book ratcheted up the suspense and excitement so that I was riveted and barely breathing a few times. I loved how this story built to that moment and didn’t disappoint with either the romance or suspense.
The historical setting is not neglected, but it doesn’t take over and bog down the story. It felt authentic even down to how the characters spoke and acted. I’ve read all the novels in this series and each is beautiful and takes the reader to that distant era and place. I will miss that.
So, this Asian historical full of colorful characters, intrigue, and excitement was fabulous. I can heartily recommend this author to historical romance lovers who want to leave the ballroom and explore the historical world.
Mt. TBR #47
Romance-opoly #28 Courtesan