Read with: Amazon Kindle
Genre: Historical Romance
Series: Harlequin Historical Publisher Series
Heroine: Shen Ai Li
Date of Publication: October 1, 2010
Started On: March 13, 2011
Finished On: March 15, 2011
With only two historical novels published to her name, Jeannie Lin has shot into my list of favorite authors after being totally and utterly captivated by the tale of love, Tang Dynasty politics and the beautiful sensuality that she wields in her stories. I picked up Butterfly Swords right after I was done with The Taming of Mei Ling which was just a teaser into Jeannie Lin’s capability in keeping readers enthralled by the magic that she creates with the words – because simply put, it was just utter and sheer magic that leaped out from each and every one of these pages as I read along.
Set in 758 AD, Tang Dynasty China, this is the story of the sixth child and only girl of the Emperor of China during the time. Ai Li is on her way to meet her husband to be, Li Tao, a military governor in one of the provinces when she learns that her sense of honor would not let herself marry a traitor to the Emperor. Though she knows that the consequences of fleeing from Li Tao would be catastrophic, with a sense of inborn courage, Ai Li is all set to travel back to Changan, the Imperial Capital when she comes across the foreigner more commonly known as barbarian amongst the Chinese then who calls himself Ryam.
19 year old Ai Li has always had a sort of sixth sense when it comes to judging people. And although her culture, society and decorum demands that she shun the warrior with blond hair and blue eyes, her sense of honor and respect for a man who willingly put his life on the line to come to her rescue has her requesting his help in returning to the Imperial city.
Ryam is a man who has got the wandering swordsman thing down to a pat. Following in his father’s footsteps who had imbibed in drinking and foolhardy fighting after the loss of his beloved wife had been Ryam’s way of life until he is recruited by Adrian, a prince by his own rights who admires Ryam’s mighty skill with the sword. A mission that goes horribly wrong which had nearly killed Ryam in the process has left him with a terrible sense of guilt that clouds all his senses until the beautiful and enchanting Ai Li enlists his help and Ryam agrees against his better judgement.
For the first time in Ai Li’s life, she gets to spend time with a man who listens to her, values her opinions and has a way of making her feel things that she shouldn’t feel for someone like Ryam and keeps messing with her head. Ryam who has all the worldly experience under his belt when it comes to seduction and women finds himself for the first time smitten with a virgin who has no idea what she does to him just by existing.
Though their attraction and the awareness that springs forth between them is an immediate one, the sexual tension of the sizzling variety is a long drawn one which keeps the reader on tenterhooks, awaiting that moment when Ai Li and Ryam would surrender and give themselves to each other. Every single touch and look exchanged stokes the fire that burns between them, making this a read worth savoring and sinking into just for the web of sensuality that surrounds the reader from the beginning.
Ai Li and Ryam’s journey towards happily ever after is not an easy one. The intricate details of the politics and the responsibilities that one shoulders in holding a position such as being the Emperor of a country as China comes to light as the story unfolds making this one of the most interesting historical romances that I have read to date. It’s always refreshing to read a historical that is not based in the UK involving the ton and the patriarch British society and Jeannie Lin has carved a place for herself as one of the unique voices in the historical romance genre.
There were numerous things I loved about this story. Both Ai Li and Ryam’s characters reel you in from the first encounter itself, making you root for their happily ever after all throughout. Ai Li has such a sense of honor ingrained into her that she is willing to forgo everything that she holds dear just so that no shame would come to her family. Ryam who is the exact opposite to Ai Li in each and every way just turns out to be the man who complements her in every way. Though I would have loved to know more about Ryam’s past and where he came from, nevertheless he makes for a pretty well rounded character whom I loved for his undeniable need for Ai Li and her touch that continues to sooth and arouse him at the same time. And loved those sword fights between Ai Li and Ryam. I didn’t know that fighting could end up being so erotic!
The secondary characters that we meet along the journey are all interesting ones that do not distract us from the actual main story. I found my interest piqued to find out more about Adrian and his wife Miya who gave up the throne to become his wife. And towards the end, I found myself oddly intrigued and a little bit helplessly fascinated with Li Tao who comes out as a villain at the beginning and left me with mixed feelings towards the end. I am hoping he would get his own story and that I would love seeing his cold and controlled self brought to his knees by a woman who is his match made in heaven. Oh yes, I am an evil, evil woman who gets her fix from seeing heroes crumble to dust at the feet of the women they love!
Since I loved this story so much, I couldn’t help but feel cheated out of an epilogue which would have done wonders for the story. Though the ending as it is is not a bad one, I would have loved seeing Ai Li and Ryam actually live through their happily ever after, maybe have a couple of babies and experience all that comes along with finding your soul mate to share your life with you forever.
Butterfly Swords by Jeannie Lin cannot be recommended highly enough. This is a historical romance any lover of the genre MUST read.
I end my review with some of the scenes that just leapt out of the pages at me whilst I was reading, that I just can’t help but want to share with all of you.
One moment she made him swear not to touch her and the next she was kissing him into madness. If she made a single move towards him, made a single sweet sound he’d take hold of her, lower her to the ground and make her his right now with the fierce throb of combat and their wild escape still in his veins.
Some part of her must have known it. That was why she stayed petrified, her only movement the rise and fall of her breasts, as she struggled to breathe.
“Tell me what it is you want from me and it’s yours,” he promised dangerously.
She clutched at the front of his tunic and sank against him, closing her eyes when his mouth captured hers. It was always like this. Possessive, devastating. He knew how to make her melt into him, how to steal her breath and fold himself around her until she couldn’t think of anything but him.
Through the slick heat and the unbelievable tightness gripping him, Ailey was there. When he shut his eyes, he saw her face.
Mine, he thought as the blood rushed through his skull. For as long as she would have him. To the ends of the earth if she needed him there.
He was a fool.