ARC Review: The Dragon and the Pearl by Jeannie Lin

Format: E-bookthedragonandthepearl
Read with: iBooks for iPad
Length: Novel
Genre: Historical Romance
Series: Harlequin Historical Publisher Series
Publisher: Harlequin
Hero: Li Tao
Heroine: Ling Suin
Sensuality: 3.5
Date of Publication: September 21, 2011
Started On: September 20, 2011
Finished On: September 20, 2011

No true fan of romance can read Butterfly Swords by Jeannie Lin and escape without wanting to find out more about General Li Tao. And Jeannie Lin certainly doesn’t disappoint fans of her ultra unique historical romances set in the Tang Dynasty, China with this installment. Towards the end of my review for Butterfly Swords I mentioned my utter and at times reluctant fascination with Li Tao who served to be at first the villian and then somehow turned the tables around on me. Little did I know that Li Tao’s character was one that intrigued the author herself so much that she just had to write his story, a fact for which I am eternally grateful.

It is 759 AD and a period of political upheaval in China during which time the military governors known as the jiedushi, commanded their own regional forces independent of the Emperor’s army. It is during this period of turmoil that Lady Ling Suin, an accomplished courtesan who had been favored by the previous emperor finds herself being taken away from her home by none other than one of the most feared generals in China, General Li Tao.

Li Tao’s only intention at first is to remove her from harm’s way though he cannot deny the lure of her beauty anymore than he can deny the rising sun. Though every elegant move on Ling Suin’s part speaks of seduction and half truths that hides the real woman inside, Li Tao cannot help but be ensnared by the desire that races through him for a woman who could prove to be as lethal as that a sword plunged deep into his heart.

Both Li Tao and Ling Suin’s characters are shaped up by less than ideal childhoods, one having grown up on the streets fending for himself whilst the other had been bartered off for a pretty coin for the family’s next meal. Being the Emperor’s concubine for fifteen years meant that Ling Suin was resigned to a life of loneliness until death comes calling. But in Li Tao’s embrace, Ling Suin finds a man who would bend heaven and earth for the taste of a woman whose legend precedes her, the reality of it all when it comes to light manages to not only send Li Tao but the reader as well into a tailspin.

Once again, I am rendered speechless by Jeannie Lin’s ability to create such a riveting and poignant story, her ability to create strong and endearing characters that just demands nothing less but one’s total surrender as the reader. The way Jeannie spins her story weaving one word with another to create sheer magic that just pulls in the reader amazes me. And the tone she sets throughout is so in tune with the time period and the culture of a race shrouded in so much mystery that one cannot help but want to learn more.

Li Tao is a wonderful hero. The silent, tattooed, merciless assassin variety that I can sit around and dream about all day long. A man who thinks honor is no part of him when he wears it like his own skin, inseparable from the essence of who he is. His reluctant fascination with Ling Sui which penetrates through the emptiness that shrouds his heart is one of the most fascinating aspects of the story, his interactions with Ling Suin an intricately woven dance that serves many a time as the most sensual forms of foreplay on which Jeannie certainly delivers.

Ling Suin serves to be his exact opposite, and yet the similarities between them astounds as well as you read along. Having being forced to use her wits, her beauty and seductive viles for so long, Ling Suin at first knows not what to expect from a man who surrounds himself with men of the highest calibre, loyal to the bone and yet remains a lone wolf who doesn’t even realize the fact. Even though every survival instinct within her tells her to step away and leave Li Tao’s alluring form behind, she cannot help but yearn fiercely for the emotions that courses through her whenever Li Tao takes her in his arms. And it is not long before their arrangement brings forth emotions and feelings neither expects to feel for the other and it is a wonderful, wonderful way to pass the time by being a part of their journey towards happily ever after.

I loved how Li Tao and Ling Suin’s pasts are shared with the reader throughout, making both of them more appealing with each flashback. The sensuality and sexual tension between Li Tao and Ling Suin is off the charts hot, and underneath all that taut sensuality, Jeannie manages to tell a tale of political treachery and war not unlike what we see in the world today.

If you haven’t already read a Jeannie Lin book, you should definitely remedy the fact, especially if you are a fan of historical romances in exotic and unusual settings. This is as exotic and unusual as they come and one thing is for sure; none can fault Jeannie’s way with the words that captures you right from the very start. And I would recommend that if you are planning on reading The Dragon and the Pearl, better start off with The Butterfly Swords; just to embrace and enjoy the full impact of Li Tao’s character, which otherwise you might miss out on!

Truly remarkable and utterly fascinating, this one makes a beeline towards my favorites shelf for 2011.

Favorite Quotes

Li Tao had caught a single glimpse of her the first time he had been to the palace. The hunger that had gripped him had been immediate and all-consuming. He had been a young man then and had hungered for many things: acclaim, respect and power. The sight of her now, more than a decade later, stirred nothing but a faint echo of that forgotten desire.

She expected the descent of his mouth, but never would have anticipated the gentleness of the kiss. Her lips parted as his explored hers. His fingertips lifted to her cheek in an undemanding, but undeniably possessive caress. She nearly allowed her eyes to fall closed. She almost yielded against the heat and pressure and the slow stir of his mouth. Instead she dug her nails sharply into the flesh of her palms. She fastened her eyes on to his, permitting the kiss, but never surrendering.

She played with her eyes closed. He closed his own eyes, joining her in the darkness. She had said the song depicted a battle, but nothing of the sort came to mind, no lofty images of horses and banners waving or battalions clashing over hills. Only darkness and a pure sound that filled him, creeping into spaces he hadn’t known were empty.

The heat of his body surrounded her, overwhelming her. Suddenly his hold on her shifted. One arm captured her waist to drag her against his chest before his mouth descended on hers.
Heat and pleasure coursed through her at once, fierce and wild and uncompromising. She fell boneless against him, winding her arms around his neck dizzily, drinking in the salted taste of his mouth.

He pushed harder, deeper into her, his thrusts taking on a restrained violence as if he needed to give her as much of him as she could take.
He took on an almost desperate rhythm, digging his fingers into her hips. She was rising again, chasing after him. At the height of it, the man above her disappeared. All that was left were the sensations he pulled from deep within her, the heady, spiced scent of him and the laboured pant of his breath in her ear.

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