ARC Review: The Sword Dancer by Jeannie Lin

Format: E-bookthesworddancer
Read with: iBooks for iPad
Length: Novel
Genre: Historical Romance
Series: Tang Dynasty, #4
Publisher: Harlequin
Hero: Zheng Hao Han
Heroine: Wen Li Feng/Hua Li Feng
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: June 1, 2013
Started On: July 6, 2013
Finished On: July 8, 2013

Zheng Hao Han is a thief catcher who is equivalent to the modern day bounty hunter. Han sees matters relating to justice being served in black and white with no room for any shades of grey as part of the picture. An honorable man, Han hardly sees it as so and sees himself as a failed scholar who does what he must rather than the revered man he is amongst society for his infamous arrests.

Wen Li Feng is an enigmatic sword dancer whose sole aim becomes finding the reality behind the elusive memories that she has of her parents, especially her mother. With little recollection of her parents and family, it is the vague memories that continue to haunt her that makes her come out into the real world and face life with no holds barred.

Li Feng’s path crosses with that of Han, the illustrious thief catcher when her journey to seek the truth takes a dangerous turn as a result of putting her trust in a group of bandits with their own agenda of vengeance to mete out. From the moment Han lays his eyes on the smooth and supple movements that is Li Feng when she is performing, something irrevocably shifts and changes deep inside of him. And as the game of cat and mouse between Han and Li Feng continues, confusion sets deep inside of Han as he struggles to come to terms with the woman who means everything to him and the beliefs that he has lived by his whole of up till that point.

The Sword Dancer as almost all of Jeannie Lin’s novels is set in China during the period of Tang Dynasty and is the fourth book in the series, told from both Han and Li Feng’s points of view.

China has always been a country that has fascinated me. And with the prejudiced view of China that I had in my mind, all thanks to the various propaganda machines coupled together with the contrastingly poetic and magical image of China that I have experienced time and yet again through Jeannie Lin’s books; all of that merged together in my recent visit to the country during which I certainly fell irrevocably in love with the country and its people.

It was my craving to read something by Jeannie Lin while in China that led me to the information on the release of this novel and the review opportunity which was open on Jeannie’s website. Though my review is more than a month late, coupled together with my own experiences in China and that of the world that Jeannie presents, this time around, the story, background and its characters seemed to make more sense to me, and the colors and hues of the story more vibrant than ever, if at all that is possible.

One cannot read a Jeannie Lin book and not be captivated. Her prose is one that never changes in its smoothness and beauty, one that always transports the reader to the era in China that she describes. Fraught with corruption of bureaucrats and danger from lawless bandits, Jeannie takes the reader on a journey that is unforgettable in The Sword Dancer.

Han is a hero that I would describe as one of the most beautiful heroes I have come across to date and I do not say this without reason. Han’s beauty lies in that integral sense of honour deep-seated inside of him that he fights with and at times struggles to live by. When Li Feng enters the picture and disrupts his whole world and all the things he has believed in, Han takes a gamble and pursues his developing feelings for a woman who continues to break whatever hold he has on her and disappear, until he finds her time and yet again, true to his promise to Li Feng.

Li Feng is the direct opposite of Han; she is the yin to his yang though that’s a fact that Li Feng would rather not face. Li Feng’s vulnerability lies in the fact that she too feels that undeniable connection between herself and Han which only grows stronger with time and each encounter between them. With a future that seems bleak at best for both of them and with the changes her life undergoes which continues to throw further obstacles in their way, it almost seems like an impossibility that Li Feng and Han would ever find their own happily ever after.

In the end the combination of the sensuous and beautiful love scenes together with the mystery and the aura of danger which continues to be a part of the story made for a compelling and hard to put down read. In my opinion, Han made this book and I am betting with everything that is inside of me that none can read The Sword Dancer without laying their heart out for Han to conquer.

If you read The Sword Dancer, the question of whether Li Feng’s brother getting his own story is one that begs to be asked, the answer to which only Jeannie Lin and time can only tell.

Recommended for fans of historical romances in exotic settings and fans of Jeannie Lin.

Final Verdict: From one of the masters of historical romance comes an earthy, beautiful and sensuous story of love, mystery and intrigue that is unputdownable.

Favorite Quotes

Her laughter rang free and child-like in the forest, intertwining with the driving rhythm of his pulse. His body still hadn’t recovered from the jump and Han was at once angry and elated and uncommonly aroused. He rolled himself over her and kissed her.
She sighed into his mouth. Her lips were warm, soft. Her body curved against him as he pressed her gently into the grass. She was a live and wild thing and he was mad with the taste of her. He broke the kiss to frame her face in his hands. He ran his thumbs over the shape of her cheekbones and kissed her again, claiming her in the only way he could.

He finally did kiss her. A passionate, insistent kiss that parted her lips. There was no more wash cloth, only his strong, sure hands rounding her breasts and stroking her stomach. She moaned around his invading tongue, sucking gently. He responded with a low, almost feral sound as his arousal pressed hard against her.

He repositioned his hand at the back of her neck, the possessiveness of it unmistakable, and thrust deep. The completeness, the fullness of accepting him overwhelmed her and her flesh convulsed around him as she was consumed with heat and a rush of elation. She squeezed her eyes shut as the climax drained her of all thought and resistance.

In the absence of sight, there was only the sensation of their joining and the heat of the day around her. She felt the roughened tip of his finger caress against her just above the juncture of their bodies, focusing her pleasure. She became his creature, straining towards his touch, her head thrown back and helpless as he stroked her.
“You’re so beautiful,” he said huskily.
Her eyelids fluttered open and her chest squeezed tight when she saw that he had been watching her the entire time. His mouth was tight, his face nearly expressionless except for the fire in his eyes.

“You love me.” His breath was hot against her ear. “But you don’t want to.”
Sensation crested within her, rising to a point where darkness beckoned. She had no will to protest.
His body sank deep, holding her captive as she shuddered around him. He held on tight through it. He may have spoken her name in a choked whisper but she could no longer hear. She was in her own world, alone.

His kiss was gentle, yet shockingly intimate out here with the great city around them. Such an act was a private thing meant for closed doors and drawn blinds. Yet when Han kissed her now, it was more than a precursor to lovemaking. It was language. His lips caressing softly to find her. She responded in kind, pressing close to him. It was longing and it was farewell.

Purchase Links: Amazon | B&N | Kobo | Harlequin

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