Review: The Lotus Palace by Jeannie Lin

Format: E-bookthelotuspalace
Read with: Kindle for iPad
Length: Novel
Genre: Historical Romance
Series: The Pingkang Li Mysteries, #1
Publisher: Harlequin
Hero: Bai Huang
Heroine: Yue-ying
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: August 27, 2013
Started On: February 07, 2016
Finished On: September 25, 2016

As is the norm with historical romances written by Jeannie Lin, the series entitled The Pingkang Li Mysteries is also set in Tang Dynasty, China in 847 AD.

The story is centered around a pleasure house known as The Lotus Palace, an elite house of courtesans in the pleasure quarter of the North Hamlet, also known as Pingkang li. Yue-ying, the heroine of the story, is a personal assistant going on four years to Mingyu, an elite courtesan at The Lotus Palace. Having been deemed not proper courtesan material Yue-ying had been relegated to the status as such.

Bai Huang on the other hand, is a well-known figure in the entertainment district. A notorious flirt, who is loose with his money, and considered to be openly courting Mingyu.

When the youngest of four beauties at The Lotus Palace gets murdered, that is when the story actually begins, with Bai Huang coming under suspicion from the investigating head constable and the magistrate of the district.

Though it took me a couple of tries to get through the first few chapters of the story which was a bit slow for my liking, I am glad that I persevered and kept going because the larger part of the story was one that I enjoyed in every way possible. I would go as far as to say that what unfolded then was classic Jeannie Lin in every way and that I had missed indulging myself in the beauty that she creates in her stories.

The Lotus Palace is a story that has a lot going for it. Multi-faceted characters, be it the lead or secondary characters, with the story being rich in detail when it comes to Chinese culture, history, and the hierarchical differences that existed between the different members of an establishment, even one such as a pleasure house as The Lotus Palace. Furthermore, the murder mystery proved to be an intriguing aspect to the story that kept me turning the pages as I got deeper into the story.

Bai Huang is one of those lighthearted heroes that has an abundance of charm to their character at first glance. But it is Yue-ying that sees through the facade that he puts up, the man beneath all the pretense and frivolities that he presents to the larger society. Even though Yue-ying promises herself that the likes of Bai Huang are not for women like her, it proves to be harder than she thinks when it comes to defying the tidal wave of desire that Bai Huang’s kisses and caresses unleash in her.

Bai Huang’s courtship of Yue-ying was a beautiful one for me. His gentle wooing and firm stand when it actually came down to it proves to be too much for even Yue-ying to walk away from. Yue-ying’s past is one that is dark, one that rightfully should have made mincemeat out of a lesser woman. But Yue-ying proves time and yet again that she is made of sterner stuff than what people usually judge her to be. As she helps Bai Huang to uncover the truth behind the murder that has shaken the entertainment district to its core, Yue-ying discovers that a future with a man like Bai Huang might be possible, if she would be willing to put herself on the line and put her trust in him.

Recommended, for fans of richly crafted historical romance novels!

Final Verdict: Beautifully told in a way that is uniquely Jeannie Lin, The Lotus Palace is a book not to be missed.

Favorite Quotes

She had never done this before, she realized a moment before she pressed her lips onto his.
His mouth was warm and yielded only a little as she moved closer. She parted her lips to test the texture of his lips and, with the smallest touch of her tongue, the taste of the kiss. She could sense the shudder that traveled through him. It made her breath catch and her stomach flutter with excitement.
This was a gift indeed, but not one that he gave to her. It was a gift that she took for herself.

She could feel his presence over her and hear the deepening of his breath. Her fingers curled reflexively over the pallet as she waited. His first touch upon her could be anywhere and her skin tingled with anticipation.
He laid the flat of his palm between her shoulder blades, pressing lightly. The weight was possessive, but reassuring. He slid it along her spine in one broad stroke.
“You can breathe, love.”
There was amusement in his tone. It was the second time he’d used such an endearment with her. It was presumptuous, but the words still made her quiver.

“This, you like,” he murmured before bending to kiss her.
She sighed against him, accepting the kiss, returning it. The soft caress of his lips quickly grew hard and urgent. Though he tried to hold his weight off her, his hips moved restlessly and she could feel how aroused he was. Yet he did nothing more than kiss her. Yue-ying circled her arms around Bai Huang’s shoulders and arched into him, losing herself in the simple pleasure of touch and warmth and closeness. And of him.

Her hand paused on his abdomen, her little finger just brushing the scar beneath his ribs, before dipping lower.
He shuddered as her hand closed around him. He had been aroused for days, living so close to her, hearing her dressing and washing from the other side of the wall. Her fingers circled him and her hand ran along his entire length, stroking him until he was so hard it bordered on pain. Her grip was knowing, teasing, merciless.

She rested her palms flat against his chest once she was fully seated onto him and the moment of stillness drove him mad. He wanted to thrust up into her, to seek more of that heat and the unbearable pressure of her surrounding him, but if he did it would be over quicker than it began.
Her weight shifted in his lap. She bent to kiss him on the chin. The gesture was sweet, almost innocent, but the change in position caused her muscles to tighten intimately around him.
“Yue-ying.” He gritted out her name.
She had begun to move over him and he was enslaved inside her. Her voice was a seductive whisper against his throat.
“Lord Bai.”

The last of his control was gone. He couldn’t think to pull out of her. He couldn’t stop the flood of his seed into her and the dark wave of pleasure came with such force that he was blinded. He held on to Yue-ying and distantly heard her cries through his own release as he continued to stroke her. Then she was shuddering against him and clinging to him, her nails digging into his shoulder.
It was beautiful. He had no other words for it.

“Last night,” he began.
She stopped him. “Lord Bai.”
“You’re blushing.”
“The day is uncustomarily warm,” she returned without pause.
“Is this love?” he asked simply. His voice was low and sensual.
“Scholars and their romantic notions,” she chided, though her heart was hammering inside her.

There were no preliminaries, no soft caresses or whispered words. Though sensation built within her, the act wasn’t as much about pleasure as it was about possession. Even when he took her breast into his mouth as her pleasure rose, it was an attempt to claim her further. His tongue rasped against her nipple until she wept and moaned. With each thrust of his hips, he was willing her climax, her surrender to him. And she did surrender, her muscles taut and straining until she thought she would break.

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

greatread

Review: A Dance with Danger by Jeannie Lin

Format: E-bookadancewithdanger
Read with: iBooks for iPad
Length: Novel
Genre: Historical Romance
Series: Tang Dynasty, #5
Publisher: Harlequin
Hero: Bao Yang
Heroine: Jin-mei
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: May 01, 2015
Started On: February 01, 2016
Finished On: February 04, 2016

First of all, let me just appreciate the beauty that is the cover of this book. I have not come across a prettier cover in recent times and I spent quite a bit of time on gazing at the cover before and even while I was reading the story as it unfolded. Jeannie Lin is an author who has a unique voice amongst the numerous authors who write historical romances. Her books take place in China, in the Tang Dynasty period and I have loved each and every single book of hers that I have read in the series to-date.

A Dance with Danger is the fifth book in the Tang Dynasty series and the second book in the Rebels and Lovers series. Bao Yang, the hero is a wanted man, hunted by the powerful General Wang Shizhen. A thwarted attempt on the General’s life is the reason behind Bao Yang’s visit to the Fujian Province where he goes wanting to meet one of his “associates”, Tan Li Kuo, a magistrate of the province.

Things don’t go exactly according to plan when Bao Yang finds himself discovered by Tan Li Kuo himself while in a compromising position with none other than his daughter Jin-mei. As circumstances would demand it, Bao Yang agrees to marry Jin-mei, only to find the tables reversed on him when he is betrayed in the midst of it all. Bao Yang would have thought that whatever connection that he had momentarily felt with his wife Jin-mei would have no place in his future until Jin-mei surprises him with her courage in pursuing him under the most difficult of circumstances.

While Bao Yang cannot compromise on the quest for revenge that he has embarked upon, he finds himself wavering in his determination because Jin-mei teaches him that there could be a life lived outside of the self-imposed mission that he has set upon. A mission that has followers in large numbers, something that Bao Yang never foresaw or dreamed of in the beginning. Jin-mei’s insightful nature, together with her adventure seeking heart proves to be quite the temptation for someone like Bao Yang, who is every bit reckless and rakish as they come. However, for their love to triumph, Bao Yang has a tough decision to make, and for Jin-mei, it might mean choosing between the two people who matter the most in her life.

A Dance with Danger was a read that fell a tad flat of the expectations I had for it and of Jeannie Lin’s exquisite writing talent, which somehow failed to emerge fully in this story. Jeannie Lin is one of those authors who has the sort of voice that is poetic in its prose, one that makes you feel like you are floating on air, witnessing something that is surreal in its beauty. But somehow, A Dance with Danger, while it had all the elements that would make for a highly readable story, I am sorry to say this, but I just couldn’t muster the enthusiasm of the kind I felt while reading all her previous works.

Bao Yang is quite different from the variety of heroes that have featured in Lin’s books in the past. All other heroes that I have come across are reserved and controlled in a way that makes for delicious sexual tension where concerned. Bao Yang is a man who has led a life that is shrouded in shades of grey, and though he is honorable where it counts, Bao Yang doesn’t have a very favorable opinion of himself. The thing that I loved about him was his cheekiness at certain times. The way he would tease his wife, make her tumble into his arms and give her a world of wanton pleasure. Bao Yang stands apart from the rest of the heroes I have come across in Lin’s works because he comes with a ton of sexual experience when compared to the innocent his wife is.

Jin-mei, though no warrior as some heroines of Lin’s previous works, is just as fierce and protective of her man. A life that had been lived with a magistrate as a father had taught her to see everything in black and white. It had also equipped her with a quick wit and mind that can comprehend things quite rapidly. To see things the way her husband sees them is first a challenge for someone like Jin-mei. But I believe that whatever differences that they might have had, they managed to merge seamlessly where and when it mattered.

Though A Dance with Danger was disappointing, I still managed to enjoy the good bits where the remnants of the Jeannie Lin I know and love to bits echoed through the pages. The whole story, the way it was told; all of it just felt vastly different from the caliber that I have become used to when it comes to Lin’s writing.

Recommended for fans of the series and those that love books set in ancient China!

Final Verdict: Ancient China, politics, familial loyalty, treachery & a love that defies it all!

Favorite Quotes

As Jin-mei ducked through the curtain to her sleeping area, she heard her name spoken softly. So low that the sounds resonated against her spine.
‘My warrior woman.’
Yang came from the darkness and his arms circled around her. Suddenly she was pressed tight against him.
Their first embrace should have been awkward, all hands and limbs and not knowing how they should be with one another. But as Yang pulled her close, her body moulded to his. Her lips parted to say something. She didn’t know what, but it didn’t matter because she was caught in a kiss that was hard and urgent and made her knees go soft.

By the time their lips parted, her head was spinning.
‘Hold on to me,’ he said.
Her hands grasped the front of his robe while she stared at him, confused. Her heart was beating hard and every part of her felt flushed.
‘Hold on to me,’ he repeated in a low murmur against her earlobe. He bit into the soft flesh, and heat flooded her veins.
Jin-mei hooked her arms around his neck and held on tight. If she hadn’t, she would have crumbled to the floor.

Yang certainly didn’t believe in slow, gentle introductions. Not while sparring and not in this either. He pleasured her with his mouth, flicking her nipple mercilessly until she wanted to beg. As scandalous as the figures on the mirror were, this was so much worse. So much better. Yang teased her with lips, tongue, then the light scrape of teeth over her flesh that made her sob. She couldn’t stop the sound, even when she bit hard on her lower lip.
Suddenly the pleasure ceased.
‘Not here.’ His voice was rough. ‘Not like this.’

Then gradually, bit by bit, he began to ease himself inside of her. She could feel the resistance of her body, tight around him and giving only slightly with each thrust. Despite what he’d said about not being able to wait, Yang seemed to be endlessly patient, kissing her lips, her neck. Watching her as he finally pushed fully into her and then he had to close his eyes as well. The look in them bordered on pain before he laid his head into the crook of her neck. He murmured her name again, this time rough, guttural.
Her eyes widened as the mystery was finally resolved. This was how men and women came together, with pleasure, with pain.

It was impossible to hold back. He shut his eyes as well, trying to maintain control. But her hands dug into his back insistently. He could hear the pant of her breath and those lovely breasts were pressed against him, her legs lifting to curve about his hips. All the while, down below she was so tight. Wet. A fist around him.
Something tried to intrude at the edge of his awareness, but he pushed it away. Every sense he had was focused on the woman in his arms and the joining of their bodies. His arousal, her surrender.
His release came in a flood, blinding him. Deafening him as the blood rushed through his body like the surging of the tide.

Her eyes widened as he dipped within her womanly cleft, searching the small knot of flesh at her centre. There was pleasure to be found in the petals, but he knew he’d found the bud when her eyes squeezed shut and she shuddered, hips thrusting against his hand.
His next kiss was against her earlobe before he spoke to her. ‘Will you take me inside you? All of me. Here.’

He could have accomplished the deed without removing every bit of clothing, but they had the luxury of time, of seclusion. And he wanted to feed his senses with her. Yang laid himself over Jin-mei and, with the sway of the water beneath them and the bright sun above, pushed his body fully into hers.
Her head fell back and her lips parted in a silent cry. Yet he heard it deep in his bones and in the hard, responding throb of his body. Inside, she was dampness and heat, closing around him like a cruel fist. He tugged off the ribbon tying her braid and dug one hand harshly into her hair to drag her up to him for a kiss. There was no sense to his actions other than that he wanted more.

‘Jin-mei,’ he choked out. It was a plea.
His last control over his body was slipping, and her flesh was relentless, squeezing him tight, slaying him. His finger worked her pearl faster; no longer gentle, but in pure desperation. When he felt the first pulse of her body in response, elation swept through him. He watched her through her release, nothing more than one heartbeat in time, but a long one. Stretched out.
Then his body would not be held back any longer. He lifted his hips and thrust, once, twice, and in three short strokes he lost his essence inside her, releasing all that he was with no strength left within him to hold anything back.

Her body tightened with need as he circled his tongue over her nipple in a wet caress. With a cry of surrender, she bucked against him, riding him hard. Her sex flooded, and Yang must have sensed the increase in her arousal. With a groan, his thrusts became shorter. More forceful.
The sensation built in coils and spirals. Her toes curled tight, and her hands dug into Yang’s shoulders. Her climax came as a low throb this time; not as intense, but more prolonged. Yang joined her in bliss shortly after, every muscle in his body tensing as his hips jerked beneath her. She watched every emotion play over his face while he gave himself over to the pleasure.

Using touch alone to guide him, Yang ran his hands along her waist and worked her sash loose. ‘I’m going to seduce you, Wife.’
Her chest swelled with emotion. ‘You can’t seduce me any longer. We’re married.’
‘Wrong.’ He pressed a kiss to her throat. Another to her shoulder as he slipped her tunic away. ‘I’ll keep on seducing you for the rest of my life. And you’ll let me.’

Links: Amazon | B&N | Kobo | eBookMall | ARe | HQ | BD | iTunes

satisfactoryread.png

Review: My Fair Concubine by Jeannie Lin

Format: E-bookmyfairconcubine
Read with: Kindle & iBooks for iPad
Length: Novel
Genre: Historical Romance
Series: Tang Dynasty, #3
Publisher: Harlequin
Hero: Chang Fei Long
Heroine: Yan Ling
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: May 22, 2012
Started On: November 7, 2014
Finished On: November 11, 2014

Jeannie Lin is one of those authors that writes romances that speaks to your heart. Her writing is flawlessly beautiful and China as the setting provides for that exoticism that is unbeatable. My Fair Concubine is the third book in the Tang Dynasty series and explores the story of Chang Fei Long, a nobleman and Yan Ling, a baby abandoned at a tea house where she had grown up, knowing no life except one of servitude.

Fei Long wants to save his family’s honor and is at a loss as to how to go about it when the idea strikes to make use of Yan Ling to do so. Fei Long has just three months to turn Yan Ling into princess material, to teach her the etiquettes and way of life that would be required from her when she is given to the people of Khitan as princess bride to forge political ties with China through an arranged marriage. What Fei Long doesn’t expect is for him to want to break every single rule he has set for their brief partnership and claim Yan Ling for himself. But as life would have it, many a hurdle needs to be crossed before that particular dream would be realized.

I have no idea why I skipped on reading My Fair Concubine and jumped straight to The Sword Dancer, the 4th book in the series. Either way, My Fair Concubine turned out to be a beautifully spun story with enough angst, finely wrought sexual tension and the intricacies of Chinese politics and life in the Tang Dynasty that I just adored.

I loved both Fei Long and Yan Ling. Fei Long is man who practically has honor stamped right into his DNA. Yan Ling is the woman who grew up as a servant, whose inner fire, courage, wit and wisdom makes her the right fit for a man like Fei Long. The control that Fei Long exerts on his self and emotions was such a turn on if you ask me. I love a hero who is reserved. There is such a wealth of passion hidden inside characters of that sort and I just loved what Jeannie had to offer with Fei Long. When it comes to Fei Long and Yan Ling, there’s so much to be said for the near miss caresses, the fervent longing in each glance and this intricate dance was done superbly well which reached its ultimate climax the moment during which all that control shattered under the strength of Fei Long’s hidden passion for the woman he loves. And oh my stars; what a magnificent moment that was!

I adored the colorful secondary characters like Dao and Li Bae Shen that gave this story the wholesome edge to it that it deserved. The historical tidbits and the exotic feel to the entire setting itself was one I continued to lap up like someone who was starved for just that. If history were ever to be written with such flare, I don’t think I’d ever have a problem with buying a ton of books on the subject and holing myself up somewhere for days.

This review wouldn’t do justice to the story without mentioning the scenes of passion towards the end of the story; oh boy! I was feeling quite peeved about all the heightened sexual tension in the novel with no way of breaking the promises that held Fei Long and Yan Ling from acting on their desire for one another. And when Jeannie Lin delivered on all that, sigh, I swear I just near about swooned and rightfully so if you ask me. All those hours of calligraphy lessons? Totally worth it. And that alone is reason enough to buy a copy and indulge in my opinion. Well done Ms. Lin, well done.

Final Verdict: The prose, the angst and the delivery alone attests to Lin’s mastery. Recommended!

Favorite Quotes

He placed the brush back into her hand. She knew she was gripping it too hard again as she dipped it into the ink stone, but it was the only way to keep her hand from shaking. Before she could place the tip to the paper, Fei Long moved behind her. She closed her eyes as his hand rested against her shoulder to straighten her back. His other arm circled temporarily around her to position the brush and she flooded with fever. Her toes curled with the ache of it when he moved away.

She stood in a panic, keeping herself turned.
‘I have to go.’
‘Yan Ling.’
His voice was louder this time. Closer.
She tried to slip past. Wouldn’t look even when his hands closed around her shoulders.
In the next moment, she caught a glimpse of Fei Long’s face, of his dark and tortured eyes. A muscle tensed along his jaw before he lowered his head.
Her breath rushed from her at the first touch of his mouth. His hand lifted to slide over the back of her neck while his kiss soothed over lips still sensitive from the rough scouring she’d given them. Yan Ling trembled, confused. A lost sound escaped from her.

Suddenly, his hands tightened over her hips. He held her so fiercely it was nearly painful. She could feel the heat of his skin and the taut coil of muscle and sinew through his robe. A shudder ran through him.
He pulled away roughly then, holding her at arm’s length when he couldn’t get enough of her only moments earlier. His chest heaved as he stared at her as if he didn’t know what had just happened. But she knew, in every part of her, to the very tips of her fingers and toes.
‘Forgive me,’ he breathed.
It was the first time he’d apologised since she’d met him. For the one thing she’d wanted more than anything else for him to do.

‘I would give it all up,’ he rasped.
She must have heard wrong. Her throat closed so tight she had to fight for the next breath.
‘I would give it all up for you,’ Fei Long said again, stronger this time. She staggered back a step as he came forwards. ‘Yan Ling.’
He closed the distance between them. His hands came around her waist and his eyes darkened with an unfettered hunger she had never seen. Their bodies brushed as he pulled her close.

It wasn’t long before he was backing her deeper into the cover of the trees. Not long before his hands secured themselves against the small of her back and she was being guided down. Soon she was lying with her shoulders flush against the cool grass. The coarse blades tickled against the back of her neck and she could see fragments of blue sky between the branches above.
Fei Long leaned over her. His face, so familiar now, filled her vision. Masculine and beautiful in its harshness. He captured her mouth again, one hand cradled at the back of her neck to lift her to him. His other hand was braced against the ground beside her shoulder, securing her beneath the weight and pressure of his body. As if she’d ever want to escape.

She exhaled in a small gasp, her back arching willingly. Her hips lifted until they brushed against his. In response, he pressed his full weight upon her. She could feel him. All of him.
His mouth sought her throat where he tasted her first with his tongue, then the sharp edge of his teeth. She shuddered as he devoured her. There was nothing reserved about Fei Long out here. He’d left his careful detachment in the confines of the study. This passion was for her, and her alone.

Her head fell back in surrender, but Fei Long was there to catch her. His other arm circled her now with his hand splayed against her back to keep her upright. She closed her eyes, shaking her head in denial, because the sheer torture of this was senseless. He commanded her with nothing but this single, unending caress and it became everything. Cruelly, inexplicably, everything.
She cried out as her body tightened. Fei Long crushed his mouth to her and she sobbed against his lips. Her inner muscles clenched and unclenched as she shook inside and out.

Then he pulled away and her hand slipped free. There was no trace of tenderness in him as he stood. His expression was heated steel as he removed his trousers. He untied his hair as well and for a moment stood naked over her.
She took him in, all of him. Her mouth was painfully dry and even swallowing didn’t banish the knot in her throat. This was what she had wanted to know— the sight of Fei Long when there were no more boundaries between them. She took the vision deep into herself. It would always be there, no matter what the morning brought.

She pressed her lips against his throat and tasted the salt of his skin. The thrust of his body took on an exhilarating urgency, a riotous intensity that she could feel through the height and breadth of her body. There was no time to think. Only feel.
He was taking everything, just as he promised. Just as she wanted.
She wrapped her legs around his hips and held on.

“Do you know how many times I agonised over this part of your neck or this one ear?’ His mouth brushed over her neck before he took her earlobe between his lips, sucking gently. A shiver ran down her spine, making her breath catch and her toes curl restlessly. ‘You would gather your hair with your hands and sweep it over your shoulder to keep it out of the way before you’d begin to write. And I’d watch you, barely able to breathe.”

“Yes,’ he shuddered as he beseeched her. There were no words for what he wanted, but she wanted it too. ‘Yan,’ he pleaded.
Yan Ling pushed back against him as hard as she could as every muscle within her tightened. His muscled body formed a brace for her in her passion. She cried out, the sound strained within her throat. A vindicating and final rush of pleasure arched through her. An exquisite pain beyond thought.

Purchase Links: Amazon | B&N | Kobo | HQ | ARe | eBookMall

awesomeread

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

amazingread

Short & Sweet Review: The Lady’s Scandalous Night by Jeannie Lin

Format: E-booktheladysscandalousnight
Read with: Kindle for iPad
Length: Novella
Genre: Historical Romance
Series: Tang Dynasty, #2.5
Publisher: Harlequin Historical Undone
Hero: Wei Chen
Heroine: Yao Ru Jiang
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: September 1, 2011
Started On: February 19, 2013
Finished On: February 20, 2013

Hero: Wei Chen, no longer a common soldier of General Li’s army, is a trained swordsman and a trusted bodyguard.

Heroine: Yao Ru Jiang, known as River. She is the younger sister of Yao Ru Shan who served in the army alongside with Wei Chen.

Storyline: Both Wei Chen and River have known each other for a long time – through their mutual acquaintance who happens to be River’s brother. Though both have never laid eyes on each other, they have spun dreams about each other & fantasized about the day they would finally meet.

First Meeting: Wei Chen and River meet each other when Wei Chen turns up at River’s village seeking them out, to notify them that he is bound by duty to kill River’s brother.

Time Period: Story is set in Tang Dynasty, China in 759 AD. Story is told from both River and Wei Chen’s points of view.

Awareness between Wei Chen and River: Jeannie Lin is a true master in creating sexual tension and delivering beautifully vivid scenes to complement all of that. And though novella is really short, Jeannie still manages to make the connection & awareness that exists between Wei Chen and River right from the very start believable.

Likes: As always, a book by Jeannie Lin is a treat to read. I love her writing style. And I know I always say that in my reviews. But that is one reason why I keep going back where she is concerned.

Dislikes: I wanted more! Much more than a novella is capable of offering. Story’s ending seemed rushed.

Recommended for: Fans of the Tang Dynasty series by Jeannie Lin. And of course for anyone who loves historical romances Jeannie Lin is definitely a treat. If you love books by Courtney Milan or Sherry Thomas, you should definitely try out Jeannie Lin.

Favorite Quotes

The pleasure rose and took him over until he could think of nothing but thrusting deeper into River’s welcoming body. He tangled a hand into her hair. Her legs curved and locked about his hips. They became nothing but shapes and sensation in the darkness.
River. His River. The reason why he’d come all this way. One final, fierce thrust and he spent himself into her.
Afterward, they lay together unmoving, skin flushed and damp with sweat.
“I dreamed of this,” he murmured, letting his head sink onto the curve of her shoulder. “I dreamed of you.”

Purchase Links: Amazon | B&N | Harlequin

goodread

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.

Review: Butterfly Swords by Jeannie Lin

Format: E-book
Read with: Amazon Kindle
Length: Novel
Genre: Historical Romance
Series: Harlequin Historical Publisher Series
Publisher: Harlequin
Hero: Ryam
Heroine: Shen Ai Li
Sensuality: 4
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.

Favorite Quotes

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.

Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes&Noble | BooksOnBoard | Harlequin

outstandingread