Monday, August 5, 2013

REVIEW: "The Dragon and the Pearl" by Jeannie Lin


The Dragon and the Pearl (Tang Dynasty, #2)
The Dragon and the Pearl by Jeannie Lin
For Ages 18+
Historical Romance
Harlequin -- September 20, 201
Paperback, 288 pages
Purchased from Book Depository

THEMES
courtesan, alpha hero, politics, unique setting

SUMMARY
Former Emperor’s consort Ling Suyin is renowned for her beauty; the ultimate seductress. Now she lives quietly alone—until the most ruthless warlord in the region comes and steals her away....

Li Tao lives life by the sword, and is trapped in the treacherous, lethal world of politics. The alluring Ling Suyin is at the center of the web. He must uncover her mystery without falling under her spell—yet her innocence calls out to him. How cruel if she, of all women, can entrance the man behind the legend.

FIRST LINE
Lady Ling Suyin waited in the parlour at the edge of the Snake hour, her house rendered silent except for the buzz of dragonflies outside.

MY THOUGHTS
Historical romance is my genre of choice and has been for almost ten years.  In that time, I have read my fair share of Regency balls, medieval knights, and Scottish hotties.  And I have enjoyed them all...for the most part.  But, I do find myself getting a bit tired of the same old historical settings.  Therefore, I was ecstatic when I discovered Jeannie Lin's Imperial China-set romances.  I read and enjoyed her debut, Butterfly Swords, about two years ago so I had high expectations for the sequel, The Dragon and the Pearl.  And I absolutely adored this book with its fascinating historical details, uniquely designed characters, and surprisingly spicy romance.

This story focuses on two people who appear, at first, to have different backgrounds and different goals in life, but they slowly come to realize how similar they are.  Ling Suyin is a former courtesan to the late Chinese emperor and became known as the Precious Consort.  Suyin's past is mysterious and appears to have been very dark, but she strives not to let it effect her current outlook on life.  Her time in the Imperial Palace forced her to be sneaky and clever in order to survive.  Now that the August Emperor is dead, Suyin's goal is to live a peaceful life on her own without the intrigue and danger associated with palace life. 

Li Tao is a skilled warrior who is gathering troops and supplies in an effort to overthrow the current emperor and bring peace to the kingdom. He is a another character with a mysterious, dark past, but he overcame it by learning to fight and worked his way up the ranks of the Chinese military.  He does not trust easily and is determined to meet his ultimate goals no matter the cost to himself or the people around him.

These two intelligent, damaged people meet when Tao arrives at Suyin's home, "kidnaps" her, and takes her to his own secluded palace.  There they are forced to interact with one another and their attraction is obvious from the beginning.  Tao is trying to finish his war preparations while Suyin tries to convince him why his plan will be a disaster for him and his servants.  They started off as enemies, but slowly began to talk and trust each other with their deepest secrets.  I loved watching them learn about one another in a way that went beyond their physical relationship.

One of the things I love best about reading historical romance is the opportunity to learn about a different time and place through the main characters' stories.  The Dragon and the Pearl takes place during the Tang Dynasty (8th century), an era I know almost nothing about.  But, Jeannie Lin does a fantastic job of providing readers with plenty of information to help us understand what is going on without getting bogged down in details.  The political intrigue of imperial China fascinated me from beginning to end especially with the way that Tao and Suyin were forced to change from one side to another in order to achieve their goals. 

There's much more I would like to say about this book, but I feel like I would either be repeating myself or giving away too much for future readers.  So I will just conclude this review by saying that, while the pacing may have been a bit off in the middle, I really enjoyed this unique historical romance.  Tao and Suyin are both well-developed and flawed characters who have to go through quite a bit to get to their happy ending.  I am definitely going to continue reading Jeannie Lin's historicals and learning more about this fascinating time in history.


4 Stars


BOOKS IN THE SERIES
0.5. The Taming of Mei Lin
1. Butterfly Swords
2. The Dragon and the Pearl
2.5. The Lady's Scandalous Night
3. My Fair Concubine
3.5. An Illicit Temptation
4. The Sword Dancer

2 comments:

  1. Awesome review!!! I have been wanting to try out something different. I think its been many years since I have read a historical set in this type of setting. Going to add this to my list on GR immediately!!! Thanks for sharing this, I can't wait to read it! :)

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  2. Good review! I love Regency-era and Victorian historicals, but like you, every now and then I'd like something really different. These sound fascinating and well-written, a good way to explore an unfamiliar time and place.

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