Tuesday 25 July 2023

CBR15 Book 32: "The Dragon and the Pearl" by Jeannie Lin

Page count: 366 pages
Rating: 4 stars

CBR15 Bingo: Asia/Oceania (set in 8th Century China)

15-word review: Chinese warlord and infamous courtesan to the former Emperor rusticate among the bamboo. Love blossoms. 

Ling Suyin used to be one of the now-deceased Emperor's favourite consorts. Known for her beauty, grace, and arts of seduction, she now lives far away from the court, quite happy with her retirement. As a former concubine to the Emperor, Ling Suyin is supposed to remain loyal to him to her dying day, something that makes her feel rather lonely. One day, Li Tao, one of the former emperor's most ruthless warlords shows up on her doorstep with a detachment of soldiers. He claims she's in danger, and he's taking her away for her own safety. He's not taking no for an answer, and soon Ling Suyin finds herself on his large estate, hidden far into the bamboo forest, his honoured "guest", whether she wants to be or not. 

Li Tao has heard rumours that someone may be on their way to assassinate Ling Suyin, yet being a wary and paranoid man, he's also not ruling out the possibility that this rumour has been started specifically to get him into contact with the beautiful woman, so she can influence him and manipulate him on behalf on some unknown patron. He tries to remain unaffected by her grace and beauty, but as he spends more time with her, he also sees how kind and down-to-earth she is. Both of them came from poor backgrounds and rose to unbelievable positions within the court of the emperor, and now they may have a common enemy.

This is the first Jeannie Lin book I have read, so I haven't yet read Butterfly Swords, the first novel in this series, where Li Tao seems to have been the antagonist. Apparently, fans responded very favourably to him and kept asking that he get his own book, and the author was fascinated enough by the character that she too wanted to continue his story. Now that I've finally read one of her books, I feel really bad that this book had been on my TBR list since 2013, and I'm absolutely going to be reading more of her stories.

I don't really know all that much about Chinese history, so this book was really interesting, not just for the romance aspect, that works really well and contains some surprising developments as Ling Suyin and Li Tao come to trust each other more. While my degree is in European medieval history, it doesn't mean that I don't also love to find out more about other cultures and their histories. Jeannie Lin is clearly one of the authors I should read more of to learn even more. 

Judging a book by its cover: I don't have a lot to say about this cover, except that I think it's really beautiful. 

Crossposted on Cannonball Read

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