Heat Factor: There is some sex at the end, but I frankly think that the book would have been better without it. (SHOCKING!) Not because it wasn’t hot, but because the pining was so much hotter.
Character Chemistry: Oh, the pining.
Plot: Fei Long’s sister was supposed to be a peace bride, but ran away instead. To save the family honor (and the peace agreement), Fei Long decides he’s going to pass off a teahouse girl as his sister.
Overall: The first half is slow, but the tension builds and builds and I really didn’t know how they were going to get out of their predicament.
As you may have gathered from the title and the description, this is a classic Pygmalion makeover story, wherein Fei Long is going to transform Yan Ling from a low-class hellion into a perfect woman (or at least a woman who can pass as nobility in a foreign court).
And as with the other books by Jeannie Lin that I’ve read, the setting and political intrigue are lush with detail and really engaging. Lin also excels at building tension. Even in this book, which is much less inclined towards suspense narrative than some of her other works, the stakes build and build as the characters are pulled further and further into their web of deceit—which is, of course, complicated by their emotional entanglements.
I will say that this is not my favorite book of Lin’s. The first half is slow, and Fei Long and Yan Ling are just pining and pining and telling themselves that they need to suck it up and stick to their agreement. (Because there really isn’t any way out—Fei Long has to supply a royal bride in a few months’ time, and it’s not like he has extra sisters stashed in the pantry.) But then something switched, and I don’t know if it was my brain settling in or Lin had subtly raised the tension just enough, but all of a sudden I was at the edge of my seat, wondering how these two were going to make it work. And it’s not like they stopped pining and started talking to each other! It’s more like, they kept on pining but occasionally would brush hands.
I would say, this is a decent read if you’re looking for something quiet but full of feelings, and if you’re interested in historical romance set in China.
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