Thursday, May 22, 2014

Review: The Lotus Palace (The Pingkang Li Mysteries) by Jeannie Lin

Title: The Lotus Palace (The Pingkang Li Mysteries #1)
Author: Jeannie Lin
Source: Amazon Vine
Genre: Historical Romance, China
Length: Novel
Release Date: August 27, 2013
Reviewed by: Jasmyn

Rating - 4
Sexual - 3

It is a time of celebration in the Pingkang Li, where imperial scholars and bureaucrats mingle
with beautiful courtesans. At the center is the Lotus Palace, home of the most exquisite courtesans in China...

Maidservant Yue-ying is not one of those beauties. Street-smart and practical, she's content to live in the shadow of her infamous mistress—until she meets the aristocratic playboy Bai Huang.

Bai Huang lives in a privileged world Yue-ying can barely imagine, yet alone share, but as they are thrown together in an attempt to solve a deadly mystery, they both start to dream of a different life. Yet Bai Huang's position means that all she could ever be to him is his concubine—will she sacrifice her pride to follow her heart?

This was my first historical romance in Chinese culture.  I'd read some fantasy based on old myths, but never anything set in "real life."  The culture of the pleasure houses is very vibrant.  If the woman is considered a great beauty, she can live a life of ease - hosting grand parties and holding discussions with intellectuals and poets.  If the woman is flawed she becomes nothing more than a piece of flesh to buy and sell.  Mingyu is a great beauty, but her maidservant Yue-ying is flawed.  They are both shocked with the oldest son of a wealthy family, Bai Huang, begins to show an interest in Yue-ying.  (I did have a problem with the names at first just because they were very unfamiliar.)

During this time there are two horrible murders in the city, one of which is another courtesan, and Huang finds himself drawn into the investigation for a wide variety of reasons, dragging Yue-ying along with him.  This part of the story didn't flow as smoothly as the rest of the story for me.  It dragged quite often and slowed down the progress of the book overall.  I wish there had been either much more or less about it instead of it hovering uncertainly in the background for much of it.  It seemed to just be the excuse to get the two characters to have a conversation instead of a major driving force (which I think it was meant to be).

There is a HEA, but it seemed to be a little forced - but I won't be saying much more on that.  The romance was well written and I love how much of the culture was brought into the story.  From the clothing and hair accessories, to the family formalities it really brought the story to life.

*This book was received in exchange for an honest review*

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