Saturday, August 3, 2013
ARC Review: The Lotus Palace
Adult Historical Romance
Scheduled to release August 27
Source: Received a copy from the author in exchange for an honest review.
I really don't read much romance lately, having chosen to focus largely on YA lit but a new Jeannie Lin always causes me to clear room in my schedule. Therefore when I received this for review, I made sure to get it on my reading calendar. I was a little frightened after reading the author's note where she talks about how many classic Chinese love stories following a scholar and a courtesan have a tragic ending but I put my trust in Lin to weave another enchanting tale that gave me an appropriate ending-I don't read romance novels to have them end in death or separation!
As expected, Lin created two very strong characters in the persons of Yue-ying, maidservant to the beautiful courtesan in the district, and Bai Huang, aristocratic playboy with undiscovered depths. The big change-up this time is how the pair are investigating a murder mystery. Though Lin's books have touched on political conspiracies, this was the first one to have a mystery take such prominence although as may be expected, the romantic tension was the part I most enjoyed reading. Bai Huang plays the fool, the charming man who everyone loves to have around and I'm kind of a sucker for such a guy especially when he looks past the obvious physical charms of some women to see the real treasure that is Yue-ying.
However my favorite parts were definitely any mention of the restricted roles of women such as how courtesans might remain silent about a crime because the men in power don't listen to them or how women navigate the tricky narrow roles they do have in society. These are sprinkled sporadically throughout the novel but I eagerly ate up everyone and loved the picture they painted of society. You can try to keep women down but they're humans with agency and they'll fight back any way they can.
Overall: I'm a total Lin fangirl-I just adore her historical romances and her incredibly strong main characters. This is another winner!