Sunday, August 25, 2013

The Lotus Palace-Jeannie Lin

The Lotus Palace

Jeannie Lin

Harlequin HQN, Aug 27 2013, $7.99

ISBN: 9780373777730

In 847 China, the ground shook the Lotus Palace several times but though frightened none of the courtesan residents, their maids, customers or Madame Sun were hurt. As she has her hair being done when another tremor occurs, top courtesan Mingyu tells her maid Yue-ying that she fears something happening to her but not from an earthquake. Taizhu the court historian visits Mingyu while drunken scholar Lord Bai Huang flirts with Yue-ying in spite of the red birthmark on her face and does so openly calling her Little Moon. When Bai claims a kiss, Yue-ying cuts him.

Magistrate Li Yen and Constable Wu Kaifeng investigate the murder of Huilan, one of the Four Beauties of the House of a Hundred Songs. Bai is a suspect because the victim possessed his official permit allowing her to travel at night outside the gated walls. As Bai and Yue-ying become embroiled in the murder inquiry, his family demands he wed their chosen aristocratic bride while he chooses the maid. However, she believes he is too above her station for anything except being his concubine; a position she cannot accept as that would break her heart.

The latest Tang Dynasty romance (see The Sword Dancer, My Fair Concubine, Butterfly Swords, and The Dragon And The Pearl) is an exciting action-packed historical murder mystery. The lead couple is a terrific taboo pairing that showcases the significance of class distinction in ninth century China; as no one brings this era to life better than Jeannie Lin consistently does.

Harriet Klausner

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