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Butterfly Swords (Mills & Boon Historical) (Mills & Boon Hardback Historical) Hardcover – 2 Dec 2011

5.0 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Mills & Boon; First edition edition (2 Dec. 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0263222888
  • ISBN-13: 978-0263222883
  • Product Dimensions: 0.1 x 0.1 x 0.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 3,864,010 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

About the Author

Jeannie Lin grew up fascinated with stories of Western epic fantasy and Eastern martial arts adventures. When her best friend introduced her to romance novels in middle school, the stage was set. Jeannie started writing her first romance while working as a high school science teacher in South Central Los Angeles. Her first two books have received starred reviews in Publishers Weekly and Library Journal and The Dragon and the Pearl was listed among Library Journal's Best Romances of 2011.

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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book is very good indeed it is a compulsive read as you are whisked along the twists and turns in the plot . I would recommend it to anyone who has a love of ancient culture as it is very insightful. With lots of period detail.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
Growing up in a rural, slate-roofed village deep in the countryside of southeast China, the only English books my Chinese fiancée had to read back then were a brittle copy of Tess of the d'Urbervilles and a set of Harlequin novels.

Yes, Harlequin, those pulpy paperbacks found on revolving wire racks at supermarket checkout aisles across North America and the UK. Their enticing cover art - usually, nay, always featuring shirtless, square-jawed men hovering millimeters away from the glistening-red lips of a damsel in distress - and formulaic flirt/fight/fall-in-love storylines mercilessly targeted housewives and secretaries longing for a 200-page escape from the dirty diapers and pot-bellied husbands of their mid-life realities.

As it turns out, it was by reading books like "Stormy Voyage" by Sally Wentworth and Roberta Leigh's "Two-Timing Man" (purchased used for 7 RMB out of a sidewalk vendor's book cart), amongst other Harlequin classics, that my fiancée managed to teach herself English (which explains her tendency to throw her head back dramatically whenever we kiss).

Curious how Harlequin, the forbidden fruit of literature, could be found anywhere in a Communist republic that has the world's most strict state-sponsored vetting process for publications, I was surprised to learn that in 1995 (about when my fiancée found her copies) Harlequin received official, red star-stamped permission to place half a million copies of twenty titles in Mandarin and a quarter-million copies of ten English versions on the shelves of Xinhua. Harlequin's stated goal: "to bring romance to millions of Chinese Women."

A [...] article on the increasing popularity of romance books in the P.R.C.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
This is a good example of why I should keep on trying books I think are out of my comfort-zone. I really doubted I could love a historical romance set in China. Why not? Because I knew next to nothing of China at that time (I hate feeling stupid). And I was scared of reading about a very different culture I was afraid I wouldn't understand. Prejudiced much? heh! Well I read Butterfly Swords and I'm glad for it. There isn't anything not to love in this book.

We're following Ai Li from the moment she flees before her wedding. Ai Li has been promised to a powerful war Lord by her parents. She accepted this arranged marriage as is the tradition but when she learns he's plotting against her father she flees to warn him. On her way back home she meets a man with blond hair and blue eyes. Ryam is considered a barbarian in these lands, a `white demon', and most of all he would be killed if he was found . Ryam meets Ai Li in a difficult position and decides to help her find her way home despite the facts that he knows nothing of this woman.

This book was an adventure. I don't even know where to start. Ai Li comes from a family of warriors. Her grand-mother taught her how to use her butterfly swords. She practiced fighting all her life, by herself or with her brothers. She is one tough cookie! I really really liked this character, she is strong and can take care of herself. She believes in honor and will always keep true to her words. Ryam doesn't belong anywhere. He's the soldier type, he's also a womanizer and loves to get into trouble. Those two know they can't have anything together. Ai Li comes from a powerful family and Ryam is a nobody. I loved that their relationship wasn't rushed.
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Format: Kindle Edition
One of the best romances I have ever read - absolutely fab. Very different from the usual run of the mill historical romances. Something special - shall look out for all Jeannie Lin's books in the future.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: HASH(0x9c41cc00) out of 5 stars 56 reviews
39 of 44 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9c438ec4) out of 5 stars Harlequin comes to China wielding Butterfly Swords 1 Dec. 2010
By Tom Carter - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Growing up in a rural, slate-roofed village deep in the countryside of southeast China, the only English books my Chinese fiancée had to read back then were a brittle copy of Tess of the d'Urbervilles and a set of Harlequin novels.

Yes, Harlequin, those pulpy paperbacks found on revolving wire racks at supermarket checkout aisles across North America and the UK. Their enticing cover art - usually, nay, always featuring shirtless, square-jawed men hovering millimeters away from the glistening-red lips of a damsel in distress - and formulaic flirt/fight/fall-in-love storylines mercilessly targeted housewives and secretaries longing for a 200-page escape from the dirty diapers and pot-bellied husbands of their mid-life realities.

As it turns out, it was by reading books like "Stormy Voyage" by Sally Wentworth and Roberta Leigh's "Two-Timing Man" (purchased used for 7 RMB out of a sidewalk vendor's book cart), amongst other Harlequin classics, that my fiancée managed to teach herself English (which explains her tendency to throw her head back dramatically whenever we kiss).

Curious how Harlequin, the forbidden fruit of literature, could be found anywhere in a Communist republic that has the world's most strict state-sponsored vetting process for publications, I was surprised to learn that in 1995 (about when my fiancée found her copies) Harlequin received official, red star-stamped permission to place half a million copies of twenty titles in Mandarin and a quarter-million copies of ten English versions on the shelves of Xinhua. Harlequin's stated goal: "to bring romance to millions of Chinese Women."

A China.Org article on the increasing popularity of romance books in the P.R.C. concurred with Harlequin's audacious move: "Chinese women today have new demands for their Prince Charming: first, he must be powerful and distinguished...next, he must unlimited financial resources." Wosai! No wonder China has become home to the world's highest surplus of single men!

Harlequin, which puts out 1,500 new titles annually in over 100 international markets, has yet to think up a romance set in present-day China (possible storyline: wealthy, second-generation Beijing businessman seduces sexy xiaojie with his shiny black Audie, pleather man-purse and a thick stack of redbacks; he agrees to save her Anhui village from being bulldozed by corrupt cadres if she will become his kept woman.). Until that day, we will have to entertain ourselves with stories set in China's olden times starring princesses and concubines.

Enter Jeannie Lin, Harlequin's rising red-star of romance writing. She isn't the first author on Harlequin's roster to set her books in China (that honor goes to Jade Lee and her infinite "Tigress" series). But Lin's debut novel, Butterfly Swords, has been attracting a viral buzz louder than a summertime cicada not just for being the first Harlequin novel to NOT feature a man on the cover, but for using an Asian model as the cover girl, another Harlequin first.

The star of Butterfly Swords is a Chinese woman, yes. But to give American readers something that they can relate to, the male love interest of Lin's novel is not a Chinese but a wandering whiteboy from the west. Ryam is drifting around the Tang empire begging for food (this sounds exactly like my own travels across China!) when he spots a disguised female being attacked by a pack of marauding bandits. The swordsman, who evokes images of bare-chested, fur underwear-wearing Thundarr the Barbarian from the eponymous 80's cartoon, rescues her, then agrees to escort her home. Little does Ryam know that young Ai Li is really a princess on the run from an arranged marriage to a dastardly warlord. The two proceed on their journey together across the 7th-century frontier, getting in adventures and slowly but surely falling in love.

Pitting strength, courage and her fabulous butterfly swords against the forces of evil, Ai Li proves herself in the battlefield ("With Ai Li's swords and determined spirit it was easy to forget that she was innocent"). But where the book has significant cultural crossover appeal is in author Jeannie Lin's ability to keenly capture the multi-dimensional perspectives of both characters throughout their budding interracial relationship.

From Ryam's course communicative abilities ("Where did you learn how to speak Chinese" Ai Li asks him, laughing. "You sound like you were taught in a brothel") to his struggles with his inner-white demons as a big, bad bai gui ("It was so much easier to seduce a woman than talk to her"), the reader is introduced not to some empty-headed he-man but a complex male of the species who is genuinely torn between his biological needs and respecting Ai Li's virtue. "I don't understand what she's talking about half the time," Ryam grumbles to himself. "Everything is about honor and duty." Surely even expats living in present-day P.R.C. can relate to this dilemma.

Ai Li, meanwhile, finds herself attracted not only to Ryam's "musky scent" and "sleek muscles" (Harlequin prerequisites; don't blame the authoress), but his sincerity ("There was nothing barbaric about him. His manner was direct and honest. It was her own countrymen she needed to be worried about."). The protagonist does find herself frustrated with "this swordsman with blue eyes and the storm of emotions that came with him," but, true to life, Ai Li comes with her own personality flaws as well ("she was being irrational and she knew it").

Of course, it wouldn't be a Harlequin without passionate love scenes, something my fiancée missed out on in the heavily-censored Chinese versions. This Jeannie Lin does in the poetic prose of a Tang Dynasty-era pillow book yet with just enough creatively-provocative language to keep sex-numbed westerners interested ("Ryam slipped his fingers into her silken, heated flesh...her body went liquid and damp in welcome."). And thankfully without ever once resorting to the word "loin."

Ryam proves himself to be an ideal lover for nubile Ai Li, "rough enough to make her breath catch, gentle enough to have her opening her knees," though one can't help but wonder how these two nomadic warriors can go so long without bathing nor brushing their teeth yet still manage to say things like "her mouth tasted just as sweet as he remembered." If only real life were as hygienic as a Harlequin novel.

One of the reasons why Harlequin is able to sell over 100 million units per year (the most profitable publishing company in the industry) is because every book is part of a series. There are no individual Harlequin titles, which brilliantly leaves the reader yearning for more from the characters they have literally become so intimate with. In this respect, Butterfly Swords concludes with a wide opening that screams sequel, but thankfully lacks the typical Harlequin-happy ending of matrimonial bliss.

One familiar with Chinese culture can't help but wonder, then, what kind of future Ai Li and Ryam actually have together: in reality, Ai Li would put on weight, cut her hair short and become a shrill nag; her parents and grandparents would all move into their cramped apartment, and a frustrated Ryam, now with beer-belly, would spend more and more time at card games and with karaoke parlor hostesses than at home.

But before the infuriating realties of interracial marriage set in, we hope Jeannie Lin has at least a few more of her trade-mark sword fights and steamy sensuality in store.

###
16 of 20 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9c438f18) out of 5 stars Okay Read With Wonderful Setting (B- Grade) 24 Sept. 2010
By Katie Babs - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Butterfly Swords is set during a unique time period in the Tang Dynasty in 758 AD China. Ai Li, the daughter of an emperor, is betrothed to marry, Li Tao, a warlord. This is an arranged marriage and one that Ai Li doesn't want because she has found out that her husband-to-be has plotted against her family and may have killed one of her brothers. Ai Li has always been the dutiful daughter, but in this case she will defy her parents' wishes and return to them and tell them what she knows, regardless if she will be disgraced in their eyes. As she's returning home, she's set upon by thugs, pretending to be bandits, thanks to one of her father's lieutenants who wants to help her. She runs off with this group of men, uncertain of her future. She trusts no one and will disguise herself as a boy using her trusty butterfly swords to protect her seeing as she has been trained in the art of sword fighting.

Things become even more complicated when Ai Li is almost drugged at a tavern. She is saved from a blue-eyed barbarian called Ryam, who is cruelly nicknamed the White Demon. Ryam is also skilled with a sword, but has become an outcast since he's not a native of Ai Li's country. He arrived in this land five years ago through the silk trade and has outlasted his welcome. Even though Ai Li is grateful for his aid, she is wary of him because he could be working for Li Tao. But because Ai Li is a woman all alone, she throws caution to the wind, and asks Ryam for protection, to be her bodyguard of sorts. Ryam thinks Ai Li is very beautiful, as well as deceitful. He doesn't believe her when she says she comes from a family of tea merchants. But against his better judgment, Ryam will escort Ai Li home, who he nicknames Ailey.

Ai Li and Ryam are surrounded by danger everywhere they turn. And even though they're both skilled with their swords, they must constantly be on their toes. As they hurry on their travels, they begin to know one another better, and soon their attraction for one another grows into an explosive passion they know will not end well. And when Ryam finally figures out who Ai Li is, and who she's running from, he's backed into a corner. Ai Li is in a worse position, whose parents are dismayed over her behavior and refuse to listen to her pleas. The only people she can turn to are her grandmother and youngest brother, who are not powerful enough to stop Li Tao who is on his way to claim her. Ai Li may have no choice but to exile herself away from all those she loves, although Ryam is more than willing to love and cherish her despite all the odds against them.

Butterfly Swords is a very unique story. Jeannie Lin has written a rich tale and one amazing heroine in that of Ai Li, who because of her strong nature, will sacrifice so much because of the deep love she has for her family. Not only does Ai Li have incredible fighting skills that put some of her male counterparts to shame, but she refuses to sit back and do what's expected of her regardless of how wrong it may be. Ai Li is a heroine with "balls." She stands up for herself and those around her knowing the outcome may end badly.

As for Ryam, I found him to be a very weak character with no spirit and only his fighting skills to recommend for him. I was very disappointed in his portrayal. I was very excited about the idea of an interracial romance, but Ryam has no real depth or dimension. He's the type of hero you can plunk down in any romance during any time period. He's more of a wallpaper type character if anything. Whereas Ai Li is amazingly written, Ryam held no appeal or substance for me. He seemed so out of place, and I don't mean because he's a stranger in a strange land. He's adequate in his role, but not much more than that. And when I reached the point where I wanted the main focus to remain Ai Li and her interactions with her family, rather than with Ryam, that became a big problem for me as a reader.

I also found Ai Li and Ryam's proclamations of love all too fast. When Ai Li first meets Ryam, she keeps her distance, and rightly so, because she doesn't know what Ryam's motivations are. But then as the walk, talk... walk and talk some more on their travels, she suddenly has this epiphany that she wants Ryam above all else. And this necessarily doesn't have anything to do with her physical attraction to him. I just couldn't get a good sense on why she wants Ryam so much.

The ending is too pat and the conclusion of Ai Li and Ryam's HEA didn't work for me. I shook my head a few times during what is the final fighting scene.

The love scenes are well written and I very much enjoyed Ai Li's family and the setting, But, with the lack of chemistry between Ai Li and Ryam, as well as Ryam not having enough dimension, I would say Butterfly Swords had merit, but overall it missed the high points I had been anticipating.

Katiebabs
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9cd000f0) out of 5 stars A Fresh New Voice in Historical 7 Oct. 2010
By MORWAreviews - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Jeannie Lin has written a historical romance set in 758 CE China during the Tang Dynasty. Shen Ai Li, daughter of the Emperor, has been betrothed to Li Tao to seal an alliance between the Emperor and his rival. Before she can be married, however, she learns that Li Tao was responsible for the death of one of her brothers and that he is amassing a large army to usurp the throne from Ai Li's father.

Ai Li is determined to warn her father of Li Tao's perfidy. First, though, she must travel across country, even as she is being chased by Li Tao's soldiers, to the Emperor's palace. When she gives a beggar a rice bowl, he turns out to be a barbarian. Her body guards are drugged and she runs into the forest. The beggar, a swordsman of some skill, is Ryam. He rescues her as Li Tao's men try to capture her.

Ryam promises to see her safely to the Imperial city, no easy task considering Li Tao wants her back. On the way to the Imperial city, Ryam recognizes that he is deeply attracted to Ai Li. He also knows that there is no hope for a relationship between Ai Li and himself. Nevertheless, the attraction is mutual and continues to grow as they run for their lives.

Lin has written a fast-paced adventure story, a historical, and, above all, a love story. Her characters, Ryam and Ai Li, are strong, intelligent, well drawn, and come alive for the reader. She has included many historical details without overwhelming the reader and her story with minutiae.

If you love your romantic stories set in distant times and far away places, Butterfly Swords should be on the top of your list.
6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9c24e1bc) out of 5 stars Bold and Beautiful, Seriously Breathtaking 12 Oct. 2010
By TicToc - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition
Ai Li is the number six child of the family Chang during the Tang Dynasty. Trained in the ancient art of butterfly swords by her grandmother, she is no meek woman, she is a warrior. As with most women of the time she is sent off to be married to Li Tao, to help cement relations between their lands. Ai Li learns of her intendeds duplicity as well as his involvement in the death of her brother and realizes that he is a traitor. She takes the advice of an old lieutenant, Wu, dresses as a young lad and escapes her promised husband in order to warn her father of his treachery.

Ai Li is a strong and independent woman, but is also very respectful of her parents and their traditions. While she does not want to marry a man she does not know, she follows her family's wishes.

When she escapes, she knowingly breaks tradition, but feels that her family would understand when they learn of Li Taos part in the death of her number four brother. It is during this juncture that she meets Ryam a barbarian from another country. She is kind to a stranger when she could just ignore him; she does not treat him as most foreigners are treated. She is a mix of strength and femininity with a very good heart.

Ryam is trying to forget his part in the death of his comrades. He is in a strange land with nothing but his sword and his wits to protect him. When he first spots Ai Li, she is dressed as a young man. He sees through her disguise immediately and is amused that she seems to be pulling it off. He gets involved when Ai Li is being attacked, where he then becomes her one man rescue. Not that she is not capable and very deadly with her butterfly swords as he sees for himself. He is fascinated by the contrast between the purity of her womanliness and the strength of her skills with the swords.

As Ryam agrees to stay with her till she gets home to Changan, they run into many serious satiations where each is required to draw on their deepest internal spirit to get them through. They are being pursued by Ai Li's bridegroom, Li Taos, who will not allow himself to lose face by her desertion. As a consequence of them traveling together, they begin to learn about each other as well as develop a trust based of mutual respect. What neither of them anticipates is the attraction, which is there right from the beginning. On Ryam's part this attraction is visceral and raw; he is hard put to keep himself away from her. The glances cause heat and you can feel his tension and his urgency. Since he has made himself her protector, he continues to try to protect her against himself. Ai Li also feels the attraction but is very aware of the situation she is in. She is still betrothed to another man, and while she at least hopes her family will understand why she has left and possibly caused them embarrassment, she is also even more aware of his foreignness and how it will be accepted by her family. Every touch, every look, between the two of them has you yearning for more. There must be a way for them to be together, as their tension strains at the very bond that holds them together.

This is a wonderful story of family and how they come together; it is about learning to trust yourself as well as those around you. Jeannie Lin brings the time and place together in such an amazing way, almost as though you were watching it through the words. This is a brutal time and place in history but also a time of the most famous of love stories, the most beautiful poetry and the most exquisite fashion . She has brought us to a place in history and brought it to life; she has allowed us to see what many have never had a glimpse of. The story was well told, the romance bold but sweet, and the characters were exactly what was needed to bring it all together. There were a few times in the story where it bogged down a bit, causing it to lose momentum, but over all, it was a wonderful read.

Summary

Ai Li has escaped her intended husband in order to inform her father of his treachery as well as his involvement in the death of her brother. She has not gotten very far before her would be rescuers decide to become her captors. Ryam is unwittingly drawn into this by the kindness that she has shown him. When he saves her, only to be saved by her in return, they become traveling companions as she races to reach her father.

They are pursued by her intended Li Tao, and run into danger and excitement at every turn. Ai Li is well trained in the ancient art of Butterfly Swords by her Grandmother, unbeknownst by her mother. This is not what well bread young women do. They are obedient and follow their father's wishes.

Ai Li is a mixture of amazing strength as well as a source of innocence. Ryam is a barbarian in a land of refinement. They are meant to be together, but they may be in the wrong time and the wrong place. Butterfly Swords is a fast paced and energetic book with wonderful characters. Will they be able to break the bonds of obedience, and what will happen to their forbidden love?

This book is a free ARC ebook received from Net Galley. All opinions are my own based off my reading and understanding of the material.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9c24e3fc) out of 5 stars What an adventure! 1 Oct. 2010
By Cate Rowan, fantasy romance author - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
It's release day for this book and I'd pre-ordered it so it would be here ASAP. I'd read the author's The Taming of Mei Lin and utterly loved it, so I had high expectations. No disappointment here! What a delicious whirlwind of action, adventure and love.

The setting in Tang Dynasty China dazzles. It's such a wonderful change from the usual, and I loved getting a feel for the country and its landscapes. The culture differences add a wonderful dimension, and honor, family loyalty, and scheming imperial intrigue play key roles in the story. I cared about the sword-wielding heroine and hero, and as they fled pursuers, I worried for their lives and their love. I couldn't figure out how the author would pull off a happy ending between the daughter of a Chinese emperor and a blond "barbarian" without rank or family--but she did, with flair and terrific plot twists at the end.

I can't wait to get my hands on the author's next book! (I also hope the hero of it will be the character I guessed. YUM.)
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