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The Sword Dancer (Mills & Boon Historical) Paperback – 7 Jun 2013
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|Paperback, 7 Jun 2013||
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"Jeannie Lin writes a story with the feel of a pictorial saga, rich with history and mythology. Her characters are vibrantly portrayed with endearing qualities of bravado, wit and seductive charm. Very enjoyable." USA Today" --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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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Li has indeed been up to no good - a tyrant warlord called General Wang rules Fujian province and she has been one of the dissidents stealing his grain and returning it to taxed, impoverished villagers. A shipment of jade and gold however was far more serious. From this the girl took three jade pendants, kin to one which is all she has left of her mother. Now she's enquiring about the jade, but the craftsmen have reported her. Han loses her and catches her again, then decides to take her on the back of his horse to Taining city to collect his payment. The magistrates will sentence her to a beating, maybe worse... even execution. The resourceful Li Feng however pretends that he is a slave trader and angry inn patrons come to her aid - but for how long can she evade him? Han is determined to see if there is any truth to the tale of corruption she has exposed.
I loved the descriptions of China in the 800s, with public bath houses in the cities and outlaws in the 'rivers and lakes' terrain. Food is largely rice and vegetables, meat being for the wealthy; also the meat may be snake. Bamboo is used to manufacture anything from hats to scaffolding. The characters speak carefully to those of higher status, flattery and saving face being all-important. Salt is taxed and so of course smuggled, and I was fascinated to read of its production from brine wells. A girl who was sold by a poor family is trained as a silken courtesan - not itself a bad life, since she is well provided for and treated with respect.
Jeannie Lin acknowledges her debt to Jennifer Roberson's 'Sword Dancer' fantasy series about Tiger and Del, and there is a clear similarity to the film 'Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon' with its remarkable visuals. I found THE SWORD DANCER a wonderful romantic adventure tale of China, with a heroine we can all admire.
The premise focuses on sword dancer Li Feng avenging the loss of her family and Hao Han, a thief-collector whose latest target is Li Feng and the troupe of performers and dancers with whom she is travelling. As one of the most regaled thief-collectors it is Han's duty to hunt those held responsible for crimes against the government and the people, but his latest target slowly chips away at the cold façade and heart of a man whose life revolves around crime and punishment.
The storyline follows Han and Li Feng as they play a game of cat and mouse, all the while Li Feng searching for the man/men responsible for destroying her family and her childhood. While Han wants the man brought to justice, Li Feng wants revenge and retribution. Not only does Li Feng run for her life, but for her heart as well, as she begins to fall for the man ordered to bring her in.
Throughout the story the couple will discover that the search for those responsible goes much deeper than they first suspect. The storyline is awash in political intrigue and mystery, death and loss, action and adventure, suspense, espionage and vigilante justice. And we cannot forget about the developing relationship between Han and Li Feng. There is a mutual attraction between the pair: what started out as hunter and the hunted will become one of friendship out of necessity; and lovers over time.
The world building is smooth as well as the intricate personal and cultural details of the historical Tang Dynasty. Character development is fluid as we learn the truth behind Li Feng's life on the run, her family history and the mysterious jade pendant she holds close to her heart. Li Feng is a strong, independent woman who strives for the ultimate act of revenge. Hao Han's decision to search for those who break the law and his decision to keep family and business separate pushes him forward but he will eventually have to face the reality that the woman he seeks to bring in is the woman who stole his heart. As a thief-catcher, he has caught the ultimate law-breaker or has the law-breaker caught Hao Han? There is a fine line between right and wrong, and only retribution for those who have loved and lost.
Jeannie Lin pulls the reader into an exotic world of sword dancers, Asian culture and the fight for political and financial control of one of the world's precious minerals. From the street vendors and entertainers to the political back rooms where deals are made and broken, THE SWORD DANCER is a fascinating and colorful storyline with a likeable couple that I would definitely like to hear more about.
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Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
I found The Sword Dancer to be a delightful read. It tells the story of Li Feng who has a mysterious past that has led her to not always living in the most legal way. She becomes ensnared with the infamous thief-catcher, Han, and these two end up in a cat-and-mouse game that was as entertaining as it was suspenseful. Both characters are richly drawn and given opportunities to develop as people. Han has to deal with having a narrow view of right and wrong while Li Feng is forced to figure out how to trust other people. It is always fun to read about intelligent, capable characters and these two definitely fit the bill.
The romance between Li Feng and Han is full of adventure and banter. A significant amount of the first half of the book shows them constantly running into one another. They take turns outwitting the other which just increases the already existing sexual tension. And, when they finally join forces to figure out the truth behind Li Feng's past, the rest of the China better watch out. I loved the respect that they showed one another and how the author made sure readers knew the obstacles ahead of them. Li Feng and Han have to overcome a lot to get their happy ending and it is well worth the struggle.
Like the other Tang Dynasty books I've read, The Sword Dancer is full of vibrant settings and details. I know very little about this time period, but I felt like the world could just jump off the pages. There is a ton of information given to readers yet it never felt like I was reading a lecture or just pages of description. It takes a skilled writer to infuse an adventure romance with so much historical detail and Lin definitely accomplishes that task.
I recommend The Sword Dancer, or any of Jeannie Lin's other romances, for any reader who wants something different in their historical romance. I read historicals to learn about the past and also find myself engulfed in it. That definitely happened here and I hope others take the plunge. I can't wait to read more in this series and I'm glad that I finally dug this one out of the depths of my e-reader.