Friday, February 18, 2011

Butterfly Swords by Jeannie Lin

Erotic romance adventure set in Ancient China.

During the journey to her arranged marriage ceremony, Ai Li learns outrageous secrets about her betrothed, Li Tao. A powerful governor and war hero. A man she has never seen, but to who she belongs now. Unable to become the wife of a warlord, who is plotting against her father and probably murdered one of her brothers. Ai Li needs to inform her father about Li Tao's betrayal. She escapes, breaking up with tradition. Disobeying her parents for the first time, Ai Li risks dishonouring her family name. Being the only daughter in a family of warriors, she doesn't hesitate to face the intrigues and dangers of imperial politics. In her returning path, she is closely pursued or attacked. Ryam, a barbarian warrior, rescues her.

Ai Li and Ryam, the most dissimilar beings, converge under surprising circumstances. Unbeknown to both, their fates are sealed on sight of one another. When he looks at Ai Li for the first time, Ryam sees a bright light in the middle of his darkness. Her kindness and beauty strike him and it's the start of a breathtaking adventure. After the initial mistrust, Ai Li and Ryam ally. She needs to safely return to the imperial city. And Ryam feels the need to protect her, even from himself. Being a foreigner, he is unlikely to be involved with her enemies.

Ryam is confused by an unhoped love and has many flaws, unusual for a hero. Historical romances are full of arrogant heroes, rich and powerful. Ryam is none of that. When they meet, he's starving. His only treasure is his sword and his own ability as a swordsman. Skill he doubts constantly. Ryam flutters between alpha and beta. His own fears break Ai Li's heart at one point, putting many in danger. However, there is something very touching in Ryam's devotion for Ai Li, hence his self-doubts are forgiven. Ryam finds a way to redeem himself, while learning about what being honorable really means.

The sensualism of the love scenes is beautifully conveyed by Jeannie Lin. Ryam is a passionate and tender lover. Hesitant at first, later eagerly introducing Ai Li to the pleasures of the flesh. They immerse in a torrid affair between sword fights. This is an engaging story with believable secondary characters, and one of the most painful black moments ever. There are a few elements in the plot that could have been improved, but in all, Butterfly Swords is extraordinary. I love this book. And I recommend it as a fast and entertaining read.

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