Tuesday, July 17, 2012

My Fair Concubine

Jeannie Lin’s best book so far

When Chang Fei Long tracks down his sister, Pearl, who is assigned to be a treaty bride that should marry a lord from a neighboring kingdom. He finds out she ran away with her lover, and realizing that she wasn't kidnapped, but found refuge in someone who helped her to escape, Fei Long doesn't kill her partner. Instead, he let them both run away.

Afterward, Fei Long is devastated, knowing that the salvation of his entire household, and the honor of his family depend of this arranged marriage. He sits down on a tea house to ponder the situation and concludes that what he needs is a woman to take the place of his sister.

Meanwhile, Yan Ling, an orphaned servant, serves Fei Long tea in the very moment he mutters his need for a woman, even someone as humble as her. Yan Ling misinterprets his intentions, and throws a pot of tea at him. Because of this, Yan Ling finds herself on the streets homeless, and while trying to convince Fei Long of talking to her masters to accept her back in the tea house, he instead proposes the deal of coming home with him, and training to act as a princess in order to take the place of his sister, marrying the lord from a neighboring kingdom, in behalf of the imperial court.

During the arduous process of transmuting from servant girl to princess, Yan Ling would make new friends, visit places she'd never dreamed of before, and of course, fall in love with Fei Long, who is conflicted between his family's honor and Yan Ling.

I've read all of Jeannie Lin's historical romance books; I loved the first one in this trilogy, and enjoyed the deep emotions of the second one. Compared to the previous books, My Fair Concubine is perfect, from the development of the characters to the breathtaking ending. Never before had Jeannie Lin captured the spirit of the Tang Dynasty better. I read on the author's website that the setting is based on an alternative history she created inspired by the Tang Dynasty's true history. However, while reading My Fair Concubine, the world the characters inhabit feels authentic as well as the culture and the social system of the times.

All the secondary characters are well developed, and my two favorites are Bai Shen, Fei Long`s theatrical friend and later Yan Ling's teacher. And Dao, who serves in Fei Long's household and becomes Yan Ling's best friend.

There aren't sex scenes until the very end, and the romance is rather sweet, but the sensual tension is intense. One interesting detail I noticed, specially during the last part of the book, is that there is a lot of romance in it, built with little tender moments, that ironically are so unusual in romance books nowadays.

I loved the way Fei Long admits his feeling for Yan Ling without saying I love you. And absolutely love the ending, which I guessed halfway the book, but still loved it. I also enjoyed the beautiful way the author described the used of the Chinese calligraphy in the story. While reading My Fair Concubine I laughed until I cried, and there were moments I got really misty-eyed too.

My Fair Concubine might have been inspired by My Fair Lady, which was based on an adaptation of George Bernard Shaw's Pygmalion. However, in my opinion, it has little similarities with those stories. My Fair Concubine is a complete satisfying story, while the original play and the movie are kind of ambiguous about the happy ending part. Besides, there is no true romance in My Fair Lady or Pygmalion.

I think that Jeannie Lin created an original work, where the characters are all unique. I highly recommend this book if you love historical romances with diverse characters and settings.


  1. Hello,

    I am interested in contracting your services for data retrieval. I saw your review of the Western Digital 2TB drive on Amazon and figured I would try to contact you.

    I have a dead Iomega 1TB raid drive that needs help. Still spins up, but the comp won't recognize it. I took it to a sketchy data retrieval place, but they quoted me $4800 to get anything back. I can't afford that.

    If you are interested and think you can help me cut that cost to much, much less I would love to hear back from you.

    You contact me at whoisanon@hushmail.com.

    Sorry for being off topic on your blog!



  2. Mike, it's okay to ask here, no problem. Thanks for the offer, but I never take jobs from online contacts, besides I'm too busy with a project that I missed the deadline twice.

    However, if you post the exact hard drive model I can try to see if I can help you online. If the hard drive still functions, there are few things you can do to access the data yourself. It's not that hard, as long as the hard drive has a controller that can be accessed. Unlike the Western Digital 2TB, which comes with a custom made one.

  3. I would like to offer you two new historical fiction novels to review. Both books are great reads and page turners.
    We would be happy to provide you the books in Kindle/Mobi or ePub format.
    Please let us know if we can send you a copy.
    Thanks very much for your consideration.

    1. Orphan of the Olive Tree - A family saga set in 13th century Tuscany Italy

    A deeply evocative story of lies, secrets, and betrayal, Orphan of the Olive Tree is a family saga of two unforgettable women, an oath sworn in blood, a curse uttered in envy, and the dark secret that destroys their lives. From two neighboring villas in the heart of the Tuscan countryside to the elegance of Siena; from a world steeped in ancient superstitions to a culture where family honor is paramount comes this multi-layered novel of the lives, loves, secrets and strivings of two women and their families in the 13th century. Felicia Ventura is an unpretentious woman, alone in the world, who is happily married to Enrico. She dreams of a simple future raising a family, but her hopes are shattered because of a curse and the casting of the evil eye by her envious neighbor, a Sicilian beauty named Prudenza. Prudenza is worldly and materialistic and her envy of Felicia knows no bounds. She casts the evil eye on her adversary. When Felicia gives birth to twin sons, Prudenza revives an ancient superstition and spreads a rumor that Felicia’s twins were fathered by different men. Soon, Prudenza gives birth to her own twins - daughters. Desperate to save face, Prudenza rids herself of one infant, keeping the child’s existence secret. But as the years go by, the truth has a way of making itself known. Soon Prudenza’s deception will lead to the unraveling of everything she values in life. Orphan of the Olive Tree is an unforgettable novel about wicked intentions, superstition, undisclosed secrets, unstoppable destinies; and two generations of women and the extraordinary event that will vindicate or destroy them.

    2. The Contessa's Vendetta

    To be buried alive is everyone’s worse nightmare.

    A deadly plague is killing thousands in 17th century Vicenza Italy. Contessa Mancini struggles to protect her family and servants, but despite her precautions, she is the one who falls prey to the deadly illness. Her body is tossed into a coffin and swiftly buried in the underground, dank confines of her family’s vault.

    But Contessa Mancini is not dead. No, she is very much alive. She awakens terrorized, trapped in dense darkness surrounded by the flimsy wood of the coffin they buried her in. Desperate, she claws and kicks until she escapes its stifling restraint, only to find herself trapped in the mausoleum with the decaying bodies of her ancestors. As she seeks to escape, she discovers a vast treasure of gold, silver, and gems secretly hidden in the vault by brigands, and the secret tunnel they used to hide it there.

    Free at last, she returns home to her beloved husband, her best friend, and her darling daughter. But before she reveals herself to her loved ones, she learns of an endless series of lies, deceits, and betrayal. As she unravels the labyrinth of shocking treachery, her wrath breathes life to an overwhelming need for vengeance. Slowly, meticulously, she launches her diabolocial vendetta.

    The Contessa’s Vendetta is a retelling of the classic novel, Vendetta by Marie Corelli. Inspired by this epic story, the author weaves her own captivating tale in a new setting, a new century, and with new plot twists while remaining faithful to the key story elements.