My Fair Concubine by Jeannie Lin (Tang Dynasty #3)
May 22, 2012
Reviewed by Mandi
Set in China during the Chang Dynasty in 824, Fei Long has many problems. His father has recently died, and he now realizes how much debt his family is really in. On top of that, his father arranged a marriage with his sister and a man from Khitan. This marriage will restore his family’s honor and is a key political binding, but his sister has other plans. She has fallen in love with someone else and Fei Long decides to let her run away with him. Going to a tea house angry and tired, he just wants some peace. But instead he get a tea pot thrown at him by a very high-spirited girl.
Yan Ling has lived and worked at this teahouse her whole like, although the owners are not her parents. She doesn’t even like them that much. She threw the teapot because she thought he was propositioning her, but it was just a misunderstanding and as a result, the owners kick her out. As he leaves, she begs for his help as she has nowhere to go and Fei Long gets an idea. Why not pretend Yan Ling is his sister and groom her to go to Khitan in his sister’s place. They would be fooled, and his family’s honor would still be restored. Yan Ling, desperate for any type of future agrees to this plan.
I don’t think I’ve read a book with this setting and it really appealed to me. I think the author does a pretty good job with this setting and showing us the customs that I’m not all that familiar with. What this book suffers from is just being slow. I think an opportunity is lost because Fei Long has this great, pissed off attitude to start the book. He is alpha, yet struggles with being respectful in his family and place in politics. He has an edge to him but I don’t think we see that edge nor is it explored well throughout the book. What we get is to watch Yan Ling be schooled and transformed into a princess. I feel like the beginning and middle of this book really dragged. I also had a hard time understating Fei Long’s attraction to the much younger, naive Yan Ling.
Towards the end of the book, I do think their romance blossoms more and there are times that Fei Long’s stronger attitude makes an appearance. As I said, I like this setting, and find it different but this one drags too much for me.