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My Fair Concubine

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The Nobleman Who Turned a Tea Girl Into a Princess... Yan Ling tries hard to be servile—it's what's expected of a girl of her class. Being intelligent and strong-minded, she finds it a constant battle. Proud Fei Long is unimpressed by her spirit—until he realizes she's the answer to his problems. He has to deliver the emperor a "princess." In two months can he train a tea g The Nobleman Who Turned a Tea Girl Into a Princess... Yan Ling tries hard to be servile—it's what's expected of a girl of her class. Being intelligent and strong-minded, she finds it a constant battle. Proud Fei Long is unimpressed by her spirit—until he realizes she's the answer to his problems. He has to deliver the emperor a "princess." In two months can he train a tea girl to pass as a noblewoman? Yet it's hard to teach good etiquette when all Fei Long wants to do is break it, by taking this tea girl for his own... 


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The Nobleman Who Turned a Tea Girl Into a Princess... Yan Ling tries hard to be servile—it's what's expected of a girl of her class. Being intelligent and strong-minded, she finds it a constant battle. Proud Fei Long is unimpressed by her spirit—until he realizes she's the answer to his problems. He has to deliver the emperor a "princess." In two months can he train a tea g The Nobleman Who Turned a Tea Girl Into a Princess... Yan Ling tries hard to be servile—it's what's expected of a girl of her class. Being intelligent and strong-minded, she finds it a constant battle. Proud Fei Long is unimpressed by her spirit—until he realizes she's the answer to his problems. He has to deliver the emperor a "princess." In two months can he train a tea girl to pass as a noblewoman? Yet it's hard to teach good etiquette when all Fei Long wants to do is break it, by taking this tea girl for his own... 

30 review for My Fair Concubine

  1. 4 out of 5

    Khanh, first of her name, mother of bunnies

    My Fair Lady in Tang Dynasty China? Yes, please! In the field of fiction, Jeannie Lin's novels are unicorns. They are the rarest of mythical creatures: Historical Romances set in Tang Dynasty, China. I have always loved Jeannie Lin's romances, and this is among my favorite of her novels. This book is delightful in every way. We have a truly compelling situation, the "My Fair Lady" scenario isn't made on a whim, there is familial honor and duty at stake. There is a wonderful supporting cast, from My Fair Lady in Tang Dynasty China? Yes, please! In the field of fiction, Jeannie Lin's novels are unicorns. They are the rarest of mythical creatures: Historical Romances set in Tang Dynasty, China. I have always loved Jeannie Lin's romances, and this is among my favorite of her novels. This book is delightful in every way. We have a truly compelling situation, the "My Fair Lady" scenario isn't made on a whim, there is familial honor and duty at stake. There is a wonderful supporting cast, from the spirited maidservant Dao to the irrepressible Bai Shen (OHMIGOD I LOVE HIM), and a love story that builds gradually. There is no insta-love here. This is truly a fantastic book. The Summary: Yan Ling turned to wipe down her already-cleaned table once more when the stranger spoke. ‘I need a woman,’ he mumbled. ‘Any woman would do.’ Fei Long does need a woman, but not in the way you would imagine. Fei Long is a Tang Dynasty nobleman, and he is a noble man in every sense of the word. He is kind, he is a benevolent master, an obedient son, but an absent one. His father has died, and he has returned home to find it in chaos. Debt collectors are pounding at the door, and to make matters worse, his little sister, Pearl, is nowhere to be seen. She has eloped with their neighbor. This would be a bad enough situation on its own, but what makes it considerably worse is that his sister is not free to marry. Pearl was supposed to have been elevated to the rank of Imperial Princess, then sent off to marry the far-away Khitan king. A wedding of convenience, one that would ensure the peace of two nations, one that would secure the wealth and honor of the family line. And now she is eloped to someone else. Fei Long catches up with the lovers, but does not have the heart to force his beloved sister into an unwanted marriage. He lets them go. His sister had turned to Han because she’d had no one else. The tension drained out of Fei Long, stealing away his rage. His throat pulled tight as he forced out the next word. ‘Go.’ The two of them stared at him in disbelief. ‘Go,’ he repeated roughly. Well, fuck, now Fei Long is truly screwed. He doesn't have a sister to deliver to Khitan, but at least his sister is happy. Now, do you see why Fei Long needs a woman? Enter Yan Ling. A 19-year old teahouse maid, down on her luck, hungry day in and out. When the drunk Fei Long mutters "I need a woman" to her, what else is she to think? She throws a pot of tea at him. She regrets it immediately. One impulsive action got her fired, and onto the streets. She begs Fei Long for help, it was HIS fault that she got fired, after all. Fei Long looks at her...and has other ideas. ‘I have a proposal for you.’ ‘I know exactly what sort of proposal you mean.’ She shook an accusing finger at him. ‘I don’t care how rich you are, I was right to pour that tea on you.’ Her step quickened. ‘Leave me alone. I may not be learned or wear expensive clothes like you, but I’m a respectable girl. I won’t do...do that.’ ‘That wasn’t what I meant.’ Yan Ling is passably pretty. She's got fire in her, a fire that his timid, demure sister lacks. With enough training, her edges sharpened down, Yan Ling could pass as his sister. And let's face it, a life as a royal princess in Khitan is better than a life on the street any day. A ripple of pleasure ran through her, lazy and warm with promise. She would never need to worry about being cold or hungry again. Her back wouldn’t ache from serving customers from the first light of day to deep in the night. The training is difficult and tedious. It is no easy feat to be a lady, as Yan Ling soon learns. For example, despite the fact that she has worked at a tea house for years, she doesn't know proper tea etiquette. ‘And when you took the cup from me, you did it with one hand.’ Had she? ‘Two hands,’ he went on. ‘With a slight bow of your head as you accept the cup.’ Heaven and earth, she didn’t even know how to drink tea properly! She, who had grown up in a teahouse. And don't even mention the dresses, Jesus Christ! How the fuck does one move properly in those things?! The cloth pooled around her feet as she tried to move forwards, wrapping about her ankles until he was certain she would topple. Fortunately she didn’t. She kicked at the train, much like—heaven help him—one would kick a stray dog. He raised a hand over his mouth. ‘Are you laughing at me?’ Yan Ling is smart, persistent. She is so innocent, so eager to please. She is truly grateful to Fei Long for bringing her into this whole situation. For the first time in her life, she has friends, she has company, she feels needed. The last weeks in the Chang household had been the happiest time she’d ever known. She wore the fanciest silks and ate delicious meals from painted plates and bowls. More precious than that, she had companionship. True companionship that came from the time that was her own. Fei Long has the fantastic Bai Shen to help her to be a lady. Bai Shen may be a man, but he is an accomplished actor, and he's more *snaps fingers* fa-bu-lous than you will ever be. ‘There are a thousand looks. A hundred gestures. I’ve studied them all.’ He circled his hand with a flourish. ‘The secret is to create the illusion. You don’t need it all. Emphasise certain characteristics and the audience will believe.’ And she'd better succeed in all of this girly shit. There's feminine honor on the line! She can't be outdone by a man! ‘And don’t forget you have one grand advantage,’ he said. ‘What is that?’ He shrugged. ‘You actually are a woman.’ Teehee. Fei Long is not absent. He has been tutoring her, watching her, seeing her grow in confidence day by day. He has his doubts, he has his fears. There is so much responsibility on his shoulders, but Fei Long is not alone. ‘You don’t need to thank me for anything,’ he said gently. ‘I should be thanking you.’ ‘Because we’re in this together,’ she said uncertainly. He nodded, breathing deep. ‘Together.’ As the days go by, as they encounter more challenges to their lives, as the past catches up to them, will they ever be able to overcome their differences? Will Fei Long be able to overcome his stern exterior--will his need to do what's right destroy the spark of life within the woman he loves? Fei Long could hear Yan Ling’s laughter just over his shoulder while he sat in isolation, unable to share in it. He was the only one not in disguise that night, yet he was the one hiding. When the time comes to deliver Yan Ling to the Khitan, will he ever be able to let her go? The Setting: AWESOME. Oh my god, if you've ever watched a Chinese drama, you will love this book. We see the city of Changan, vibrant with color. Wealth was in the red banners cascading from the balconies of the wine-houses and restaurants of Changan. The rainbow bolts of silk in the marketplace. Even the fruit piled in the stalls sparkled like jewels: rosy peaches and startling pink dragonfruit with green-tipped scales. There is an ample amount of detail, and the Chinese fangirl within me loved all of it. From the Chinese theatres, to the street stalls, to the mansion itself and its furnishings. There is no shortage of the life and color and beauty of Ancient China within these pages. Yan Ling: I absolutely adore her character, and how she grows. Bai Shen tells her to be a phoenix in the book, and I can see her transformation. From spirited, irreverent teahouse maid, to a demure lady who could pass as a princess, we see every step of her transformation. Yan Ling starts off being completely in awe of Fei Long, and who can blame her? She is no doormat, but she wants to please him, she wants to do right by him, because he has rescued her from the streets. Yan Ling has so much faith in Fei Long, she completely trusts him. ‘Promise me you’ll stay beside me the entire time.’ ‘I promise.’ His gaze held on to her and she knew then that Fei Long wouldn’t let anything happen. She would do this for him. So he could be proud and think well of her. Yan Ling grows, but she never becomes weak. She becomes a lady, but she is never cowed. Her feelings for Fei Long grows bit by bit, but she knows it is hopeless, because of where it will all lead. ‘Ah, of course.’ Her throat tightened around the words. ‘The grand scheme, above all else.’ Whatever romantic aspirations Yan Ling has is completely solidified by reality: Yan Ling is not a silly girl, she knows her dream is just a dream. He felt nothing. None of the unwanted fire within her. Silly girl, why would he? In the end, we will see clearly that Yan Ling has more strength and bravery within her than we would ever have expected. Fei Long: A truly admirable character. He is stern and seriously because he has to be. He is never cruel. He strives to do everything correctly in life. He is such an honorable man. So honorable that he could never allow himself to take advantage of his situation to compromise a girl whose life he holds in his hands. ‘I think of you, Yan Ling, more than I should.’ A wave of longing struck him. ‘When I see your face at night, I don’t see the tea girl or the elegant lady. I only see you.’ ‘If I acted on these feelings, if I...if I took what I wanted, it would be an abuse of authority. You’re under my care. That was what I meant when I spoke of our positions. I won’t treat you like that.’ His mouth twisted. ‘As if you’re here for my pleasure.’ He sees Yan Ling transform day by day, to be better for him. He feels guilty for making her lose her inner spark. When she walked into a room, he could no longer see any remnants of the tea girl he’d first met. Occasionally, he would see her doubled over in laughter with Dao or Bai Shen and the sight always sent an inexplicable ache through him. She never laughed that way in his presence. Yan Ling was exceeding all his expectations—and he hated it. BAI SHEN: WHY IS HIS NAME CAPITALIZED? BECAUSE HE'S FUCKING AWESOME, THAT'S WHY. Oh, sure, the other characters in the book are awesome, but you don't know fabulous until you've met Bai Shen. He is not gay. He is an actor in Ancient China, which means that he has to play female characters. And damn, does he do it well. When trouble comes, when a girl doesn't know how to act feminine, who's Fei Long gonna call? If Yan Ling was to become a princess, or at least pretend to be one, they would need to transform her. He needed someone who was a master at deception. Meet Bai Shen. The gentleman was already seated on the couch. His robe was adorned with a brilliant border of maroon brocade and his topknot was affixed with a straight silver pin. He had narrow, handsome features, with dark eyebrows that accented his face in two bold lines. And what's he gonna do? He tapped his chest twice. ‘Bai Shen is one of the premier actors of the Nine Dragon theatre troupe and that, dear miss, is not a pretty face you’re making. I can see why Fei Long needs my help.’ OH YEAH. He's not only gorgeous, he's not only a fabulous acrobatic actor, Bai Shen is also well-versed in the matters of the heart. ‘Be careful, Fei Long,’ Bai Shen said sombrely. ‘I’m being very careful. I’m taking every precaution when dealing with Tong.’ With a sigh, Bai Shen turned around to continue surveying the perimeter. ‘You fool,’ he muttered. ‘That’s not what I was talking about at all.’ READ THIS BOOK.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Nenia ✨️ Socially Awkward Trash Panda ✨️ Campbell

    Instagram || Twitter || Facebook || Amazon || Pinterest This was so, so, so close to being a three-star read for me. I am such a sucker for Pygmalion retellings, especially ones-- like these-- that subvert the misogynistic elements of the original story. Set during the Tang dynasty (which would be around Early Medieval period in Europe), the Tang Dynasty series are a set of Harlequin Historicals with interrelated characters navigating custom, danger, and love. On the surface, each of these boo Instagram || Twitter || Facebook || Amazon || Pinterest This was so, so, so close to being a three-star read for me. I am such a sucker for Pygmalion retellings, especially ones-- like these-- that subvert the misogynistic elements of the original story. Set during the Tang dynasty (which would be around Early Medieval period in Europe), the Tang Dynasty series are a set of Harlequin Historicals with interrelated characters navigating custom, danger, and love. On the surface, each of these books sounds like something I should love. But the first book in the series was a DNF for me because it was so slow. This book, MY FAIR CONCUBINE, is much better... until it gets to the second act, where it suddenly slows down-- until the ending, which feels very rushed and tacked on, and ultimately unsatisfying. I don't think this is a problem exclusive to Jeannie Lin. I have read other Harlequin Historical imprint novels, and all of them feel very much like Reader's Digest versions of romance novels. Everything feels very sanitized and safe, and there's a slow, distanced element to the writing that seems to be a unifying theme among all these books. I really don't like it, but it seems to be the style that this publishing imprint prefers and cultivates, sadly. Despite that, I read MY FAIR CONCUBINE, hoping for the best. Because of the premise! And that cover! That GORGEOUS cover. Yan Ling is a very likable protagonist. She works in a tea house, selling tea. One day, she gets angry at an entitled, rude customer and throws tea on him. This is Fei Long, who is bemoaning the fact that his sister, Pearl, has run off with some rando in the name of love, and never mind that she was supposed to be engaged to the lord of another kingdom. I know, right? When he spies Yan Ling, he gets an idea after the tea begins to dry. She's pretty. And even though she has a temper, he could train her to master all the customs a princess should and prepare her for the ceremony. It's only two months but hey, that's plenty of time to teach someone how to walk, read, and speak like a princess, right? RIGHT? I mean, Meghan Markle did it. *crickets* So Yan Ling undergoes princess lessons but Fei Long slowly begins to fall for her and pretty soon, it's almost time for the marriage but both of them are super attracted to each other. There's also a hilarious actor named Bai Shen and a servant named Dao who are helping out Yan Ling with her princessing and are also the comic relief duo of this book, and to be fair, they do serve that purpose well. Bai Shen deserves an entire book of his own, to be honest. He cracked me up. As I said, there's nothing really wrong with this story. It just moves really slowly. The beginning is great. The characters just didn't have much chemistry with each other-- I honestly felt like Fei Long and Yan Ling had more of a brother/sister best friend dynamic than as love interests, and when they finally have sex with each other, it felt... weird. Especially since, as my friend pointed out in her review, all the sex scenes come at you, one after the other, before that hastily tacked-on ending. I'd love to see more of Jeannie Lin's work-- maybe self-published? I wasn't a fan of Courtney Milan's traditionally published works, as an example, but once she went solo and started taking the risks she wanted to as an indie author, I felt like she really began to shine. I feel like Jeannie Lin has some really fantastic ideas and I'd love to see what she can do when she can do literally anything she wants. 2 to 2.5 stars

  3. 4 out of 5

    Karlyflower *The Vampire Ninja, Luminescent Monster & Wendigo Nerd Goddess of Canada (according to The Hulk)*

    3.5 Stars Category: A book about a culture you are unfamiliar with Duty. For the most part, in western culture, the meaning of the word “duty” has fallen by the wayside. It is still circulated in common speech but it no longer means what it once did. We may say that something is a duty, with a fluttering hand wave, without ever having to really worry about the ramifications of not accomplishing that task. Honour is spoken of, but it is always a little tongue in cheek. Again, for the most part ou 3.5 Stars Category: A book about a culture you are unfamiliar with Duty. For the most part, in western culture, the meaning of the word “duty” has fallen by the wayside. It is still circulated in common speech but it no longer means what it once did. We may say that something is a duty, with a fluttering hand wave, without ever having to really worry about the ramifications of not accomplishing that task. Honour is spoken of, but it is always a little tongue in cheek. Again, for the most part our culture doesn’t hold our honour, and that of our family members and all who associate with us, on a tightrope where one misstep will send us plummeting into the shame of disgrace. Eastern cultures do, even today. In China, family honour is ANYTHING but a joke. Your family and associates ARE judged by your actions. And while, in some ways, that judgement has become more lax over the years it is very much still present. I have a number of friends, male and female alike, who were born and raised in China and I have had numerous discussions about this. About the different ways you can mark your family name, ways that seem a little crazy to my western upbringing. The reason I mention this is because this is one of the fundamental differences between western and eastern culture and it plays a very large role in My Fair Concubine. ‘You will do well.’ His tone was more of a command than a comfort. ‘We will just have to work harder. I have faith in you, Yan Ling.’ She nodded. Her palms grew damp and she wiped them against her robe when he wasn’t looking. The only thing that could make her more anxious than Fei Long’s disapproval was his trust. This IS a love story, but it is a love story ensconced in the protection of family honour and duty. When our love interests first meet it is in a small tea house where Fei Long’s younger sister, Pearl, has run off with her lover. Fei Long has come to save the family honour by forcing her home where she is promised to another man. The Chang family has been bestowed a great honour and duty, Pearl is to be elevated to a Princess and wed in Khitan to ensure peace with their neighbours. Not an overly romantic notion but one of great HONOUR. However, when Fei Long crashes into the lovers’ room and Pearl beseeches him to understand that she is IN LOVE, he relents, allowing the lovers to run off together. Enter Yan Lin, a tea girl at this very tea house. She serves him tea which grows cold as he worries himself over how he will save his family honour now that his sister has gone. He makes a rather rude statement about needing a woman to Yan Ling and ends up with a face full of cold tea. She is promptly fired and our journey truly begins when Fei Long discovers that if he can make this saucy tea girl into a ‘Lady’ he may just have an answer to both of their predicaments. It is not unheard of for a woman to pretend to be of royal blood in order to be wed in such a way, in fact his sister was being elevated to ‘Princess’ for this very purpose. The Chinese culture is a culture of nuances. Statements not made but implied and a noble woman knows all these nuances. The way to move in a garment which is several lengths more than truly required to cover a body while looking both elegant and regal. The turn of one’s head, the movement of a hand, whether your eyes are downcast or half-cast; these ALL have meanings. This is where I have a little difficulty with My Fair Concubine, I find it pretty difficult to believe that Fei Long would truly believe that the learning of all these noble woman customs, not to mention reading and writing, could be accomplished in a few short months. However, he IS desperate so I allowed it. Yan Ling begins a rigorous regime of learning how to transform from a lowly tea girl to a noble woman and princess. She has several teachers along the way, one of them being the actor, Li Bai Shen, renowned for his portrayal of women in the local theatre group. I love Bai Shen, probably for the most part because he is so damned inappropriate. This is a love story that moves quietly, like the shift of an arm in layers of silk, it whispers along under the surface growing slowly until those small movements are all you are watching for. It is a love story told in nuances, a glance here, a brush against skin there. It is all so subtle and understated. And then the end happens with all the elegance of an untrained child bashing the keys of a piano. It lacked a certain grace and style which I had come to love throughout the rest of the novel and for that alone I am deducting half a star. 'There is a balance inherent in the art of writing, of Shū.' His voice was quiet, stroking gently over her skin. 'Defined rules about how to write each character. Every stroke has its place and position.' Thank you for buddy-reading this one with me, Heatherdoll, even though you liked it a great deal less than I did! ♥ (Now it is my turn to beseech you, my lovies…. Does anyone know who that staggeringly handsome gentleman on the cover is??)

  4. 4 out of 5

    Heather *Undercover Goth Queen*

    Buddy read with Karly on June 3rd 6th! I can't recall ever reading a Harlequin before, but from what I gather they don't have much depth or characterization to speak of. From reading another review, it seems this was one of the better Harlequins as far as those things go. However, when it comes to romance, this was not my cup of tea. I CANNOT like a romance if it doesn't sweep me away, and this one didn't. I felt the writing was too stilted and even awkward at times. I didn't get a good picture of Buddy read with Karly on June 3rd 6th! I can't recall ever reading a Harlequin before, but from what I gather they don't have much depth or characterization to speak of. From reading another review, it seems this was one of the better Harlequins as far as those things go. However, when it comes to romance, this was not my cup of tea. I CANNOT like a romance if it doesn't sweep me away, and this one didn't. I felt the writing was too stilted and even awkward at times. I didn't get a good picture of the character's emotions. One of the reasons for this was that some of Fei Long and Yan Ling's early interactions didn't actually happen on the page. The interactions were talked about, but we don't get to see the interactions themselves, which would have been crucial for building the relationship, especially so early on in the novel. One example was Fei Long and Yan Ling having discussed a poem. We didn't see this happening, but Fei Long talks about the incident with Bai Shen. This would have been fine if we had seen BOTH interactions and not just one. I feel that leaving certain scenes like this out failed to establish a foundation for the romance. This wasn't a bad book, the hero wasn't an ass, and the heroine wasn't annoying. It just wasn't my thing. EDIT: I forgot to mention the three sex scenes crammed into less than 15 pages, after which there wasn't even 20 pages of story left. This obviously didn't work for me.

  5. 4 out of 5

    K.J. Charles

    Marvellous Pygmalion story with a pig-headed nobleman miserably locked in a desperate struggle to save the family name and honour, which requires him to send his sister off to be a barbarian princess, which requires turning a tea girl into a lady because the sister has run away. It all unfolds delightfully with loads of period feel and a really well delineated culture and background.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Anne Boleyn's Ghost

    An utterly delightful My Fair Lady retelling featuring a grumpy nobleman (which is the only type of nobleman worth reading, as far as I'm concerned) and a spirited tea house servant. The story is filled with humor, and a dash of intrigue, and longing. Perfect picture longing. To save his family's honor, Fei Long must transform Yan Ling into a lady capable of filling his wayward sister's place as the intended bride of a foreign warlord. Instead, Yan Ling ends up saving him. The scenes where Fei L An utterly delightful My Fair Lady retelling featuring a grumpy nobleman (which is the only type of nobleman worth reading, as far as I'm concerned) and a spirited tea house servant. The story is filled with humor, and a dash of intrigue, and longing. Perfect picture longing. To save his family's honor, Fei Long must transform Yan Ling into a lady capable of filling his wayward sister's place as the intended bride of a foreign warlord. Instead, Yan Ling ends up saving him. The scenes where Fei Long teaches Yan Ling to write? Seriously sexy. Although the steam is mainly limited to the last 15% of the book, their coming together is tenderly passionate. A highly enjoyable and recommended read. SBTB April - June 2019 Quarterly Challenge: A book where money plays a role (billionaire, class differences, etc.)

  7. 5 out of 5

    Obsidian

    This was a buddy read that I had with Melissa's Book Musings. You can find her final review of the book here. Suffice it to say that we both gave it three stars. My Fair Concubine was a riff off of My Fair Lady and honestly, this should have just been called "My Fair Tea House Girl" since there was no concubine in this book besides for a couple minutes appearance, and she's not the main focus of this book. Ahem. Excuse the rant. I am going to echo Melissa's Book Musings here with the fact that I This was a buddy read that I had with Melissa's Book Musings. You can find her final review of the book here. Suffice it to say that we both gave it three stars. My Fair Concubine was a riff off of My Fair Lady and honestly, this should have just been called "My Fair Tea House Girl" since there was no concubine in this book besides for a couple minutes appearance, and she's not the main focus of this book. Ahem. Excuse the rant. I am going to echo Melissa's Book Musings here with the fact that I found the heroine, Yan Ling just okay. I would also add in a seriously bored by her too. The hero Chang Fei Long I was more intrigued by, but who wouldn't love the Tang Dynasty version of Henry Higgins. Plot is that because Fei Long has decided to not force his sister to come back and be wedded as per Imperial decree, he needs someone to take her place. So he of course sets his sights on the tea house girl who threw tea on him (just go with it). I mean you suspend your belief when you read romance, but in this case I really had to suspend my belief. The whole plan (make Yan Ling over in order to pass for someone who was brought up learning proper etiquette along with writing and the proper way in which to walk and talk) was hare-brained as hell. I was just wondering how they were going to pull it off. So instead of some madcap scenes, we get a lot and I do mean a lot of Ms. Lin describing all of Yan Ling's lessons. I felt like I was slowly being beaten to death with a palm frond. I was just bored throughout anytime the book (which was about 80 percent of it) going into how Yan was learning how to write calligraphy or to spell and read certain words. I really did love the character of Li Bai Shen (an old friend of Fei Long's) who is an actor who portrays women quite often in plays who is tapped to get Yan Ling to walk and move like a woman. I wish we had focused on him a bit more and also included more of his training, because those were the only parts that I found intriguing. Other characters we don't get to see developed much, Yan Ling's current personal maid Dao and others such as Fei Long's servants. Frankly I can't believe no servants anywhere would not have been gossiping about what he was trying to pull off under the Emperor's nose. I thought the flow could have been improved if we hadn't focused so much on the training aspect. And I can't lie, the constant stealing of glances by Yan Ling when she decides out of nowhere she has fallen for Fei Long or when Fei Long who has been right and proper the whole time, decides, screw it, he';s going to run away with Yan Ling rang false. The actual sex scenes took me completely out of the book, they were done well (except for the whole the first time was the best time ever nonsense which I wish would die a quick death in romance books everywhere) but once again didn't ring true of how right and proper Fei Long had been the entire book. I wish I could say more about the Tang Dynasty setting. I did not feel fully immersed in the culture. I really wish that we had gotten more insights into other homes, tea houses, how the courts were set up, etc. The ending I rolled my eyes at. The simplest solution ever in order for the hero and heroine to have their happily ever after.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Anya (~on a semi-hiatus~)

    Upped one star just because of LI BAI SHEN. Because fucking fabulousness.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Aoi

    That's it! Jeannie Lin is on my auto-buy list! I enjoyed every book of hers so far, and am looking forward to reading more novels from the Tang dynasty. Her books are such a breath of fresh air amidst all the rogues and ladies of the Regency. Ms Lin's lush writing takes us through Tang era Changan; the colours and smells of the marketplaces, teahouses and gardens. The characters, especially the supporting cast of Li Bai Shen and Dao are witty and charming. The romance itself is a slow burn- the That's it! Jeannie Lin is on my auto-buy list! I enjoyed every book of hers so far, and am looking forward to reading more novels from the Tang dynasty. Her books are such a breath of fresh air amidst all the rogues and ladies of the Regency. Ms Lin's lush writing takes us through Tang era Changan; the colours and smells of the marketplaces, teahouses and gardens. The characters, especially the supporting cast of Li Bai Shen and Dao are witty and charming. The romance itself is a slow burn- the intense feelings, the longing all held back against a curtain of propriety. It was an amazing read. Can't wait to read Dao's story.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Nicole

    Rating: 3.5 This story is My Fair Lady meets Ancient China. I really enjoyed it. There were times when the story dragged a bit--my interest would be elsewhere at times or I just got bored--but I'm glad I pushed through. Yan Ling and Fei Long are great characters, Fei Long's characterization as a steely man of honor was very well done. Yan Ling was sweet, and her journey of self-improvement tugged at my heartstrings. Also, Li Bai Shen is amazing and deserves all the good things. I loved, loved the Rating: 3.5 This story is My Fair Lady meets Ancient China. I really enjoyed it. There were times when the story dragged a bit--my interest would be elsewhere at times or I just got bored--but I'm glad I pushed through. Yan Ling and Fei Long are great characters, Fei Long's characterization as a steely man of honor was very well done. Yan Ling was sweet, and her journey of self-improvement tugged at my heartstrings. Also, Li Bai Shen is amazing and deserves all the good things. I loved, loved the ending. I live for HEAs. I had no idea how it was going to end (which made it really hard to enjoy that sex scene), but I'm glad it was solved that way. Everyone was happy and obtained their heart's desire.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Hannah

    4.5 stars. My Fair Concubine is everything that I've ever wanted in a historical romance - it is beautifully written and rich in cultural details, with a sweeping romance featuring intelligent and well-developed characters. Before My Fair Concubine, I had never enjoyed reading pure romance novels very much - even historical romances were usually "same old, same old," for all my love of history. This book changed my mind about the genre completely; if more romance novels were like this, then I mi 4.5 stars. My Fair Concubine is everything that I've ever wanted in a historical romance - it is beautifully written and rich in cultural details, with a sweeping romance featuring intelligent and well-developed characters. Before My Fair Concubine, I had never enjoyed reading pure romance novels very much - even historical romances were usually "same old, same old," for all my love of history. This book changed my mind about the genre completely; if more romance novels were like this, then I might actually find myself a convert. The story is obviously based on My Fair Lady, but aside from sharing a similar premise, My Fair Concubine stands far apart as its own unique tale. The main strength of this lies in the character development as Yan Ling transforms from a simple tea girl to a princess, while Fei Long (proud, honorable and responsible) learns to bend a little. The secondary characters are also quite likeable - I particularly loved the crafty and flamboyant Bai Shen. The author's Tang Dynasty is wonderfully and vividly executed and I was glad to see that she captured the speech and behaviour of Chinese characters in a historical context without rendering the dialogue utterly stilted, as many Chinese historical novels are wont to do. What I appreciated most about this story, however, was that it was actually romantic. Yes, it sounds like a strange comment - this is supposed to be a romance! What else would it be if not romantic? But that is exactly the problem, with many romance novels opting to skip the build up and hop straight into the bed (literally). The beauty of a good romance is in the build up and seeing the characters slowly fall for each other, and this is what Jeannie Lin gives us here. Watching Yan Ling and Fei Long begin as teacher and student before gradually transitioning into something more is the sort of thing that made one hold their breath, just waiting and hoping for everything to work out. The fact that Yan Ling is only a fill-in for Fei Long's sister as trophy bride to the Khitans, combined with the strict social norms and the Chinese stress on family honor, seemed to make their love an impossible dream. What's more, Fei Long was probably born silent and honorable while Yan Ling would do anything rather than disappoint Fei Long, so they persist in practicality, bottling up their feelings and leaving everything unsaid. This is the kind of romance that ticks every box for me - fraught with repressed emotion, it is actually far more effective than frequent displays of intimacy. (view spoiler)[The added benefit is that when their love is consummated, the reward is that much greater since the characters had to work so hard for it. There isn't even any need for the badly constructed obstacles that are thrown into the paths of protagonists in many contemporary romances. (hide spoiler)] And really, how much sweeter was it to discover that for all his seemingly unshakeable emotional control, it turns out that Fei Long was so in love with Yan Ling that he spent their calligraphy lessons writing her name over and over "like a lovesick scholar," as he put it? The two POVs (Yan Ling's and Fei Long's) are also employed to full effect. Not only did it enable us to get to know and sympathize with both characters, it was also supremely effective in heightening romantic tension - we would see a particularly heart-pounding encounter from Yan Ling's point of view, but the following chapter will show us Fei Long's reactions in the aftermath and we learn that he's not half as stoic as he is in front of Yan Ling. It's really quite cleverly done. The title of the book - or at least the "concubine" part of it - doesn't actually play a part in the relationship between our hero and heroine, despite their difference in social status. In fact, Fei Long was quite indignant when it was suggested! Jeannie Lin has created quite a romantic masterpiece and I can honestly say I enjoyed every single page of this book. It's such a satisfying read.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Lisa (Harmonybites)

    Two things about this novel caught my eye when I saw it on my Goodreads friends list feed. First, it's set during China's Tang Dynasty, around 800 AD. It's a period I have some fondness for, having imprinted as a teen on Van Gulik's Judge Dee mysteries set in that place and era. And to my mind far too few works of historical fiction available here in America are set outside the Anglo-American world, never mind Asia. Second, it was reviewed by a friend of that friend who is very picky. Indeed, sh Two things about this novel caught my eye when I saw it on my Goodreads friends list feed. First, it's set during China's Tang Dynasty, around 800 AD. It's a period I have some fondness for, having imprinted as a teen on Van Gulik's Judge Dee mysteries set in that place and era. And to my mind far too few works of historical fiction available here in America are set outside the Anglo-American world, never mind Asia. Second, it was reviewed by a friend of that friend who is very picky. Indeed, she's notable for often being scathingly, often hilariously, acerbic in her reviews. So when she gave this book five stars my eyebrow went way up and I hunted this down. I don't rate this as highly no. I did very much like the way Lin evoked the place and time, at least in terms of physical details. I don't know though that the culture felt foreign enough though given the distance we're traveling to a China of the eighth century in the way of the best historical fiction I've read. It doesn't for me distinguish itself in style, which is not elegant, even if readable, in characters, which are likable but not to my mind distinctive enough to linger in my mind, and I found the plot predictable--I saw the resolution coming miles away. There were no passages that evoked writer's envy or tempted me to mark pages. Compare that to Crusie's Bet Me, the prize among books I've read in the romance category, with lots of elements and lines that linger in memory, which made me laugh and made me cry: that I rated five stars. Mind you, given this is a Harlequin Romance imprint, never mind genre romance, I'm tempted to give My Fair Concubine five stars, because grading on a curve, this would be one of the best books I've read in the genre. I'm a sap that relishes a good love story, but it's rare that I've ever found anything in the romance aisle that I haven't found gag-worthy. And because I think there are good stories in every genre and I do enjoy love stories--the ones I love generally being found in other areas of the store--I have tried, going through more than one romance recommendation list. Other than Jennifer Crusie, I have yet to read a living romance author I'd be tempted to read a second time. Given the too-many-books, too-little time principle, I'm not sure Lin is another exception, which is why four stars feels too generous, if three stars given how much I enjoyed it a bit stingy. But I did tear through the story and I did enjoy the ride. So if you think you'd enjoy a solidly written romance set in a far off time and place, yes, I'd recommend this novel.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Tandie

    I was looking for some fluffy brain candy and was surprised by the depth of this historical romance. Yan Ling, a lowly tea house girl, is chosen by Lord Chang to stand in for his sister (she eloped & ran away) in an arranged marriage. She must become a gracious lady in a very short time! Yan submits to a rigorous crash course, learning to speak & hold herself like a princess. Very Eliza Doolittle. Lord Chang Fei Long personally handles the task of teaching Yan Ling to read and write. He's a hars I was looking for some fluffy brain candy and was surprised by the depth of this historical romance. Yan Ling, a lowly tea house girl, is chosen by Lord Chang to stand in for his sister (she eloped & ran away) in an arranged marriage. She must become a gracious lady in a very short time! Yan submits to a rigorous crash course, learning to speak & hold herself like a princess. Very Eliza Doolittle. Lord Chang Fei Long personally handles the task of teaching Yan Ling to read and write. He's a harsh critic, but Yan is a dedicated student. We all know the Pygmillian, My Fair Lady, Pretty Woman story well. This incarnation is beautiful! Side characters were well done. Lord Chang enlists his longtime friend and actor, Bai Shen, to teach Yan the nuances of being a convincing upper class lady. Since only men were allowed to perform on stage, Bai Shen was a favorite 'female' actor. Fun ensues. So much fun! Dow (I can't find the spelling) is Yan's personal maid & friend. She's sarcastic and wonderful! I listened to this book and the narrator was lovely. Apparently, this is the third book in a series about the Tang Dynasty. It read as a stand alone, no holes. There was some steam toward the end, but it wasn't drawn out or tasteless. This book does NOT read like a typical Harlequin romance, and yes, I realize that sounds book-snobbish. I'm Grateful to my friend Khan for recommending this to me. If you're interested (READ IT READ IT), Khan's review is much more detailed. I very highly recommend My Fair Concubine (READ IT READ IT). I'm searching out all the author's books. (I'm having trouble providing a link to Khan's review. I'll ask her to post it in comments.)

  14. 5 out of 5

    Kerrelyn Sparks

    This was my first book to read by Jeannie Lin, and I really enjoyed it. It was so refreshing to have a new and different setting-- China, Tang Dynasty, 824 AD. I would recommend this if you love experiencing books with an interesting and unique setting and culture.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Erin

    Romances are an occasional guilty pleasure of mine, less frequent than when I started reading them a decade or so ago as I tired of many of the tropes and stereotypes, first in MF and then in MM romances, but sometimes it is just what I am in the mood for and I will give another a try. This book caught my eye in part for being set in T’ang Dynasty China, which I am fascinated to learn more about. The premise and characters of this book also intrigued me. At the start of the story, my feelings wer Romances are an occasional guilty pleasure of mine, less frequent than when I started reading them a decade or so ago as I tired of many of the tropes and stereotypes, first in MF and then in MM romances, but sometimes it is just what I am in the mood for and I will give another a try. This book caught my eye in part for being set in T’ang Dynasty China, which I am fascinated to learn more about. The premise and characters of this book also intrigued me. At the start of the story, my feelings were mixed: the characters’ motivations were clear (although perhaps spelled put more than necessary at times), although certain words and actions between them did not feel right, like the confrontation at an inn along the journey. I understand the purpose, but the specifics felt awkward to me. That was just my subjective sense of it though and I kept reading and soon got swept up in the characters and setting. There are lots of enjoyable characters and I especially loved Fei Long and Yan Ling! Yan Ling is no passive “heroine” but a strong character, making choices to better her situation, practical, and with a strong sense of duty and loyalty to her new friends and family. Fei Long is likewise no boorish “hero” but a man of great discipline and duty, with exceptions only made for those he cares for and never for himself. I enjoyed reading of their developing understanding and friendship, each trying to supress feeling that they know can never be allowed to develop further. I enjoyed the details of time and place and felt this was well-incorporated. I think the author had a difficult balancing act to do here, as some readers would be interested in the time and setting than others who might have preferred focus more solely on character interactions and romance. (view spoiler)[It was the ending that lost me, sadly. It felt as if Harlequin had read an early draft and demanded that X,Y,Z be added to the book, because suddenly tropes appeared that did not fit with the characters established. Making out in a public park?! I really cannot imagine that happening between these characters. But most of all, there was the duty of the peace bride which Yan Ling had freely agreed to fulfill. This was a duty to the empire and to maintaining peace with a neighboring nation. Regardless of what anyone may think of the practice, it was the treaty and if those who had pledged to fulfill certain duties did not, might this have meant war for the empire and who knows how many deaths? No, the Fei Long and Yan Ling I loved would not put their desires or even those of one they loved before such a solemn duty. Either something else would have needed to happen first on the political side that changed Yan Ling’s duty in this, or the story needed to have a much delayed HEA, sad as that would have been, but I cannot truly believe in and be happy with a happy ending that does not feel right for the story and characters. My apologies to the author if I seem overly harsh, but it is only because I had come to love her characters that it upset me that I could not believe the ending. (hide spoiler)]

  16. 5 out of 5

    Grace

    A good solid read. Deserving of more stars, possibly, if only because of its rare setting and the author's clear knowledge of (obscure to westerners) Chinese literature, calligraphy, wardrobe, geography, even hand gestures made by women. Basically everything that most westerners do not know. And the setting is done beautifully. The characters. There's nothing objectionable about them either. Yan Lin is a likable woman, spirited but practical, and she knows that this is the best thing that could h A good solid read. Deserving of more stars, possibly, if only because of its rare setting and the author's clear knowledge of (obscure to westerners) Chinese literature, calligraphy, wardrobe, geography, even hand gestures made by women. Basically everything that most westerners do not know. And the setting is done beautifully. The characters. There's nothing objectionable about them either. Yan Lin is a likable woman, spirited but practical, and she knows that this is the best thing that could have happened to her. That's not to stop her from falling for -- no, that's not right, gradually starting to feel the beginnings of the sprouts of kindly emotion for Fei Long. Yes, you heard me. The romance is so slow to build that they don't have much interaction, despite spending every day together in "fair lady lessons." That in itself, however, doesn't detract from the book either. Nor is Fei Long the issue. Fei Long is probably the best thing about this book. He's probably the best thing to happen in any romance novel, or, for that matter, in the history of mankind. He's just about the last honorable man alive. He's a human atlas, carrying the entire weight of generations of his family, including all servants and retainers, on his shoulders, alone. Nor will he let anyone know the depth of his anxiety and worries. When he starts to feel an inkling of emotion for Yan Lin, he stamps down hard on those embers, because to feel that way about any woman under his protection would be a gross abuse of power. Fei Long does not wrong, nor is he without compassion, compassion that doesn't let him abuse the weak, compassion that forces him to let his sister go at high cost. Nor does he forget his debts, even those not rendered by him and belong to the nasty mob-boss. He doesn't forget to repay those debts even when he's mugged by the nasty mob-boss's people and robbed of all the money he carried trying to return those debts. Money, might I add, that he got from selling precious family heirlooms and property. No, about the only dishonorable thing that Fei Long has ever done was to pretend Yan Ling was his sister, and even that wasn't that dishonorable, because Tang princesses didn't even have to be real princesses, but were in fact honorary titles bestowed to treaty brides given to barbarian states. And basically that was the problem. Fei Long was TOO honorable, TOO suppressed, which meant their interactions up until 80% of the novel was glance exchanges. Most of which Yan Lin could not decipher, of course, due to Fei Long's impressive poker face. And then when Fei Long does profess his feelings and want to run off with her...well, some of that honor has rubbed off on her too, and she refuses to run off with him. So how do they get together? Beats me. That is, they get together, and it's weird, because it shouldn't have been so simplistic. The maid-cum-Fei Long's half-sister because of his randy father who professed at the start of the book that she couldn't do what Yan Lin was doing, suddenly is jealous that Yan Lin has this opportunity. Yay, she'll be the stand-in for Yan Lin then! And Fei Long and Yan Lin's love scene? It felt like it had to be stuck in there because the publisher is Harlequin and the book has gone on quite long enough without some hanky-panky. But, honestly, it would have been better if the book had been published by someone else. Because Fei Long, being so honorable, and having honorable intentions toward Yan Lin, never would have requested Yan Lin submit to him without a formal marriage. And the government censor who was a minor villain in this whole thing? Didn't he realize that Fei Long was suddenly married to his supposed sister who was to have been married to a barbarian kingdom? Maybe all these Asian women were interchangeable to him as well.

  17. 4 out of 5

    MBR

    Jeannie Lin is one of those authors that writes romances that speaks to your heart. Her writing is flawlessly beautiful and China as the setting provides for that exoticism that is unbeatable. My Fair Concubine is the third book in the Tang Dynasty series and explores the story of Chang Fei Long, a nobleman and Yan Ling, a baby abandoned at a tea house where she had grown up, knowing no life except one of servitude. Fei Long wants to save his family’s honor and is at a loss as to how to go about Jeannie Lin is one of those authors that writes romances that speaks to your heart. Her writing is flawlessly beautiful and China as the setting provides for that exoticism that is unbeatable. My Fair Concubine is the third book in the Tang Dynasty series and explores the story of Chang Fei Long, a nobleman and Yan Ling, a baby abandoned at a tea house where she had grown up, knowing no life except one of servitude. Fei Long wants to save his family’s honor and is at a loss as to how to go about it when the idea strikes to make use of Yan Ling to do so. Fei Long has just three months to turn Yan Ling into princess material, to teach her the etiquettes and way of life that would be required from her when she is given to the people of Khitan as princess bride to forge political ties with China through an arranged marriage. What Fei Long doesn’t expect is for him to want to break every single rule he has set for their brief partnership and claim Yan Ling for himself. But as life would have it, many a hurdle needs to be crossed before that particular dream would be realized. I have no idea why I skipped on reading My Fair Concubine and jumped straight to The Sword Dancer, the 4th book in the series. Either way, My Fair Concubine turned out to be a beautifully spun story with enough angst, finely wrought sexual tension and the intricacies of Chinese politics and life in the Tang Dynasty that I just adored. I loved both Fei Long and Yan Ling. Fei Long is man who practically has honor stamped right into his DNA. Yan Ling is the woman who grew up as a servant, whose inner fire, courage, wit and wisdom makes her the right fit for a man like Fei Long. The control that Fei Long exerts on his self and emotions was such a turn on if you ask me. I love a hero who is reserved. There is such a wealth of passion hidden inside characters of that sort and I just loved what Jeannie had to offer with Fei Long. When it comes to Fei Long and Yan Ling, there’s so much to be said for the near miss caresses, the fervent longing in each glance and this intricate dance was done superbly well which reached its ultimate climax the moment during which all that control shattered under the strength of Fei Long’s hidden passion for the woman he loves. And oh my stars; what a magnificent moment that was! I adored the colorful secondary characters like Dao and Li Bae Shen that gave this story the wholesome edge to it that it deserved. The historical tidbits and the exotic feel to the entire setting itself was one I continued to lap up like someone who was starved for just that. If history were ever to be written with such flare, I don’t think I’d ever have a problem with buying a ton of books on the subject and holing myself up somewhere for days. This review wouldn’t do justice to the story without mentioning the scenes of passion towards the end of the story; oh boy! I was feeling quite peeved about all the heightened sexual tension in the novel with no way of breaking the promises that held Fei Long and Yan Ling from acting on their desire for one another. And when Jeannie Lin delivered on all that, sigh, I swear I just near about swooned and rightfully so if you ask me. All those hours of calligraphy lessons? Totally worth it. And that alone is reason enough to buy a copy and indulge in my opinion. Well done Ms. Lin, well done. Rating = 4.25/5 For more reviews & quotes, visit www.maldivianbookreviewer.com

  18. 4 out of 5

    P. Kirby

    3.5 stars. Rounded up because it's a historical that doesn't involve petticoats, the ton, and Mr. Darcy clones. Fei Long is a nobleman in a bit of a bind. In Tang Dynasty China, it is common practice for emperors to marry their daughters off to foreign potentates to keep the peace. Because what says, "Let's be pals," like the gift of a woman? Except, most emperors don't want to send their actual daughters to distant lands, so instead they send stand-in princesses, the daughters of lesser nobleman 3.5 stars. Rounded up because it's a historical that doesn't involve petticoats, the ton, and Mr. Darcy clones. Fei Long is a nobleman in a bit of a bind. In Tang Dynasty China, it is common practice for emperors to marry their daughters off to foreign potentates to keep the peace. Because what says, "Let's be pals," like the gift of a woman? Except, most emperors don't want to send their actual daughters to distant lands, so instead they send stand-in princesses, the daughters of lesser nobleman, to play the part of princess. And this being long before the Internet and easy background checks for $50, the foreign princes are unaware of their counterfeit princesses. Fei Long's sister Pearl is supposed to be one of those faux princesses. Except she's run off with her one true love. Fei Long's meeting with Yan Ling, a tea girl at an inn, doesn't go so well -- she chucks a pot of tea at him -- but when she approaches him after being fired, he strikes a deal with her. Basically, room and board for the next few months, during which time he'll teach her how to be a proper lady, capable of pretending to be his sister Pearl. And, once she's mastered the finer points of etiquette, she'll take Pearl's place as the "princess" and journey to far away Khitan to be a warlord's bride. Yan Ling, an orphan with no family to fall back on, and now probably unemployable because of the tea incident, is initially wary of Fei Long's proposal, but agrees, because the alternative is starvation. So...Pygmalion/My Fair Lady, the Chinese version. As Fei Long schools Yan Lin in the finer points of being a lady, the lurve happens. This being inconvenient because Yan Lin is supposed to be preparing to marry the Khitan warlord and in the process, save Fei Long's family honor. Also, there's the matter of a huge gambling debt, racked up by Fei Long's late father, and now Fei Long's unfortunate inheritance. Basically, everything he owns is mortgaged to a local thug/bookie. Even if he could find another woman to substitute for Yan Ling, he'd still have the problem of keeping a roof over his and Yan Ling's head. Confession. For the most part, My Fair Concubine falls into the "unmemorable" category. Fei Long is a nice break from the he-brutes (grunt, grunt, grunt) of romance, and Yan Ling is sensible and forward-thinking without being an anachronism for the time period. But both characters lack the sparkle, the innate charisma required to turn this novel into a keeper. Once again, I'd pin the blame on the absence of humor. In that respect, the stand-out character is Fei Long's actor friend, Bai Shen, who's rather adorable. But..I've developed such an aversion to A) insta-lust and B) stupid conflicts based on misunderstandings that could be solved with a simple conversation, and C) an "obstacle to romance" that consists of nothing more than the hero/heroine's lame-ass insecurities, that My Fair Concubine was refreshing. As was the evocative and exotic setting. Recommended for romance readers who think "historical" should mean something more than Regency England.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Critterbee❇

    Loved loved loved this book! Set in Tang Dynasty, China, this version of My Fair Lady is pure comfort reading. Yan Ling is a tea house serving girl, hard-working with a fiery streak. Fei Long is the perfect composed, elegant gentleman, always in control. When they meet, they seem like the answer to each other's problem (view spoiler)[ Fei Long needs a woman to prepare as a bride for a neighboring nation after he allows his sister to run away with her true love, and Yan Ling needs to escape to an Loved loved loved this book! Set in Tang Dynasty, China, this version of My Fair Lady is pure comfort reading. Yan Ling is a tea house serving girl, hard-working with a fiery streak. Fei Long is the perfect composed, elegant gentleman, always in control. When they meet, they seem like the answer to each other's problem (view spoiler)[ Fei Long needs a woman to prepare as a bride for a neighboring nation after he allows his sister to run away with her true love, and Yan Ling needs to escape to an environment that suits her intelligent, romantic, lively spirit. (hide spoiler)] , but somewhere along the way, feelings happen. I loved the contrast of the subtle, outward interactions with the tumultuous inner battles. Although light on history, there was enough to flavour the story nicely. I was hooked from the beginning straight through to the end. I had not read Jeannie Lin before, and My Fair Concubine was so enjoyable, I must read more or her work. ATW 2018 China

  20. 5 out of 5

    Jeanne

    Perfect ending is perfect. Full review coming.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Ingrid Hahn

    Loved everything about it. Slightly longer and more in depth review to come after my Historical Romance Appreciation Video #6 goes live on YouTube the first weekend of August. :) *** Video is live! Real review: Beautiful characters, beautiful writing, beautiful story. World completely engulfed me. Promise of the premise very well met. Excellent pacing. Slow burn. Exceptionally wonderful calligraphy motif.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer

    Look for this review and more at my blog, Feminist Fairy Tale Reviews. I have been reading historical romance for almost ten years and, while I still adore books set in Regency/Victorian England, I am always excited to see a unique setting/time period. I think that is one reason that I continue to enjoy Jeannie Lin's work. Her Tang Dynasty series takes place in Imperial China and she makes it come alive even for those of us who are ignorant about the finer historical details. It also doesn't hurt Look for this review and more at my blog, Feminist Fairy Tale Reviews. I have been reading historical romance for almost ten years and, while I still adore books set in Regency/Victorian England, I am always excited to see a unique setting/time period. I think that is one reason that I continue to enjoy Jeannie Lin's work. Her Tang Dynasty series takes place in Imperial China and she makes it come alive even for those of us who are ignorant about the finer historical details. It also doesn't hurt that she is very skilled at creating memorable characters (main and secondary) and some pretty steamy romance. My Fair Concubine is the third installment in the series, but I think it can easily be read a stand-alone. The story basically follows the Pygmalion/My Fair Lady theme with the hero (Fei Long) being a military man who is forced to train a tea girl (Yan Ling) to behave as a princess in order to comply with a royal decree. Readers get the joy of seeing these two become friends as they work together to complete the ruse and then deal with the unfortunate consequences of falling in love. Both of these characters are fascinating people that I connected with pretty well. Fei Long is striving to deal with the aftereffects of his father's death and the disappearance of his sister who was supposed to be part of a peace marriage or heqin with one of China's allies. He was a proud, straight-laced man who takes his responsibilities to his family and his household very seriously. Yan Ling is a vibrant young woman whose mysterious past led her to living as a servant in a tea house (not a concubine...misleading title alert!) yet she has a strong will and plenty of confidence once she becomes comfortable in the situation. Together I thought Fei Long and Yan Ling were just adorable! Jeannie Lin showed the development of their relationship very well and provided plenty of important "getting to know you" moments that made the transition from strangers to friends to lovers seamless and believable. My favorite parts of their relationship was just the time that they spent talking to each other about their pasts and their dreams during the lessons. There were also quite a few interesting side characters that helped provide alternate story lines in the book. My favorites were Dao, the servant girl who helps teach Yan Ling how to write and seems to have a story to tell of her own, and Fei Long's best friend, and cross-dressing dancer, Bai Shen. I also liked learning a little bit about each of the servants in the household since they were such an integral part of why Fei Long is going through so much drama. As I mentioned earlier, the plot mainly focuses on Yan Ling's training and, while I enjoyed most of it, I did feel like the story dragged on in the middle. I wanted something external to happen and it took until the last third for that to occur. There is a very minor suspense plot which deals with some trouble with a money lender. While I liked some elements of that plot point, I didn't think it meshed well with the rest of the story. But, overall, I thought the plot of My Fair Concubine was interesting and kept me reading late into the night especially the ending. So, if you are a historical romance fan who is looking for something a little different or someone enjoys learning about unique historical settings, I suggest you look up Jeannie Lin's novels. Her writing is impeccable and her stories are such a breath of fresh air in a market that is often over-saturated with dukes, balls, and grand house parties.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Sherry

    My Fair Concubine, which spirited me away to a lovely adventure in the Tang Dynasty, is actually the first Harlequin novel I've ever read. Jeannie Lin sweeps readers off their feet on a tour through ninth-century China: from an ordinary teahouse in a remote province to the splendid residences, markets, and entertainment establishments of the imperial capital Chang'an. We meet the stubborn teahouse girl Yan Ling and the proud nobleman Fei Long, whose lives become inextricably entangled as they co My Fair Concubine, which spirited me away to a lovely adventure in the Tang Dynasty, is actually the first Harlequin novel I've ever read. Jeannie Lin sweeps readers off their feet on a tour through ninth-century China: from an ordinary teahouse in a remote province to the splendid residences, markets, and entertainment establishments of the imperial capital Chang'an. We meet the stubborn teahouse girl Yan Ling and the proud nobleman Fei Long, whose lives become inextricably entangled as they conspire in a grand scheme to transform a commoner into a princess bride for a Khitan chieftain. As the novel unfolds, we witness their relationship slowly blooming from that of strangers to co-conspirators and finally to lovers. I really loved the characterization of Bai Shen. The moment he appeared, he immediately snatched the spotlight and stole away my heart for the rest of the novel. He reminds me of Xiao Mei in Strange Hero Yi Zhi Mei, a handsome scholar, actor, and master of disguise. They're both witty, loyal, fun-loving, pretty boys who enjoy subtly playing matchmaker. Bai Shen really has a magnetic personality that readers will find themselves naturally drawn to. I was extremely excited every time the Khitans were mentioned in the novel, since the Liao Dynasty is my favorite period in Chinese history. I just wish there was an official term to refer to the territories occupied by the pre-dynastic Khitans. Since Khitan is a word much like Xiongnu or Jurchen, referring to the people rather than the place they inhabit, the Khitan steppes/tribes/confederation probably sounds more suitable. Anyway, I'm so glad that that Jeannie decided to give the Khitans some exposure in English fiction! Although their existence has pretty much faded away, they left behind a truly remarkable legacy in northern China. The story would have been even more fun if Yan Ling had a love rival to deal with, since it was usually Fei Long who got bitten by the serpent of envy. There were four or five typos that distracted me a bit, and I wish Fei Long's family name was written with pinyin romanization (Zhang), but otherwise I really liked novel's writing style, witty humor, and rich historical detail. Now it's time for me to finally read Butterfly Swords and begin another exciting adventure, this time with a real Tang princess!

  24. 5 out of 5

    Fedora

    Another elegant read from Ms. Lin! I really liked the premise--sort of a My Fair Lady/Pygmalion theme, and Ms. Lin uses that inspiration to create a lovely Tang dynasty story about a nobleman who sees the potential princess in a tea-shop girl. Yan Ling has been a servant at a tea shop her entire life--she struggles daily to tamp down her spirit and smarts as they only get her into trouble with the tea-shop owner and the customers. When her path crosses with Fei Long's it is that very spirit that Another elegant read from Ms. Lin! I really liked the premise--sort of a My Fair Lady/Pygmalion theme, and Ms. Lin uses that inspiration to create a lovely Tang dynasty story about a nobleman who sees the potential princess in a tea-shop girl. Yan Ling has been a servant at a tea shop her entire life--she struggles daily to tamp down her spirit and smarts as they only get her into trouble with the tea-shop owner and the customers. When her path crosses with Fei Long's it is that very spirit that brings her to his attention. Fei Long's family's future depends on his delivering a princess to the emperor. He is bound and determined to fulfill his commitment, and sees Yan Ling as the possible answer. But time is not on their side, and they also struggle mightily to ignore their growing feelings for each other. These two know the weight of responsibility, and part of the pleasure of the story is seeing how fervently they work to stay the course of the emperor's command by denying themselves and the possibility of any connection or future. An enjoyable cast of secondary characters adds to the well-written story and plot. Ms. Lin's firmly on my list of must-read authors.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Lynn Spencer

    This is one of those books that makes me get frustrated at having to attend to things like work, sleep, eating, etc.. when really I just want to read. I loved the Tang Dynasty setting of this story, and the homage to My Fair Lady as Fei Long sets about transforming a tea shop girl into a princess fit for diplomatic marriage is clever. However, Lin's writing goes beyond clever. The plotline might make one think this book will be lighter in tone, but there's some real emotional meat to the story. T This is one of those books that makes me get frustrated at having to attend to things like work, sleep, eating, etc.. when really I just want to read. I loved the Tang Dynasty setting of this story, and the homage to My Fair Lady as Fei Long sets about transforming a tea shop girl into a princess fit for diplomatic marriage is clever. However, Lin's writing goes beyond clever. The plotline might make one think this book will be lighter in tone, but there's some real emotional meat to the story. The honor of Fei Long's entire household hangs upon the success of his venture with Yan Ling, and Yan Ling knows that her chance at living somewhere other than the streets hinges upon her getting things right and doing what is expected of her - even if her feelings send her in a different direction. The author writes the love story between these two in a rather subtle fashion, where even slight gestures take on deeper meanings. For that reason, it pays to be an observant reader. It took me a little while to get into the story but once I did, I just adored it.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Kelly_Instalove

    Grade: A I swooned. And then I got weepy. And then I swooned again. He’d trained her in calligraphy to teach her patience and discipline while using the same techniques to try to control his own emotions. He’d buried them deep and only allowed them to show in one place. In the forms, she could see the gathered memories of their days together. She could see the hundred different ways he thought of her. The flowing curves of wistfulness, the tight control of denial. It was all there. Anger, hope, Grade: A I swooned. And then I got weepy. And then I swooned again. He’d trained her in calligraphy to teach her patience and discipline while using the same techniques to try to control his own emotions. He’d buried them deep and only allowed them to show in one place. In the forms, she could see the gathered memories of their days together. She could see the hundred different ways he thought of her. The flowing curves of wistfulness, the tight control of denial. It was all there. Anger, hope, longing. Desire. Huh? What? Oh, sorry – I was swooning again. This was my first Jeannie Lin. Now I own her entire backlist and I pre-ordered her next one. I think this means I have an Author Crush. In a totally non-creepy, non-stalkerish kind of way, of course. [NOTE: I read a digital ARC provided by the publisher via NetGalley.]

  27. 5 out of 5

    Julie (Manga Maniac Cafe)

    4 stars Very solid historical romance with a fascinating setting; China during the Tang Dynasty. The romance is subtle and subdued, boiling under the surface of Yan Ling and Fei Long's interactions. Class differences and Fei Long's heightened sense of honor make their romance forbidden. Their attraction is quickly stifled, as Fei Long teaches the former tea girl how to be a princess. Though the pacing is leisurely, I enjoyed my visit with these characters. Full review soon at www.mangamaniaccafe.c 4 stars Very solid historical romance with a fascinating setting; China during the Tang Dynasty. The romance is subtle and subdued, boiling under the surface of Yan Ling and Fei Long's interactions. Class differences and Fei Long's heightened sense of honor make their romance forbidden. Their attraction is quickly stifled, as Fei Long teaches the former tea girl how to be a princess. Though the pacing is leisurely, I enjoyed my visit with these characters. Full review soon at www.mangamaniaccafe.com

  28. 5 out of 5

    Jaymee Goh

    A fast-paced read with an engaging cast of characters! Fei Long's difficulties in resolving his father's debts made for great tension alongside his angst in love. Yan Ling's friendships with other women were really sweet! As always, Jeannie Lin vividly brings the Tang Dynasty to life with little details and mixing the political with the personal.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Bethany

    A pretty cute romance! A little My Fair Lady, a little Anastasia. It read like an Asian drama, but with a happier ending than most historicals I've watched. :D No major surprises, but the world building was lovely! The ending felt a wee bit too rushed though, but no other complaints!

  30. 4 out of 5

    Eve Pendle

    No more Jeannie Lin audio books on RBdigital library. 😭 This was good, and managed to be a nice rendition of my fair lady which is quite an achievement. I liked this but The Sword Dancer is my fave Lin so far.

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