Monday, February 17, 2014

Book Review: The Jade Temptress

Charming and seductive, Mingyu is the most sought-after hostess in the pleasure quarter. She has all men wrapped around her finger—except Constable Wu Kaifeng, the one man she can't resist, the only man to have placed her in chains.

Wu Kaifeng's outwardly intimidating demeanor hides a reluctant, fierce attraction to beautiful Mingyu. But the passionate temptation she presents threatens to destroy them both when a powerful official is murdered and they find themselves on a deadly trail. Amid the chaos, a forbidden affair could change Mingyu's fate forever, for following her heart is bound to have consequences...

Seriously book 3 will feature Wei Wei right?

At any rate, Mingyu who seemed so much the cold, aloof jade and Constable Wu, inscrutable and intimidating made for a fine pair. Unlike Huang and Yue-ying, Mingyu and the constable understand how all actions create consequences no matter how small. Even as he is inconsiderate of his words, Wu understands their effect, just as Mingyu can read how best to influence those around her by look.

The mystery of this book, much like its predecessor THE LOTUS PALACE is both obvious and hidden. The Pingkang Li holds many secrets and its inhabitants jealously horde knowledge until it benefits them otherwise. No less then 4 times did I feel I understood the solution, and in truth my first assumption had been correct though not for the right motivations.  

Very easily this could have felt artificial.  Essentially Mingyu finds herself at the center of yet another murder, this one of her long time patron who she both needs for the stability he represents and despises for the position he puts her in.  Wu investigates, not completely trusting of Mingyu's innocence.  In the year since THE LOTUS PALACE the two have circled each other, rarely directly in each other's sphere, but much too often in passing.  Despite herself Mingyu finds Wu intriguing.

In the time since her sister went off with Bai Huang, Mingyu has tried to distance herself from Yue-ying so that she may have an easier time settling in.  This has left precious few people Mingyu can reliably trust and share her worries with, and much to everyone's surprise Constable Wu is that person.  She knows he is a man who will hunt for the truth and won't be swayed by politics or bribes.  She wants to know what happened to the General as much as anyone, even if it does lead to her downfall.

Wu is a man that what you see if what you get.  He doesn't play games, doesn't mince words or offer insincere declarations.  Mingyu confuses him more than any other courtesan or woman he's come across because she doesn't reveal herself through action or word.  He comes to understand her as they come together to solve the murder, but its rocky at first.

As in Yue-ying's happy ending, Mingyu has to have the strength to grab her future.  Its difficult and Wu doesn't make it easy either, but the future she builds is one she is proud of.