Review: My Fair Concubine by Jeannie Lin

Filed in 5 Stars , featured , Jeannie Lin , Review , The Latin Lover Posted on June 15, 2012 @ 12:00 pm 7 comments

Format read: ebook provided by publisher through NetGalley
Series: Book #3 in the Tang Dynasty series, but the novels are standalone stories
Release Date: 22 May 2012
Number of pages: 280 pages
Publisher: Harlequin
Formats available: ebook, paperback
Purchasing Info: Goodreads, Author’s Website, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Book Depository


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…

My Thoughts: I’ve been always fascinated by China and its rich and colourful culture and history so when I heard of My Fair Concubine a historical My Fair Lady (one of my favourite stories!) retelling set in ancient China I desperately wanted to read it. At first I had a few concerns and unfounded fears about reading a historical romance set in faraway China (so unusual and completely unprecedented in the novels I have read where the historical romances tended to be set in Regency England or Scotland), but My Fair Concubine was an enchanting story no historical romance lover should feel any reservation to read.

Both the hero and heroine of My Fair Concubine are memorable characters. Yan Ling is a feisty and vivacious young woman who still aligns to the female idea of the time: she is respectful and humble and does her best to learn and make Fei Long proud. And Fei Long, oh Fei Long… *dreamy sighs* he is an extraordinary hero. He is all that is honourable, selfless and responsible. He denies his own wishes and needs for his duty and his sacrifices and the way he carried the family’s burdens all alone made my heart ache for him. He was a wonderfully intense and good man.

The romance between Fei Long and Yan Ling started out slowly. Their relationship was not about instant attraction or lust but grew through a steady understanding and respect of each other which engendered the blossoming of affection and later love.

They had spent every moment together for the past few weeks, on the road and then at his home and yet he hadn’t seen. They had shared meals, slept in close quarters, and he had never noticed. Now [she] seemed too far away. He wanted to be next to her so they could watch the adventure unfold. She would whisper questions to him. And he’d answer. He’d make up answers just to have something to say to her.

But do not think that you will want for heartsqueezing or sigh inducing moments, because My Fair Concubine is a wonderfully romantic tale:

‘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.’ He could see her now, even though he couldn’t face her.

‘I think of you, too.’

Her soft confession nearly unravelled him. He had to get this all out and be done with it.

‘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.’

‘The only hours of the day when I’m truly awake…’ her lower lip trembled ‘…are when I’m with you.’ He dug his nails into his palms. It was the same with him, the very same. Yan Ling was his sanctuary, a butterfly trapped within cupped hands. But no one could ever keep a butterfly. He’d have to let her go.

And I think that Jeannie Lin bridged the restrain and honour-bound duty philosophy of the East with the drive for love and happiness of the West amazingly.

In My Fair Concubine, besides the main characters and their sweet blossoming romance the setting also played a central part, and Jeannie Lin transports the reader through time and place to an exotic and exciting China, which is bursting with colours and flavours. I loved reading about the Chinese traditions which were peppered in the story making it an interesting and educative read as well.

Her outer robe was a thin, lace-like material and patterned with silver butterflies. The silk sheath she wore inside was a pale blue and the black of her hair caught the light. It was combed smooth and pinned on top, but otherwise allowed to fall free down her back. He could make out the shape of her shoulders through the gown.

There were some scenes and lines very reminiscent of My Fair Lady, when I read this line I could hear its counterpart spoken by Audrey Hepburn in her light pink tulle dress:

‘This isn’t about my welfare. You’ll always be Chang Fei Long and I’ll always be the humble tea girl.’

Verdict: My Fair Concubine is a very unique historical romance spiriting the reader back to a spellbinding ancient China. The writing is evocative and flows smoothly, Jeannie Lin’s narrative captures and beautifully conveys the soft differences compared to other historical romances. The romance between the hero and heroine is sweet and powerful and the story is vibrant with colours. Full of the colourful cultural connotations, all the silk and painted clothes and houses, but also full of colourful characters (Bai Shen was a particular favourite of mine!) and a mix of interesting, romantic, heart-squeezing and humourous scenes. 

A must read love story and one I urge you to take a chance on, you will not regret it! 

I give My Fair Concubine 5 stars!

***FTC Disclaimer: Most books reviewed on this site have been provided free of charge by the publisher, author or publicist. Some books we have purchased with our own money and will be noted as such. Any links to places to purchase books are provided as a convenience, and do not serve as an endorsement by this blog. All reviews are the true and honest opinion of the blogger reviewing the book. The method of acquiring the book does not have a bearing on the content of the review.

About Stella

Stella is a proud bookaholic and a self-taught multilinguist in training. Besides reading, her other great passions are travelling and baking. When she is not globetrotting she lives in sunny Budapest, where she loves to spend her free time preparing (and feasting on) delicious cookies or devouring equally yummy books. Her favourite genres are urban fantasy and romance and she couldn't live without her daily dose of sunshine. Besides being the Latin Lover on BLI Stella also blogs about books and a bookish life on Ex Libris.

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Join the Discussion
  • aurian June 15, 2012 at 3:33 pm

    You have me convinced Stella, I have put her books on my wishlist!

    • Stella June 15, 2012 at 4:41 pm

      Glad to hear it Aurian! 😀

  • blodeuedd June 15, 2012 at 5:35 pm

    I do love that someone takes a chance and writes something else than good old London..or Scotland ;=)

    • Stella June 16, 2012 at 3:33 pm

      And it was wonderful Blodeuedd! 🙂

  • SoftFuzzySweater June 16, 2012 at 10:18 am

    I am old enough to have seen “My Fair Lady” on stage (bot not the original cast). I was 6 years old at the time and I remember being thrilled so much so that when I was in college I owned the original cast recording with Julie Andrews. Thats my favorite version of “My Fair Lady”. I think the lyrics are some of the best poetry of the 20th century.

    Please enter me in the giveaway. I would love to read “My Fair Concubine”.
    Thank you.


  • Jen B. June 19, 2012 at 3:45 pm

    I am just about done reading this book and I plan to recommend it to everyone. It is a lovely story, well written with good pacing. But mostly, I love the slow burn of their love story. Great review! I am glad you shared it with your readers.

    • Stella June 19, 2012 at 6:19 pm

      Thank you Jen, I’m so happy you love it! 😀 I know! I just loved how tender and sweet their romance was and still despite how restrained they behaved their longing had my heart racing! *sighs* beautiful story!

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