Format read: ebook
Release Date: 1 September 2012
Series: Book #3.5 in the Tang Dynasty series (Sequel to My Fair Concubine)
Number of pages: 52 pages
Formats available: ebook
Purchasing Info: Goodreads, Author’s Website, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Read an excerpt
Dao is a house servant masquerading as a princess on her way to marry a powerful chieftain. As a lowly commoner with no prospects, she is content to be an alliance bride until an encounter with Kwan-Li, her enigmatic escort, tempts her with the promise of forbidden love. On their adventure through the wild Khitan steppe, Dao discovers Kwan-Li has secrets of his own…
My Thoughts: You might remember how much I enjoyed My Fair Concubine, the 3rd book in Jeannie Lin’s Tang Dynasty series (though no need to worry if you haven’t read the previous books, they can be read as a standalone, the 3rd book was the 1st I read from the series as well), so when I heard that Jeannie Lin decided to write a short sequel novella, featuring one of the most adorable and entertaining secondary characters of My Fair Concubine I couldn’t wait to read An Illicit Temptation.
An Illicit Temptation is Dao’s story, who was a house servant and maid and confidente of the heroine in My Fair Concubine (and as we learned the half-sister of the master of the house). But due to events of My Fair Concubine Dao is now on her way to faraway Khitan to act as princess embassador of China by concluding a diplomatic alliance marriage.
Dao is as we have come to know her in the previous book vibrant, impertinent and outspoken. But Jeannie Lin puts it in a much beautiful way:
She was as restless and vibrant as a summer wind across the grassland.
She took on the sacrifice of leaving her homeland to marry into the faraway and unknown barbaric Khitan and while she approached this as an adventure and the chance to improve her lot in life she soon discovers that
She had been so naive. Being a princess meant more than wearing silk and having servants attend to her every need. It meant being caught in politics and power struggles. Things she knew nothing about.
What I found wonderful was that Jeannie Lin managed to give depth and substance to the characters even in such a short novella. There were more to them than what we saw at first glance: Dao besides being the cheeky and confident tomboy showed signs of loneliness and her vulnerability in those moments was heart-squeezing. As for the hero I fell in love with him, with his sense of honour and integrity, and the way he was battling his emotions for his duty. I was amazed how Kwan-Li, the enigmatic and charismatic escort/guard had such an emotional and tender side. Both of them had hidden and fascinating facets that Jeannie Lin showed us glimpses.
For the first time, he saw a break in her resolve and the loneliness underneath. He wanted to protect her. If this fire inside him were nothing but desire, [she] wouldn’t have such power over him. He was angry at himself for this weakness.
The romance between Dao and Kwan-Li was beautiful. First it started off as curiosity and fascination but soon it evolved into something deep and meaningful both were unable to resist. Once again I applaud Jeannie Lin for giving us readers both heart-stopping romantic lines:
“You risked your life for the sake of this alliance today,” she said.
“No.” His gaze burned into her. “I did what I did for you.”
and pulse racing sensual scenes in such a short novella:
There was nothing but the harsh rhythm of their breathing, his weight above her, and a feeling of being anchored and held to the earth while the heavens spun around her.
Besides the wonderful romance Jenanie Lin gives the reader the sense of an exotic adventure with foreign settings, unfamiliar traditions and explanation of local politics and diplomacy making An Illicit Temptation a very satisfying and intelligent, well rounded story.
Verdict: An Illicit Temptation was a delightful HEA continuation/tie off of My Fair Concubine. I fell in love with Kwan-Li and rooted for Dao, enjoying every minute of their adventure. My only complaint is that I wouldn’t have minded if their story were a bit longer. Guess I’ll have to read another full length novel of Jeannie Lin to appease my craving for an exotic historical romance story. 😉 A lovely bite of a story with sensual scenes and heartsqueezing moments, if you haven’t read any Jeannie Lin’s story yet I urge you to pick one up, you’ll become addicted. I know what I’m talking about, that’s what happened to me! 😀
I give An Illicit Temptation 4.5 stars!