Butterfly Swords

Butterfly Swords

by Jeannie Lin

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Overview



During China's infamous Tang Dynasty, a time awash with luxury yet littered with deadly intrigues and fallen royalty, betrayed Princess Ai Li flees before her wedding.

Miles from home, with only her delicate butterfly swords for defense, she enlists the reluctant protection of a blue-eyed warrior….

Battle-scarred, embittered Ryam has always held his own life at cheap value. Ai Li's innocent trust in him and honorable, stubborn nature make him desperate to protect her—which means not seducing the first woman he has ever truly wanted….

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781426870071
Publisher: Harlequin
Publication date: 10/01/2010
Series: Harlequin Historical Series , #1014
Sold by: HARLEQUIN
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 288
Sales rank: 479,988
File size: 623 KB

About the Author

Jeannie Lin grew up fascinated with stories of Western epic fantasy and Eastern martial arts adventures. When her best friend introduced her to romance novels in middle school, the stage was set. Jeannie started writing her first romance while working as a high school science teacher in South Central Los Angeles. Her first two books have received starred reviews in Publishers Weekly and Library Journal and The Dragon and the Pearl was listed among Library Journal's Best Romances of 2011.

Read an Excerpt



758 AD China—Tang Dynasty

The palanquin dipped sharply and Ai Li had to brace her hands against the sides to stay upright. Amidst the startled cries of her attendants, the enclosure lurched again before crashing to the ground with the splintering crack of wood. She gasped as the elaborate headdress toppled from her lap and she was thrown from her seat. A tight knot formed in her stomach, and she fought to stay calm.

What she heard next was unmistakable. The clash of metal upon metal just beyond the curtain that covered the wedding sedan. Sword-strike, a sound she woke up to every morning. With her heart pounding, she struggled to free herself from the tangle of red silk about her ankles. This skirt, the entire dress, was so heavy, laden with jewels and a hundred li of embroidery thread.

She fumbled behind the padded cushions of her seat, searching frantically for her swords. She had put them there herself, needing some reminder of home, the way another girl might find comfort in her childhood doll.

Her hand finally closed around the hilt. She tightened her grip to stop from shaking. From outside, the sounds of fighting grew closer. She ignored the inner voice that told her this was madness and pulled the swords free. The short blades barely fit in the cramped space. She had no time for doubt, not when so much was at risk. With the tip of one sword, she pushed the curtain aside.

A stream of sunlight blinded her momentarily. The servants scattered like a flock of cranes around her, all posts abandoned. Squinting, she focused on the hulking figure that blocked the entrance and raised her blades in defence.

A familiar voice cried out then, 'Gongzhu!'

Old Wu, the elder lieutenant, rushed to her while she faced the stranger. Her armed escort struggled against a band of attackers. In the confusion, she couldn't tell who was who.

Wu pulled her behind the cover of the palanquin. The creases around his eyes deepened. 'Gongzhu, you must go now.'

'With them?'

She stared at the thugs surrounding her. Wu had been a bit too successful at finding men to pose as bandits.

'There are clothes, money.'

Wu spoke the instructions and the head 'bandit' grabbed on to her arm. Instinctively, she dug in her heels to resist him. Everything was unfolding so quickly, but she had known there would be no turning back.

The stranger relaxed his grip, but did not release her. An act, she reminded herself, fighting the panic constricting her chest.

'There is no more time,' Wu pleaded.

'Your loyalty will not be forgotten.'

She let herself be pulled through the trees, stumbling to keep up with the ragged band. Who were these men Old Wu had enlisted? When she looked back, he was standing beside the toppled sedan, his shoulders sagging as if he carried a sack of stones. The secret he'd revealed to her two days ago weighed heavily on her as well. Ai Li hoped that she could trust him.

***

God's teeth, the scent of cooking rice had never smelled so sweet.

Ryam's stomach clenched as he stared across the dirt road. An open-air tavern stood empty save for the cook stirring an iron pot over the fire. The establishment was little more than a hut propped up in a clearing: four beams supporting a straw-thatched roof. Bare wooden benches offered weary travellers a place to rest between towns and partake of food and drink.

Travellers with coin, of course. The only metal Ryam had touched in months was the steel of his sword. He was nearly hungry enough to eat that.

The proprietor perched at the entrance, whip-thin and wily in his black robe as he stared down the vacant trail. Nothing but wooded thickets in either direction. A single dirt road cut through the brush, leading to the stand.

Ryam pulled his hood over his head with a sharp tug and retreated into the shade. He was too big, his skin too pale, a barbarian in the Chinese empire. Bdi gui, they called him. White demon. Ghost man.

He wrestled with his pride, preparing to beg if he had to. Before he could approach, a mottled shape appeared in the glare of the afternoon sun. The proprietor jumped into motion and waved the newcomer into the tavern.

'Hudny ng, gu z , hudny ng,' the proprietor gushed. His head bobbed as he bowed and bowed again.

Welcome, my lord, welcome.

Four men followed the first traveller inside and tossed their weapons with a clatter onto the table. Their presence forced Ryam back beneath the branches. A heartbeat later, he realised what was bothering him. That was no man at the centre of this rough bunch. Not with hips that swayed like that. He was wrong about many things, but there was no mistaking the instinctive stir of his blood at the sight of her.

The woman wore an owl-grey tunic over loose-fitting trousers. A woollen cap hid her hair. With her height, she could have passed for a lanky youth. She affected a lofty confidence as she addressed the proprietor. Behaviour appropriate for a male of superior status.

Ryam knew the rules of status. As a foreigner he was the lowest creature on the ladder, a hair above lepers and stray dogs. It was one of the reasons he skirted the back country, avoiding confrontation. The promise of a hot meal had tempted him into the open. The sight of this woman tempted him in another way. Beneath the formless clothing, she moved with a fluid grace that made his pulse quicken. He had forgotten that irrational pleasure of being distracted by a pretty girl. Blind masculine instinct aside, the determination with which she carried on with her ruse made him smile.

He wasn't the only one paying such careful attention to her. The proprietor cast a scrutinising glance over his shoulder while he spoke to the cook, then donned his previously submissive demeanour as he returned to the table, balancing bowls of rice soup on a tray. Apparently, the woman overestimated the effectiveness of her disguise.

The proprietor set down the last bowl before his customers, then looked up. His mouth twisted into a scowl the moment he saw Ryam across the road.

'Away with you!' He strode to the edge of the stand. 'Worthless son of a dog.'

Ryam let his hand trail to the sword hidden beneath his cloak. He had become a master at biting his tongue, but today the sun bore into him like bamboo needles and the ache in his belly felt all the more hollow. Under normal circumstances, he wouldn't think to use his weapon against this fool, but he seriously considered it as the verbal abuse continued. It was like being pecked to death by an irate rooster.

He gritted his teeth. 'The old man does not own this road,' he muttered.

At least he hoped he said that. All the years on this side of the world and the only phrases he had at his command were bawdy insults and a smattering of pillow talk.

The rooster ducked inside, only to re-emerge with a club bigger than his arm. Ryam straightened to his full height with a warning growl. From her seat, the woman craned her neck at the disturbance. The men around her turned in unison. The four of them pinned him with their cold stares. He was making a wonderful impression.

'Leave him, Uncle.' The woman's voice rang clear across the road, lowered in an attempt to further her pretence. 'He means no harm to you.'

The proprietor backed away, muttering about foreign devils. The woman rose then, and Ryam stiffened with his back pressed against the tree. Now was the time to leave, but pure stubbornness held him in place. Stubbornness or reckless curiosity.

He focused his attention on her boots as she came near. The hilt of a weapon teased over the edge of the tanned leather. He wondered if she could wield it with any skill.

'Are you hungry, Brother?'

She held her bowl out to him, extending her arm with great care as if approaching a wild beast. The steam from the rice carried hints of ginger and scallions to his nose and his stomach twisted in greedy little knots.

He was well aware of how he must look to her. Another one of the hordes of beggars and vagrants roaming the empire since the collapse of the old regime. Against his better judgement, he lifted his head and for the barest second, forgot that he was stranded and that he was starving.

Her eyes widened as she met his gaze. Hazel eyes, like the turning of autumn leaves. How anyone could mistake her for a man was beyond his understanding.

Now that she had seen who he was, he assumed she would recoil in fear or disgust or, even worse, pity. Instead she regarded him with curious interest. Next to kindness, it was the last reaction he expected.

'Xi xie.' He mumbled his thanks as he took the food from her slack fingers. Any words he knew would be inadequate for this moment.

She nodded wordlessly and backed away, still staring. Only when she had returned to her companions did she take her eyes off him. By then the rice had gone cold. He gulped it down in three swallows and set the bowl on the ground before pausing to steal a final glance.

Inside the hut, the group finished their meal with little conversation and tossed a scatter of copper coins onto the table. A sense of desolation fell over him when she turned to go, but she did look back. He nodded once in farewell. They were both in hiding, after all—he in the shadows and the woman behind her disguise.

Once she disappeared down the road, he scarcely had time to straighten before the old man returned with his club and his viper tongue. Ryam presented his back to the stream of insults.

He trudged westwards, as he had done for the last month. The last remnants of their legion remained in the marshlands outside the north-western border. Perhaps he would no longer be welcome, but he had no other place to go.

Five years ago, they had fought their way across the silk routes to end up at the edge of the Tang Empire. The Emperor had tolerated their presence, but Ryam's last blunder had likely destroyed any hope of a continued truce.

A hundred paces from the tavern and his feet began to drag. He swayed, caught off guard by the lurch in his step. A tingling sensation stole to his fingertips and toes. This feeling was all too familiar. Heavy headed, off balance, tongue thick in his mouth.

He was drunk.

Not drunk, drugged. The little beauty had drugged him and then abandoned him…. But that didn't make any sense. Cursing, he shook his head to clear the fog in his skull. Thinking was becoming an even harder task than moving.

The woman had given him her food…which meant the drug was meant for her.

He reached for his sword, then froze with his fingers clenched over the hilt. This was the sort of impulse that had almost got him killed. His head spun with whatever they had slipped into the rice. He grappled with the odds. He was an outsider. He knew nothing about her or her bodyguards.

But those startling eyes had looked at him as if he was something more than an animal.

To hell with it.

Lifting one leaden foot after another, he forced himself around and drew his sword, lumbering back towards the tavern. The old proprietor shrieked when he saw him. The stack of bowls he carried crashed to the ground as the man scrambled for cover. Ryam ran past him and continued on the road.

He heard shouting in the distance and tore through the undergrowth in pursuit of it. Branches snapped against him, scraping over his arms and face. He stumbled into a clearing and everything slammed into his head at once: the pound of footsteps and the flash of steel. A dozen bandits armed with knives surrounded the swordsmen from the tavern. Ryam blinked through the haze clouding his eyes and searched for the girl.

She stood her ground at the centre of the swarm, wielding a blade in each hand. The swords flew in a whirl of motion. Rushing forwards, Ryam slammed his shoulder into one of her opponents and then struck the hilt of his sword against the man's skull. The bandit crumbled to the ground.

One down. With an air of satisfaction, he swung to face her, grasping at the proper words. 'I'm a friend—'

Her boot slammed neatly into his groin.

Pain exploded through his entire body. Nauseatingly bad pain. He should have left her to the wolves.

Without mercy, she came at him with the swords while he was doubled over. He hefted his blade up and parried once and then again. God's feet, she was fast. He shoved her aside roughly. His body begged to sink to the dirt.

'Here to help,' he ground out.

Her arm stopped mid-strike as she focused on him. Another one of her companions collapsed as the drugs took effect and the bandits circled closer. She swung around, swords raised to face the next attack.

The battle continued for him in bits and pieces. He struck out again and once again he connected. In minutes he would be useless. He grabbed the woman's arm.

'Too many,' he forced out.

She hesitated, scanning the field before going with him. More bandits gave chase, but he drove them back with a wild swing of his blade. Then he was running. Tall grass whipped at him while his world tilted, strangely yellow and dark at the edges. He blinked and when he opened his eyes the surroundings were unfamiliar. The woman had pulled ahead and she was shouting something at him. He stumbled and the next thing he knew was the smack of solid earth against his chin.

The muddled taste of blood and dirt seeped into his mouth. Spitting, he rolled himself over, his arms and legs dragging. He could no longer feel them. He could no longer feel anything.

The swordswoman hovered over him, her lips moving soundlessly. He fought against the blackness that seduced his eyelids downwards, but the ground felt really, really good. Unable to resist any longer, he let his eyes close. He hoped he'd have a chance to open them again.

The foreigner lay on his back, denting the wild grass while his breath rumbled deep in his chest. Taking hold of one shoulder, Ai Li shook him as hard as she could.

The man was built like a mountain.

With a sigh, she looked back at the line of the trees, head tilted to listen. No footsteps. No one chasing after them. The dense undergrowth provided cover, but if they found her she was lost. She did not know who the attackers were, but she hoped they were merely outlaws. She prayed they weren't men sent to take her back to Li Tao.

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Butterfly Swords 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 27 reviews.
JeanMarie14 More than 1 year ago
ISBN-13: 978-0373296149 Book Source: Net Galley Disguised as a young man and fleeing from an arranged marriage to her brother's murderer, Chinese noblewoman Ai Li takes pity on a starving barbarian (i.e., European) mercenary at a roadside tavern and offers him her rice bowl. Under no illusions as to her gender, Ryam is overwhelmed by her beauty and her kindness to a "bai gui", ("white devil") in Chang-An, the capital of Tang Empire. But there's more to the matter than Ai Li admits-deep secrets, hidden agendas, and a growing attraction that could get them both killed. I really wanted to love this book. I long to read romances set someplace other than North America and the British Isles. A romance set in Tang China-a time of unparalleled artistic achievement and innovation, peopled with outrageous characters like Wu Zetian, the only Chinese empress to reign in her own right-how could it fail? BUTTERFLY SWORDS gives you a taste of the culture and opulence of the period. But every time the setting threatens to sweep you away, the romance yanks you up short. Yes, I know BUTTERFLY SWORDS is a romance. Even if it hadn't said so on the cover, I could tell from the way the hero is far more interested in the heroine's feminine charms than her rice bowl after he hadn't eaten in days. If that failed to clue me in, I'd know from the way Ai Li revels in his "masculine scent" (translation: several weeks' worth of unwashed sweat), from the big sex scene which occurs exactly two-thirds of the way through the book, and the subsequent eighty pages of dithering up to the "dark moment". Then there's the heroine's miraculous ability to perform her sword forms less than a week after breaking her ankle and walking on it for miles, and the hero's equally miraculous ability to fight drugged and perform drunk. For all its luscious Silk Road window dressing, BUTTERFLY SWORDS reads exactly like every "Reluctant Bride" medieval romance of the past twenty years. I also realize romance, like all genre fiction, must follow certain rules above and beyond the HEA-a basic structure and sense of pacing that defines it, comparable to the armature of a statue or the wooden frame on which a painter stretched his or her canvas. But just because I know the structure is there, doesn't mean I want to see it, anymore than I want to taste the flour and baking soda in a chocolate cake. It's a mark of a novice. In Ms. Lin's defense, she is a novice. BUTTERFLY SWORDS, a 2009 Golden Heart Award-winning manuscript, is her first published book. This argues the clichés I find so irritating may be the very qualities its editor and other reviewers found attractive-a counterbalance to its "risky" setting. With that in mind, I hope BUTTERFLY SWORDS succeeds in spite of my misgivings. It may be the only way to convince major publishers to take a chance on unusual settings and multi-cultural characters.and to give Ms. Lin the chance to grow as a storyteller. Critical grousing aside, anyone with guts enough to defy romance conventions and let all the men see through her heroine's disguise has my vote. The writing, too, shows a lot of promise, and after all, even Nora Roberts wasn't built in a day. Verdict: One thumb up, with hope for future books.
AAR More than 1 year ago
BUTTERFLY SWORDS by Jeannie Lin is a historical romance set in 758 AD China- Tang Dynasty. It is well written with depth, details, fast paced and a page turner. It has sensuality, honor, betrayal, tradition, sword play, family, a princess, barbarians, adventure and a true love story. The hero, Ryam, is a barbarian, powerful swordsman, noble, trustworthy, stubborn and honorable. The heroine, Ai Lin, is a princess, daughter of an emperor, betrothed to Li Tao, the sixth child, stubborn, honorable, determined and believes in family tradition. She learns her betrothed has betrayed her father, possible killed her brother, so she escapes the wedding, determined to get back to her home and father. She believes her father will not want her to marry the man she believes betrayed her and her family. She is befriended by Ryam, who is determined to protect her at all cost. He is not aware she is a princess. They embark on an adventure, is tracked by her betrothed, Li Tao. Along the way Ryam and Ai Lin fall in love. She and Ryam are captured by Li Tao. Ai Lin agrees to marry Li Tao, if he will release Ryam and his men unharmed. Her father, the emperor arrives at Li Tao's. Ryam has other plans and will die before he gives Ai Lin to Li Tao. The two men battle for her release from the marriage.This is a true love story. I hope there will be more to this story for I would truly be interested to see what happens to Li Tao and his kingdom and if Ryam and Ai Lin live happily ever after.If you enjoy the Tang Dynasty, sword play, romance, sensuality, and sacrifice you will enjoy this one. This book was received for review from Net Galley and details can be found at Harlequin and My Book and More.
MORWAreviews More than 1 year ago
Jeannie Lin has written a historical romance set in 758 CE China during the Tang Dynasty. Shen Ai Li, daughter of the Emperor, has been betrothed to Li Tao to seal an alliance between the Emperor and his rival. Before she can be married, however, she learns that Li Tao was responsible for the death of one of her brothers and that he is amassing a large army to usurp the throne from Ai Li's father. Ai Li is determined to warn her father of Li Tao's perfidy. First, though, she must travel across country, even as she is being chased by Li Tao's soldiers, to the Emperor's palace. When she gives a beggar a rice bowl, he turns out to be a barbarian. Her body guards are drugged and she runs into the forest. The beggar, a swordsman of some skill, is Ryam. He rescues her as Li Tao's men try to capture her. Ryam promises to see her safely to the Imperial city, no easy task considering Li Tao wants her back. On the way to the Imperial city, Ryam recognizes that he is deeply attracted to Ai Li. He also knows that there is no hope for a relationship between Ai Li and himself. Nevertheless, the attraction is mutual and continues to grow as they run for their lives. Lin has written a fast-paced adventure story, a historical, and, above all, a love story. Her characters, Ryam and Ai Li, are strong, intelligent, well drawn, and come alive for the reader. She has included many historical details without overwhelming the reader and her story with minutiae. If you love your romantic stories set in distant times and far away places, Butterfly Swords should be on the top of your list.
chinaphotographer on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Growing up in a rural, slate-roofed village deep in the countryside of southeast China, the only English books my Chinese fiancée had to read back then were a brittle copy of Tess of the d'Urbervilles and a set of Harlequin novels. Yes, Harlequin, those pulpy paperbacks found on revolving wire racks at supermarket checkout aisles across North America and the UK. Their enticing cover art - usually, nay, always featuring shirtless, square-jawed men hovering millimeters away from the glistening-red lips of a damsel in distress - and formulaic flirt/fight/fall-in-love storylines mercilessly targeted housewives and secretaries longing for a 200-page escape from the dirty diapers and pot-bellied husbands of their mid-life realities. As it turns out, it was by reading books like "Stormy Voyage" by Sally Wentworth and Roberta Leigh's "Two-Timing Man" (purchased used for 7 RMB out of a sidewalk vendor's book cart), amongst other Harlequin classics, that my fiancée managed to teach herself English (which explains her tendency to throw her head back dramatically whenever we kiss). Curious how Harlequin, the forbidden fruit of literature, could be found anywhere in a Communist republic that has the world's most strict state-sponsored vetting process for publications, I was surprised to learn that in 1995 (about when my fiancée found her copies) Harlequin received official, red star-stamped permission to place half a million copies of twenty titles in Mandarin and a quarter-million copies of ten English versions on the shelves of Xinhua. Harlequin's stated goal: "to bring romance to millions of Chinese Women." A China.Org article on the increasing popularity of romance books in the P.R.C. concurred with Harlequin's audacious move: "Chinese women today have new demands for their Prince Charming: first, he must be powerful and distinguished...next, he must unlimited financial resources." Wosai! No wonder China has become home to the world's highest surplus of single men! Harlequin, which puts out 1,500 new titles annually in over 100 international markets, has yet to think up a romance set in present-day China (possible storyline: wealthy, second-generation Beijing businessman seduces sexy xiaojie with his shiny black Audie, pleather man-purse and a thick stack of redbacks; he agrees to save her Anhui village from being bulldozed by corrupt cadres if she will become his kept woman.). Until that day, we will have to entertain ourselves with stories set in China's olden times starring princesses and concubines. Enter Jeannie Lin, Harlequin's rising red-star of romance writing. She isn't the first author on Harlequin's roster to set her books in China (that honor goes to Jade Lee and her infinite "Tigress" series). But Lin's debut novel, Butterfly Swords, has been attracting a viral buzz louder than a summertime cicada not just for being the first Harlequin novel to NOT feature a man on the cover, but for using an Asian model as the cover girl, another Harlequin first. The star of Butterfly Swords is a Chinese woman, yes. But to give American readers something that they can relate to, the male love interest of Lin's novel is not a Chinese but a wandering whiteboy from the west. Ryam is drifting around the Tang empire begging for food (this sounds exactly like my own travels across China!) when he spots a disguised female being attacked by a pack of marauding bandits. The swordsman, who evokes images of bare-chested, fur underwear-wearing Thundarr the Barbarian from the eponymous 80's cartoon, rescues her, then agrees to escort her home. Little does Ryam know that young Ai Li is really a princess on the run from an arranged marriage to a dastardly warlord. The two proceed on their journey together across the 7th-century frontier, getting in adventures and slowly but surely falling in love. Pitting strength, courage and her fabulous butterfly swords against the forces of evil, Ai Li proves herself in the battlefield ("With Ai Li's swords and dete
jasmyn9 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Princess Ai Li is doing the unthinkable. She is running away from the mam she is supposed to marry. A marriage that was arranged by her father, her actions could bring shame to her entire family. But she has good reason for doing so. She has discovered that her future husband played a part in the slaying of one of her brothers. Thankful that she has smuggled her trusted butterfly swords along with her, she fights free of her entourage and tries to make her way home.Ryam is a barbarian, begging for scraps as he tries to return to his military base after an attack that nearly killed him. He comes upon Ai Li defending herself against far greater numbers and decides to help her. This one decision changes both of their lives forever. As they make their way back to the capital and Ai Li's family, they gain each other's trust and respect, and not just in swordplay.The two face nearly impossible odds on their journey to the city and find themselves willing to do anything for the other. I loved both characters and the way they interacted was nearly perfect. There were a few occassions that the plot stalled for a few pages, but it generally to help the reader understand some aspect of the culture and took off again as soon as it could.3.5/5
wrighton-time on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Ai Li is the number six child of the family Chang during the Tang Dynasty. Trained in the ancient art of butterfly swords by her grandmother, she is no meek woman, she is a warrior. As with most women of the time she is sent off to be married to Li Tao, to help cement relations between their lands. Ai Li learns of her intendeds duplicity as well as his involvement in the death of her brother and realizes that he is a traitor. She takes the advice of an old lieutenant, Wu, dresses as a young lad and escapes her promised husband in order to warn her father of his treachery.Ai Li is a strong and independent woman, but is also very respectful of her parents and their traditions. While she does not want to marry a man she does not know, she follows her family¿s wishes.When she escapes, she knowingly breaks tradition, but feels that her family would understand when they learn of Li Taos part in the death of her number four brother. It is during this juncture that she meets Ryam a barbarian from another country. She is kind to a stranger when she could just ignore him; she does not treat him as most foreigners are treated. She is a mix of strength and femininity with a very good heart.Ryam is trying to forget his part in the death of his comrades. He is in a strange land with nothing but his sword and his wits to protect him. When he first spots Ai Li, she is dressed as a young man. He sees through her disguise immediately and is amused that she seems to be pulling it off. He gets involved when Ai Li is being attacked, where he then becomes her one man rescue. Not that she is not capable and very deadly with her butterfly swords as he sees for himself. He is fascinated by the contrast between the purity of her womanliness and the strength of her skills with the swords.As Ryam agrees to stay with her till she gets home to Changan, they run into many serious satiations where each is required to draw on their deepest internal spirit to get them through. They are being pursued by Ai Li¿s bridegroom, Li Taos, who will not allow himself to lose face by her desertion. As a consequence of them traveling together, they begin to learn about each other as well as develop a trust based of mutual respect. What neither of them anticipates is the attraction, which is there right from the beginning. On Ryam¿s part this attraction is visceral and raw; he is hard put to keep himself away from her. The glances cause heat and you can feel his tension and his urgency. Since he has made himself her protector, he continues to try to protect her against himself. Ai Li also feels the attraction but is very aware of the situation she is in. She is still betrothed to another man, and while she at least hopes her family will understand why she has left and possibly caused them embarrassment, she is also even more aware of his foreignness and how it will be accepted by her family. Every touch, every look, between the two of them has you yearning for more. There must be a way for them to be together, as their tension strains at the very bond that holds them together.This is a wonderful story of family and how they come together; it is about learning to trust yourself as well as those around you. Jeannie Lin brings the time and place together in such an amazing way, almost as though you were watching it through the words. This is a brutal time and place in history but also a time of the most famous of love stories, the most beautiful poetry and the most exquisite fashion . She has brought us to a place in history and brought it to life; she has allowed us to see what many have never had a glimpse of. The story was well told, the romance bold but sweet, and the characters were exactly what was needed to bring it all together. There were a few times in the story where it bogged down a bit, causing it to lose momentum, but over all, it was a wonderful read.SummaryAi Li has escaped her intended husband in order to inform her father of his treachery as well as his invo
TheLostEntwife on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Hey - romance lovers. Let me introduce you to a nicely priced, fantastic little adventure book. As those of you who visit my blog regularly know, I'm not really a romance reader (although I do tend to read more romance during the fall/winter months). Still, I saw this title on NetGalley and decided to check out it. Warrior girl? Bring it on!Of course, there were all the normal cliches in this book, but that's what makes a romance novel a romance novel. There's the sense of danger, the muscled leading guy, the beautiful leading girl, the forbidden romance. Still, even with all of the normal ingredients a romance novel can be really bad.. or good, depending on the writing. Jeannie Lin did a fantastic job with the pace, her choice of words and her character development. My only complaint was that.. for being a story set in the Tang dynasty... the language and actions of the main characters were.. pretty modern. Still, it's a romance novel and not an educational history book.. so I'm willing to overlook that.Full of steam, romping fun and a good adventure overall!
thewalkinggirl on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The setting is China during the Tang dynasty. When noblewoman Chang Ai Li (Ailey) discovers on her wedding journey that her betrothed is responsible for killing her brother in an attempt to gain political power, she escapes and flees toward Changam (Xi¿an) to warn her family of his betrayal. Before she makes it very far, she finds herself attacked by bandits and rescued by Ryam, a down-on-his-luck barbarian mercenary from somewhere in Europe. I thought the use of historical elements was nicely done. It added context and depth to the story, but didn¿t take over the romance between Ailey and Ryam. (I would have liked a map of the region included, but I freely admit to being a nerd.) The characters Ailey and Ryam are sincere and occasionally funny, and their romance ¿ which both know is forbidden ¿ is a believable mix of sweetness and angst.I received an electronic ARC of this book through NetGalley.
tarenn on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
BUTTERFLY SWORDS by Jeannie Lin is a historical romance set in 758 AD China- Tang Dynasty. It is well written with depth, details, fast paced and a page turner. It has sensuality, honor, betrayal, tradition, sword play, family, a princess, barbarians, adventure and a true love story. The hero, Ryam, is a barbarian, powerful swordsman, noble, trustworthy, stubborn and honorable. The heroine, Ai Lin, is a princess, daughter of an emperor, betrothed to Li Tao, the sixth child, stubborn, honorable, determined and believes in family tradition. She learns her betrothed has betrayed her father, possible killed her brother, so she escapes the wedding, determined to get back to her home and father. She believes her father will not want her to marry the man she believes betrayed her and her family. She is befriended by Ryam, who is determined to protect her at all cost. He is not aware she is a princess. They embark on an adventure, is tracked by her betrothed, Li Tao. Along the way Ryam and Ai Lin fall in love. She and Ryam are captured by Li Tao. Ai Lin agrees to marry Li Tao, if he will release Ryam and his men unharmed. Her father, the emperor arrives at Li Tao's. Ryam has other plans and will die before he gives Ai Lin to Li Tao. The two men battle for her release from the marriage.This is a true love story. I hope there will be more to this story for I would truly be interested to see what happens to Li Tao and his kingdom and if Ryam and Ai Lin live happily ever after.If you enjoy the Tang Dynasty, sword play, romance, sensuality, and sacrifice you will enjoy this one. This book was received for review from Net Galley and details can be found at Harlequin and My Book and More.
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Jasmyn9 More than 1 year ago
Princess Ai Li is doing the unthinkable. She is running away from the mam she is supposed to marry. A marriage that was arranged by her father, her actions could bring shame to her entire family. But she has good reason for doing so. She has discovered that her future husband played a part in the slaying of one of her brothers. Thankful that she has smuggled her trusted butterfly swords along with her, she fights free of her entourage and tries to make her way home. Ryam is a barbarian, begging for scraps as he tries to return to his military base after an attack that nearly killed him. He comes upon Ai Li defending herself against far greater numbers and decides to help her. This one decision changes both of their lives forever. As they make their way back to the capital and Ai Li's family, they gain each other's trust and respect, and not just in swordplay. The two face nearly impossible odds on their journey to the city and find themselves willing to do anything for the other. I loved both characters and the way they interacted was nearly perfect. There were a few occassions that the plot stalled for a few pages, but it generally to help the reader understand some aspect of the culture and took off again as soon as it could. 3.5/5
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librachic More than 1 year ago
Wow,that is the first thing that came to my mind as i flipped the pages of this gorgeously written novel by new writer,Jeannie Lin.The richness of ancient China is beautifully and meticulously illustrated in Jeannie's writing.Even though the reader did not quite know what Ai Li's identity was exactly,I think that kept the reader flipping with eager anticipation,The love scenes were really romantic and sexy,Ai Li and Ryam were definitely balanced each other out,they are the exact opposite of each other but they complimented each other well.Whether the scenes were set in the Chinese country side,the splendor of Chang-an,the imperial city or Yumen Guan,I found that the history flowed easily in and you would not get bored as the reader and with Jeannie writing you can almost feel that you are transported to the heart of ancient China,be it the crowded and bustling streets of Chang-an to the peaceful mountain range Longyou that Ai Li calls home.This novel is definitely something special and i can happily say that I thoroughly enjoyed it and cannot wait for Jeannie's next book!
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First off, to explain my star rating - 3 stars is still "worth a read" in my book. I really enjoyed this book, and would have rated it 4 stars easily, up until the ending. There was so much angst and familial conflict, and I cried several times reading this story. So when the ending came along and basically glossed over the resolution, I was really let down. Why weren't we given any real explanation as to the Emperor's change of heart? It would have taken maybe 15 pages more to give us that, but instead it was this sudden Happily Ever After that left me feeling flat. And with a story that was so great up until that point, it was doubly disappointing. Still, worth a read. Just not worth 5 or even 4 stars, thanks to the ending.
Joanna_Terrero More than 1 year ago
During the journey to her arranged marriage ceremony, Ai Li learns outrageous secrets about her betrothed, Li Tao. A powerful governor and war hero. A man she has never seen, but to who she belongs now. Unable to become the wife of a warlord, who is plotting against her father and probably murdered one of her brothers. Ai Li needs to inform her father about Li Tao's betrayal. She escapes, breaking up with tradition. Disobeying her parents for the first time, Ai Li risks dishonouring her family name. Being the only daughter in a family of warriors, she doesn't hesitate to face the intrigues and dangers of imperial politics. In her returning path, she is closely pursued or attacked. Ryam, a barbarian warrior, rescues her. Ai Li and Ryam, the most dissimilar beings, converge under surprising circumstances. Unbeknown to both, their fates are sealed on sight of one another. When he looks at Ai Li for the first time, Ryam sees a bright light in the middle of his darkness. Her kindness and beauty strike him and it's the start of a breathtaking adventure. After the initial mistrust, Ai Li and Ryam ally. She needs to safely return to the imperial city. And Ryam feels the need to protect her, even from himself. Being a foreigner, he is unlikely to be involved with her enemies. Ryam is confused by an unhoped love and has many flaws, unusual for a hero. Historical romances are full of arrogant heroes, rich and powerful. Ryam is none of that. When they meet, he's starving. His only treasure is his sword and his own ability as a swordsman. Skill he doubts constantly. Ryam flutters between alpha and beta. His own fears break Ai Li's heart at one point, putting many in danger. However, there is something very touching in Ryam's devotion for Ai Li, hence his self-doubts are forgiven. Ryam finds a way to redeem himself, while learning about what being honorable really means. The sensualism of the love scenes is beautifully conveyed by Jeannie Lin. Ryam is a passionate and tender lover. Hesitant at first, later eagerly introducing Ai Li to the pleasures of the flesh. They immerse in a torrid affair between sword fights. This is an engaging story with believable secondary characters, and one of the most painful black moments ever. There are a few elements in the plot that could have been improved, but in all, Butterfly Swords is extraordinary. I love this book. And I recommend it as a fast and entertaining read.
bridget3420 More than 1 year ago
Jeannie knows how to deliver a spicy romance. I read this book in one sitting and was amazed at how enthralled I was in the story. It's touching, romantic and entertaining. Four stars.