I really loved this until the last 50 pages where some of the hero s heroine s decisions started not to make much sense for me Still, a very nice book and so much different from other romances.There is another book that deals with the relationship between a Chinese and a foreigner, that s not pure romance but is SO much realistic, especially with how a foreigner would be treated in Medieval China Compared to this, I found Ryam s easy acceptance as unrealistic to say the least, especially compared to his looks. 5 Stars for this breathtaking historical With only two historical novels published to her name, Jeannie Lin has shot into my list of favorite authors after being totally and utterly captivated by the tale of love, Tang Dynasty politics and the beautiful sensuality that she wields in her stories I picked up Butterfly Swords right after I was done with The Taming of Mei Ling which was just a teaser into Jeannie Lin s capability in keeping readers enthralled by the magic that she creates with the words because simply put, it was just utter and sheer magic that leaped out from each and every one of these pages as I read along.Set in 758 AD, Tang Dynasty China, this is the story of the sixth child and only girl of the Emperor of China during the time Ai Li is on her way to meet her husband to be, Li Tao, a military governor in one of the provinces when she learns that her sense of honor would not let herself marry a traitor to the Emperor Though she knows that the consequences of fleeing from Li Tao would be catastrophic, with a sense of inborn courage, Ai Li is all set to travel back to Changan, the Imperial Capital when she comes across the foreigner commonly known as barbarian amongst the Chinese then who calls himself Ryam.19 year old Ai Li has always had a sort of sixth sense when it comes to judging people And although her culture, society and decorum demands that she shun the warrior with blond hair and blue eyes, her sense of honor and respect for a man who willingly put his life on the line to come to her rescue has her requesting his help in returning to the Imperial city.Ryam is a man who has got the wandering swordsman thing down to a pat Following in his father s footsteps who had imbibed in drinking and foolhardy fighting after the loss of his beloved wife had been Ryam s way of life until he is recruited by Adrian, a prince by his own rights who admires Ryam s mighty skill with the sword A mission that goes horribly wrong which had nearly killed Ryam in the process has left him with a terrible sense of guilt that clouds all his senses until the beautiful and enchanting Ai Li enlists his help and Ryam agrees against his better judgement.For the first time in Ai Li s life, she gets to spend time with a man who listens to her, values her opinions and has a way of making her feel things that she shouldn t feel for someone like Ryam and keeps messing with her head Ryam who has all the worldly experience under his belt when it comes to seduction and women finds himself for the first time smitten with a virgin who has no idea what she does to him just by existing.Though their attraction and the awareness that springs forth between them is an immediate one, the sexual tension of the sizzling variety is a long drawn one which keeps the reader on tenterhooks, awaiting that moment when Ai Li and Ryam would surrender and give themselves to each other Every single touch and look exchanged stokes the fire that burns between them, making this a read worth savoring and sinking into just for the web of sensuality that surrounds the reader from the beginning.Ai Li and Ryam s journey towards happily ever after is not an easy one The intricate details of the politics and the responsibilities that one shoulders in holding a position such as being the Emperor of a country as China comes to light as the story unfolds making this one of the most interesting historical romances that I have read to date It s always refreshing to read a historical that is not based in the UK involving the ton and the patriarch British society and Jeannie Lin has carved a place for herself as one of the unique voices in the historical romance genre.There were numerous things I loved about this story Both Ai Li and Ryam s characters reel you in from the first encounter itself, making you root for their happily ever after all throughout Ai Li has such a sense of honor ingrained into her that she is willing to forgo everything that she holds dear just so that no shame would come to her family Ryam who is the exact opposite to Ai Li in each and every way just turns out to be the man who complements her in every way Though I would have loved to know about Ryam s past and where he came from, nevertheless he makes for a pretty well rounded character whom I loved for his undeniable need for Ai Li and her touch that continues to sooth and arouse him at the same time And loved those sword fights between Ai Li and Ryam I didn t know that fighting could end up being so erotic The secondary characters that we meet along the journey are all interesting ones that do not distract us from the actual main story I found my interest piqued to find out about Adrian and his wife Miya who gave up the throne to become his wife And towards the end, I found myself oddly intrigued and a little bit helplessly fascinated with Li Tao who comes out as a villain at the beginning and left me with mixed feelings towards the end I am hoping he would get his own story and that I would love seeing his cold and controlled self brought to his knees by a woman who is his match made in heaven Oh yes, I am an evil, evil woman who gets her fix from seeing heroes crumble to dust at the feet of the women they love Since I loved this story so much, I couldn t help but feel cheated out of an epilogue which would have done wonders for the story Though the ending as it is is not a bad one, I would have loved seeing Ai Li and Ryam actually live through their happily ever after, maybe have a couple of babies and experience all that comes along with finding your soul mate to share your life with you forever.I end my review with some of the scenes that just leapt out of the pages at me whilst I was reading, that I just can t help but want to share with all of you view spoilerOne moment she made him swear not to touch her and the next she was kissing him into madness If she made a single move towards him, made a single sweet sound he d take hold of her, lower her to the ground and make her his right now with the fierce throb of combat and their wild escape still in his veins.Some part of her must have known it That was why she stayed petrified, her only movement the rise and fall of her breasts, as she struggled to breathe Tell me what it is you want from me and it s yours, he promised dangerously.She clutched at the front of his tunic and sank against him, closing her eyes when his mouth captured hers It was always like this Possessive, devastating He knew how to make her melt into him, how to steal her breath and fold himself around her until she couldn t think of anything but him.Through the slick heat and the unbelievable tightness gripping him, Ailey was there When he shut his eyes, he saw her face.Mine, he thought as the blood rushed through his skull For as long as she would have him To the ends of the earth if she needed him there.He was a fool. hide spoiler 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 I rarely read romances, but when I caught the words Tang dynasty, butterfly swords, and woman warrior, I decided to give this a go And thankfully, there were no damsels in distress in this one Well, the damsel has distress, but nothing she can t handle with her butterfly swords and just a little bit of help of a blonde barbarian Ai Li aka Ailey is on her way to marry Li Tao when she discovers that her fiance is planning an uprising against her own father She runs away with hired bandits to escape her upcoming nupitals and report her newfound information to her father However, Li Tao is not giving her up without a fight and Ai Li finds herself running for her life with a blonde barbarian sidekick The blonde barbarian, Ryam, is running himself, from his own inner demons Despite being chased down constantly by Li Tao s army and sword battling anyone in their path and even fighting each other , the two fall in love But Ai Li is an important part of the Tang dynasty Her virtue must remain intact or she will shame her ancestors and her family She must choose between love and honor.Upon reaching her home base, things do not go as Ai Li hope Her father is no longer than the man she thought he was Once again, she faces marriage to Li Tao and once again, her and her blonde barbarian are running Can Ai Li deal with the loss of her family tho Can love really conquer all She is now in a situation in which her butterfly swords may not be much help.A good read, very entertaining The only reason it doesn t get a five is well Ryam is too horny to be believable From the very first moment he realizes Ai Li is a woman under her robes, he has urges Come on, she can t be THAT sexy all the time I ve had mixed luck with Jeannie Lin s writing I either highly enjoy it or can t get into it at all This wasn t terrible but it couldn t keep my attention either I would still recommend her as an author but I would suggest some of her other works first. Butterfly Swords is set during a unique time period in the Tang Dynasty in 758 AD China Ai Li, the daughter of an emperor, is betrothed to marry, Li Tao, a warlord This is an arranged marriage and one that Ai Li doesn t want because she has found out that her husband to be has plotted against her family and may have killed one of her brothers Ai Li has always been the dutiful daughter, but in this case she will defy her parents wishes and return to them and tell them what she knows, regardless if she will be disgraced in their eyes As she s returning home, she s set upon by thugs, pretending to be bandits, thanks to one of her father s lieutenants who wants to help her She runs off with this group of men, uncertain of her future She trusts no one and will disguise herself as a boy using her trusty butterfly swords to protect her seeing as she has been trained in the art of sword fighting.Things become even complicated when Ai Li is almost drugged at a tavern She is saved from a blue eyed barbarian called Ryam, who is cruelly nicknamed the White Demon Ryam is also skilled with a sword, but has become an outcast since he s not a native of Ai Li s country He arrived in this land five years ago through the silk trade and has outlasted his welcome Even though Ai Li is grateful for his aid, she is wary of him because he could be working for Li Tao But because Ai Li is a woman all alone, she throws caution to the wind, and asks Ryam for protection, to be her bodyguard of sorts Ryam thinks Ai Li is very beautiful, as well as deceitful He doesn t believe her when she says she comes from a family of tea merchants But against his better judgment, Ryam will escort Ai Li home, who he nicknames Ailey.Ai Li and Ryam are surrounded by danger everywhere they turn And even though they re both skilled with their swords, they must constantly be on their toes As they hurry on their travels, they begin to know one another better, and soon their attraction for one another grows into an explosive passion they know will not end well And when Ryam finally figures out who Ai Li is, and who she s running from, he s backed into a corner Ai Li is in a worse position, whose parents are dismayed over her behavior and refuse to listen to her pleas The only people she can turn to are her grandmother and youngest brother, who are not powerful enough to stop Li Tao who is on his way to claim her Ai Li may have no choice but to exile herself away from all those she loves, although Ryam is than willing to love and cherish her despite all the odds against them.Butterfly Swords is a very unique story Jeannie Lin has written a rich tale and one amazing heroine in that of Ai Li, who because of her strong nature, will sacrifice so much because of the deep love she has for her family Not only does Ai Li have incredible fighting skills that put some of her male counterparts to shame, but she refuses to sit back and do what s expected of her regardless of how wrong it may be Ai Li is a heroine with balls She stands up for herself and those around her knowing the outcome may end badly.As for Ryam, I found him to be a very weak character with no spirit and only his fighting skills to recommend for him I was very disappointed in his portrayal I was very excited about the idea of an interracial romance, but Ryam has no real depth or dimension He s the type of hero you can plunk down in any romance during any time period He s of a wallpaper type character if anything Whereas Ai Li is amazingly written, Ryam held no appeal or substance for me He seemed so out of place, and I don t mean because he s a stranger in a strange land He s adequate in his role, but not much than that And when I reached the point where I wanted the main focus to remain Ai Li and her interactions with her family, rather than with Ryam, that became a big problem for me as a reader.I also found Ai Li and Ryam s proclamations of love all too fast When Ai Li first meets Ryam, she keeps her distance, and rightly so, because she doesn t know what Ryam s motivations are But then as the walk, talk walk and talk some on their travels, she suddenly has this epiphany that she wants Ryam above all else And this necessarily doesn t have anything to do with her physical attraction to him I just couldn t get a good sense on why she wants Ryam so much.The ending is too pat and the conclusion of Ai Li and Ryam s HEA didn t work for me I shook my head a few times during what is the final fighting scene.The love scenes are well written and I very much enjoyed Ai Li s family and the setting, But, with the lack of chemistry between Ai Li and Ryam, as well as Ryam not having enough dimension, I would say Butterfly Swords had merit, but overall it missed the high points I had been anticipating. 3.5 stars.I loved the first half of this story It s a great road romance in an unusual setting with unusual characters for historical romance Ai Li is escaping from an arranged marriage because she s discovered that her groom had her brother murdered and is plotting against her father, who is a powerful leader in the Tang empire which leader exactly isn t revealed until much later She is helped by Ryam, a mercenary barbarian from the West when the groom s henchman track her down Ryam and Ai Li eventually make their way back to the capital, learning about each other and falling in lust then love along the way But they are truly starcrossed lovers, since she s imperial elite and he s a mercenary barbarian Her life and future are tied up inextricably with her family responsibilities, while he has no family except his fellow soldiers for hire Ai Li knows her parents will be angry, but she hopes they ll understand once she tells them why she ran away Their reactions are unexpected, however, and that sets in motion the second half of the story This part is a lot about imperial politics and their push pull romance How can they possibly wind up together The answer, in the climactic scenes, was a letdown Oh, they get their HEA, but it feels very deus ex machina and I would have liked much backstory about how the decision came about The characters who are so important in the closing chapters feel shortchanged, given how rich much of the rest of the book is I also wanted way about Fifth Brother, but that s a personal thing not a flaw of the book.Ai Li and Ryam are very likeable as the main couple Ai Li is not just a kickass heroine, the text shows you how she comes by her gifts, and both her strengths and limitations are well portrayed Ryam has an interesting backstory, and while he s not the most charismatic hero he s not educated and he mostly thinks about Ai Li and combat , it s kind of nice to have a hero who isn t All Things To All People He reminded me a bit of Ruck in Kinsale s For My Lady s Heart.The world is fascinating and immersive I have no idea what the actual Tang Dynasty was like and there are definitely anachronistic modern attitudes and representations in the book, but the internal consistency was strong and the characters worked within the fictional setup This is a great debut, and it s polished than I expected I love Lin s later novels, but I expected this one to be rougher It s not as complex and relies a bit on tropes, but it s an engaging, rewarding read. I just love the cover for this It s just so sexy I mean, how often do you see a full frontal picture of an Asian woman doing an action instead of just merely giving off some blank, vacant expression in the background, or looking pretty for some exotic value Not much I can tell you.The world building historical facts of her time felt genuine enough The author put in some amount of effort and it paid off although don t take my words as gospel because I am really not that familiar with Chinese history culture as I m knowledgeable about Japan s one Nothing jarringly stood out to me and the characters all behaved appropriately for people of their position and their time period.I m not too big of a fan of the Asian falling in love with a white person, because usually what happens is that it promotes the idea of the Mighty Whitey and sort of paints the original Asian background as something not of an equivalent worth or merit The white figure would describe the Asian character, female or male, as some otherworldly beauty playing into the whole exotic factor This occurs in this book as Ryam views her as a one of a kind beauty that he throws away his wandering, free spirited, bachelor life for I kind of rolled my eyes at this but it wasn t overbearing.Their romance started with a good healthy dose of infatuation and lust They definitely had their eyes on each other from the beginning and things moved swiftly from there I have to applaud that while their relationship moved at a rapid pace, the author did hold off and prolong the actual sex scenes so as to build up our appetite for it Gave it a nice amount of draw and hook, because if she had put those scenes in a lot earlier I would have been satisfied and wouldn t have continued reading the book The sex scenes were serviceable and did their thing though I thought some of them were a bit too short I ve read hotter sex scenes in other books Maybe I m just picky.The plot was pretty skimpy and linear, not much on depth but then again romance novels usually aren t The ending is very run of the mill but I guess it was pretty sweet so I bumped my rating for it up a notch The couple is a bit too sugary sweet for me but I m sure people would enjoy this stuff.Not bad Certainly not terrible Good read for those who want to try something other than historical romances set in Victorian Regency England. I tried to read this sometime last year, but my head was in the wrong place and I couldn t get started This time I was hooked after a few pages in Overall, it was a fun read that soothed my desire for geographical and cultural diverse HRs No Dukes here Ailey was a wonderful fierce heroine Brave, confident and believed in her and her family s honor Ryam was an interesting hero, a skilled fighter, though he was a barbarian from land far away I did not feel like I got a great picture of his background He was a nomad from far western lands I liked him, but he did have a tendency to feel sorry for himself and to drown his problems in drink.The writing was engaging and world building well done I liked the romance It had sweet moments and the connection was believable Looking forward to in the series As I read Butterfly Swords I felt I was on a balancing act with likes and dislikes Not that I didn t enjoy this book, but at the same time I felt there was some glaring weaknesses that made this book falter With the old saying of opposites attract Princess Ai Li and Ryam truly come from different walks of life One of the glittering royalty and the other of just fighting to survive Sparks truly fly when these two meet, only burns brighter With Ai Li needing to get back to her family to warn them of danger and Ryam out to protect and make sure Ai gets there safety this on the road romance martial arts story gets the reader a glimpse at the intrigues and shady allies whom would stab you in the back the moment your guard is down Jeannie Lin did a wonderful job of showing the reading how the silk roads effected the empire at the time, while she did go into fantasy when it came to Ai Li family, this didn t bother me as much as the pace and at times the characters themselves Ai Li was feisty, honorable swordswoman, whom may have been na ve and shelter about the world outside her home, but was very much to the point with a great kindness about her ,with Ryam, he had a do or die attitude that got him into trouble, but also showed great honor to keep his word When it comes to on the road romance I tend to expect a lot of talking, this gives the reader a chance to learn about the characters, have them open up to one another This didn t happen in Butterfly Swords, their talks and thoughts were on repeat with Ai worried about her family, how she can t be with Ryam Ryam fighting his manly urges about getting Ai into bed, how they can t be together lather, rinse, repeat This goes on through the whole book Making it tedious at times Thrown in a fight scene and the book started to really lag The second part of the book was better, when things finally come to head between Ai and Ryam, I saw growth between the characters, but as if they were scared of going forward, their thoughts once again went back to repeat mode While an average read for me, still was an enjoyable and a good debut.
out about Jeannie Lin online at
- Mass Market Paperback
- 288 pages
- Butterfly Swords (Tang Dynasty, #1)
- Jeannie Lin
- 25 October 2018 Jeannie Lin