Although I've enjoyed Lin's other Chinese set historical romances, this mystery/romance series set in the "pleasure district" really cements my good oAlthough I've enjoyed Lin's other Chinese set historical romances, this mystery/romance series set in the "pleasure district" really cements my good opinion of her as an author. In particular, I like their decidedly feminist critical stance on the oft-romanticized position of the courtesan/concubine. Not to mention the rigorous but not ponderous attention to historical detail and well-fleshed out characters....more
This is a decently paced, readable romantic suspense like one can expect from Sorenson. What is also not so surprising from Sorensen - but certainly uThis is a decently paced, readable romantic suspense like one can expect from Sorenson. What is also not so surprising from Sorensen - but certainly unusual for this genre - is the nuanced (not overblown) way that this book addresses race, gender, and class. Both the heroine (an unwed, upper-class Latina teen mother) and the hero (a poor, "white trash" ex-con who joined the Aryan Brotherhood in prison for self-preservation) are shown to be influenced by but not limited to the charged identity categories they fall under. And the entire cast of characters in this story complicates any clear good guy/bad guy dichotomies.
This is, in my opinion, a pretty feminist book - and not just for its representation of women (in particular the heroine and a secondary stripper/single mother character), but its depiction of vulnerability and kindness as positive - yet threatened - aspects of masculinity.
(view spoiler)[This book is certainly the only romance I've ever heard of with a male-on-male rape survivor, and that trauma is tackled with far more finesse here than in the vast majority of romance novels which use the heroine's rape as a short-cut to angst. (hide spoiler)]
Oh! And the kid in this story is refreshingly not-annoying & well-characterized. ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
When I think of this book, I think of how wonderfully capable the heroine is. And the hero too, actually. But it is a defining characteristic of MadelWhen I think of this book, I think of how wonderfully capable the heroine is. And the hero too, actually. But it is a defining characteristic of Madeleine. We know that she was once the proprietor of a cheese shop, and that in the future she plans to farm, and that she is a "planner" or what might now be called a "fixer," for she engineers the seemingly impossible: the rescue of a famous convicted murderer right from the gallows. But truly, it becomes evident that this woman could do anything she sets her mind to. And the hero is in awe of her for it!
That's one of my favorite things about this book: how very much the h/h appreciate and enjoy one another. (Actually, this could be said of pretty much all of Long's books. Yay!)
They spend the majority of this book on the run, so I suppose it's a romantic suspense. And in the best way, for me anyhow, in that although I was avidly waiting to find out what next crazy aspect of the mystery would unfold (blackmail! stolen corpses! giant skeletons! three-legged dogs!) I was enjoying the ride just as much as the anticipation of the unfurling mystery.
I also really liked how the hero and his brother - though they'd been rivals for the same woman since childhood - so clearly loved each other all the same. Even when he had a small, unwilling suspicion that his brother had set him up, the hero still loved him.
This book also does a great job as a first book in a series - setting up the world and its major players, without falling into the trap of obvious sequel bait: being boring and awkward. We get just enough, just a whiff of continuing threads, but in ways that make sense, i.e. we don't get more of surrounding characters than is appropriate for their places in the lives of this book's leads.
Also, to be non-spoilerishly vague, there were certain aspects of the mystery that weren't completely revealed, mostly ones that had to do with the personal, interior worlds of other characters. Of course, this makes sense! And though I'd like to find out more in the future, I'd also be okay with not finding out, because sometimes you don't.
One pesky thing though...(view spoiler)[I was somewhat confused, in the end, over who exactly had decided to hide Horace the witness and thus doom the trial in the first place. It wasn't Mrs. Redmond, and I guess it wasn't Mr. Redmond either, since he was shocked that she should think that he had done so. So I guess it was as Mr. Redmond said (even though he implied that he was not telling the whole truth) and his man of business just took it upon himself because he thought that's what Redmond would want? So I guess I figured it out in the end, but I was a bit confused there. I was also confused as to whether Mr. Redmond himself had actually known that Colin was really his son. I mean, obviously, he should have been aware that it was a possibility... But I think this is one of those things that's supposed to be vague, so. (hide spoiler)]["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
4.5 stars? This is Sorenson's best work, IMO. The storyworld and all the characters really breathe and the suspense storyline integrates well with the4.5 stars? This is Sorenson's best work, IMO. The storyworld and all the characters really breathe and the suspense storyline integrates well with the romantic and other plotlines. And again, I like how Sorenson pairs a mature YA pairing alongside an adult one. ...more