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The Lotus Palace

(The Pingkang Li Mysteries #1)

3.77  ·  Rating details ·  1,416 ratings  ·  311 reviews
It is a time of celebration in the Pingkang Li, where imperial scholars and bureaucrats mingle with beautiful courtesans. At the center is the Lotus Palace, home of the most exquisite courtesans in China...

Maidservant Yue-ying is not one of those beauties. Street-smart and practical, she's content to live in the shadow of her infamous mistress—until she meets the aristocra
Mass Market Paperback, 378 pages
Published August 27th 2013 by Harlequin HQN (first published August 13th 2013)
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Average rating 3.77  · 
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Khanh, first of her name, mother of bunnies
"I’ve heard my face described as flawed, ruined, unfortunate. A bad omen. People avert their gazes and move away from me as if it’s a disease they might catch. But after being separated for so many years, my sister was only able to find me because my face was so recognizable. The red-faced whore.” A tear slid down her cheek, but she ignored it. “I don’t wish to be owned ever again.”
I just have a lot of feelings right now. Tears may have been shed during the reading of this book.

Jeannie Lin i
Sep 03, 2013 rated it really liked it
WHAT? A romance/mystery/historical fiction novel NOT set in Regency England? WHAT IS THIS SORCERY? IS THIS EVEN LEGAL?

Needless to say, I was thrilled.
Nenia ✨️ I yeet my books back and forth ✨️ Campbell

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Jeannie Lin's works always reminded me of the Chinese wuxia films, only with happier endings. They share the same themes of danger, forbidden love, class differences, soulful men, and strong heroines. Except, you know, with Jeannie Lin's books, you're 99.9% sure that your new favorite hero and heroine aren't going to die at the end of the story - and that is a big sell, trust me.

Recently, I read SILK, SWORDS, AND SURRENDER, which is a co
K.J. Charles
A wildly enjoyable romance that doesn't soft soap the issues. A dissolute young man with massive self-esteem issues and a gambling problem falls for a former prostitute, sold into the trade as a child and now a courtesan's servant. All that plus class/cultural issues that firmly tell them both to know their place, and into which the hero buys without really noticing for a long time. This is a meaty romance with a lot to get over, but it really works, and the way the two work together and learn i ...more
This was simple but complex, honest and raw, and breath-snatchingly beautiful at times. The characters never try to be anything more than who they are, and hold each other accountable—flaws and all.

Desire and fear felt the same inside.

For the record, THIS is the sort of angst I absolutely revel in. The kind where characters have candid conversations about their emotions, where they fuck up and hurt each other and are called on it.

She was clever without the benefit of flowery words. Brav
I read romance books for the HEA and I've been known for trashing a book for a less than satisfying ending, but I have to say that the HEA in this particular romance felt "wrong" to me. Not that Bai Huang and Yue-ying didn't deserve it. I loved them and they certainly deserved to live happily ever after, but...

I don't know how to explain it, I just know that I'd be giving this book a higher rating - and let's not forget that I gave it 4 stars! - if the HEA was nowhere in sight. I'd be sobbing li
Sam (AMNReader)
This hero was so sweet, and the interactions super lovely and satisfying.

But the external factors lined up against yue-ying & Bai Huang were... a lot. So why the mystery, essentially because it just pulled me out of their little cocoon every time.

3.5, rounded up. I should not have waited so long to read Jeannie Lin.
Mar 30, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Read any romances about secretive courtesans and dashing, young lords during golden-age China lately? Then read Jeannie Lin's Pingkang Li Mysteries. The Lotus Palace isn't simply a romance, it's a Romance, an epic that embroils six characters- no, an entire district. While we read 99% of the narrative through the hero and heroine's perspectives, Lin captures the throb and glitter of the capital's pleasure quarter, as well as the poetry, the intelligent, subtle women. Lin evokes the beauty of pro ...more
As soon as I learned The Lotus Palace was a historical romance/mystery set in Ancient China, with actual Chinese people as main characters, I knew I HAD to read it. When you have read as much historical romance as I have, you don’t find many new things. Even with the known trope - rich playboy falls for servant girl – I found the culture and setting so different that half the time I didn’t know how characters would react to things. It made for a fascinating read.

The Pingkang Li is the City’s ple
Feb 19, 2013 rated it it was amazing
There are reasons why Jeannie Lin makes my most-awaited-books list time and time again. The unusual timeline (Tang dynasty China!) aside, she constantly reinvents her settings, plots and characters making each of her books a new discovery. Here, we foray once more into the imperial capital of Changan, into the pleasure district of Pingkang Li.

One of the highlights of the Tang Dynasty series is the sheer amount of intricate historical detail interwoven in the stories. I was completely fascinated
I was really surprised how much I liked this. I kinda thought it would be good since I'd seem some glowing reviews of this author and "mystery plus romance set in ancient china" sounded all up my alley. But it's published by Harlequin.... and I mean to each their own but I have never been into any of Harlequin's releases ever. So I gave it a shot anyways and I was kind of blown away. It took a little while to really sink into the story but once I did it was like a breath of fresh air. The story ...more
Just when I think I'm too jaded for romance novels, I find this book and I meet Yue-ying. ...more
Link to Live-Tweeting Thread:

I would write a gushing review but I have the next book waiting on my kindle for me. So.
Aug 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing
The idea of a Chinese historical romance is so exciting to me, but I was hardly going to enjoy the book based on that pretext alone. Gladly I can report that THIS WAS SO GOOD and doesn't fall into any clichés, hard or soft, about life in a pleasure district. Jeannie Lin examines, fairly and astutely, exactly what it means to be a woman whose life is enfolded in the concept of the courtesan: the necessity of illusion; the strange mix of autonomy and instability; the small space in society which y ...more
Jan 16, 2017 rated it really liked it
What I liked

- Yue-ying FTW

She's a likeable and feisty character. As the novel progresses, we get to find out the events that shaped her personality and she ends up being 1000% more sympathetic. I liked her practical nature. Like, even after she fell in love, she didn't have a sudden personality change.

Even better for her as well as the rest of the characters, there was a lot more to what she presented to the world. You know, kinda like people do in real life?

- Amaze worldbuilding

In a world tha
Mrs Giggles
Jan 21, 2014 rated it liked it
The Lotus Palace is one of the more upscale houses of pleasure in Pinkang li, the red light district of Changan. It's 847 AD, and our heroine Yue-ying is the maidservant of the popular courtesan Mingyu. She shouldn't attract attention, but somehow, Lord Bai Huang decides that she's clever and feisty. When someone starts killing the courtesans in the district, and Lord Bai starts poking his nose into the matter, Yue-ying finds herself swept up in the mess.

That's basically the plot of Jeannie Lin'
Feb 01, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Yue-ying lived life the way she was expected to, as a servant she does not take for granted what her Courtesan employer has done for her. Yue-ying makes a habit of studying the patrons who are trying to win her Courtesan's favors, she pays attention to all of her surroundings in order to have knowledge in case it is ever needed.

When Bai Huang, a privileged playboy begins to pay Yue-ying attention, she quickly puts him in his place, after all they both have their stations in life and there are l
This is the book you want if you like your romance with a side of murder. *creepy organ music* It’s also the book you want if you like historicals set outside of England. It’s also ALSO the book you want if you groove on complex power dynamics between lovers and appreciate nuanced portrayals of sex work. That is a lot going on for one book! In Tang Dynasty China (847 AD), Yue-ying is a maid to a renowned courtesan. She will never be a sought after companion in her own right because of a bright r ...more
The first time I read a Jeannie Lin book, it brought back memories of when I used to watch historical Chinese television series all the time.  While I still watch the occasional Chinese historical, I don't marathon them like I used to.  Reading The Lotus Palace, I find that that feeling is still there--of course, the television series are a bit more chaste, while this book has a few steamy sex scenes, but that's still the feel.

And of course, because of this, it might make me a bit biased towards
Jan 21, 2021 rated it it was amazing
CW: Heroine is an assault survivor and has a dissociative episode during intimacy with hero

This book stunned me. Wow. I knew I'd like it but I did not realize how much. I felt completely transported to another world.

Yur-Ying and Haung really bring you through a range of emotions as we follow the solving of a murder. I just loved it so much.
Sep 04, 2020 rated it it was amazing
The Lotus Palace was everything I was looking for in a story, so I’m sad it’s already over and I won’t get to see more of Yue-ying and Bai Huang.

Set in the red light district of Chang’an, China during the Tang Dynasty. The story begins for Yue-ying, a maidservant to a courtesan at one of the most upscale pleasure houses of Pinkang Li, with a disruptive earthquake that will reveal the unspoken truths of the red light district.

The murder mystery was fairly simple, and at times took a backseat to
Lynn Spencer
Sep 13, 2013 rated it really liked it
I gave this a B+ on AAR, so 4.5 stars here. I've enjoyed Jeannie Lin's China-set historicals for the Harlequin Historicals line so far and I was thrilled when I heard she would be writing single title as well. I went into The Lotus Palace expecting some element of suspense in the plot, but otherwise I had no idea what I would be getting into. As it turns out, it was quite a treat.

First of all, if you've never read Jeannie Lin, you are missing out. She is one of those increasingly rare authors wh
Jul 22, 2013 rated it really liked it
My second book by Jeannie Lin, and I was not disappointed.

Lin's writing brings the place and time of the book to life, as we read there is not a dull moment, no urge to flip through the pages, no eye rolling, just pure pleasure.

In this book Lin takes us to the pleasure district, the Pingkang Li, where courtesans entertain scholars and bureaucrats, under a strict set of rules. And where a courtesan is murdered and a set of events triggers as one maidservant and a noble man start investigating the
Rachel- Goodbye Borders
Aug 11, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-2018
This needs to be said first. A historical romance NOT set in England or during the Regency! And the main (and I should say all) characters are not white!
I enjoyed this one. A bit slow at times. I found the romance a very nice, slow burn. Yue-ying and her sister Ming-yu were sold as children into slavery. Ming-yu was beautiful, so she became a courtesan. Yue-ying has a red birthmark on her left cheek. This marked her as unlucky and people would stare at her. As a result, she was forced into prost
WTF Are You Reading?
This story is comprised of many more elements than it's synopsis would have one believe.
There is of course the story of Bai Huang and Yue-ying. Which in and of itself, is loaded with more than enough drama to fill two or three volumes.
When you add to that the murder, mystery, lies, scandal, and corruption; what you get is stories within stories, all held together by the central plot built around Yue-ying and Bai Huang.

What makes this book so fascinating is the author's ability to surprise reade
Maggie Boyd
Nov 18, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2013
I would grade this as a C. Yue -ying is a servant to famous courtesan Mingyu, the queen of The Lotus Palace. Yue-ying can never aspire to such a high position herself as she has a red birthmark covering half her face and neck.

Bai Huang is considered by all to be a handsome, lazy rapscallion. But in truth he is sober and observant, using the information gained by visiting the pleasure houses for his own ends. When the celebrated courtesan Huilan is murdered, he pulls the fascinating Yue-ing into
Jun 30, 2013 rated it really liked it
i especially loved this novel
for its focus on a heroine who is
a handmaid to another woman, and
also the friendship and loyalty
between these two women as well.
(my next Xia duology also has this
dynamic--which i very much enjoyed

i liked the mystery to this, and
the themes that arose with duty,
and class, and sexism, and love.
i also liked that the heroine is
someone with a "past", and not an
innocent, and how her past affects
her love relationship with the hero.
very well and realistically rende
Olga Godim
Feb 10, 2021 rated it liked it
Shelves: romance, historical
Tang Dynasty in medieval China. An entertainment district in the glittering imperial capital. Scholars and government officials. Courtesans and servants. This book was so deliciously alien for me that its blend of an exotic romance and a murder mystery read like a myth written with Chinese logograms.
In the beginning, I couldn't even pronounce most names, and the locations of the story looked like random jumbles of letters without resolving into any recognizable words. I did distinguish them fro
Apr 12, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: bookclub-reads
For me, the strength of this book is the setting. It is so rare to find a historical romance that is not set in Regency England. Getting to explore a story that has a happy ending in a Chinese historical context was fascinating.

Which makes me sad to say that the romance itself didn't grab me. I enjoyed myself while reading it, but it was easy for me to put down. It's hard to pinpoint why exactly. It could be because the plot was to do with solving a murder mystery and I just do not care about my
Feb 18, 2021 rated it really liked it
An old timey romance (not my favorite genre) set in China? With a mystery? Yess. That's enough for me to pick up this historical romance. Yue-Ying challenges Huang on class and privilege and gender issues are also intertwined in this plot, with a mystery that goes into how vulnerable and non protected, women and girls, who aren't in the scholar class, really are. Yue-Ying is free but her sister, a beautiful and valuable courtesan, isn't. Yet both are imprisoned by society and class. Despite all ...more
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Around the Year i...: The Lotus Palace, by Jeannie Lin 1 11 Dec 04, 2016 03:29PM  

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USA TODAY Bestselling 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. After four years of trying to break into publishing with ...more

Other books in the series

The Pingkang Li Mysteries (3 books)
  • The Jade Temptress (The Pingkang Li Mysteries, #2)
  • The Hidden Moon (The Pingkang Li Mysteries #3)

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“And a man accepting a kiss as ‘punishment’ has to be the most overplayed parlor trick since the time of the First Emperor. Next to accepting a drink as punishment. Oh, the torture of it!”

“I didn’t say I wouldn’t enjoy it. This is merely a chance for you to know what it is to have a kiss you were in complete control of.”

“It’s hardly the same. You’re still allowing me this liberty, as if it were a gift you were bestowing.”

“Miss Yue-ying,” he sighed. “Show some mercy.”
“No more kissing beneath bridges?"
Her face heated. She turned to go only to have him catch her sleeve. It was a risk, having such long sleeves.
"Why don't we both stay back here? No one will miss us and you're the most interesting part of the banquet anyway."
"Shameless," she scolded.”
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