Khanh, first of her name, mother of bunnies's Reviews > The Jade Temptress

The Jade Temptress by Jeannie Lin
Rate this book
Clear rating

by
4527753
's review
Mar 07, 2014

really liked it

Welcome to the world of the Pingkang Li.



Meet Mingyu, the most celebrated courtesan of the Lotus Palace.



Welcome to a world of refinement, of beauty. Music and tea. It is a place where the most powerful men in the Tang Dynasty come to relax in the company of stunning, sophisticated women. Lose yourself in the music of the qin. Prepare yourself for flirtation and lust. Power and politics. Jealousy and murder.
There was a body seated in the chair dressed in a brocade robe. The head was missing and there was blood everywhere, splattered over the papers and staining the floor and walls.
“He was alive when they took off his head."
The Summary: This is the second book of the Pingkang Li series. The courtesan Mingyu and Constable Wu Kaifeng are not strangers. They have a past. And boy, it was not a good first impression. In the previous book, Mingyu was suspected of having killed a man. She was thrown into jail. She was tortured by the ruthless Wu Kaifeng with bamboo sticks. Her knuckles were crushed every time she refused to answer.
Tears had flooded her eyes while her screams echoed off the walls of the barren cell.
As a courtesan, Mingyu is used to being used by men. Kaifeng is just the latest, at least he had the courtesy to stop when he realized she would reveal nothing.
. No one came to her defense. For all the compliments and praise that scholars bestowed upon her, she was still nothing more than a diversion. Admired in passing fashion like the brightness of a full moon, beautiful in one moment, easily forgotten in the next.
The life of a courtesan is only beautiful on the surface. Mingyu is nothing more than a glorified slave, owned by the Lotus Palace.

Wu Kaifeng is not a handsome man.
His face lacked any refinement. Wu Kaifeng wasn’t ugly—he was more like a puzzle that didn’t quite fit together. There was no harmony to him, no sense of balance. Wu was long in the face, broad in the nose. The eyes were black and hard and unwavering. A sharp jawline framed his hard mouth, a mouth that she had never seen smile.


Wu Kaifeng is the "demon" to Mingyu's "flesh of ice and bones of jade."

When Mingyu's long-time patron, General Deng, is brutally murdered, their fates are again intertwined. She needs help. Being caught with a dead body once is bad enough. Being suspected of murder for a second time is truly bad. To make it worse, Mingyu is found with blood on her hands.



Mingyu might not like Wu Kaifeng, but he is a just man, and he is the only one she can trust.
“I don’t trust you because you are kindhearted and honorable, Constable Wu. I trust you because you don’t care who Deng Zhi is or how vast his forces are. You don’t care who I am, which means you don’t care that a lowly courtesan was found with her dead and high-ranking lover. Or that her life means nothing to the magistrate or his superiors. All you care about is finding the truth.”
Furthermore, Mingyu has no choice.
Her chest squeezed tight. “There is no one else.”
General Deng is a powerful man, with powerful enemies. The mystery of his death needs to be solved, but it's not as simple as that. The murderer might have wanted Mingyu dead, too.

There are enemies everywhere, from political adversaries, to a jilted wife, whose kind words...
Finally, the widow’s shoulders relaxed. “Is it not awful how women are pushed to secure ourselves in this way, with our flesh and blood? I think of the stories of Empress Wu and Concubine Xiao, clawing at one another, sacrificing their own children for the attention of the Emperor.”
...are laced with poison.
“Xiao was one of Empress Wu’s rivals in the imperial court. The Empress cut off her feet and drowned her in a vat of wine.”
To Magistrate Xi Lun, an ambitious and cruel rival determined to have Mingyu.
He was well-dressed, his robe dark blue and made of a fine silk brocade. His features were square, his jaw and nose broad. Not beautiful, but a certain kind of handsome.


To Xi Lun, Mingyu represents a symbol of success. A forbidden fruit that he has always coveted and will now do everything to possess.
"There were times when I hated him.”
Her pulse jumped and once again her skin prickled in warning. “Hated?”
“Because I realized long ago that only a man like Deng Zhi could ever possess someone like you.”
A twisted suitor. Political enemies. Jealous wives. There are no ends to the list of suspects. And there are far too many enemies to be made, for both of them.
It was always dangerous dealing with powerful men, especially those whose pride was displayed so eagerly. Those were the ones who were easily offended. Those were the admirers who could turn on you in a heartbeat.
Will Wu Kaifeng be able to hold onto his position, against all the people determined to remove him from it? Will Mingyu and Wu Kaifeng be able to overcome their differences, their strange attraction? Can they trust each other enough to fall in love?
“It’s difficult to look at you because you make me want things,” he answered plainly. “Things I cannot have.”
Or will Mingyu return to her true roots, forged from a lifetime of distrust and pain amongst the beautiful world of the Lotus Palace?
“She played you.” His face was twisted with hatred. “She plays everyone.”
The Murder Plot:
Her mere presence distracted him and he couldn’t allow that to happen. This was his duty and his calling and he needed to remain sharp to solve this puzzle, a puzzle that the courtesan was inexplicably a part.
I have to comment on this, because so rarely does a Historical Romance actually executes a murder mystery so well. I loved all the details of the investigation. I love the fact that the investigation does not take a back place to the romance, rather, it's the backbone of the plot. The entire story, the setting, the mystery, weaves together so divinely. No single element overpowers the other. We get to see how Wu Kaifeng follows clues and uses his own ingenuity to solve elements in a case in circa 800 A.D. China, where criminal forensics are nonexistent. Brilliantly done, Ms. Lin.

Wu Kaifeng:
Some unnamable emotion flickered in his eyes, but she was unable to catch it. Mingyu was skilled at reading a man’s desires. Maybe she couldn’t read Wu Kaifeng because he had no desires. He was as dark and fathomless inside as on the outside.
I do love a complicated man.



With the torture of Mingyu, you might be wondering why Wu Kaifeng doesn't deserve a place on my "Jericho-fucking-Barrons" shelf. That's because Wi Kaifeng is not a cruel man. He does his job as an investigator and he is damned good at it. He needs to catch the bad guys. He tortures, but he stops when he sees that nothing more can be done. It is a despicable act, but it was not out of line with the method of the day. In this book, he is never unnecessarily cruel to Mingyu. He is harsh, he is stern, but Wu Kaifeng is a conscientious man. From a child criminal to a shopkeeper, he is unrelentlingly fair in his pursuit of justice.

Moral, just, and determined to do the right thing. A simple man. A common man. A man with hidden desires. Mingyu is a courtesan, from roots as low as his own, but she is refined. A prize for a higher man, a wealthier man. One such as a lowly constable can never dream of loving such a jewel.
After the kiss, Mingyu had granted him a soft, wistful smile as they parted. They both knew nothing more could become of it.
Mingyu: Mingyu is but one of many courtesans within the walls of the Lotus Palace.



She is a beauty, no fair and innocent maiden. At 28, Mingyu has been cruelly treated by life. She is not a person, she is a slave. Mingyu is a possession.
She was part of the cycle, training another girl into the life: bondage and servitude on one side, poetry and music on the other.
She has been used by men, and has been in service since she was barely a teenager. She is no virgin. Her long-time patron, General Deng, was a harsh one before he was murdered. Like most powerful men, he seeks to possess. Mingyu is but a prize possession to be shown off, like a particularly nice car you could show off to your friends. She knows powerful men, she entertains them, one could say she uses them. Wu Kaifeng confronts her on it, but as she reminds him...
If Wu was waiting for her to flinch, then he would be disappointed. “Sometimes exploiting a man’s power is the only influence a woman can wield.”
Mingyu has guts. She has a fire within her. One does not become the city's most celebrated courtesan by being a meek little fucking wallflower. She knows when to tease men, and when to appease them. She is not a shrinking violet. She has been weak before, and she will never be weak again.
“I have no manners,” he apologized, the roughness of his voice stroking over her.
“Well, Constable,” she purred. “Then I shall have to put you in your place.”
The Romance: How can you not have a romance novel set in Tang Dynasty China without the mention of fate? In Chinese legend, lovers are born with a red thread on their fingers, tying their destiny together. Soul mates exist, they are fated to meet.
The events of the past had created a connection between them that remained unresolved. It was fate. Yuán fèn.
This romance is a slow burn. It is a fire of two intensely strong personalities, I can think of no few HR characters so equally matched as these. This is forbidden love, the two are separated by the boundaries of class, of wealth. In a culture where social lines are clearly defined, it is a difficult thing to overcome.

They may be as different as day and night, but Mingyu and Wu Kaifeng burn when they're together. It takes a long time for trust to be built, for lust and attraction to grow into love. But man, it's worth seeing them til the end.
She was a courtesan trained in the art of seduction, but she knew nothing beyond that. It was harder than she’d ever imagined to open her heart to someone. She didn’t even know how to begin.
Welcome to the Pingkang Li.

92 likes · flag

Sign into Goodreads to see if any of your friends have read The Jade Temptress.
Sign In »

Reading Progress

March 7, 2014 – Shelved
March 7, 2014 – Shelved as: to-read
March 27, 2014 – Started Reading
March 27, 2014 –
page 1
0.26% "I've had a ton of terrible books in a row, so it's time to go back to romance. I've lost that lovin' feeling."
March 28, 2014 –
page 100
26.04% "“I don’t trust you because you are kindhearted and honorable, Constable Wu. I trust you because you don’t care who Deng Zhi is or how vast his forces are. You don’t care who I am, which means you don’t care that a lowly courtesan was found with her dead and high-ranking lover. Or that her life means nothing to the magistrate or his superiors. All you care about is finding the truth.”"
March 28, 2014 –
page 250
65.1% "All the happy feels. Oh my god. ^_^"
March 28, 2014 – Finished Reading

Comments (showing 1-50 of 51) (51 new)


Khanh, first of her name, mother of bunnies That's too Memoirs of a Geisha for me -.-


message 6: by Dana (new)

Dana Hmm...added the first one to my to-read shelf.


message 7: by Kuroi (new)

Kuroi Noooo...this released? Eagerly awaiting your review, Khanh.


message 8: by Kuroi (new)

Kuroi Awesome! Where are the GIFs from, Khanh?


Khanh, first of her name, mother of bunnies Most of them are from Curse of the Golden Flower, Krishna =)


message 10: by Jana (new)

Jana Khanh (Destroyer of Dreams) wrote: "Most of them are from Curse of the Golden Flower, Krishna =)"

So, so glad you could use gifs of a great movie for what was, clearly, an enjoyable book. :)


Khanh, first of her name, mother of bunnies ^____^ I'm wholly recharged to continue reading questionable books now.


message 12: by Jana (new)

Jana Khanh (Destroyer of Dreams) wrote: "^____^ I'm wholly recharged to continue reading questionable books now."

Noooooooooooooo, now I'm sad for you!


Mairéad (is roaming the Undying Lands) Oooooooh, this one looks interesting! *hurries off to find the first one* o3o


message 14: by [deleted user] (new)

Definitely going to be reading this!


message 15: by Kribu (new)

Kribu This sounds intriguing - something I should possibly note down and check out if/when I get back in the historical mood (which has been largely absent the last few years but my genre preferences come and go in waves).


Khanh, first of her name, mother of bunnies I'm biased, I admit to pimping out these historicals because I have such a fascination for Chinese settings =)


message 17: by [deleted user] (new)

Nothing wrong with that Khanh! :)


message 18: by Yzabel (new) - added it

Yzabel Ginsberg Is the first book on the same level? (Might as well start with that, since the characters have a back story.)


message 19: by Khanh, first of her name, mother of bunnies (last edited Mar 29, 2014 12:59AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Khanh, first of her name, mother of bunnies Izzy: I sadly didn't get to finish the first book, because the main character (the Pingkang Li maidservant) didn't interest me as much as an actual courtesan. I'm shallow, I know! But I liked what I read of it. They can be read as standalones =)


message 20: by Tandie (new)

Tandie Sigh...I need some decent romance.


message 21: by Khanh, first of her name, mother of bunnies (last edited Mar 29, 2014 01:02AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Khanh, first of her name, mother of bunnies Just poke the weirdo sleeping next to you! :D

Edit: Also, if you want more lighthearted romance, I suggest My Fair Concubine before this book. This one is a heavier HR, with more historical context and a much darker plot.


message 22: by Yzabel (new) - added it

Yzabel Ginsberg OK. :) If having read the first one isn't so important, I guess I can have a try at #2. The backdrop itself would be a nice change; it's been a while I haven't read anything in a Chinese setting, and I'm getting tired of the American/European ones.


Khanh, first of her name, mother of bunnies There are characters in the 1st book featured, the 1st book's couple plays a minor role in this one, but it's an HR, you KNOW the first couple is going to end up together, so it's not a spoiler. Also, it's so nice seeing recurring characters =)


message 24: by Yzabel (new) - added it

Yzabel Ginsberg On a somewhat related note... who is Jericho Barrons? (I get he's a character from another book, but I haven't read that series.)


message 25: by Tandie (new)

Tandie Khanh (Destroyer of Dreams) wrote: "Just poke the weirdo sleeping next to you! :D

Edit: Also, if you want more lighthearted romance, I suggest My Fair Concubine before this book. This one is a heavier HR, with more h..."


Haha! Weirdo is not very romantic, but he's got other keeper qualities. I did download MFC on audio because of YOU and your review of it.


Khanh, first of her name, mother of bunnies Yzabel wrote: "On a somewhat related note... who is Jericho Barrons? (I get he's a character from another book, but I haven't read that series.)"

Jericho Barrons is one of the main characters in Karen Marie Moning's Darkfever series. EVERYONE LOVES HIM. I'm one of the, like, 5 people who hate him. He's a complicated asshole, but he's still an asshole, and he sets my standards for assholery, which is why I have a shelf dedicated to assholes under his name.


message 27: by Yzabel (new) - added it

Yzabel Ginsberg Hah, OK. Now I'll know what that shelf stands for. ^^


message 28: by Nicole (new)

Nicole I did not know Mingyu was so badly tortured by Kaifeng. How did the romance blossom between them?


Szara I thought the romance story about her sister and Bai Huang was sweeter. I didn't really feel the chemistry between the two leads here, although I felt this book had a stronger plot than the previous one.

And psst, Khanh! You should really read Lost You Forever at Koala's playground. The chemistry between the main character and Xiang Liu is probably the greatest one I've ever read.

About Jericho Barrons--he was an interesting character, but I didn't like him either as a love interest. Too much of a jerk, but he makes a useful ally.


message 30: by Carmen (new) - added it

Carmen Great review, Khanh!


Khanh, first of her name, mother of bunnies Nicole: He is an honest man, he wants answers, and he doesn't care about the politics. Nobody cares about clearing a common courtesan's name but him. I felt the romance was realistic =)

Szara: You are absolutely right, their romance and their book (what I read of it) was a lot sweeter than this book.

Carmen: Thank you!


message 32: by D.G. (new) - rated it 4 stars

D.G. Oh I have to read this! Thanks for the review, Khanh.

My library has them both (yippee!) so I'll start with the first one. :)


message 33: by Riké (new)

Riké I recently brought the first book. Can't wait to read it :D


message 34: by Mike (new)

Mike Glad you enjoyed the book. It is always tricky when writers try to merge genres. They typically end up with either too much of one or switching back and forth between them which ends in just a mess of a story. The key is balance, knowing when to emphasize one genre over the other. Sounds like this one achieved it quite nicely.

I am also glad the book showed all the nasty sides of being a courtesan. It isn't as glamorous as it appears and they very much were slaves. Slaves in a gilded cage but slaves no the less.


Stuti (Turmeric isn't your friend. It will fly your ship Fantastic review, Khanh. I'm already looking it up for my Kindle but one question, does it work as a standalone or do I need to read the first one as well?


Suzanne Awesome review. I love this book too.


Lexie :) Wonderful awesome review Khanh!

I sincerely hope that Jeannie does at least one more with Wei Wei. We can watch her beat out all the guys for the exams! (well I guess she'll have to in disguise as a guy, but I'm never opposed to this at all)


message 38: by Ronyell (new)

Ronyell Beautiful Review Khanh! Now I really want to read this book!


message 39: by Gary (new)

Gary Amazing review!


message 40: by Jenna (new) - added it

Jenna I agree with Gary...fantastic!


Melissa E. Awesome review, I agree with every word! I especially love how you wove quotes from the book into it. ^_^ I have never read romances quite like Jeannie Lin's...not only is the setting unusual, but her characters are so refreshingly different.


message 43: by Mary (new)

Mary I have a question: I have finished writing a book but the characters are not of any Asian descent. I included a red thread of fate and after reading your review I am wondering if that should me taken out and replaced? However red is a strong color in my story.


Khanh, first of her name, mother of bunnies It's up to you, if you include it, you should probably at least explain why you're incorporating Chinese beliefs into a book with non-Asian characters.


message 45: by Mary (new)

Mary Khanh (Destroyer of Dreams) wrote: "It's up to you, if you include it, you should probably at least explain why you're incorporating Chinese beliefs into a book with non-Asian characters."

Alright, thank you very much! :D


Liane I love your pretty pictures. My head has been so inundated with western (historical) romances that for the life of me I couldn't picture these characters in my head! Especially Wu.


Khanh, first of her name, mother of bunnies Thank you so much, Liane =) I used to watch a lot of Chinese movies, so I had a good idea!


Eva Rose I loved this book, it was a refreshing departure from all the English Historical and it is so well written. I was hesitant at first because I had been lukewarm towards the first book but I was pleasantly surprised.


Khanh, first of her name, mother of bunnies So glad you liked it! I skipped over the first book, too, because I'm shallow and wanted to read about a beautiful courtesan :P


message 50: by [deleted user] (last edited Jan 25, 2016 04:27PM) (new)

Curious, where do those pictures come from? Is it from a Chinese drama adaptation of the book? If so, both sound wonderful!


« previous 1
back to top