A Dance With Danger
Harlequin Historical / April 21, 2015 /
$6.50 print & $5.99 digital
Jeannie Lin returns to the world of her 2013 novel The Sword Dancer, as well as Tang Dynasty China, as a sheltered but bold magistrate’s daughter and a rebel leader unite in marriage and go toe-to-toe in A Dance With Danger.
Fans will remember outlaw Bao Yang, sword dancer Li Feng’s mysterious and driven ex-lover. Here, he is on the run, seeking out allies wherever he can, and still gunning for revenge on General Wang. A chance encounter with Magistrate Tan’s daughter, Jin-mei, kicks off a passionate tale of staying the course vs. letting love win — and Lin delivers romance, poetic language and the feel of historical China at every turn.
She had never been so close to a man who wasn’t family. The front of his robe brushed against hers. Even with the dim light beneath the bridge, she could make out the hard line of his jaw. The air was cooler in the shade of the bridge, and the two of them were closed off as if cocooned in their own private sanctuary.
“I shouldn’t do this,” he began, sending her pulse racing with just the mere suggestion of the forbidden, “but I must ask a favor of you.”
She’d spoken too quickly. Yang smiled at her, his eyebrow lifting in wonder. “You’re quite fearless, aren’t you?”
And indeed she is. One of the major themes in A Dance With Danger is that of family loyalty and honor and what it means to be a good brother or a good daughter. How do you choose between passion and duty? Jeannie Lin plays those beats beautifully through Bao Yang’s vow of vengeance and Jin-Mei’s love for her husband and her father. Who do you owe the most to? Is throwing caution to the wind and running off with your new spouse, whom you barely know, really a good idea? How well can you really know each other? Do you have to know each other, or can you just rely on your heart to guide you? Jin-mei struggles with all of it, especially upon learning that her father isn’t who she thought he was.
“Any bargain worth making is made for power,” Yang admitted. “Sometimes all he needed to do was turn a blind eye. At other times, he was able to make things happen.” He climbed off the bed and straighted with a long sigh. “You know I’m no better than him. No better or worse.”
He was wrong. Yang wanted revenge for his sister. He wanted to right what he’d done wrong. Her father had taken a position of power in order to abuse it.
When she’d made love to Yang in the abandoned salt well, she’d made a choice with her body. She was Yang’s wife for that night and for the rest of her life, but that meant she was no longer her father’s daughter.
That push-pull permeates the entire book, from the gorgeous cover to the scenes on a pirate’s boat when Jin-mei learns to fight with a staff and challenges Bao Yang’s assumptions of her strength while also earning his admiration. She’s more resilient and adaptable than she seems, but her biggest power lies in her commitment to her family. Lin makes it clear: Once Jin-mei loves you, she’s all in, and she’ll do anything to keep those she loves from being hurt. Readers get a front seat for some very difficult choices and a lot of nail-biting action that could very well leave Jin-mei’s family in shambles.
Speaking of family, readers also get to catch up with Li Feng and her now-husband Han, as well as Li Feng’s troubled brother Liu Yuan, which proves to be A Dance With Danger‘s most touching subplot — of course set amidst the same danger and political turmoil that threatens Bao and Jin-mei’s fledgling marriage. Now living in a village devoted to making pottery and pining for the daughter of the man who took him in, Liu Yuan has literally buried his knives and figuratively buried his past. When Bao Yang comes to him for help, he’s forced to dig it all back up again. I don’t want to spoil it, but I can only hope that the oh-so-very tortured Liu Yuan lands in a third Rebels & Lovers book and finds the peace and happiness teased in this installment. If you like angst and honor and self-sacrifice, then Liu Yuan and Shifen’s bond will hook you just like it did me.
Of course, center stage still belongs to Jin-mei and Bao Yang, whose dance is both sexy and heartfelt. Jeannie Lin knows how to craft a novel with deep cultural ties and questions of honor while also investing the reader in a root-for romance. This is one bit of fancy, and fearless, footwork that you won’t want to miss.
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(Originally posted on HeroesandHeartbreakers.Com)