Author: Jeannie Lin
Length: 384 pages
Rating: 5 stars
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 aristocratic playboy Bai Huang.
Bai Huang lives in a privileged world Yue-ying can barely imagine, yet alone share, but as they are thrown together in an attempt to solve a deadly mystery, they both start to dream of a different life. Yet Bai Huang's position means that all she could ever be to him is his concubine—will she sacrifice her pride to follow her heart -Goodreads
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 readers with nuggets of information about characters that we feel that we have come to know. These "nuggets" are things about their scruples, pasts, or motives that until the point of their reveal, readers will have never even considered them capable of.
The biggest "breakout character" would have to be Minghu. She is the beautiful courtesan that Yue-ying serves and attends at "The Lotus Palace". In terms of interesting and well written characters; she is Christmas, Easter, and Halloween all in one pretty package.
She is thee prime example of a character with a never ending stash of those surprise "nuggets".
This book is a joy to read, and one that lovers of courtesan lore, romance, intrigue, and complex relationships are sure to love.