cover image The Lotus Palace

The Lotus Palace

Jeannie Lin. HQN, $7.99 mass market (384p) ISBN 978-0-373-77773-0

Lin’s Tang Dynasty romance excels at the slow relationship build, despite a tacked-on mystery plot. Courtesan turned serving maid Yue-ying is certain that scholar and socialite Lord Bai Huang’s pursuit of her is just a drunken whim, especially considering the undesirable red birthmark that covers part of her face. But Lord Bai can’t stop thinking about Yue-ying, and when both become entangled in the investigation of another courtesan’s murder, they turn to each other for help, ignoring the social gulf between them. Yue-ying’s efforts to overcome the mental scars of her past are well balanced with a bittersweet realization that she could never settle for being Lord Bai’s concubine. As Lord Bai’s family demands that he submit to an arranged aristocratic marriage, the murder mystery eventually solves itself. Though the resolution to the class problem is artificially convenient, Lin (Sword Dancer) makes it feel emotionally true. (Sept.)