Tuesday, October 26, 2010
Pink Heart Picks - Butterfly Swords
How does it feel to be a trailblazer, Jeannie?
SO, buckle up as we talk about the book!
Maybe it was my frame of mind when I started reading but I wasn't quite as gripped as I expected. I think I felt that there was a certain amount of set up and action going on, but it didn't take long for that to change. You know what sticks out for me with this book? Pacing. The pacing was really well done. There was a lot of traveling - really this was one big old road trip for Ai Li and Rayam - but because of the changing situation and locations it didn't feel monotonous. In fact, each leg of the trip worked like a road map to the emotional conflict and romantic development as well as advancing the stakes in the plot - really great crafting IMO. And even though we reach a point where Ai Li and Rayam know they love each other, a happy ending is still very far away and I'm reading along trying to figure out how it's all going to work out and I HAVEN'T A CLUE.
You know what else was well paced? The sensuality and sexual relationship. And her descriptions were beautiful. Even in hard battle scenes or the heat of sex, Lin's writing is graceful. If you look at the components of the story, they seem very typically plotted. But the writing is individual and fresh and smooth so that you don't mind at all. I liked that.
I did have a few thoughts about the ending. It felt a little rushed. I would have liked to have understood exactly why her father acted as he did, and more about why he suddenly seemed to change his mind. And I would have liked for her to have had her swords at the end. They play such a pivotal role throughout. In Rayam's final battle, when he realizes how he should be fighting, I really wanted a mention of the touch reflex thing. The scene in the beginning where she blindfolds him to demonstrate touch reflex in battle is beautiful. Then it's repeated when they first make love - a lovely way to explain their reactions to each other that stood out as particularly well crafted. It was nearly there in the ending and just needed more of an overt reference.
There are moments of levity, too, and my favourite humorous part was when Ryam and Ai Li's brother Huang are drinking. Huang says "She chose you. You can't be so bad. Do you know there is a tradition of lucky devils in our family? Our grandfather won himself the most beautiful bride in the province. And he was nearly as ugly as you are." I laughed out loud! There is some wonderful word play between the characters and an awareness in the differences of language without it being awkward or clunky. There were so many things that Jeannie did well in the construction of this book! And the true test - the more I think about it, the more I like it. It's a book with resonance.
This is a lovely story in an unusual setting with a fantastic balance of suspense, action, and romance. If you haven't read it, you should!
So on to next month's pick!
We continue on with our exploration of Harlequin lines with a Kimani Romance, PLEASURE FOR TWO by Pamela Yaye! I hope you'll come back and join us on November 30 to chat about the book and see what our final pick of the year is!