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Review – My Fair Concubine by Jeannie Lin

Where did you get the book: Netgalley/Bought
What Publisher: Harlequin
Release Date: Out Now

 

The Nobleman Who Turned a Tea Girl Into a Princess…

Yan Ling tries hard to be servile—it’s what’s expected of a girl of her class. Being intelligent and strong-minded, she finds it a constant battle.

Proud Fei Long is unimpressed by her spirit—until he realizes she’s the answer to his problems. He has to deliver the emperor a “princess.” In two months can he train a tea girl to pass as a noblewoman?

Yet it’s hard to teach good etiquette when all Fei Long wants to do is break it, by taking this tea girl for his own…

*Blurb taken from Goodreads*

 

Has: My Fair Concubine is a retelling of My Fair Lady  which is one of my favourite stories which has the trope of opposites attract and love forming between two different classes. In My Fair Concubine, the action takes place in during the Tang Dynasty in China and the hero, Fei Long a nobleman is forced to turn a servant, Yan Ling  from a tea house is transformed into a princess worthy of a noble  and advantageous marriage. But both Fei Long and Yan Ling develop a sparkling attraction between them and the path that is set before them may not be as easy as their feelings may overpower duty and an established betrothal.

 

What did you think of the Heroine?

E: Yan Ling was certainly a strong determined heroine.  She grew up in not very pleasant conditions raised in a tea house as a serving girl.  Both as part of her place in culture and because she owed everything to the owners she tried to keep her spirit, intelligence and drive hidden behind her subservience.  Watching her grow and change as the lessons in becoming a ‘princess’ sank in was such a mark of her determination.  I also enjoyed seeing her develop friendships with the other members of the Long household while struggling to come to terms with the possible implications of her new life.  She grew to love the entire Long household and wanted to do everything she could to help them succeed.  She was one of my favorite types of heroines, plucky, smart, determined, willing to do what it took and sacrifice when necessary.

Has: I really enjoyed her development as a character throughout the whole book. I loved that she retained her spirit and stubbornness  even though it got her into trouble several times, but I felt that it helped to shape her character to face up to this new role even though she was so uncertain and nervous in the beginning. I also  loved that she was able to stand up to Fei Long despite him being above her status and class, and that really helped to cement the romance between them.
I totally agree with you about her relationships with the other servants like Dao and most especially with Bai Shen who was such a fun character and I loved how he interacted with both Yan Ling and Fei Long.

 

What did you think of the Hero?

E: Oh poor Fei Long, caught between duty and duty.  He inherited a household that was in shambles, bankrupt, in debt to a very ruthless gambling king (Zou), and minus one ‘princess’ due in 2 months for a peace marriage.   He was so determined to do the right thing and restore his household while upholding promises made by his father.  Then he encounters Yan and thinks that he has the solution to one of his many problems.  Which he does in a way but then some new problems arise like his attraction to Yan…  While Fei was positively stiff with honor he hadn’t completely let that drown his humanity which I loved.  Watching his struggle was very entertaining.

Has: I actually had some trouble warming up to his character in the beginning, but once he interacted with Yan Ling and their romance progressed, I began to like him more although I agree he was in a very difficult position. And I adored the ending with his realisation that duty is important but love and happiness is so much more important and he totally let go of the chains of duty.

 

What was your favourite scene?


E: This is a hard one, I actually have two.  One was the trip to watch Bai Shen perform and the other was how the ladies of the household stalled Fei Long’s visit to see Zou after he was mugged until an escort arrived as to provide protection and witnesses.

Has: I agree about Bai Shen’s performance – I adored the party afterwards where Yan Ling got tipsy and Fei Long really let down his guard. I think it was at this point where I started to warm up to his character especially his reactions towards both Bai Shen and Yan Ling – it definitely showed a different side to his character.

 

What were the best things in the book that you enjoyed?

 

E: I really enjoyed the glimpses into a different culture and seeing a story I have enjoyed in the past re-told in a different culture.

Has: I agree – I adore the setting and time period and it really feels refreshing to be sucked into a different historical time from other historical romances and for me this keeps it vibrant and unique.

 

What was the aspects/scenes that you disliked in the book?

E: I really didn’t dislike anything.

Has: I did feel the pacing in the middle of the book was starting to get slow but overall that was a pretty much a minor niggle and I didn’t have any real dislikes either.

 

E: I was immersed in this book from the very beginning.  The scenery was so vivid and the struggles faced by the household compounded by the requirement to save face and yet maintain their class required positions was so neat to see.  Even though we don’t have as strict a class structure here it still made it obvious how people behave differently based on where they see themselves in society.  I could also see how body language made such a difference as Yan Ling had to learn.  I really enjoyed reading this and hope that we get Dao’s story.
I give MY FAIR CONCUBINE a B.

Has: I love romances which feature heroes and heroines from different classes and this was explored beautifully in the story. My Fair Concubine, was a vibrant story filled with a nuanced scenes which I really enjoyed. It  was also amusing, with likeable and relatable characters and with a heart-warming romance that will will definitely put a smile on your face when you reached that last page.

I also give MY FAIR CONCUBINE a B.

By Has

Has is a voracious reader and a geek at heart! She is a fan of most sub-genres of romance and fantasy, but especially loves fantasy and some sci fi. She's currently looking out for historical romances with unusual settings, and fantasy romance, in the vein of Anne Bishop and Elizabeth Vaughan who are on her list of favourite authors. She's also a fan of authors such as Tamora Pierce, Patricia Briggs, Ilona Andrews, Ann Aguirre, Lisa Kleypas and Nalini Singh. She is always on the look out for new authors and loves the feeling of discovering a brand new author and books she loves.

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