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The Sword Dancer by Jeannie Lin
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Another good work by Jeannie Lin, though I felt this one suffered a bit too much from overly fast pacing and easy-outs rather than exploring the harder options. ( )
  TLMorganfield | Sep 4, 2013 |
I liked this book, though I thought the pace was a little jumpy. The build up to the ending could have been written a little more smoothly, but it may have been that there were a lot of unfamiliar names and government structures. I really liked the relationship between Hao Han and Li Feng. This is the kind of book that makes me really want to study the type of martial arts/meditation curriculum that Li Feng learned with her shifu. ( )
  jlapac | Aug 14, 2013 |
a dangerous, deceptively fragile heroine!

A stolen shipment of gold and jade. A dancer, Wen Li Feng, who happens to carry a piece of jade depicting a phoenix, one of a set. A Thief-catcher, Zeng Hao Han who targets his criminals with unerring judgement. Acting on instinct Han feels that Fi Leng is the key to solving the theft.He is sure that she is involved with the stolen shipment in some way. After all there is that jade piece! So begins a dance extraordinaire between thief and catcher. The mystery deepens and emotions engage in what forThief-catcher Han should have been a straightforward case. For Li Feng it is the very point of survival and solving the mystery of who she is. Here is a story of families and of reconciliation. Questions flow beneath the surface, recalling the hierarchy of tradition, place and response within the world that Wen Li Feng and Zeng Hao Han inhabit. Questions such as how does a victim become such? who is the victim? what is duty? what is justice?
Essentially a lively and poignant historical romance, enjoyable in the reading.

A NetGalley ARC ( )
  eyes.2c | Jun 19, 2013 |
Asia, especially China and Japan, have always been an interesting topic for me. Trips to these countries are too expensive, so the only way I can visit them is through books. The Sword Dancer immediately got my attention with a picture of a girl in a kimono wielding a sword on a cover. I haven't heard about sword dancing before, but I was intrigued and ready to let Jeannie Lin tell me more about it.

The Sword Dancer's plot revolves around two characters: sword dancer Wen Li Feng and thief-catcher (kinda like western bounty hunter) Zheng Hao Han and they switch as narrators of the story. Han is searching for thieves who stole a large shipment of jade and he follows a lead to a traveling show. Han immediately notices that girl dancing with swords (Li Feng) has too much skill and that's how the chase begins. Over the rooftops and through various villages in China, our heroes try to outwit each other while also in the same time trying not to fall in love.

When I started reading The Sword Dancer I expected historical fiction similar to Pearl S. Buck's, instead I got a story that is much more focused on action and romance than on a historical details. It was like going to the cinema expecting to see The Last Emperor and viewing Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon instead. The chasing was fun and forbidden romance was intense, but the whole story did not leave any deeper impression on me and I didn't learn as much as I hoped about China in that time period.

Still I cannot say I did not enjoy The Sword Dancer. It was a pleasant surprise reading about a hero and heroine who are not typical and defy the usual cliches in romance novels. They are both average looking and always make the best of the cards that are dealt to them and strive to overcome their past problems and tragic family history.

As an action-packed historical romance set in China, The Sword Dancer is a recommended read for both lovers of historical romance or romantic suspense who would like a change of scenery. You will get kick-ass heroine, honorable hero, forbidden romance and a lot of chase and action scenes to entertain you. And with no strong ties to other books in Tang Dynasty series, The Sword Dancer can be read as a stand-alone novel.

Disclaimer: I was given a free eBook by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for a honest review. ( )
  bookwormdreams | May 22, 2013 |
It's no secret that I'm a wee bit obsessed with Asian culture. If a book is set in Asia, whether modern or historical, I'm probably going to be intrigued. Also, I must admit a fondness for romance plots in an Asian setting, due both to my teenage love for the novel Shogun and my adoration of manga/manhwa. With my first read by Jeannie Lin, I get to travel to historical China in a read full of romance and adventure.

Jeannie Lin's The Sword Dancer surprised me in a great way. The relationship herein depicted deviates from the standard fictional romance formula in ways that make me so, so very happy. Though the arc of Han and Li Feng's relationship is rather predictable (which isn't really a bad thing, since romantic reads aren't really ones you go to for twists), the relationship dynamics are non-standard and fistbump-worthy.

Neither Li Feng nor Han is incredibly gorgeous. They're not unattractive, and they certainly find one another quite appealing, but they're not the stereotypical blemish-free, wanted-by-everyone characters found so often in fiction. At first, Han finds Li Feng a bit plain, but her beauty, as his does, comes from the person inside the body: "Her face was one that Han might never have noticed if he hadn't seen her dance. Like the rest of her, its beauty was in movement" (35). Now, obviously, that is about her physically, but beauty in movement is such a perfect descriptor for Li Feng, who never stops going. At that point he hardly knows her, but I think it encapsulates why he likes her so much and why she's so compelling to him, because of what she does and not how she looks.

Lin resists more stereotypes with the character of Li Feng. She's strong, fast, and clever. Wanted as a thief, Han, a thief-catcher, apprehends her early on, but she escapes from prison. Though Han is physically stronger than she is, she often bests him, because of her quick wits, speed, and flexibility. As he comes to care for her, Han retains this understanding of and respect for Li Feng's skills. He doesn't try to change her or make her act like a proper lady, and he trusts her to keep herself safe without him looming over her for protection.

Plus, Li Feng is no blushing virgin to be taken by the manly man, thank goodness. In fact, Li Feng is the aggressor in the physical portion of their relationship, with Han unsure if he's emotionally prepared for sex. On the other hand, Han pursues an emotional connection, and Li Feng's not so sure about that. The traditional gender roles got turned on their head, which always makes me joyous. All women don't want commitment; some men are not always emotionally prepared for sex. Seeing this reflected in fiction gives me a happy.

Li Feng and Han do also have a pretty convincing connection, what with the mutual respect and all. Their personalities and interests are similar, and they do seem like a good match. Still, I do prefer romances that take longer to grow. Most of The Sword Dancer takes place within the span of two weeks or so. I just prefer a slower burn myself.

Of course, the book also isn't all romance. In fact, I'd say that Lin's heart lies in the action scenes which pepper the book. There are sex scenes if that's what you're looking for, but they're outnumbered by scenes of daring acrobatic leaps and sword fights and so forth. There's also a murder mystery and government corruption and Li Feng's forgotten past to untangle.

If you enjoy romances in a unique, lush setting and full of exciting action scenes, Jeannie Lin's The Sword Dancer will likely tickle your fancy. I enjoyed myself and will be adding some more of Lin's books to my to-read list. ( )
  A_Reader_of_Fictions | May 20, 2013 |
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Epigraph
Heaven and earth moved in tune with her rhythm.

The sword flashed like Yi's arrows that shot down the nine suns.

She moved quickly and spiritedly like the dragon ridden by the gods.

Du Fu from 'Observing the Sword Dance Performed by a Disciple of Madam Gongsun"
Dedication
First of all, to my husband, Fritz.  Though a dedication is a small prize after being dubbed "The Greatest Dad in the World" (with the shirt to prove it), this book would not have been possible without your love, support and laughter.
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A lone reed flute sang the opening melody.
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Book description
"Often people ask me where I get my ideas.  For this book the origin was a famous poem by the poet Du Fu of the Tang Dynasty titled Observing the Sword Dance Performance by a Disciple of Madam Gongsun."

"Though this story has many influences, I must give a nod to Jennifer Roberson's fantasy novel Sword Dancer -- the book that convinced me that there's nothing sexier than a hero and heroin who can cross swords.  And finally to Jackie Chan."
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0373297424, Mass Market Paperback)

The thief who stole his heart

Sword dancer Li Feng is used to living life on the edge of the law—a woman alone in the dangerous world of the Tang Dynasty has only her whirlwind reflexes to trust. She will discover the truth about her past, even if that means outwitting the most feared thief-catcher of them all.…

Relentless, handsome and determined, Han sees life—and love—as black and white. Until he finally captures the spirited, courageous Li Feng, who makes him question everything he thought he knew about right and wrong. Soon he's faced with an impossible choice: betray the elusive sword dancer he is learning to love, or trust his long-disregarded heart and follow her to dangerous, tempting rebellion.…

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:01:06 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

"Sword dancer Li Feng is used to living life on the edge of the law--a woman alone in the dangerous world of the Tang Dynasty has only her whirlwind reflexes to trust. She will discover the truth about her past, even if that means outwitting the most feared thief-catcher of them all ... Relentless, handsome and determined, Han sees life--and love--as black and white. Until he finally captures the spirited, courageous Li Feng, who makes him question everything he thought he knew about right and wrong. Soon he's faced with an impossible choice: betray the elusive sword dancer he is learning to love, or trust his long-disregarded heart and follow her to dangerous, tempting rebellion..."--Amazon.com.… (more)

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