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A Dance with Danger (Rebels and Lovers) Kindle Edition
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Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
'The mountains are high and the Emperor is far away.'
Bao Yang had always been fond of that particular proverb. It certainly held true in Fujian province where rugged mountains enclosed them to the north, west and south. To the east was the ocean fed by a lattice of streams and rivers. This was a land set apart from the heart of the empire, away from the eyes and ears of imperial authority. This was a land where a person with determination and a little cleverness could carve his own destiny, regardless of his birth.
Even a man with a price on his head.
Yang should have been afraid to return to the city where not long ago he'd tried to have a powerful warlord assassinated, but he had connections. He knew who would turn a blind eye and who could be bribed.
It wasn't that there was no law in Fujian. Imperially appointed bureaucrats still oversaw the administration of the cities, but it was the merchants who dominated the rivers and ports. The surrounding mountains were inhabited by bandits and smugglers. Wealth and commerce were the forces that truly ruled this province.
He was approaching the city of Minzhou now by river, where there was very likely a warrant out for his arrest for attempted murder. Or at least for someone who looked like him. To his knowledge, his name was still unknownfor now, although he didn't know for how much longer. His connections had bought him some valuable time.
The fisherman at the crossing was willing to take him down the river for a few copper coins. Yang hid beneath the wide brim of his hat as the tiny boat drifted into the city, joining the fleet of merchant vessels and ferries that fed the bustling markets.
As the fishing boat crossed beneath one of the main bridges, Yang kept his gaze directed forward. There was a guardsman in the lookout tower, but his bow remained slack in his hands as he scanned the water. The arrows rested soundly in their quiver.
'The city guards have been wary of strangers lately,' the fisherman said as he dragged a long pole along the river bottom, propelling them forward. 'It's best that you find your friend quickly and seek shelter before curfew so you aren't hassled by the night watch.'
'Is the city unsafe?'
'There was some unrest a while back. Bandits, I hear.' 'Thank you, Uncle.'
Three months had passed since he'd broken out of Minzhou's prison house along with his co-conspirators. It was dangerous to return now, but not as much as one might think. Any thief-catchers searching for him would expect him to be in hiding. It was the regions to the north where there was price on his head. The regions that General Wang Shizhen had taken over with his army.
The fisherman steered clear of the busier docks to set Yang ashore at the edge of the market. From there, he moved quickly to a more secluded part of the city, slipping into a public park. A small stream ran through it, branching off from the main river. The walkways appeared empty and the broad canopy of the banyan trees provided cover.
Moving quickly, Yang set about tracking down his associate. He'd built up a wide network of associates over the years of which this particular official was the most powerful. If there was ever a time Yang needed to rely on calling in favours, it was now. He'd been working in the shadows before, seeding disruption and rebellion, but now this was war.
Yang needed the city magistrate's allegiance which was going to require some craftiness on his part. Magistrate Tan was, after all, the same man who was responsible for throwing him into prison in the first place.
Jin-mei dabbed at her forehead with a handkerchief and adjusted the angle of her parasol to block the sun. As they neared the height of summer, there were fewer people enjoying the park in the midday heat, but her daily stroll along the river was one of the few opportunities she had to escape the house.
She had set out with her amah, but the old nursemaid only made it ten steps into the park before she sank down on to one of the benches in a viewing pavilion.
'Don't go too far!' Amah warned, waving her on.
The woman had been considered elderly when Jin-mei was only a child. Now that Jin-mei was nineteen, Amah was ancient and could be forgiven for not wanting to exert herself. The dear old servant had also become less strict with age.
Jin-mei was wearing the lightest robe she owned, a finely woven silk in a peach-blossom pattern, but still the late summer heat was getting to her. She wiped at her face again, this time using the edge of her sleeve. When she lowered her arm, she could see a man crossing the bridge over to her side of the river. Given the man was a stranger and she was alone, Jin-mei slowed her step so they would have no reason to encounter one another.
Unfortunately, he'd seen her as well. He halted at the centre of the bridge before striding towards her with purpose. She should have ducked beneath the shadow of her parasol to avoid his gaze, but she found herself caught in it. Now that he was close enough, she understood why.
Her heart pounded. She knew him.
Most of her father's visitors were grey-haired and uninteresting, but the young Bao Yang had seemed so dashing and full of mystery. He had a gleam in his eye and a half-smile that had always made her stomach flutter. That had been four years ago.
She'd only seen him from behind a screen while listening in on conversations she wasn't supposed to be hearing. There was the one time when she'd attempted to stumble 'accidentally' into the hallway. She had fallen in hopes that Mister Bao might catch her and, well, become immediately smitten with her. Instead, her father had sternly told her to go to her room while the handsome young gentleman had watched her pick herself off the floor.
How odd to see him after all these years! She remembered that arch in the shape of his left eyebrow which gave him an inquisitive look. His nose was slightly off centre and she'd always wondered if it had been broken or was it naturally so. All of these little flaws, yet when put together, they created a face that was inexplicably intriguing. She had been convinced he was the handsomest man she'd ever seen.
Jin-mei wasn't nearly as foolish now, but seeing Yang again brought back a little ache in her chest. That gleam in his eye was still there, even though they were supposed to be only strangers in passing.
'What are you doing here?' she asked when they were finally close enough to engage in conversation.
He gave her a startled look at being addressed so directly. Only then did she realise how impetuous she had sounded. 'I apologise. It's just that I'
Yang laughed and the easy sound of it banished her moment of discomfort. 'It is I who should apologise. I must have startled you. I am here to seek the magistrate.'
He didn't recognise her. Some demon inside of her awoke at the opportunity. Here was a chance for her to make an impression on him. A more favourable one than she had at fifteen, picking herself off the floor in a tangle of silk.
'I know where the magistrate can be found,' she said.
'Then I am fortunate fate has brought us together.'
'Are you flirting with me?' she asked incredulously. She realised only after the words had left her mouth that such directness would be considered rude. 'Sir,' she added after a pause.
His smile didn't waver. 'Miss,' he began, a counterpoint to her delayed honorific, 'are you always so outspoken?'
'It's just that I know you. Well, I don't know you,' she amended, 'but I feel as if I do.'
'I feel as if I know you as well,' he replied smoothly. He glanced at something over his shoulder, before returning his attention to her. 'Will you accompany me?'
He flashed her a crooked smile and then they were walking side by side along the river, shielded by the shade of her parasol.
Bao Yang was flirting. No man had ever treated her with such charm. Her mother had been slender and tall and long-limbed, as graceful as a willow in the breeze. Unfortunately, Jin-mei took after her father's side. Father was short with rounded features, moon-faced and on the plump side.
She was no great beauty to take hold of men's hearts upon a glance. Jin-mei hadn't expected any man to ever flirt with her. In her dreams, she had always impressed potential suitors with intelligent conversation and astute sensibilities.
'What is a proper young miss doing walking alone in this park?' he asked. 'There might be questionable men about with evil intentions.'
'What men are these? I see no one but yourself.' She attempted a coy look, glancing at him from the corner of her eye. An uncomfortable silence descended as Bao Yang regarded her thoughtfully. She was no good at this at all. Her original plan would have to suffice. 'Minzhou is probably the safest city in the province. There are guards on every street, patrolling day and night.'
'Every street,' he echoed contemplatively.
They had almost reached the final bridge that marked the boundary of the park. Once they crossed over it, they would be in the main market area. Jin-mei tried to think of some way to prolong their time together.
'How was your journey?' she asked. 'You seem to have come from far away.'
'Not far at all.' Yang glanced once more behind him and then to other side of the river. 'I live in a small village, only two days from here.'
'Small village?' she asked with a raised eyebrow.
He nodded. 'Hejin Crossing, near the foothills.'
She absolutely knew that for a lie. Bao Yang lived far to the north-west in Taining County, the same place her family had lived before Father was transferred to Minzhou prefecture. She started to question him about it, but his step had quickened. He continued along the water towards the base of the bridge rather than over it.
'How curious,' he remarked under his breath. 'Is that a dragon carved into the stone?'
'Where?' She drew closer, but saw nothing of the sort in the foundation.
He turned to her and took her wrist gently. The gesture sent her pulse racing.
'Let us get out of the sun where we can speak more privately,' he suggested, setting his hand lightly against the small of her back.
As courtship went, his ploy wasn't particularly clever, but Bao Yang's touch was subtly insistent without being demanding. There was a quiet urgency in his voice that both puzzled and intrigued her. In her confusion, they were already to the bridge before she found her voice.
'I am not that sort of woman.'
'I don't think you're that sort of woman.' He was serious now, no longer flirting. Bao Yang removed his hold on her to step into the shadows. 'But there are city guards nearby. If you cry out now, I'm dead. You hold my life in your hands.'
How had he compelled her down there? It was nothing more than a few looks, some polite conversation, a series of light and gentle touches that just breached the boundaries of etiquette, but went no further.
Yang was standing apart from her now, well out of arm's length. She could flee and he wouldn't be able to catch her. For a moment, she did consider fleeing. This man before her was someone who was hiding secrets. Someone very different from the gentleman she thought she'd known all those years ago.
Yet he met her eyes with a look that pierced her, pleading with her silently, as if she were the one with all the power. Jin-mei didn't know why, but she found herself stepping after him beneath the bridge.
'Thank you,' he said quietly.
Once again, his hands barely closed around her shoulders. Her heart pounded, and she held her breath, waiting. It was as if she were moving of her own will and his touch no more than a suggestion.
Lowering her parasol, she looked up at him. 'Why are you hiding?'
He lifted a hand to quiet her, head tilted to listen for sounds from above. She had never been so close to a man who wasn't family. The front of his robe brushed against hers. Even with the dim light beneath the bridge, she could make out the hard line of his jaw. The air was cooler in the shade of the bridge and the two of them were closed off as if cocooned in their own private sanctuary.
'I shouldn't do this,' he began, sending her pulse racing with just the mere suggestion of the forbidden, 'but I must ask a favour of you.'
She'd spoken too quickly. Yang smiled at her, his eyebrow lifting in wonder. 'You're quite fearless, aren't you?'
Jin-mei could hardly breathe with him so close, looking at her as thoughlooking at her in a way no one ever had.
'I'm not.' Not usually. There was something about his manner that made her reckless. She ran her tongue over her lips nervously. 'I wasn't entirely truthful before. I do know exactly who you are.'
His charming expression faltered. 'I'd certainly remember if we'd met.'
'It was years ago, Mister Bao.'
He appeared startled at her use of his name, but before he could reply a loud voice boomed in from the world outside.
'What are you two doing?'
Jin-mei jumped, but Yang steadied her with his hands over her shoulders. Though she was breathing hard, he appeared speculative. He kept his gaze on her, meeting her eyes while he addressed the guardsman behind him. 'My lady companion was feeling faint in the heat.'
'Get out from there immediately.'
The silence was cut by the sound of a sword being drawn and then another and then another.
What was happening? She didn't know when the trembling started, but now it wouldn't stop. In a panic, she grabbed on to his arm. An unreadable look flickered across Yang's face. Calmly, he let go of her and stepped out from beneath the bridge. She ducked out just behind him to see them surrounded by what looked like the entire city garrison. A familiar figure in a dark green robe stood among them, his jaw clenched in fury. Her stomach plummeted and her palms started to sweat.
'Magistrate Tan,' Yang greeted, surprisingly composed among so many armed men.
Jin-mei bowed her head, her cheeks burning. 'Father.'
At that, Yang turned slowly around to look at her, a deep frown creasing his brow. Having men draw swords on him didn't shake him, but apparently what she had said struck him speechless. --This text refers to an alternate kindle_edition edition.
- ASIN : B00PQDB514
- Publisher : Harlequin Historical (May 1, 2015)
- Publication date : May 1, 2015
- Language : English
- File size : 820 KB
- Text-to-Speech : Enabled
- Screen Reader : Supported
- Enhanced typesetting : Enabled
- X-Ray : Not Enabled
- Word Wise : Enabled
- Print length : 282 pages
- Lending : Not Enabled
- Best Sellers Rank: #451,906 in Kindle Store (See Top 100 in Kindle Store)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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A Dance with Danger is the fifth book in the Tang Dynasty series and the second book in the Rebels and Lovers series. Bao Yang, the hero is a wanted man, hunted by the powerful General Wang Shizhen. A thwarted attempt on the General’s life is the reason behind Bao Yang’s visit to the Fujian Province where he goes wanting to meet one of his “associates”, Tan Li Kuo, a magistrate of the province.
Things don’t go exactly according to plan when Bao Yang finds himself discovered by Tan Li Kuo himself while in a compromising position with none other than his daughter Jin-mei. As circumstances would demand it, Bao Yang agrees to marry Jin-mei, only to find the tables reversed on him when he is betrayed in the midst of it all. Bao Yang would have thought that whatever connection that he had momentarily felt with his wife Jin-mei would have no place in his future until Jin-mei surprises him with her courage in pursuing him under the most difficult of circumstances.
While Bao Yang cannot compromise on the quest for revenge that he has embarked upon, he finds himself wavering in his determination because Jin-mei teaches him that there could be a life lived outside of the self-imposed mission that he has set upon. A mission that has followers in large numbers, something that Bao Yang never foresaw or dreamed of in the beginning. Jin-mei’s insightful nature, together with her adventure seeking heart proves to be quite the temptation for someone like Bao Yang, who is every bit reckless and rakish as they come. However, for their love to triumph, Bao Yang has a tough decision to make, and for Jin-mei, it might mean choosing between the two people who matter the most in her life.
A Dance with Danger was a read that fell a tad flat of the expectations I had for it and of Jeannie Lin’s exquisite writing talent, which somehow failed to emerge fully in this story. Jeannie Lin is one of those authors who has the sort of voice that is poetic in its prose, one that makes you feel like you are floating on air, witnessing something that is surreal in its beauty. But somehow, A Dance with Danger, while it had all the elements that would make for a highly readable story, I am sorry to say this, but I just couldn’t muster the enthusiasm of the kind I felt while reading all her previous works.
Bao Yang is quite different from the variety of heroes that have featured in Lin’s books in the past. All other heroes that I have come across are reserved and controlled in a way that makes for delicious sexual tension where concerned. Bao Yang is a man who has led a life that is shrouded in shades of grey, and though he is honorable where it counts, Bao Yang doesn’t have a very favorable opinion of himself. The thing that I loved about him was his cheekiness at certain times. The way he would tease his wife, make her tumble into his arms and give her a world of wanton pleasure. Bao Yang stands apart from the rest of the heroes I have come across in Lin’s works because he comes with a ton of sexual experience when compared to the innocent his wife is.
Jin-mei, though no warrior as some heroines of Lin’s previous works, is just as fierce and protective of her man. A life that had been lived with a magistrate as a father had taught her to see everything in black and white. It had also equipped her with a quick wit and mind that can comprehend things quite rapidly. To see things the way her husband sees them is first a challenge for someone like Jin-mei. But I believe that whatever differences that they might have had, they managed to merge seamlessly where and when it mattered.
Though A Dance with Danger was disappointing, I still managed to enjoy the good bits where the remnants of the Jeannie Lin I know and love to bits echoed through the pages. The whole story, the way it was told; all of it just felt vastly different from the caliber that I have become used to when it comes to Lin’s writing.
Recommended for fans of the series and those that love books set in ancient China!
MBR's Rating = 3/5 [SATISFACTORY READ]
All in all, this book was perfect and you should absolutely read it.
The story opens with Bao Yang still on a quest for vengeance against a ruthless warlord even after Yang's assassination attempt failed and now he has a price on his head. He hopes to regroup and pull in the help of others who want the warlord taken down so he heads into the city to gain support from Magistrate Tan. Only Yang gets sidetracked by Tan's bold and lovely daughter, Jin-Mei. He accidentally compromises her and agrees to her father's insistence that he save her reputation.
Jin-Mei has been attracted to Yang since the first time she encountered him a few years before. She knows what sort of man he is, but even an older, wiser Jin-Mei still feels the pull toward Yang. She is not disappointed when they are forced to marry and dreams of a good marriage and a future. But then a shocking betrayal and Yang's confession of the truth about his past and his need for revenge sends them on the run, hiding from the authorities. In spite of his confessions, Jin-Mei still wants her new husband and hopes to change his mind about revenge.
This story had all the good things I love about a Jeannie Lin Historical Romance. The settings were drawn like a work of art and I could easily picture the scenes. The layered plot and pace was nice with a variety of heart-stopping danger, quiet times, humor, passion, and the build up to a shocking climax. The main characters who share the narration are both engaging. They have to grow, learn and grow together. It was done well. Then there is the issues driving the plot. I loved the twists and turns of the story and was pleasantly surprised when familiar characters slipped in and out of the scenes. Han and Li Feng as well as Li Feng's mysterious brother. I really want his story next.
The romance starts as an arranged marriage, but the author managed to balance the strong chemistry between the two and the need for them to get to know each other and grow their romance. The passionate scenes just sizzle even though Yang must teach his new wife the way of physical love. I liked how the natural tension of the story was handled. They are at odds over Yang's revenge, but it doesn't get angsty.
All in all, this was a fantastic story and I love the feel that I've just visited Ancient China for some romance and adventure. Historical Romance fans might want to pick this book/series up.
My thanks to Net Galley for the opportunity to read this book in exchange of an honest review.
Top reviews from other countries
Even with all the above i enjoyed the book, its quite short at 281 pages though Amazon has wrongly added a hundred pages in product information as nearly 400 pages. The lack of depth o characters is direct result but ut worked because it is fast moving story with lots of intresting characters but in the end it is a very disappointing story as it has a terrible ending. The heroine was like a porn actress throughout, sex scenes every few pages and we get the details like noone knows what married couple do, it is fairly decent sexual relationship but Yang keeps it clean, very straight forward sex is discribed and it works for first scene which goes on forever but the famous rogue womanzier behaves like a total gentle man, not even a kiss at anywhere not appropriate for a birds and bees description, the heroine just keeps melting in heros arms every single time and after about a dozen lengthy and romantic scenes one just growns as the hero starts feeling horney.
The biggest problem was the endind, the books actually ends at about 89 percent mark in kindle version with a sample chapters from another book at the end but by about 82 percent of the mark a very long journey starts but we dont get any details of where the last action scene takes places or distances and time and how heroine shows up at exactly right down to the minute when action starts. It feels extremly rushed, everything happens almost perfectly and everything one predicts about the story happens, no surprises at all except how bad the ending was, especially how the editor and publisher didnt force a fairly unexperienced author at that time to redo the ending which knocked off atleast a star if not two from sudden drop of quality and quantity of the writting, the evil guys hardly get any screen time, we dont even get mention of which province is focus of all the intrigue or when though the river is real in China but apart from a few city names we get no details, i felt because mentioning a date would need much more research and actual details of events even in historical fiction, which the author avoids easily continuing with the lack of details, even with things she could have made up easily. Dispite a low rating of a 2 stars i would read atleast one more book as i have bought it already and i am hopeful that it would be an improved product and the author can write very well, just she needs to expand on some detail and make things a bit harder for the bad guys and the sex scenes need to be a few and much shorter we dont need the details how the heroine or hero feels after kiss after kiss.
Biggest issue could be how the heroine is training to learn martial arts and is quiet good at it but she doesnt do much in every fight, even the hero who is a very famous rebel with a price on his head just has a knife which he is very good at throwing but then magically he keeps finding more knifes which he never mentions before. But for a knife fighter, who has been in a more than a few fights, he just throws the knife and tge doesnt do much, no real close up bloody knife fight at all, Yang is no Mat Cauthon from the Wheel of time who has more knifes tucked on him than a small army, who gets cut to shreds in knife fights and being a sensible man dispite being an epic gambler who gambles fates of nations and even humanity and all creation at times, he knows that knifes are useless against armoured soldiers with swords, so he is good with a long bow and a staff or spear but Yang in a fight is like his wife in love scenes, he is tgere but doesnt quiet do much time and time again.
One line summary, the author had a very good story and characters but messed it up a bit but still reads better than much of fantasy novels being published even by publishing companies so ir is a hard decision, to buy or not to buy?