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1: The Hidden Blade: A Prequel to My Beautiful Enemy (Heart of Blade) (Volume 1) Paperback – August 6, 2014
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Keep in mind that there is no romance element to this prequel (no romance scenes, etc.), it really is an in-depth dive into the backgrounds of the upcoming characters of the Hidden Blade.
Mysterious, dangerous, seductive Catherine Blade of MY BEAUTIFUL ENEMY is young Ying-Ying in this prequel, growing up the daughter of the concubine of an important Chinese official. Captain Leighton Atwood, who is "captivated by her" in MBE is just a youth in Victorian England in the prequel.
Both young Ying-Ying and Leighton have heartwrenching, poignant family tragedies and stirring adventures in their early lives. Though they never meet in this story, reading here about their struggles, troubles, adventures and misadventures will add further dimension to the characters when we meet them as adults in the new novel.
Perhaps this prequel deserves 5 stars because it is very interesting and well written with fascinating insights into dynastic China, but there were several moments when the China story turned into a bit of a "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" overly-described martial arts fest that I wasn't especially interested in.
I'm ever so glad I read this and am now looking forward to MY BEAUTIFUL ENEMY.
The book alternates between Leighton growing up in England and Ying Ying growing up in China. Ying Ying's mother is the beloved mistress of an important royal uncle, Da-Ren. Her amah (nanny) trains her in advanced martial arts so she will have choices and be able to defend herself. As an illegitimate "half-breed" daughter, her prospects for a good marriage are slim. Fortunately, Da-Ren remains faithful in caring for his beloved's daughter and Ying Ying continually seeks to attain his approval. This comes to fruition in My Beautiful Enemy during, in my opinion, the best scene in the book.
Leighton and Ying Ying never meet, but they have a common bond in Herb Gordon who is a strong influence in both of their lives. Their characters are richly developed in this book and I didn't want to put it down. The reader finds out right away that Leighton's father is gay and this element comes up from time to time in the book. The reader must be prepared to feel compassion for this issue or I think it might be hard to fully enjoy the book. There are no explicit details and this book is not a romance - it's an intriguing story of two children growing up in England and China.
It takes place in the late 1800s and is a prequel to the romance novel, My Beautiful Enemy.
In some respects the Hidden Blade is the better novel, not quite as many plot contrivances. Yet, it does feel unfinished, and definitely a prequel. You should read both books, each would, I think be incomplete without the other.
Most recent customer reviews
Recommend both books, I would...Read more