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REVIEW: Taming of Mei Lin by Jeannie Lin

Dear Ms. Lin:

As I understand this, The Taming of Mei Lin is a prequel of sorts to Jeannie Lin’s Butterfly Swords.   Mei Lin is an orphaned girl who lives with her uncle and aunt.   The uncle and aunt play little role in the story and while not kind they are not cruel either.   Mei Lin works at her uncle’s village stand selling noodles.   Her uncle has her working during the hottest part of the day and Mei Lin looks with envy at Chang’s tofu stand because he had protection of the shade tree.

The Taming of Mei LinMei Lin is a pretty girl and came to the attention of the magistrate of a nearby town.   Zhou’s flaw was that he already had two wives and Mei Lin has no desire to be a third.

Uncle and Auntie Yin had been thrilled that someone wanted to take her off their hands, but Zhou already had a wife. Two wives, in fact! She would be little more than a bed warmer and glorified kitchen maid.

Mei Lin declares that she’ll not marry until someone can best her in a  challenge.   She’s beaten all the village louts, the buffoons who have  come to take up the challenge, and the minions sent by Zhou but ultimately she realizes that one day will come when someone stronger  and better at the sword than she will defeat her and that person could  be far worse than Zhou.

One day, a tall, dark stranger turns up and asks her to take up the  challenge.   She does, of course, because what else is there to do but try to win?   Her confidence is shaken when she hears his name.   Shen Leung.   Even in her tiny remote village they have heard of the emperor’s sword.

He bowed, blade pointed downward, very formal. Like this was a sacred ritual instead of a street brawl. She looked down at her swords and for a moment they felt strange in her hands, as if she didn't practice every morning and night with them.

Master always said she wouldn't know her limit until someone pushed her to it.

"Now?" the swordsman asked from afar.

She tossed her hair out of her face. "Now."

I thought  you did a good job of setting it up so neither Mei  Lin  or  her challenger, Shen Leung, lose face in the challenge.Shen Leung didn’t mean to fight a woman but he was intrigued by the stories in the tavern about a girl and her butterfly swords.

Shen Leung  admires  Mei  Lin  greatly and although he didn’t know the full terms of  the challenge when he fought her, he doesn’t see himself as worthy of  marrying one such as Lady Wu, as he calls her.   He brings no property, no coin to her  (not that  Mei  Lin  has any of her own).   Even her proficiency with the swords adds to his feeling of inadequacies as it comes to a suitor. What I didn’t understand, and perhaps the shortness of the story contributed to this, was the motivations of Shen Leung which prohibited from marrying Mei Lin and then ultimately succumbing to that state. We spend more time with Mei Lin and it is easy for us to see why she chose to take particular action but Shen Leung was far more of a mystery.

There are two sex scenes in the story and I felt like they were almost  superfluous. I wanted more fighting!   The sword scenes were wonderful.   But even if I felt that the sex scenes were imbalanced in the story, it gave me a feel for your voice (which I thoroughly enjoyed) and whetted by appetite for the full length novel, Butterfly Swords.   B-

Best regards,

Jane

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Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com

6 Comments

  1. Christine M.
    Sep 07, 2010 @ 10:22:43

    Jane the Goodreads link links to an Unauthorized Harry Potter 7 Analysis of some sort.

    Thanks for the review however, it brought back to the front of my mind that I wanted to check this author out. These two books sound awesome.

  2. Christine M.
    Sep 07, 2010 @ 11:25:05

    @Christine M.: Actually, that second sentence should read Thanks for the reviews as it brough back

    I just hope there’ll still be enough of a buzz when Butterfly Swords releases that I remember to get my hands on it.

  3. Janine
    Sep 07, 2010 @ 13:04:00

    I’m partway through The Taming of Mei Lin. Love the setting, love the sword fight, and I think the author has a very nice writing style too.

    On the downside… I don’t understand Mei Lin’s motivations or Shen Leung’s.

    SPOILERS
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    In one scene, Mei Lin goes from trying to kill Shen Leung to confessing she’d intended to seduce him but then decided she couldn’t and thought she’d kill him instead, and then she wants to tell him the truth about the swordfight but ends up kissing him and leaving wanting to marry him, without having seduced him, killed him, or told him the truth about their swordfight.

    I got about two-thirds of the way through this story and then lost interest, mainly because of the difficulty I had following the characters’ motivations.

    I already purchased Butterfly Swords along with “The Taming of Mei Lin,” the day they both came out at eHarlequin, so I’ll probably read Butterfly Swords. If the motivations are clearer there, I may very well enjoy it, but I can’t say my appetite has been whetted by “The Taming of Mei Lin.” This story had a lot going for it, but I think it would have benefited from more pages.

  4. peggy h
    Sep 07, 2010 @ 20:28:42

    I agree that this story would surely be much more coherent if it could have been longer–but I feel that within the limitations of the format, it was a fine tale. More importantly, I enjoyed the voice of the author so I’m definitely looking forward to seeing what she has done with a longer format with more opportunities to flesh out her characters. Haven’t gotten Butterfly Swords yet, but it’s on my list.

  5. Jeannie Lin | Award-winning historical romance author
    Sep 08, 2010 @ 05:22:40

    [...] Dear Author B- Review by Jane [...]

  6. Jeannie Lin | Award-winning historical romance author
    Sep 10, 2010 @ 10:57:01

    [...] Dear Author reviewed The Taming of Mei Lin with a B-. I am quite pleased. [...]

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