I discovered Jeannie Lin's China-set historicals years ago and have been slowly making my way through the Tang Dynasty series. I have had The Sword Dancer on my e-reader since its release date and, after debating what to pick for this month, I decided I wanted a unique historical romance. While this book is considered part of Lin's larger Tang Dynasty series, it can be read as a stand-alone. It has been awhile since I've read the other books, but I don't think there are any overlapping characters.
I found The Sword Dancer to be a delightful read. It tells the story of Li Feng who has a mysterious past that has led her to not always living in the most legal way. She becomes ensnared with the infamous thief-catcher, Han, and these two end up in a cat-and-mouse game that was as entertaining as it was suspenseful. Both characters are richly drawn and given opportunities to develop as people. Han has to deal with having a narrow view of right and wrong while Li Feng is forced to figure out how to trust other people. It is always fun to read about intelligent, capable characters and these two definitely fit the bill.
The romance between Li Feng and Han is full of adventure and banter. A significant amount of the first half of the book shows them constantly running into one another. They take turns outwitting the other which just increases the already existing sexual tension. And, when they finally join forces to figure out the truth behind Li Feng's past, the rest of the China better watch out. I loved the respect that they showed one another and how the author made sure readers knew the obstacles ahead of them. Li Feng and Han have to overcome a lot to get their happy ending and it is well worth the struggle.
Like the other Tang Dynasty books I've read, The Sword Dancer is full of vibrant settings and details. I know very little about this time period, but I felt like the world could just jump off the pages. There is a ton of information given to readers yet it never felt like I was reading a lecture or just pages of description. It takes a skilled writer to infuse an adventure romance with so much historical detail and Lin definitely accomplishes that task.
I recommend The Sword Dancer, or any of Jeannie Lin's other romances, for any reader who wants something different in their historical romance. I read historicals to learn about the past and also find myself engulfed in it. That definitely happened here and I hope others take the plunge. I can't wait to read more in this series and I'm glad that I finally dug this one out of the depths of my e-reader.