Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Ancient Chinese Secret

Every once in a while a book just hits me the right way. It's not that it's a particularly outstanding, breathtaking read. It might just be an average read. It might even have story elements that aren't quite working for me. But I still find myself devouring the book in record time. Which is what happened with the last book I had to read for my contest judging, The Dragon Earl by Jade Lee.

Since Lee has been floating around the paranormal waters lately, I think this book might have slipped under a lot of reader radars. Yes, it's a historical. Yes, it's a straight-up historical with no woo-woo in it. Honest.



A Chinese monk striding down the aisle was the first shock at countess-to-be Evelyn Stanton’s wedding. To watch him dispatch three groomsmen, unarmed, and to learn that he was white and the long-lost heir to the Earldom of Warhaven, was the second. He would be her husband?


After the slaughter of his family in far-off China, Jacob Cato found sanctuary. In a Xi Lin temple he learned to be strong, but now he had a grander goal: to reclaim his English heritage and the woman he’d left behind.


Revenge. It poisoned everything he’d learned, everything he’d done, and yet every fiber of Jacob burned for it—just as he burned for the beautiful but very English Evelyn. Long ago, the conspiracy to kill his family had stranded him, lost Jacob in the exotic East and made him unrecognizable to his countrymen…and women. He had not forgotten that past. It was to make peace that he had returned. The manner was yet to be decided.

One thing of note about this book, that did give me pause, was that Leisure slapped the tagline "A new stand-alone novel from the USA Today Bestselling Author of Dragonborn and Seduced by Crimson" right on the front cover. OK, color me crazy, but I took this to mean that we had a stand alone book here. And it very well could be - although the ending gives me pause. So much pause that I actually e-mailed the author and said, "Hey, is there another book in the works cuz there's some dangly bits floating around." (This was a late night e-mail and I haven't heard back from the author yet) Which I'll admit (especially in light of my last post) annoys the ever-lovin' crap out of me....but....sigh....I really enjoyed reading this book. I mean, how much of that annoyance do I want to hang on to?

The answer? Not a whole lot. So as a teaser, here's an excerpt of one of my favorite exchanges in the book. Enjoy!
"I cannot tell if you are making a joke at my expense or if you truly believe that." She leaned forward. "Do you even know what monks do?"

"You are back to thinking I am a liar." The idea depressed him much more than it should.

"I merely wish to understand."

"Why?" The word was startled out of him. He could hardly credit that any woman wanted to understand his religion. It was unusual enough in China, where monks were revered. He couldn't imagine it in a Christian English-woman.

"If you really are Jacob, then you will know why." She frowned. "Or perhaps not. Jacob was such a thoughtless boy."

Was I? "I am not Jacob. I am Jie Ke, and I...I don't remember a great deal from our first meeting. I was a boy and you were...." He looked at his hands trying to sort through his thoughts. "You were a girl who was too proper to be fun."

She laughed, but the sound had no humor. "Jacob called me stupid - too stupid to be a countess."

He stared, the memory not settling well in his spirit. "I do not recall that."

She looked at him for a long moment, then finally sighed as she pushed away from the harpsichord. "You are right. You are definitely not Jacob." And with that, she turned and walked away.


azteclady said...

Wendy, you are bad. I really really don't need more book recommendations. I really don't.

I should just give up, I can't resist you.

Erm... your enthusiasm, I mean


Kati said...

Huh. Now I'm intrigued too. And I generally loathe any kind of asian setting. I'm not sure why. But this one takes place in England, yes?

Wendy said...

AL: We live to serve here at the Bat Cave.

Kati: Yes, English setting. The only Asian connection is that the hero has been living in China for a number of years.

Gwen said...

*sigh* Well now I HAVE to read it.

Thanks a lot, Wendy! ::grumble grumble::

raesalley said...

you know, this is an odd one. It's currently in our dearreader.com as the book of the week and I can't decide which way to go with it.

The breaking up the wedding in the first few pages is a nice touch.

Jade Lee said...

Well, hello! Sorry about the delay in responding to your email. I have been writing all day and didn't get to my email until tonight.

Anyway, I'm thrilled you like The Dragon Earl. I love that book too! And yes, your suspicions are correct that a sequel was planned. Christopher's story was supposed to be out this month. BUT, Dorchester decided to switch over to DRAGONBOUND (continuing my fantasy series) because the sales of DRAGONBORN (yes, I know the titles are really close) were so great. So...my readers got book 2 in the fantasy series before they get the sequel to The Dragon Earl.

The main reason that Dorchester put "NEW STAND-ALONE" on the cover was because they wanted to differentiate between this book and my China-set historical series. They didn't think that people might wonder about a sequel. I've learned that marketing tends to have it's own way of thinking.

Anyway, I'm so glad you love The Dragon Earl. As I said, Christopher's story was the planned sequel (and possibly Zhi Min after that), but I don't have a release date. Hopefully people who love The Dragon Earl will hold on until I can get the book out. Or better yet, email Dorchester and tell them you want Christoher's story!

Jade Lee said...

BTW, I agree about series and sequels ham-stringing an author. Even my 6 book Tigress series can be read in any order with the stories completely self-contained.

The only reason I left The Dragon Earl with the one thread hanging is because it was sold as a 2 book contract. I even specified that the two books would have to come out close together.

But then things changed, publishing schedule adjusted, fantasy dragons doing great, yada yada. And now I'm very afraid that I have a book hanging out there with unanswered questions.

Sucks. But that's life in publishing.


Wendy said...

Gwen: I'm evil like that.

Rae: Seriously, that's where the book opens - right at the moment where the hero interrupts the wedding. It's a great opening because the story literally hits the ground running.

Jade: No worries. I wasn't expecting an e-mail response within minutes :-) I know most authors carve out a small window of time for "answering e-mail" in their writing schedules. And I e-mailed you pretty late last night after finishing the final chapter.

I figured you were thinking sequel, given how TDE ends. Thanks for stopping by and giving us the scoop!

Tracy said...

Wow - looks good. Thanks Wendy! I would have skipped over it as well thinking it had the old asian setting of which I'm not a fan.

Rosie said...

So it's been what? A month since you sent me searching for a book? I'm thinking Jade Lee's sales are going to soar now. Leaving to write yet another title on the tbb.