Jeannie Lin’s Butterfly Swords

is a romance set in Tang Dynasty (eighth century) China.  I first became familiar with the title when the manuscript reached the finals of numerous RWA-sponsored contests; Butterfly Swords won the Golden Heart for Historical Romance in 2009.  I never judged it myself, but I heard that it was very good indeed.  I was impressed that Jeannie had done so well with a manuscript set in a time period that conventional wisdom said would never sell, and that she had followed her instincts and her heart, writing the stories that she wanted to write.

Conventional wisdom was wrong, and Butterfly Swords sold to Harlequin Historical and was published in 2010.  When I went to the RWA National Conference in New York in June 2011, I hadn’t read the book, or even seen a copy, but in the Goody Room I picked up a simple promotional pamphlet for Jeannie’s second novel, The Dragon and the Pearl.  Those few pages were enough to tell me I had missed an author I really wanted to read.  By then I had a Kindle, so when I got home I downloaded Butterfly Swords and the accompanying novella, The Taming of Mei Lin.  

I’ve recently finished reading Butterfly Swords, and it is every bit as good as I expected.  The story of Ai Li, sword-wielding runaway bride, and Ryam, the wandering barbarian soldier who comes to her aid, is both passionate and exciting, and full of fascinating descriptions of life under the Tang Dynasty.  Ai Li and Ryam’s travels take them to the highest levels of society and the farthest reaches of the Empire and, of course, to a happy ending.  If you have a Kindle, read the story of Mei Lin, Ai Li’s grandmother, first.

I have The Dragon and the Pearl waiting on my Kindle (along with its accompanying novella, The Lady’s Scandalous Night), and I’m looking forward to see how Jeannie turns Li Tao, the villain of Butterfly Swords, into the hero of this book.  And I’m delighted that she has several more Tang Dynasty novels on the way.  I’m definitely a fan.

Visit Jeannie’s author page at Amazon for her books, and her web site/blog at

A true book junkie, I came home from RWA

with eleven free books stuffed in my suitcase, and several interesting titles on a mental list.  (Packing tip: paperbacks fit quite nicely in the spaces between, and on either side of, the handle channels of a wheeled suitcase.)  There were half a dozen books in the tote bags we were handed at registration, more on the chairs at various events.  I left a few behind, and I carefully avoided the free booksignings put on by many of the attending publishers.  But I saw a  lot of women scurrying around with cartons and shipping their books home with the Fedex people who had set up shop on the sixth floor.

You might think all those freebies would slow my book shopping for a while, although if you’ve stopped by to read my blog you probably know better.  Sure enough, I’ve bought a few paper books and added some to my Kindle in the few days I’ve been home.

Paper books:  The day after I got home, on my way to the grocery store, I found myself at Half-Price Books, looking for a few titles I had run across at the conference.  I didn’t find any of the novels, but when I checked the shelves where they stash the books on writing, I found a copy of Blake Snyder’s Save the Cat!, a book on screen writing that quite a few novelists swear by.  Then a few days later, responding to the featured selections at the Rhapsody Book Club, I found myself ordering three more books:  Janet Evanovich’s latest Stephanie Plum adventure, and two books by Darynda Jones, First Grave on the Right, which won the 2009 Golden Heart for paranormal romance, and a good many other contests, before it was published, and Second Grave on the Left, due out next month.

Kindle:  The 2009 Golden Heart for historical romance went to Jeannie Lin  for Butterfly Swords, set in Tang  Dynasty China.  I knew of the manuscript from its considerable contest success, and admired the author’s tenacity in writing about a setting so far from the romance norm.  At the conference I read a short preview of Jeannie’s next book, and was very impressed.  So I downloaded Butterfly Swords and a companion short story, The Taming of Mei Lin, to my Kindle, and I’m sure I’ll be watching for her next release in the fall.

World War II is another out-of-the-standard-box period for genre romance, but my friend Cheryl Bolen, best known for her Regency period novels, has written one, It Had To Be You.  Cheryl has just re-issued it, the only one of her novels I didn’t have.  Now it’s on my Kindle, ready to read.

Also new on my Kindle, Got High Concept? by one of my favorite workshop presenters, Lori Wilde.  Lori gave a workshop on this topic at the conference last week, and when she mentioned that an expanded version was available as an e-book, it immediately went on my list.  If you have a chance to attend any of Lori’s writing workshops, jump on it.  She’s terrific.

My name is Kay, and I’m a hopeless bookaholic.

Next Newer Entries