Dao has taken the place of her half-brother's wife to become the wife of a barbarian chieftain. She starts the long, long journey to the lands of her future husband, content in her clear choice to improve her life by taking on this new identity. However, Kwan-Li will challenge her pragmatic views and rouse a new desire -- one that is at odds with her stated mission and goal.
Having read the previous book, I was looking forward to reading Dao's story. I've always liked her fiery spirit, tempered by common sense and the pragmatism born of being the bastard servant daughter of the master of the household. I wanted her to have a happily ever after, but I wasn't sure how it was going to happen, especially with her newly chosen role as a bride to a barbarian chieftain. I had brief hopes that the chieftain would be young, handsome, and someone who could cherish Dao for who she was and not what she would bring politically. I have to say that Kwan-Li was a surprise.
To be honest, I liked and enjoyed this book, but I felt like it went far too quickly. I felt like Kwan Li and Dao's relationship wasn't fully explored in such a way as to make the risks they took make sense in those days. After all, treason isn't a joking matter and what they did skirted on the edges of that. The ending was also just a bit too convenient, just a bit too accommodating of what they wanted. I would have liked to see a bit more exposition, a little more adventure, a little more something between them before the happily ever after -- but this was a quick and enjoyable read. I did like seeing Dao's indomitable spirit and I loved seeing her get her HEA.
Tang Dynasty China, 824 A.D.
Dao was raised as a servant, but when her half-sister flees an arranged marriage to a chieftain, Dao is sent in her place as Princess An-Ming. Such a future is better than she could have hoped for, yet she dreads a passionless union with a stranger.
Taken as a virtual hostage to the Imperial court, Kwan-Li is torn between his people and his duty to the emperor. He is bound by honor to escort the princess safely across the wild and untamed steppe, but the greatest danger they face on the long journey may be the forbidden temptation of each other…