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The Lotus Palace

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The Lotus Palace

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It is a time of celebration in the Pingkang li, where imperial scholars and bureaucrats mingle with beautiful courtesans. At the center is the Lotus Palace, home of the most exquisite courtesans in...
It is a time of celebration in the Pingkang li, where imperial scholars and bureaucrats mingle with beautiful courtesans. At the center is the Lotus Palace, home of the most exquisite courtesans in...
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Description-
  • It is a time of celebration in the Pingkang li, where imperial scholars and bureaucrats mingle with beautiful courtesans. At the center is the Lotus Palace, home of the most exquisite courtesans in China...

    Maidservant Yue-ying is not one of those beauties. Street-smart and practical, she's content to live in the shadow of her infamous mistress--until she meets the aristocratic playboy Bai Huang.

    Bai Huang lives in a privileged world Yue-ying can barely imagine, let alone share, but as they are thrown together in an attempt to solve a deadly mystery, they both start to dream of a different life. Yet Bai Huang's position means that all she could ever be to him is his concubine-- will she sacrifice her pride to follow her heart?

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    Tang Dynasty China, 847 AD

    An unseen force threw Yue-ying from her pallet. The entire building shook around her and the rafters groaned until she was certain the Lotus Palace was going to be torn apart. Too startled to move, she crouched low with her hands over her head. They were all going to die.

    Suddenly the shaking stopped. With her heart thudding against her ribs, Yue-ying gradually came back to herself. It was dark and she was on the floor in her sleeping area. The walls of the pavilion creaked around her as they settled.

    Before she could catch her breath, the shaking started again. A cry of alarm came from outside the chamber.

    It was Mingyu. Mingyu needed her.

    Yue-ying struggled onto her hands and knees, while a sea of silk tangled around her. Mingyu's entire wardrobe had been tossed onto the floor. Yue-ying shoved the material aside and stumbled to the doorway, clinging on to it for balance.

    There was no door between the two compartments. A gray light filtered in through the windows of the sitting area and Mingyu was standing at the center of it, her long hair wild about her face. She was dressed in her sleeping garment and the pale cloth coupled with elegant lines made her appear otherworldly. She looked more like a ghost than a woman.

    Yue-ying started to go to her, but the building lurched again and she was thrown to her knees. Mingyu fell to the ground as well and they scrambled toward one another. In an uncustomary display of emotion, Mingyu embraced her, clutching her close while the walls shuddered around them. At any moment, the roof would come crashing down to bury them.

    It was an eternity before the shaking stopped. Afterward there was absolute quiet; a funereal silence as the inhabitants of the Lotus Palace held their collective breath, waiting. She and Mingyu remained on the floor, holding on to one another and too afraid to move. Then the hum of voices began.

    Mingyu let go of her abruptly and straightened, smoothing her hands over her shift. Her chin lifted with a regal air and she was the elite courtesan again.

    Yue-ying tried not to feel discarded. She should be accustomed to Mingyu's changing moods after serving as her personal attendant for the past four years. Mingyu could be warm and engaging, affecting a smile that lit the room brighter than any lantern. When she was not surrounded by admirers, she would often become distant, lost in some inner world of her own making.

    "Heaven must be displeased," Mingyu declared.

    She peered out the window with a thoughtful and disturbingly serene expression. Mingyu had perfected that look. Even Yue-ying found it difficult to read her thoughts through it.

    "That's only superstition," Yue-ying replied.

    The ground wavered once more, as if in argument. Yue-ying pressed a hand to the wall to steady herself, while Mingyu stood tall and still, a fixed point amid the turmoil.

    Earthquakes were not uncommon in the capital city, though this was the most violent one Yue-ying had yet to experience. Everything that could fall had fallen. The dressing room where she slept was a disaster: silk robes were strewn all over the floor and the powder table had overturned, spilling pots and jars everywhere. She was lucky it hadn't fallen on top of her.

    Madame Sun set the other girls to work clearing the parlors and banquet room downstairs. The Lotus Palace was one of the larger establishments in the pleasure quarter of the North Hamlet, also known as the Pingkang li. There were seven ladies, courtesans or courtesans-in-training, along with Old Auntie and Yue-ying.

    The courtesans all...

About the Author-
  • Jeannie Lin grew up fascinated with stories of Western epic fantasy and Eastern martial arts adventures. When her best friend introduced her to romance novels in middle school, the stage was set. Jeannie started writing her first romance while working as a high school science teacher in South Central Los Angeles. Her first two books have received starred reviews in Publishers Weekly and Library Journal and The Dragon and the Pearl was listed among Library Journal's Best Romances of 2011.

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