Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Review: The Last Concubine by Catt Ford

The Last Concubine by Catt Ford
Dreamspinner Press
Novel: 220pgs
4.5 Pants Off

When Princess Lan’xiu’s brother delivers her under duress into General Hüi-Wei’s harem as a political offering, her only question is how soon her secret will be discovered. She is under no illusions: when the general discovers she is actually a he, death is his only future—though he doesn’t plan to make it easy. Lan’xiu has dressed as a woman all his life, but he is no damsel in distress. He can swing a sword with the best of them.

General Hüi-Wei has everything a man could want: power, wealth, success on the battlefield, and a harem of concubines. At first, he regards Lan’xiu with suspicion, but he finds himself strangely drawn to her. When he discovers the beautiful young woman is actually a man, his first reaction is to draw his sword. Rather than waste such beauty, he decides to enjoy the spirited Lan’xiu’s submission—and ignites a passion and desire deeper than anything he’s felt with other wives. But court intrigue, political ambitions, and the general's doubts may be too much for their love to overcome.

A Timeless Dreams title: While reaction to same-sex relationships throughout time and across cultures has not always been positive, these stories celebrate M/M love in a manner that may address, minimize, or ignore historical stigma.

For those of you know who know me, knows that I love multiculturalism in books and I love Asians. This book had it in awesomeness, and I loved every freaking minute of reading it. However, not perfect I still loved it. This was my very first time reading Catt Ford, and it will not be my last. I enjoyed the writing, the flow, but most of all enjoyed the characters.

Princess Lan’Xiu has just been delivered to General Hui-Wei as a gift from her brother. The sentiment might seem kind enough but her brother is vile, and he has just guaranteed her death. Because though she might be beauty personified, Lan has a secret, and that secret could cost her, her life. Lan is a man but has lived his entire life as a woman. A plan once meant to protect her will now lead to her demise when the general comes to bed her.

Lan is taken to General’s Harem, where she would now be the seventh wife aka his last concubine. Hui only accepted Lan because he knows her brother is up to something, and he is wanting to get to bottom of whatever plan they have cooking. Though, from the first moment he saw the princess he has been filled with want. When he finally decides to bed her, Hui is faced with the surprise of a hard dick instead of women parts.

It’s not very hard to guess what happens next, but I was very much disappointed with it all. I wanted more anger from Hui. So he didn’t want to kill him, but he could have broken some furniture or set fire to the house with a lantern. I just wanted an authentic upset, for a warrior I could not accept him being deceived to go so smoothly. I also did not enjoy the quick jump into “You’re mine, and I’m yours”. Don’t get me wrong, love the possessive stuff but the pacing for this one was off and happened way too soon.

The story then moves to how life for Lan is, living in a harem, and the constant scrutiny from servants. Moreover, he is moving to an established home filled with other wives. The wives accept Lan with open arms except for one who brings the crazy. Seriously, she really brings the crazy but Lan is a princess you do not trifle with. I enjoyed all the characters; they are so colourful that there is a favourite to be found among all. I loved Lan and his eunuch they brought the funny. I loved Hui and Lan together they brought the sexy. I also enjoyed the wives; they had a friendship and lived like a family.

I loved the look at old China, the Qing Dynast. I could clearly see all the jewels, the descriptions of the cheongsams and hanfus, and I had no trouble picturing the beauty of the women. I am also wondering how nobody noticed the lack of breasts in Lan, I get the women aren't especially large but no breast in a cheongsam is kinda noticeable, and there was no talk of stuffing (just saying).

Overall, I really enjoyed the story even with all the faults. It was entertaining where it needed to be and I really enjoyed the ending. I liked the contrast between beauty and strength, and I could go into some gender stuff but that would be another few pages. Some readers may have a problem with Lan being referred to as female most of the time, but it didn’t bother me, I was always reminded he was male. So yes, I loved the book and recommend it to those looking to read something historical and sexy as feck.

SideNote- When a books has fancy names it should come with a glossary for pronunciation. Otherwise, I am calling them all kinds of fancy shit :D

4.5 Pants Off

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