Juno Books, Nov
Reviewed by Joy
Womenís Martial Arts Fantasy
Shan was only a child when she and her father fled their home in the community of the Jade Circle. Shan carried with her the powerful stone figure called the Jade Tiger. Her mother stayed behind, guarding their rear against a mass attack that annihilated the Circle.
Years later, they have been unable to learn her motherís fate. They do know that the other four animals of the Jade Circle are lost. It is Shanís duty to find and recover them, and that is how she meets Ian Ė luckily for Ian.
Shan wants to keep Ian out of her quest. Deadly danger isnít for scholars. In spite of her, he does manage to hang on for the ride. In fact, he keeps surprising her with his helpfulness. If only there were a few minutes when it wasnít dangerous to drop her guard, she could respond to their attraction. But there is always another animal to track, a bigger bad guy to fight, and a growing number of allies to protect.
One high-adrenaline encounter after another, Shan moves inexorably in on the biggest bad guy of all, until she is right where he wants her to be.
There are a few plotting flaws. The guardianship of the individual animals doesnít seem to fit together evenly; we never learn how one villain survived his worst mishap unscathed. They are mostly lost in the excitement. Donít worry over them. This is about Shan, graceful, deadly, and determined not to be frightened, who will rebuild the circle or die for it.
JADE TIGER moves as fast and smooth as an exhibition fight between black belts. The beautiful, engagingly unsure Shan holds our focus, but allows us to appreciate things (such as Ian) that she doesnít have time for. While zipping us through her martial arts story, author Jenn Reese gives us the spiritual feel of the training, with added flavors of humor, fantasy, romance, travel, even art appreciation. This is fun in several dimensions.
I rarely comment on a cover, but Juno Books has a winner in cover artist Timothy Lantz. If you were so inclined, you could buy JADE TIGER for the gorgeous cover and the story would be a bonus.
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