Review of JADE TIGER by Jenn Reese (see her website)
Juno Books, October 2006
Shan Westfall is on a mission--she's got to recover the jade statues which, together, create the focus for the famous Jade Circle. Unfortunately, others are after these precious artifacts--possibly the same people who destroyed the Jade Circle, killing her mother in the process when Shan was a child. Well, she's a child no longer, she's spent her life involved in the martial arts, and if she needs to kick some tail in recovering these precious and magical artifacts, then she'll just kick some tail.
While tracking down the first of the missing statues, a jade crane, Shan arrives just as a mysterious one-eyed man is ripping through a University research area--after first decking an archeology professor, Ian Dashell. Shan needs to remain singleminded in her pursuit of the artifacts, but she can't ignore the instant attraction that flows between her and the professor--nor the fact that he seems every bit as interested as she is. Still, Shan's past experiences with ex-boyfriend Patrick, makes her reluctant to trust anyone, especially not a sexy guy.
Shan's mission finally takes her to a secret island off China. A reclusive billionaire holds an annual auction of the best of the illegal and contraband art objects stolen or looted from around the world. There, Shan has every reason to believe she'll find the remaining jade statues. Whether she and Dashell can survive the encounter is another question. These people killed her mother--and Shan knows she'll never be the martial artist her mother was.
Author Jenn Reese maintains a galloping pace of martial arts action, interspersed by sweet romance as Shan learns to trust men--or at least one man. Reese seemed especially to enjoy her villains, creating a series of difficult and memorable characters for Shan to face--until she eventually came in contact with the ultimate force behind the destruction of the Jade Circle. Once the statues are united--against her--however, how can she hope to withstand their power?
Reese creates an enjoyable story with well developed characters. I do have some quibbles with the story--Shan's back-story experience with Patrick is a bit silly as a motivation. Certainly training with the all-female Jade Circle and seeing men murder her mother is ample motivation for her distrust of men without throwing in this bit. I also found the logic of Ashton's auction hard to track. Why, since he wanted the statues so badly, had he auctioned the one Dashell's parents had bought?
Although JADE TIGER has its flaws, anyone wanting a balance of sweet romance and non-stop action will certainly want to give this one a look. Reese is an author to watch.
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