I feel like I've been reading this book forrrreeeeevvvveeeerrrrr. It's short. On my Nook it was less than 200 pages. But I just really could not work up any interest in the romance aspect of this book. I just find romances, at least those I've read (which is admittedly few) to be predictable in the worst way. I knew from the moment I learned who the dude in the palanquin was what would happen - it was just a matter of the details. I probably would have known before then if I'd read the book description... but I don't read those, usually.
Anyway. I actually thought that the Chinese political situation and process of finding an empress were the most interesting parts of the story, and I wish that these aspects comprised a bigger portion of the book. For all Ji Yue's abilities in observation and "being a political wife" - the political stuff was extremely limited. Saves room for talk of "jade stalks" and "dragon organs" I guess. You know, the important stuff. (Psst... Those are euphemisms for "penis".) *wink*
I also was bothered by the whole OMG-it's-so-amazing deflowering scene. These girls have guarded their virginity like their lives depended on it (which, I guess, in a way, was the case), haven't even SEEN a penis, let alone know what to do with it, and then Ji Yue, after having learned to give a blowie just the day before... "sits" on Bo Tao's Dragon rod or whatever like it ain't no thang. No pain, not even discomfort, and she just goes to town. I mean, it just rubs me the wrong way (geddit?) when fiction portrays the first time as this wonderful, amazing experience, especially for the girl. It's not. It is not a rainbow sunshine daisy unicorn experience. Usually it's painful, then uncomfortable, then messy, and then it's just over. And then there's the second time, which isn't much better. It takes time and repetition and practice to get to the OMGYES sex. It don't just happen when that hymen breaks.
Anyway. This was OK. Predictable, cliche, unintentionally humorous at times, but nothing special. I wish the history and politics were fleshed out more, as well as the characters' personalities. Their euphemistic sexy times parts were fleshed out quite enough.