Monday, May 9, 2016

The Perilous Life of Jade Yeo (e-novella) by Zen Cho

The Perilous Life of Jade Yeo is self-published historical chick lit. It's short, only 25,040 words long.

Again, no read-alikes. Only one more review and I'm finally caught up!


This is set in London in 1920. All Jade Yeo (whose real name is Geok Huay) wants is a chance to be a little adventurous and bad for once. She gets her opportunity after writing a negative review of Sebastian Hardie's latest book – the first time they meet, Sebastian seems to be more intrigued by her than upset. Jade likes the idea of a bit of “no strings attached” sex with a handsome man like Sebastian. Unfortunately, life has a way of complicating things.

I'll start off by emphasizing that this is historical chick lit, not romance. Jade gets a happy ending, but if you read this expecting it to be a romance, certain aspects will be extremely off-putting. Heck, I knew the author had categorized it as chick lit, and I was still taken aback by certain details.

The story was written entirely in diary form. I enjoyed Jade's “voice,” which was witty and breezy, but I'd have preferred plain old first person POV over diary entries, for several reasons. First, the entries tended to include a bit more detail than I felt was believable, even considering that Jade was a writer. Second, the diary format left room for doubt that everything turned out as happily as Jade said it had. Jade's first foray into being a “bad girl” involved massive amounts of risk, to put it mildly. I can't say too much without spoiling things, but there was the issue of Sebastian being married (not as much of a problem as you might think) and the power imbalance, what with Sebastian being a respected and well-off (wealthy?) author and Jade being a nobody from Malaya. The potential for things to go terribly wrong was so great that the happy, fluffy ending wasn't quite believable. Part of me fretted that Jade was still at Mrs. Crowther's place, writing herself a happy ending because she needed one.

Meh, best to take the ending at face value, I guess. The other issue with this being written in diary form was that it somehow made Jade look both observant and dense. I figured out the stuff with Ravi well before she did, even though all the clues were right there, in her own diary entries. I have no idea how she could have noticed the oddities in his behavior and realized they were worth mentioning without realizing what it all meant.

All in all, reading this was like watching a train wreck made entirely out of cotton candy. Many things could/should have gone horribly wrong, and instead everything turned out all fluffy and happy.

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