I liked this book just a smidge more than I liked book one in the series. Mingyu has now seen Yue-ying happily married to Bai Huaung and is feeling the shackles of her life as property of the Lotus Palace. She is looking for a way out; funny her most ardent patron, General Deng of the Imperial Army is also looking for a way out...although he is trying to get out of a coup of his own making. Wu Kaifeng, the constable, is looking at all this corruption and thinking that it has to be easier making money as a host of a tea house than deal with the pleasure quarter. Mingyu and Wu get together to solve Deng's death and fall in love.
I love Mingyu and Wu! This couple just had that "X" factor that makes their story seem seamless. The foresenic skills of Wu were very interesting to read about, and Mingyu's "analysis" of Wu's findings was a great twist to the story. The mystery was much more involved and interesting than the last book. This is my favorite book of the series and can be read as a stand alone.