Lee Evie writes such beautiful novels. Let me just say that straight off. I recently read the first book in her Promise series called Promise Season, which I loved and talk about here. And so I was super excited to read book 2, Promise Thief (available from 23 October 2020). I was lucky enough to receive this copy early for exchange for an honest review, which will be easy because this story was right up my alley.
Promise Thief is a dark, romantic tale set in the Joseon Dynasty in Korea. Having read the first book in the series, I had a good idea what to expect in this book in terms of the location, other characters, and Lee’s writing style. I couldnt wait to immerse myself back into the world where Lee’s characters believe in paving their own way despite having little options, mysterious young men in gats, action, romance and hope.
Promise Thief’s main character Chungjo, is a little different to what I normally see in a main character. In Promise Season, she is depicted as the rival, and not a very nice person at all. She is a bully, mean, spiteful. In Promise Thief, however, we get to go under the layers. We get to learn what is underneath that exterior. Who she is. Why she is who she is.
For me personally, I love to get to know all types of characters. Even the villains. I want to know what happened to them, why they are how they are. I want to understand them and how they made their choices. I dont really like a villain for a villains sake. There always has to be more to it. And thats what we get with Chungjo – a deeper understanding.
And we find that Chungjo isnt really the monster she is led to believe she is. She is just so used to wearing the hard exterior, so used to trusting no one, so used to only looking out for herself, to survive. But that doesn’t mean she wasn’t cold or cruel. She knows she was, but… is she capable of softening? Can she trust others? Can she allow herself to hope and dream?
Enter a mysterious young man with secrets. Who is he really? What is his plan? Why is he getting in the way of Chungjo? Why can’t she stop thinking about him? Why is it her hard exterior is beginning to crack?
Promise Thief is brought to life with beautiful descriptions of old Korea. The culture, the clothing and the architecture all described beautifully. The action is exciting, and the love story (my favourite part) is just so lovely. I really like how Lee doesn’t depict her characters as waiting to be saved, and I like that they even hesitate to commit to a future with the men they love.
I personally really enjoy watching Korean Dramas set in the Joseon dynasty, so for me this entire world that Lee describes is appealing to me. If you arent familiar with terminology or fashion from this period, some of the clothing described and terminology may seem a little different to what we imagine from our knowledge of Western culture (I am Australian, so Korean history is fairly new to me), but I dont believe this affects the enjoyment of the story. I love learning about the human experience of those in our world’s history.
Is there anything I felt lacking, or didnt like about Promise Thief? I loved everything about it. I thoroughly enjoyed it, however I am greedy and would have easily soaked up more if there had been more (lucky Lee has a third book in this series coming out next year). But there didnt need to be more in Promise Thief, it had everything it needed. I thoroughly enjoyed it.
Promise Thief will be available from 23 October 2020 from Amazon and bookstores (I think I want to buy the paperbacks, the covers are just so gorgeous).
Be sure to pop on over to Lee Evie’s website for more information of how to purchase, make sure you get onto her newsletter list (she sends the most lovely monthly newsletters), and check out her podcast too. www.leeevie.com
And to finish off this blog post, here is the blurb to to Promise Thief.
She has no future.
He has no past.
A game begins.
JOSEON DYNASTY, KOREA.
During the long midwinter, snow drifts through the stark streets of sprawling Hanyang. Within the stifling walls of the Pavilion, a gisaeng slave girl is driven to the edge of her endurance.
Chungjo is ambitious. Beautiful. Cruel. A slave girl who submits to no-one and destroys all who stand in her way. Yet a mysterious stranger thwarts her plans at every turn. Craftier than she could anticipate, he is a young man who is her match.
Soon a dance begins. Who will discover the truth first? Who will destroy the other?
A dark romantic story of old Korea.
Front cover image from www.leeevie.com