Title: My Last Empress
Author: Da Chen
Publisher: Crown Publishing
Publication Date: 2nd October 2012
Format: E-Book - EPUB
Genre: Literary / Historical
Source: ARC via NetGalley
Pickens becomes the benefactor of a number of lucky coincidences--unless, of course, it is Annabelle who is pulling the strings--that allow him to travel to the Orient. There, he works for the effete and powerless emperor, who keeps a concubine, Qiu Rong, who looks shockingly like dear Annabelle. Pickens cannot hide his desire, and it is requited, but the palace is filled with gossips and thieves at every turn. Once their love is discovered, Qiu Rong and Pickens must escape, but the only one who can help them is a nearby warlord, who has a shocking story of his own to reveal. (Goodreads Synopsis)
This is a book that has a rather unlikeable 'hero' and yet it is still entrancing and captivating.
Pickens is a character that I guess you can love to hate. Some of his choices and his views make me shudder, but his story is an interesting one that kept me turning the pages despite my dislike of him.
What really made this book for me, though, is the prose. It is utterly beautiful and poetic: a joy to read. I loved Chen's descriptions; the way he set the scene and painted a portrait of the characters in this wonderful language that was familiar and yet also hinted at the mysteries Pickens faces as he travels to the East.
If you like literary fiction in Oriental settings, I can definitely recommend this book. It was a very good read.