Butterfly Swords by Jeannie Lin
Book of Your Shelf? No
Why I have it: NetGalley
Series: Harlequin Historical
Princess Ai Li is doing the unthinkable. She is running away from the mam she is supposed to marry. A marriage that was arranged by her father, her actions could bring shame to her entire family. But she has good reason for doing so. She has discovered that her future husband played a part in the slaying of one of her brothers. Thankful that she has smuggled her trusted butterfly swords along with her, she fights free of her entourage and tries to make her way home.
Ryam is a barbarian, begging for scraps as he tries to return to his military base after an attack that nearly killed him. He comes upon Ai Li defending herself against far greater numbers and decides to help her. This one decision changes both of their lives forever. As they make their way back to the capital and Ai Li's family, they gain each other's trust and respect, and not just in swordplay.
The two face nearly impossible odds on their journey to the city and find themselves willing to do anything for the other. I loved both characters and the way they interacted was nearly perfect. There were a few occassions that the plot stalled for a few pages, but it generally to help the reader understand some aspect of the culture and took off again as soon as it could.