The Missing Piece

Just want to say that this blog is surviving another year, as I just paid the annual costs a little while ago. My wallet hurts and the fact I also ordered more BL made it hurt even further. But worth it!

…I think?

I will also, probably, post reviews on any day of the week at any time starting today. My life has changed a lot over these past years, and I need to adjust my posting to that… even though it’s been difficult to admit, at the end of the day.

A faint smile appeared at the corners of Ji Mingxuan’s mouth. His voice was beyond gentle: “Shen Mo, did you call the wrong name?”

Shen Mo finally remembered what he was supposed to do. He approached Ji Mingxuan and held his hand. “Mingxuan.”

“Yes.” Ji Mingxuan leaned affectionately toward him, whispering, “Don’t forget our relations.”

“Lovers,” Shen Mo smoothly answered.

Fake lovers, he added in silence.

For the past three years Shen Mo has been in a fake relationship with Ji Mingxuan, to please Ji Mingxuan’s sister Ji An’an. But when she returns after three years abroad, so does her boyfriend — that is, Shen Mo’s ex-boyfriend — Zhou Yang. Shen Mo is reminded of his past, while confused by his contract lover Ji Mingxuan, and bothered by the ex he has since long let go of.

Alright, I want to begin by noting a few things: This novel includes terrible parents, legit crime and depictions of violence, homophobia, trauma response, sex, among other things. This is by all means an adult novel.

Okay, I want to immediately say that I really enjoyed this book, but also that I. Will. Not. Forget. That opening.

I’m not comfortable with sexual content, but I’ve… not really become desensitised, but it’s more that I’ve learnt to make the majority just enter my brain long enough for me to understand what’s happening, but then it’s all thrown into the spam inbox in my brain.

This did NOT happen when I read this one, because the book’s opening scene escalated so quickly — it was perfectly normal the first sentence and full-on sexual content the second. I was not prepared for this in any way and because it escalated at such an intense speed I spent twenty minutes just laughing at the opening.


I don’t tend to share much about what I read that is in the modern romance genre, for reasons I can’t explain. I obviously have a preference against this stuff, but I actually like to read things like office romance, contractual dating/marriage, fake lover and similar tropes as “I need something light-hearted and healing between the bouts of angst”. This book fills that criteria for me and was something I read when I, surprisingly, was hit so hard by angst I couldn’t keep reading (which is incredibly rare!). This work in particular also has a love triangle (or is it a love square?) and arranged marriage.

…And I’m just calling these light-hearted because the stuff I usually reading things that rips my heart out, but this doesn’t. It might be rather questionable to call this one light-hearted. Don’t be deceived.

I would definitely understand if someone thinks the plot is absolutely ridiculous, but then I’m here like “ah, more believable than some things that happen in real life”, because while there are things that might seem utterly stupid (Shen Mo, Ji An’an was going to be abroad for three years with your ex, why the contractual fake lover thing with her older brother???), other things are literally things that can happen (Shen Mo’s missing memory, or complete denial after a traumatic event, the inability to paint due to psychological blocks) and while things might seem like a lot of coincidences would be at play, that’s literally life.

But the plot is still, lol, something else. It’s good and I genuinely like it, but a lot happens. I can honestly said I didn’t expect to like it. I mean, I didn’t expect I’d dislike it either, but more like having a lukewarm feeling of “good enough”, rather than binge-reading it because I couldn’t put it down.

My main concern wouldn’t be the plot though. I think that the issue is the language. I can’t actually tell if it’s the translator not doing a good enough job, or if it’s the author’s issues. What I do know, though, there is some editing that can be done by a translator to ensure the story gets justice and I feel like this is a case of “not enough editing” but whose work actually needed editing is what I don’t know.

I think that some people will also find some issues with the outline, as it has some, hmm, flashbacks. But I don’t actually think it’s bad. This is naturally a matter of taste and I think this is where a lot of criticism might come from — taste.

There are several extras in this one, I might add. They are mostly what happened after, some of them sexual, some of them just fluff dad(s) with a kid moment. My favourite is by far one of the most random ones. I think Meowxuan is very cute. What that means, you’ll have to find out by reading, I guess.

Oh, before I do call it a day with this one… Another thing that MIGHT be offputting is the way translator notes have been added. Just saying. I prefer chapter end notes, while this goes with, um, an asterisk under the paragraph approach. This is kind of a stylistic choice, I guess. Or perhaps a lack of technical know-how. I don’t know. But worth mentioning if that bothers the hell out of someone.

If you enjoy drama, romance, a bit (??) of angst, a happy ending and the amnesia trope, this is definitely worth reading, as long as you can overlook the writing issue. (This book also kind of… proves that although I can talk at length about translation/writing issues, I’m not ruthless and can overlook it as long as it’s not… too bad.)

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