I also have this strong desire for Ji Man, the MC, to be the first (at least that I've read) female protagonist to actually leave the ancient world behind when she has the chance to. Considering we're closing in on the half-way point and she still has no feelings for the male lead, I'd be pleasantly surprised if she never truly falls for him and just GTFO's, since she has a clear way back to the modern world.
... when the obvious girl crossdressing as the ideal Hero, Ryuuga, was revealed to be a girl within the first two chapters to the MC. I was expecting that to be a recurring gag and somehow sidestepped by a bunch of different tropes as excuses, such as it being a gender bender curse or a potential twin sister or what-have-you whenever it got brought up.
I also enjoy that so far, 46 chapters in, there's still not been any of the stereotypical haughty characters showing up to block the MC's path at every single turn just because he happened to breath in someone's general direction. And while they are certainly building towards at least two of them with the Team 2 Leader and Son Chaeyoung, it's so far not gone over-the-top&jumped-the-shark like in IRAS or any number of other wuxia/xianxia.
And the author has left plenty of room for a redemption for both of them, at least if we're to believe Son Chaeyoung 's words in chapter 44.
A disinterested husband that, due to her unique personality and how she holds herself, becomes intrigued and interested by her and comes to see the faults and flaws in the antagonists over time. A mother-in-law that has to be pampered and handled like a rare antique so as to not explode right in the MC's face. She is not as aggressively awful to the female lead as in a lot of other similar stories, but she doesn't exactly treat her well and expects a lot out of her for no reward and instead treats the main antagonist, the cousin-in-law, like she is the real wife as long as she can get away with it. An antagonist that will stop at nothing to become the main wife, though it is abundantly clear that it is not for some sense of love she has towards the male lead, however his feelings towards the antagonist-cousin seems to be quite genuine. The author does manage to add in some sympathy for the antagonist as well, she hasn't had the best life, her one way out of her dreary life with a gambling-addicted father is to become a member of her cousin's harem. Especially as she is stuck in an awful spot once her father finally does pass, because of the archaic ritual of having to observe filial piety towards her deadbeat dad for 3 years before marrying. Naturally, after having seen first-hand how his feelings towards the MC has changed over the course of the story so far, she fears that eventually he will forget her completely in those three years. And thus has little other choice than to become his concubine, rather than his wife, upsetting the male lead who realizes that maybe she doesn't really love him like he does her. I honestly feel like it would be very interesting to read the story as seen from the cousin's perspective as well, because she might be the most fleshed out character of the entire story.
I will give bonus points to the author for having at least some of her family genuinely care for her, since this is a rarity in these types of novels. I'm hoping we get to see more of her sister-in-law and youngest brother as the story moves on.
the MC learns that she has been used for years by the FL. I mean she knew that already, having seen the silk reports (that we still got no resolution as to where they came from, since Xiao-Ci burned them, but whatever). But she then learns how she cruelly would allow the soldiers she has fought with for years to starve to craft up a scheme with a Hun chief by stealing their supplies, cruelly murdered 20 of the same soldiers to then go on a charade with the MC, etc. All of this, Li Xian doesn't even dare tell to her face, acting like a teenager breaking up through a text message.
So naturally MC is pissed. And remains pissed. For almost three years. Not seeing her for a moment. And again the "romance" becomes a problem in my mind when she then after three years finally returns, still in love with Li Xian.
In particular the dynamic between Qi and Chu seemed very strange to me. Qi suddenly revealing that he is in love with Chu and isn't their blood-related brother came out of nowhere, and goes nowhere, and isn't explained either. Very odd.
Wtf was with leaving the person they both consider to be their DAUGHTER behind as they elope after faking the MC's death?! What the hell was with not caring one bit about the common people despite a few chapters earlier considering the idea of retiring early AFTER a worthy successor has been groomed? That just came out of nowhere and seemed COMPLETELY out of character for BOTH of them.
Another minor pet peeve of mine is that in this ancient setting, no one seems to mind gay relationships. Or how prevalent they are. There's at least three in the story: The main leads, the two shadow guards, the miracle doctor who has the hots for Li Xian (and I think they are hinting at the fact that she might've been getting busy with the Empress before she passed? Or did I misunderstand that part completely and she just fancied the Empress and that sorta transferred to her spitting image, Li Xian?), and finally Qi who has the hots for Chu. But I can look past that, as I am used to most GL and BL to have a very high % of gay or bi-sexual people in them even though it does kinda take me out of the story.
... it seems like the characters from the North get forgotten as soon as they arrive in the capital. I was casually hoping to see more of Kate and her grand-aunt since I figured they'd be fairly major side characters. But alas, no such luck. Similarly a lot of the side characters in the capital don't get enough time to shine either. Katherine in particular, who I was completely (to my delight) wrong about as I figured she'd be taking over once the Countess of Falcon died due to her own machinations. Similarly Beth feels like she could've played a much larger role, and I really enjoyed her more motherly visage. That being said though, what we do get to see of both Katherine and Beth is great, as they become the elder sisters to Lucia without much complications. Similarly, Norman also just F's off randomly as soon as she arrives back in the capital and is then never mentioned again (hoping for a sidestory dedicated to her)
I felt like it made sense as to why both of them were so insecure and unwilling to take that next step in their relationship. Lucia feels that the Duke only sees her as a bedmate, one that she definitely knows he cares for, but nothing close to love, and if she does express her love she will swiftly be granted a yellow rose. The Duke on the other hand has a lot of self-hatred, which colors how he views Lucia. All of that being said though, I feel like it could've been resolved a LOT earlier than when it did, but it was never a huge, nagging annoyance as misunderstanding plot threads have a tendency to become..
At least, two of the first that we've met (Yu Funing, who deeply loves the Male Lead and is fine with him achieving happiness without her. And Xie Siyin who also loves someone other than the Emperor, and whom the Emperor has been scheming against for seven years. I'd also argue that Huan Caier isn't terrible, sure she is a schemer at heart, but not to the vile levels I'm used to from other works, and it was nice to see at least one parent that cared for their child in this story! :]) Are not villains. Sure they have their bad parts, for instance Siyin tries to murder Mowan/xin because she figures the Emperor murdered her beloved, so she will retaliate in kind. However it is something she concocts shortly after her beloved, as far as she knows, has been murdered in front of her eyes, not exactly the best of times to lay the worst of plans. Siyin quickly realizes the error of her ways, thankfully. And Mowan/xin doesn't end up killing or scheming against them in all honesty, sure she definitely uses them for her own gain, but at the same time she saves them from their eventual fate. Hell, she even considers pushing the male lead towards Yu Funing, thinking she might be able to give the male lead what she can not, pure, honest love.
the first few chapters are very disturbing, especially how he reacts to his crush in the midst of making out with her boyfriend, filming it, then uploading it to the internet. It's a seriously messed up thing that he does and I was tempted to drop it then and there. However, the MC is slowly coming to terms with what a detestable thing it was and I am hoping we will eventually see him try to make amends in some shape or form.
including the end of the main antagonist of the vast majority of the novel...
However there were plenty of issues, especially with what felt like a very rushed ending. But also introductions of characters like the female lead's mother and ex-husband which were just pushed into the story and then promptly left without issue.
And while there is certainly a lot more xenophobic and even racist novels, especially in the Chinese market, it did feel very awkward whenever the female lead's past life in the US was mentioned. While there is a lot of racism still, it would not have come off as badly if there was at least one example of a friend or companion from the US that helped her out somehow rather than just being shown the bad side. Again, not quite racist, but definitely xenophobic and biased towards the Chinese as being righteous and just but oppressed within the American borders.