It’s Better to be the Empress Dowager


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Tang Shishi was the number one beauty in the court. She was arrogant, domineering and aggressive. She accidentally picked up a book and learned that she was just a vicious female second lead in a palace struggle. Later, she would fight for favor with the female lead, and eventually she was ruined and died miserably.

Now, they have just entered the fief of Jing Wang, and the first meeting of the male and female leads has not happened yet. There are two paths before Tang Shishi. The first is to hold the heroine’s thighs tightly and join the female lead camp early; the second is to please the male lead and steal the favor of the female lead.

Tang Shishi chooses the third way.

Tang Shishi knew that the male lead’s adoptive father Jing Wang seemed to be low profile, but in fact he was overly ambitious. In the near future, he will invade the capital and proclaim the emperor before the imperial court, but it is a pity that he passed away before passing the throne to the male lead.

This year, Jing Wang is twenty-four years old, still young, and has yet to marry a wife.
Anyway, she already in the Forbidden City. Instead of being the concubine of the male lead, it is better to be his adopted mother, the empress dowager in one step.


Zhao Chengjun had no intention to get married, so he adopted his subordinate son as his heir. He thought he would be with his army in his whole life.

Later, the imperial family sent a team of beauties to Prince Jing, and the leader was named Tang Shishi.

His young, adopted son and his subordinates also persuaded: Your Highness, this is a beauty trap.
Jing Wang: I know.

The so-called beauty trap was merely a bait for those who wish.

Associated Names
One entry per line
Related Series
I Became The Stepmother of My Ex-husband (5)
Greetings, Ninth Uncle (4)
Second Marriage (3)
The Crown Prince in the Jade Pendant (2)
I’ll Be the Male Lead’s Sister-in-Law (1)
Married To The Male Lead’s Father (1)
Recommendation Lists
  1. Historical Romances
  2. I hated it !!
  3. Top Novels
  4. Resonant Relics
  5. My roman empire

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120 Reviews sorted by

JuuHachi rated it
June 25, 2021
Status: Completed
This isn't the sort of novel where ML and FL falls in love easily, rather it's the type of love story where every decision they make is based on what would be best. FL and ML are two people who grew up in court intrigue, where sincerity didn't exist and everything was calculated based on profit so it stood to reason that it would take a long time before this two would actually be together.

The thing between ML and FL is that even when they communicate and have a tacit... more>> understanding, the two are still part of two opposing factions on the surface, but in the middle of the story after FL becomes the wife of ML the two became a team even if neither realized it. Neither characters are toxic, just flawed individuals trying to survive in a place where life and death can easily be decided by one mistake, or a single move from the Empress Dowager.

ML is someone who had spent his life trying to get revenge, the appearance of FL wouldn't change that, and FL was someone who grew up wanting a better life for her and her mom, love meant nothing to her when the backyard intrigue of her home robbed her of what was meant for her. It's important to remember that this is a historical setting, where ML and FL are gambling with their lives for a better future.

The beauty of this story lies in how this two people grow together, the slow and oblivious way they begin to care for each other. The understanding that while the Empress Dowager exists, neither of them can truly live happily. The ending might be rushed for others but for me it was good enough, there's no need to go beyond establishing the fact that the FL and ML end up together, that their loss doesn't outweigh the gains.

In the battle for the throne, the rarest thing is having someone truly and sincerely love you, FL's love for ML is the selfish kind when based in the teachings of that kind, she isn't virtuous or open minded but she is sincere towards ML even if she doesn't notice it herself. The same thing goes for ML, he knows that he can't keep FL as long as his camp knows that she's part of the Empress Dowager's faction even so he uses logic to keep her by his side, uses to justify his simple love for her and the family they would built.

FL's actions of stealing from the original FL would probably turn off others but once her backstory is revealed it would make sense why she does what she does, and the same thing goes to ML. So if you prefer a story where love matters the most in the way it often depicted, which is without thinking of the consequences, then this isn't for you.

This is story where actions have consequences, the cause and effect are shown, though it is a love story it isn't the kind where anyone can just freely do things out of love. Duty and Responsibility, Honor and Revenge, are a big influence in the decisions the characters make. Each of them are just fighting for a better life in a system that is skewed, which is evident in the thoughts of the characters.

The characters from the main cast to the side characters are multifaceted, human in their actions and it means they are flawed. There is no absolute good or absolute evil among the cast but rather people who are must make a decision in order to profit, live, or even survive in a harsh political environment. Though the politics aren't the main focus of the story, it's influence is prevalent and in some way isn't that the reflection of the world we live in? <<less
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SAddict rated it
June 18, 2021
Status: c78
The most toxic MC I've ever encountered. Trouble don't find her, she goes looking for it. ML is also toxic. Her character is really inconsistent

... more>>

She's already close to ML but she tries to seduce his son too. She doesn't have feelings for the son

ML was getting a wife so MC drugs ML's son to sleep with her so she can be his concubine.

MC just tries to find dirt on FL even though FL is minding her own business and want to live peacefully

MC was supposedly an awful selfish person but she saves ML's enemy because the enemy is using her family to threaten her. The same family that cheated her, mistreated her, stolen from her, sold her and etc.

ML's son was trynna get rid of MC which is understandable because MC has been trynna seduce him, everyone knows she's a spy from the Dowager faction and she's bullying people

ML's son left her to die and rot from her fever. ML's son tries to abort the child to prevent ML from being c*ckold. ML just walks in on it occurring. IN FRONT OF HIM!!!

ML just let it go that his soon to be wife is trynna get with his son and also let go of the fact that his son and his son's wife is trynna kill MC in front of him

His son obviously have a little hots for his stepmom

I don't understand the Dowager's logic either. She has no descendants and she's old. ML is pretty much just waiting it out

No one is related to anyone by blood in this royal family. MC is the only one trynna work out he pregnancy and even then she doesn't want it


Thanksgiving must've been awkward <<less
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WindyWind rated it
June 11, 2021
Status: c100
Love it!

Reading the description I thought it was going to be the usual - FL gets a cheat, takes advantage of the events and using peerless knowledge will worm her way into power.

This is not exactly what will happen.

The book containing the story is very under powered - the chapters are locked and they are unlocked when it gets to that point in real life - that is by the time FL gets to read about the event, things have already happened. The chapters also don't contain useful information and... more>> are mostly just about the books FL (not the MC) doings, small things. There is no information about hidden agendas, secret powerhouses, magical treasures to be found. So at best the MC uses the titles of the chapters to try to guess what will happen, and try to take advantage of the situation.

I say 'try to take advantage', because she really tries - but often that not fails miserably, due to her, lets say, eccentric way of thinking xD.

At one point, the Prince she wants to get the favor of, is under attack by assassins. Her first thought is to run away. Why? She knows that she, like the books FL, could go and try to protect the prince. Its the perfect opportunity to cultivate feelings. But sorry, she is someone that does not want to suffer hardship! There will be other opportunities, so bye!


The FL is very headstrong, and is very unwilling to suffer hardship. Give her an inch and she will want a mile (the ML words). It is hilarious FL trying to scheme and get ahead, yet to fail miserably because her way of thinking is different that normal ladies. She is very transparent, what is why she gains the trust of the enemies and to which the ML takes interest in. Unlike what the description says, she did not aim for the ML, but tried the second option, which is to gain the favor the prince (The ML of the book), yet it is all the failures to do so that bring her closer to the ML.

Now the ML.

At first glance he is your usual ML - cold, abstenent, powerful, merciless etc. You know the deal.

The FL knows her boundaries and the ML is very strict. Yet very slowly, we see that change. Inadvertently, the FL pushes the ML boundaries, and ML relents. Again and again, we see him give more leeway to the FL. The FL also becomes more brazen as time goes on, but nothing changes. The ML bottom line just keeps getting lower and lower.

At one situation the ML comes to a realization. He saw that the FL is obviously faking the situation. If he were to give in, he would have no bottom line left for her. It is best for him to walk away...

So he sighs, turns around, and lowers his bottom line.

He is an absolute s*ave to his love. The FL pretty much breaks his every taboo, yet he cant bring himself to do anything to her.

Once an accident happens and FL gets pregnant with his child, we see that even more. The FL can cuss at him, command him, break his orders, and the only thing he can do is sigh, and go along with her. Mind you, that the novel takes place in ancient china, where the male are in control, and the female have to follow the mans every word, or get thrown out. So its even more gratifying seeing the ML lower himself to the ground, while FL is free to step over him.

The care and effort he shows her is just so freaking sweet, and how he himself discovers sides and feelings to himself he never thought he would have. WARNING, MAJOR FLUFF SPOILERS

At one point the baby in FL stomach kicked her, and upon touching her belly, the ML also felt it. The ML never knew such a thing was possible, and somehow took a very keen liking to it. Every day he would touch her belly tens of times of day, record every moment it happened down in a notebook, and try to predict when it would happen again. Once he managed to succeed in predicting, he would even run from meetings just to feel the baby move in her belly.


It is so awesome to see a man become a father in such a realistic way. He wants to give her and the child the best. The care and passion he holds is unrivaled. I just love how much focus the novel gave to the ML showing his care and love to the FL.

Overall this is a very nice novel. Definitely recommend giving it a try! <<less
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asami78 rated it
December 28, 2021
Status: Completed
Spoiler ahead:

First of all, this isn't an omnipotent FL who is reborn nor a protagonist who is a transmigrator. She is only a normal seventeen years old who found a book and found out she was a second female lead, and the book isn't even complet so she doesn't know all the future events to navigate easily. It only get updated after the events take place, like a record. So she can only rely on guessing the future events from the titles of the next chapter and try changing things.

I... more>> think for someone as intelligent and as controlling and domineering as Wangye, who grew up in the palace and knows the disgusting schemes in the inner courtyard, someone like Shishi is quite good. True, she isn't the typical wise, calm and intelligent FL but she is good in her own way and feels more human and real. She isn't too smart and scheming, she is true to herself. Has ambitions but admit it upfront, not the kind who will hide and backstab you when you trust her and let your gards down. She really doesn't know how to play mind games or has a knack for deep scheming and deception, everything is practically written on he face. She isn't a white lotus, knows her personality isn't the best but she isn't really evil and dare to assume responsability for her actions. She knows who to be grateful to and always kept in mind her mother's situation. She is clumsy, naughty, prideful and haughty but also has kindness and gratitude in her. She knows that she has no backing, her situation is precarious but isn't really weak and never wallow in self-pity.

Some may say that she didn't love him but she did. She herself said that she wasn't the sentimental kind of person which I can relate to and didn't know what "love" was when growing up due to her father and didn't know what being in love was like. But she truly respected him and thought he was a good person from the bottom of her heart and it was her blessing being his wife. And don't forget that she, at multiple times choose to protect him even when she knew it will cost her life.

Yes, it's not the typical sweet, intense love story. But I really loves their relationship and interactions. It felt more real.

For Zhao Zixun and Concubine Zhou, they really are the same kind of person. Always playing the noble and victim card. They never admitted their wrongs. Always justifying their actions as them being forced by others or by situations, truly shameless no wonder they were attracted to each other. They never believed, never gave their sincerity or were open with others but expected it from others.

For Lu Yufei, I really couldn't hate her. True, some of her actions and choices were rash and s*upid but she was also a victim of a cruel and rutless husband. I really felt bad for her and the last Empress Yao Peier, what a life. Dying of depression at the age of 23 because of the greed of her family. Being laughed at by others for getting married to an eight year old Empror at the age of fourteen, neglected by him all her life, chided by the empress dowager for not bearing a child and never knowing what freedom was and dying a virg*n with no children, pitiful.

For the couple's first time, some of you may be indignant as what the ML did. Taking advantage of her when she was drugged, which is bad. But please, don't forget that's a fictional story and this is the way the author choose to develop and advance the story. At least the ML didn't go with the usual trop and told her that she was the one who throw herself at him and inticed him and glossed it over it. Whe she confronted him, he told her that what he did wasn't right and he would take responsabilty, marry her as his Wangfei and would accept whatever way she treated him.

Overall it's a really good story, funny and sentimental. It's more of a josei than a typical romance shojo.

Big thanks to the team for the amazing translation. (灬º‿º灬) ♡ I would recommend not to drop the story due to the low ratings, give it a try and you won't be disappointed. (✯ᴗ✯) <<less
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Meatshield rated it
June 12, 2021
Status: --
I skimmed through this while bored and honestly it was whatever. I thought the premise sounded interesting enough but the execution was meh.

What probably bothered me most about this story was the fact that the MC was so dull towards the ML. Unlike the synopsis, she doesn’t actually go after the ML until way later in the story. For a good chunk of the story she tries to use the book’s hints to seduce his son, the story’s original ML, and steal him from the original FL. She misunderstands the... more>> ML a whole bunch of times before then and it takes her an incredibly long time to really believe that he actually loves her. The whole time I was here like woman he likes you! Stop being crazy!

Overall, this isn’t worth reading imo. <<less
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remyrem rated it
January 17, 2022
Status: Completed
I've been on a 九月流火 binge and I really enjoy how every FL from this author is different (the MLs are a little more identical) and the concept used to explain the future life memories is always unique and interesting. First off, I gotta mention, the actual story is actually different from the summary, and our FL is a lot more of a dumbass (I say that with affection).

Actual summary:


Tang Shishi is the legitimate daughter of the main wife, but she has had an unfortunate fate since birth, with her father openly favoring his concubine to the point of letting them antagonize the main branch and her mother being too weak to fight them. When they think they've gotten an escape through a good marriage for TSS, the palace calls her in to become one of the beauties given to Prince Jing as a maid/concubine to his son, but actually to be a spy. The only thing her mother can do for her is buy a blank book from a monk.

She thinks it's a scam until suddenly one day it starts to update itself chapter by chapter on the life of one of her rivals, telling the story of how the ML becomes emperor and replaces the empress from his first wife to the FL, his favored concubine.

Tang Shishi, whose only goal in life is to have power so that she will never be in her mother's position and can go back and force her father to leave the concubine for revenge, is upset at finding out she is simply a minor unfavored concubine who will die early in the story.

She starts trying to change her fate, make the FL less favored and herself more favored, but she's a dumbass and most of the time she just ends up f*cking herself over. She gets caught up in spy shit, lowers her favorability with the ML even more, and misses every chance to change her fate because she doesn't understand romance (she also at one point nearly gets a girlfriend instead). Instead, she accidentally charms the ML's father, Prince Jing himself.


Tang Shishi (the FL with a name that definitely sounds like it belongs to a side character) is like a more selfish female Naruto. (I'm sorry but it had to be said.) She's fierce, cheerful and hardworking; when she makes a mistake, she stands back up and keeps going. However, she's also a dumbass, and her "cunning" is more like a little kid trying to be cunning rather than a genuine cunning woman like Cheng Yujin in GNU. Every attempt she makes to win over shizi ends in a disastrous failure one way or another. Pregnancy and motherhood is surprisingly a big thing in this story, so her character arc is more about calming down and maturing, which can make her a little boring to people who really loved how eccentric she was before.

Zhao Chengjun (the actual ML/original ML's father) is a scary dictator who develops a soft spot for TSS' dumbness. He has a strong personality, but if I describe that personality in a quote it would be: "I'm a feminist, women and men will both be punished for annoying me." His relationship with TSS is less "doting love interest" and more "possessive bully who won't let other people antagonize his victim". Unsurprisingly, he's just as secretly h**ny as this author's other MLs. He loves to tease her, but gets mad when others upset her. He's very indulgent towards her, to the point everyone else is convinced he's going to marry her before he even starts to think about it. Their relationship is actually pretty fun to watch develop. Once they actually get married, he softens even more and becomes a henpecked husband, but he still takes responsibility over TSS. Most confrontations post-first birth are by ZCJ while he tells TSS to take care of herself.

I had some difficulty getting into the story at first and skipped a lot of chapters because I kept cringing at TSS' mistakes, but it was pretty funny watching her constantly get into trouble and manage to barely scr*pe by because she seems so dumb that everybody is willing to excuse her. Her first pregnancy is a bit of a turning point in the story, as after that the funny misunderstandings are gone and it's all drama and dogblood. Once their relationship settles down, most of the intrigue is from external factors, mostly dealing with the original leads and politics, so a lot of people will probably start thinking both the leads have become boring.

The extras are very sweet. The first is a view of the future with more kids, and the second is another AU where the original TSS becomes a ghost after dying and travels back in time to meet ZCJ as a child and accidentally convinces him that they were starcrossed lovers and ZCJ caused her death by pursuing her as a married woman. Needless to say, it was a very interesting extra and I wouldn't loved an entire webnovel spin-off.

All in all, absolutely love and recommend this story.
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bookmunchies rated it
February 15, 2022
Status: c143
Well written, the tl is great with very slight mistakes, but the site, THE SITE!!! Ugly so ugly, no shade to the one who chose that look but I legit thought some of my addons were interfering with it, cause it's looks like an expanse of white.

The story itself is porridge style, no strong flavors nor diverse ingredients. It follows our MC, who was one of 10 beauties trained by the palace and chosen by the dowager as beauty traps for the border defending Wangye, the previously most favored prince... more>> of the late Emperor. On the way to his fief, she discovers the once empty 'miracle book' her mother payed a fortune for in her early childhood, has mysteriously been written in. And the contents follow another beauty's life of fighting for favor in the harem of the Wangye's adopted son, who later became Emperor. The catch is, it's not finished, and the chapters update in hand with the real time development, but just based off of the table of contents she comes to find out her status as cannon fodder concubine meant to die. Believing in her own beauty and capability of charming men, she decides to fulfill her ambition and climb the Emperor-to-be's bed and gain his favor. Things don't end up going according to plan as her movements catch the Wangye's eye and she comes to realize neither of them are quite who she expected them to be.

It's very MC focused, with her being the most described character.

The MC is a very clear cut person, with great ambition and easy to see thru motives, whose self confidence, vanity and selfishness are her most attractive points. Her overall motivation is never betrayed, and the character development is well done. Being a person who strives for position but refuses to act like someone she's not, she's naturally the kind to stand out, and the fact that she knows herself and her flaws enough to accept and change her direction when she finds herself incapable is nice to see. Her way of thinking is very pragmatic and solution based, and she doesn't blame herself for perceived failures and tries hard for as long as she sees a possibility of success, but can let things go and completely change directions when her efforts don't bare fruit. While some people dislike her for chasing one and ending up with another, I completely can't understand that perspective. From the beginning her goal is power, power to get revenge on her family, status to show off to the people who mistreated her and her mother. She neither wants nor craves for love, is very much aware that beauty and charm are what she is wanted for and the only way she can live is using them. She knows she's seen as a fox by most and knows what the most likely ending for her will be. Knowing all that she chooses the most probable path to achieve, and the Wangye from her perspective, is never a possibility, so why would she ever even think of him as as one? Truly do some people have 0 brain or smth.... With her position and objective 'value' in that society, and his strict manner and life desire, she just doesn't see any possibility of him ever taking an interest in her, and so she doesn't try to win him over, and doesn't want to win him over, and so never sets him as the target. The reason they got together and his behavior at the time also gave her a mistaken impression, so the fact she is unaware of his viewpoint isn't surprising. I like her a lot.

ML is, well he does pamper her but tbo I'm not into him, like he is too controlling -he do be a man AND a royal so not surprising- and his behavior towards s*x is truly terrible. I wasn't really expecting that tbo, like it was smwht surprising to me bcs of his previous quite acceptable impression, but it's not very out of the norm so ya know. And his insistence on not telling her anything in very important moments, like he doesn't consider her much at all. Treasures her more like a jewel not like a person. He's also bad and selfish in bed.

As for his behavior to the Shizi, tbo when you expect nothing but obedience, don't try to make an actual connection short of ordering smn, don't share your thoughts or reasons, it's not very unexpected that you'll be disliked and misunderstood after some time.


Their relationship dynamic is very much sugar daddyXsugar baby and hedgehogXcaretaker. They have a 7 year age gap and not a bigger one as assumed. I do think they are both satisfied with the relationship, it just isn't really romantic or the kind a person would strive for. He gets to have her, and she gets her wishes fulfilled. It is realistic, as a person in power does usually prefer that kind of relationship, her anger and tantrums are easy to resolve her wishes easy to fulfill, her ambition will not step on his toes, because it's realization depends entirely on him.

Other character are mostly alright but there is definitely some questionable choices in their behavior and the resulting plot points.

Things I dislike:


The whole called another family to interfere with MC's pregnancy situation, like, leaking this kind of situation outside and the following behavior is truly incomprehensible.

The girl who threw her weight around in the prince estate, no matter what, that was pure disregard for status so idk why MC let it happen.


The view on adoption, blood connection, chosen family,

nurture as bound to lead to betrayal. The situation mostly happened bcs of the given personalities of the two. The ML not actually making a connection to the ogML, and the ogML's growing inferiority complex and the growing number of misunderstandings twisting his mindest more and more.


The view of abortion as wronging the father or the possibility of a child -bcs it's never guarantied that the child will even come to full term not to mention be born alive or live past the first months-.

The r*pe, he used the aphrodisiac as opportunity and excuse, and has so little regard for her that even passed out from the drug she just remembered the pain, as we are later shown he still only thought of himself and she even mentions how she might just be a person who can't enjoy s*x. I do consider her on the ace spectrum but she is not shown or hinted as s*x repulsed and/or inherently opposed, but after her bad experiences comes to believe she just isn't capable of liking it.

The 'not like other pregnancies' trope of 'still being beautiful unlike them other ppl when they're pregnant'

The repeated mention of the young Empress dowager being a virg*n and her unfortunate situation, she deserved better tbo, I would've liked it if they were made friends and she was shown as having recovered from depression down the line alas, no such luck.

Deff a recc if you like "he won't establish a harem bcs of MC<3'' kind of stories but aren't really in the mood for drama. Ch are on the long side. <<less
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Radhika Singhal
Radhika Singhal rated it
October 28, 2021
Status: c60
Oh God! The summary is kind of misleading. The story is not what you expect it to be. From the summary it seems like the MC becomes aware of the entire story at the starting but that's not true. She tries to find more hints and keeps on committing mistakes. We can see that the ML of the original novel is a kind of scum and yet the MC is fixated on him instead of going for better options which is contrary to what is mentioned in the summary. In... more>> addition the author keeps creating misunderstandings one after another between the MC and ML and it is so frustrating that at one moment I wanted to cry from anger. The MC and the ML keep assuming things about each other and this leads to a lot of missed opportunities. Due to this reason I won't be able to read any further and I will be dropping this story. Sometimes when I read a very harsh review on NU, I feel like they are going out of line but today I can see that it's not without reason sometimes. I am really holding myself back from venting my frustrations while being as polite as possible. I have read other works of this author and only after being satisfied with those did I venture here but got disappointed. If you are looking for a novel where the MC sees the cons of original ML and gets together with the supporting characters after seeing his pros, you are severely mistaken. <<less
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MajorGPuff rated it
September 3, 2021
Status: c64
I see there are mixed reviews 🤔

As for me, love the story. The keyword for me is believable.

The characters have believable back story which are pretty consistent with their present behaviour.

... more>> The comedic aspect is good too: it's crazy how our FL is the center of the comedy, even when she still behaves as a villainness.

Not too much description of their beauty--it gets tiring in other novels how the author kept praising each of their characters, but in this one, is so believable, like: yes, she's pretty, but it's only in her hometown.

So refreshing, to read our FL's cheats are limited, and how her faults are shown too. The romance is pretty slow, but it's so believable.

The translation is good too, they manage to convey the humor-it doesn't get lost in translation! They kept the title, give us description to understand the context, and most of all, I love how they can still convey that this is a c novel--you know, there are other translated novels that has lost their 'flavor' due to impeccable translations of every person's titles? Yeah, this doesn't. <<less
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Shakila mimi
Shakila mimi rated it
August 10, 2021
Status: Completed
It's so much nice 😌 I greatly appreciate it 🥰 Finished it almost not sleeping at night. Really love this novel so much 🤩 Thanks a lot Author for this wonderful book 😊
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July 29, 2021
Status: c83
I came into this story content🤗. it has great comedy and the MC is good at speaking back to people.💪

now I'm around chapter 80 and I'm just wondering where her brain went😆 she speaks smart and logically. but her thought process is lunacy and her actions are even worst.

Also I feel like the summary was a lie. this girl's plans revolved around trying to catch the prince's adopted son. FYI the son is is a romantic scum and I felt disgusted watching her trying to get him to like her.... more>> btw the son has 12+ women chasing him smh. if not for her being the MC, her planning would have been the death of her, heavenly book or not.

she basically doesn't use her brain, and it gets worse once the romance starts with the prince. the worse part is how she looks at the prince as a dead man. in the beginning she never even thought of trying to get with him, just trying to get the son, because she knew the prince would die. in the book the son would be emperor, prince would die in battle, and Im pretty sure she died too. after she gets the book she's working so hard to change her future but can't use 1 brain cell to think of using/helping the prince😪... but you know plot.

also, whenever she goes to make a plan I get scared😅... in a funny I want to slap you kind of way

the plot is amazing but I guess it was too strong, taking over the mc🤣🤣 <<less
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asampe_tae rated it
November 1, 2022
Status: c138
How the author managed to write a MC so boring and useless is beyond me. Tang Shishi is irredeemable and not only because of her wishy-washy ways. I only read to the end because I was trying to avoid my irl duties. MC had no substance. She is too moronic for words. Being materialistic and calculating is not a bad thing in my book. Human beings are all like that irl, we just don't make it obvious. Her own method is just too dumb. It probably doesn't help that I... more>> just came off reading a stellar book, Greetings, Ninth Uncle, with this exact trope - MC needing to marry well to escape in order to have a better future and escape a bad family life. It was well-written and the romance was slow-burn and touching. You will actually like and root for the MC despite (or even because) of her flaws. While the romance btw MC and ML was slow, it was also nothing to write home about. MC became unbearable, the ML was a wimp and I really thought he deserved better. He also never called her out when she was being a dick. Li Chengjing would never!

Also, what is it with authors not knowing how to segue into a quality romantic and physical relationship and just decide to take the lazy way out by using aphrodisiacs? Really? That's the best you can do? And the shitty alternate universe sh*t in the extras! Is that supposed to make me feel that their love is destined and eternal or pity the MC? It only made me deduct a star. I was so pissed, I stopped reading. Yeah, bad plot points and boring romance didn't make me drop this book but the extras did! If you want to waste your time or feel your life has been too easy lately and you want to raise your blood pressure, I highly recommend. But if you want something similar but of higher quality, read Greetings, Ninth Uncle. This is just a cheap imitation of it. <<less
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roseqanne rated it
July 22, 2021
Status: --
3 stars because the translator had a good job because it written so well.

This novel is not a cup of tea for me because of MC. I'm sometimes cringy own myself when MC going forward. The things is MC waiting for the book > the book given a title > MC acting shamelessly to rob opportunity. When she talking to Momo, she looks inteligent but after she readings the book and taken action she doesnt even think. She just want to taken action first, even people know she is ambitious... more>> to get favor. The things is her guess is always wrong but she get benefit because she is MC. Maybe the author want it be funny? For me it is so dumb, naive and cringy.

Just because you know something, you cant just strike it out and hope a luck? Her character is really likes a the annoying side character (actually she is if we count the original books lol) but she is MC and ML just ignored her and letting her do as her wish. <<less
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fallinlight rated it
March 24, 2022
Status: Completed
Pretty decent read. I have my moments where I just want to strangle the MC because of the s*upid decisions that she made and her sometimes excessive actions but that's also the only reason that I stayed lol. I don't really have anything to say about the story because personally I don't really like how the story flows but I LOVE the side story in the extra chapters about how MC became a ghost and went back in time. I like the extra chapters much better than the main story.

... more>>

This doesnt really matters but I honestly don't like Princess Jingshu. (MC and ML's eldest daughter). She was mentioned in one chapter and she already became my second least favourite character. On the extra chapter, she messed her brother's work, evade punishement from her mother by faked being sick, and somehow don't receive any punishment. And I also hate how MC complained about her eldest daughter being arrogant and unruly but scolded the ML when he tried to discipline her. Like, wow. I wonder how she became so unruly.

damn I really just wrote a whole paragraph just to express how much I hate a not significant character who only appeared in the side stories lmao 😭


Overall, the story was kinda meh for me and the translation was below average so it doesn't really have a high place in my heart.

Personal rating : 3.5 <<less
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Arenaphrodite rated it
January 1, 2022
Status: Completed
Love. Love. Love it!!

I won't write any detailed review because the above line says it all. But I just couldn't stop myself from coming here to contradict some people who gave negative reviews. Especially these two kinds who either-

1. Thinks that "MC is toxic. She's selfish and doesn't love ML at all." I think you guys didn't even bother to go halfway through the novel but already decided to lebel her as the most toxic MC ever, which is bullsh*t.

... more>> 2. Condemns MC because she didn't follow ML from the start.

Now to answer you guys-

1. I don't think doing what's best for oneself is considered to be toxic. At first, all she obviously wanted was just to live but when she learned that she's just a side character, she didn't want her life to be that way anymore so she decided to be in the ultimate power. Not every MC in every freaking novel has to be perfect. They don't necessarily have to be considerate, selfless or the kindest person ever and this is exactly what I like about MC. Sometimes she's selfish, proud and arrogant but then she also goes out of her way to care for ML, she tries to protect him consciously and unconsciously even when she knows that she might get in danger because of it. Why? Isn't it evident? You guys just have to complete the novel to understand.

2. I seriously don't get this!! She found the book which obviously tells her that Jing Wang's son is the ML, she's gonna be HIS concubine in the future so why the heck would she go for his father?? It's another thing that ML falls for her but she doesn't know about his feelings so why blame her?

I agree that this isn't the most perfect novel to exist because the ending seemed a little rushed to me but the extras make up for it. And this novel definitely doesn't deserve the rating it got!! I almost dropped this after reading some negative reviews but I'm glad that I decided to continue it. And I'd recommend it to everyone who's looking for a proper historical novel. <<less
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ghuiling rated it
October 20, 2021
Status: c94
Oh I love this. To be honest, reading the description I had low expectations for this novel but wow the storyline didn't dissapoint. The main character isn't like super genius, talented, or have golden fingers. She's just a selfish (and kinda s*upid) girl that's a tad bit lucky (or unlucky). I dare say she's not even as annoying as the typical I'm-not-like-the-other-girls MC. And her relationship with ML is reasonable too, not too fast or not that slowburn and full of misunderstandings. Its reasonable that there's still some line... more>> between them even after they got together bc at the start they're from different side.


From the current development seems like there will be problems from the ML side. I hope the adopted son didn't have rebellious thought huh. And how dare he talk to his father about beauty trap when he's also infatuated by the OG FL? Btw I have soft spot for ZSH so I hope she's not becoming a dissapointing villain at the end.

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July 1, 2021
Status: --
I love the protagonist has defects but she knows how to use it and the love she has with the male protagonist develops very well, they are very compatible and I love how their relationship is, they have everything I like
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December 24, 2023
Status: --
Everyone wants a truly villainous villainess until it’s time to actually read about a truly villainous villainess. *Eye roll* like pls be so fr.

Shishi is never regarded as a good person. She doesn’t act like she’s a good person either. She is a woman in a society where being born one is already an indictment. She’s scheming and does bad things but like at the end of the day, this is fiction. I’m not reading for morally just characters. I’m reading for entertainment. And she’s entertaining.

the story itself isn’t anything... more>> new. Same old ancient setting with same old ancient rules and societal expectations. The ML is entertaining for the most part, too. Obviously the story could be better but it’s not terrible and if you really want to read about a bad (as in personality and motives) character then I suggest reading this story <<less
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Peanut_transmigrator rated it
May 29, 2023
Status: c109
This is the first time I am writing a review.

Translation: It was really well done. I hope more novels will be translated like this instead of just feeling like copy-pasted from MTL.

Now to the actual Novel review:

I liked this story in the earlier stages. Most people may find the slow-burn romance a hassle and may be bored in just a few chapters, but thats kind-of what I like. It feels more realistic when two leads take time to know each other and fall in love with the person and not... more>> just the face. In this aspect the novel was going really great.

I really liked the earlier shenanigans of the FL and I was lokking forward to the sweet payoff of slow romance. That has not come till chapter 109 that I am currently reading now.

Some people may consider their interactions after she got pregnant as fluff, but for me it was more like the FL being a scumbag and the ML giving in to her everytime. I really like my share of couples who are mutually understanding, respectful to each other and considerate of the other person and their efforts. This couple is hardly any of that. The ML banged the FL that too under the action of aphrodisiac and left without telling the FL anything and with no sufficient protection considering his supposed long absence. In my opinion after the ML returned from his mission, with the care and love he showed towands FL, he more than redeemed himself. While the FL became worse after that. She never cared to show respect and consideration to the ML in front of his subordinates and did not even care that much about him in their private conversations. She repeatedly blindsided his very obvious efforts that he took to take care of her and spend time together.

I know that the FL is shown to be not-so-perfect and kinda s*upid but I just couldn't ingore it the further I read : how she spares no thought about his position and dignity in front of their employees, how she makes everything turn out to be his fault, how she does not acknowledge the efforts taken by the ML for her and their son, how she talks rudely to him (I guess this repeated segment of rude talks in front of other people and being a scumbag from FL is to tell how much she is favoured as the ML never says anything in return and gives in every time.)

Overall, I just felt that if the roles were reversed and it was the ML who gave the cold shoulder and talked rudely everytime, this novel would not have such high ratings. In my very frank opinion, the ML deserved way better and I don't think the FL will reciprocate to his so many efforts even in the coming chapters.

It is a good read if you can ignore the scummy-ness of the FL and lack of communication from the ML. <<less
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stony27 rated it
November 19, 2022
Status: Completed
Can't give this a 4.5 so I'll round it up.

First of all, this was a pretty fun read. There were some funny and heart-warming moments that genuinely made me smile but it's not something I'd reread from the very start either. It's not as suspense-packed as one of those deep harem struggle novels or fast-paced as the synopsis made it out to be, but it does pick up quite a bit in the latter half. The translator was very good. Whatever mistakes they made did not take away from the... more>> story at all and the fact that the project was already completed by the time I came really helped out my impression... Heh.

The MC is decent (Ok I'm always partial to MCs so as long as they're not pushovers). She's described as very pretty and it becomes clear early on that this is a huge part of her... personality. She's a conniving little vixen who desperately wants to fly up the branch and become a phoenix. When looked a certain way, she perfectly fits the caricature of an evil villainess. Description of stuff she's done out of context below.


Originally, she was just a merchant's daughter that managed to get selected by the Grand Empress Dowager to serve the vassal king, Jing Wang (the ML). She came with 9 other beauties (I'll call them Young Misses since they're not normal maids but they're not masters either) to the Northern front and was from the lowest caste out of everyone there. The only thing she had going for her was that she was the most beautiful and people tended to underestimate her because she looked brainless.

Once in the estate, she exhausted all her means trying to seduce Jing Wang Shizi (the adopted son Jing Wang). At some point, she even tried and failed to drug him with an aphrodisiac to sleep with her when she realized her actions so far caused the plot (of her little magic book) to derail (to the point of causing her to lose her chance to become his concubine as predicted by the book).

Later on, she fell for the plot of another Young Miss and ended up on Jing Wang's bed instead. By some stroke of luck (?), once was enough to get her pregnant with the Wangfu's only biological heir. Jing Wang had already fallen for her at that point and decided to elevate her to the position of Jing Wangfei.

As Wangfei, she put on airs as the nominal mother-in-law and made things difficult for the Shizi's wife and concubines. She kept stuffing more and more concubines into their yard under the pretense of caring as an elder and wanting Shizi to have heirs as soon as possible. Everyday, she made a fuss out of showing off her pregnancy while harassing the 'younger generation' but as soon as someone turned things on her and suggested she recommend a concubine to Jing Wang now that she was pregnant, she cried and incited Jing Wang into throwing the other women out.

When her son by Jing Wang became a little bigger, she started having thoughts of pushing her child to become Jing Wang's heir instead. As a result, she sowed discord between Shizi and Shizifei to alienate Shizi from Jing Wang. Shizifei was the legitimate wife that was selected by Jing Wang. The more Shizi neglected his wife and favored the concubines, the more disgusted and disappointed Jing Wang would be in him.


Honestly, I just like it when MC's are a little spicy. And by spicy I mean they're pretty terrible but get absolutely no retribution because of bullsh*t justification.


When you look a little deeper, both MC and the ML are quite the villains. MC was shallow and greedy in her first life (ok in her third life too). She competed for the affections of a man she did not remotely love and forsook her old betrothed without a second glance. Granted, it probably wasn't her desire to get drafted to become an imperial relative's concubine but she was still very heartless in how she went about processing it. Her only good features are that she would never purposefully scheme to take another person's life or ignore the people she thinks treat her sincerely (Very confused by her tbh. She shunned her betrothed because she didn't believe in his sincerity but was soft-hearted to his mother because she believed in her fondness for her).

Meanwhile, the ML might seem upright and dignified, but in his first life, he actually developed feelings for his own (adopted) son's concubine (MC) and even confessed as much to her (dumbass didn't get it though). He never did anything to her but I suspect that if Shizi in their first lives didn't plot against him, ML might've snatched his woman. (Just like something Shizi once said. Once one ascends to the dragon throne, what woman could an Emperor not have? Also, in their second lives, when ML was anticipating meeting MC again, he'd mentioned that he'd made preparations for almost every scenario including one where she's already married. I highly doubt he's above stealing another man's wife/concubine.)

He's also quite the hypocrite. He wouldn't let his son marry the woman he loved most (Zhou Shunhua) and forced him to marry a woman whose family could benefit his career. Meanwhile, he followed his own heart and brought back a common merchant's daughter to be his wife just because he loved her.


Below are some context, backstories, and heavy spoilers.


When MC was a child, her father neglected the wife (her mother) and favored the concubine. Although she and her mother weren't abused, they weren't able to fully enjoy the glories of being the legitimate wife and daughter. Whenever the mansion had anything good, the son of the favored concubine had the first pick, the daughter of the concubine got the second, and when MC could finally have a look, there'd be nothing she wanted left. As a result, she grew up with a belly fully of resentment and hostility for the whole family excluding her mother.

When she came to the Wangfu, she already knew the fates of everyone inside because of her magical book that a monk gave her mother (in exchange for a very, very hefty donation... that woman spends money like water dawg idk sometimes I feel like maybe her husband's decision to delegate household management to Concubine Su wasn't a completely goofy one...) She knew that the Shizi was destined to become the Emperor one day and did not slack off in trying to win him over.

According to the book, she would someday become his concubine but later die at the prime of her life when she lost to the scheme of the book's protagonist, Zhou Shunhua. ZSH was another Young Miss that got selected to come serve Jing Wangfu and had the most prestigious identity as she was the legitimate daughter of a Duke. Knowing this, MC did her best to upstage ZSH but always got her schemes backfired every time.

MC's plan was to become the Shizi's most favored woman and rise up. The book told her that the future Shizifei would be childless all her life and die early, leaving the wife's seat vacant. Jing Wang was bound to rebel one day and seize the throne. After him, it'd be Shizi's turn to ascend. If MC could give birth to a favored son, she had a good chance of becoming the Empress Dowager and retire freely after her son is crowned Emperor.

In reality, she'd failed her initial goals hopelessly, but during those times, she accidentally became romantically entangled with Jing Wang who'd forced her to become his study room maid to keep an eye on her. He didn't trust her as she was a person from the Grand Empress Dowager (the woman who killed his mother, 2 full blooded brothers, and 2 former fiancees) and was worried that she would seduce and lead Shizi astray with her outrageous beauty.

Wangye was attracted to her coquettish mannerisms and silly antics. The servants around them noticed and thought that MC was his woman because he always summoned her for company and let her get away with a lot of things. At some point, Jing Wang even used his own body to protect MC during a hunting trip gone wrong and was repaid the favor when MC gambled with her own life (she did it out of self-preservation. Jing Wang dead = Wangfu unalive her ah) to lure the remaining assassins out and drag Jing Wang to safety.

One day, Jing Wang mysteriously announced his intention to marry when asked by a madam and caused MC to panic. She hadn't realized her feelings for him then and was mostly worried for herself. The most prospective candidate for Wangfei was one of Jing Wang's old fiancees' younger sister. The younger sister, surnamed Xi, hated MC because of her vixen looks and closeness to Jing Wang. If she entered the estate, she'd make life hard for MC and present another obstacle for her to get close to Shizi.

MC pulled that little aphrodisiac stunt on Shizi as a desperate last resort but was discovered by Jing Wang. Jing Wang was jealous but then found she only did such a thing out of fear of the new Wangfei. Jing Wang thought that she truly did not appreciate his intentions (his choice in a candidate was her) and sighed thinking that since she did not want him, it was useless to force her and still not have her heart in the end. He told her to not worry as there would no longer be a Wangfei and dispelled her worries temporarily.

At a later date, MC inadvertently discovered that the Grand Empress Dowager had laid out a trap for Jing Wang and intended to have him killed in battle. Logically, she ought to be on the GED's side in order to live well and technically, Jing Wang's matters had nothing to do with her but she couldn't help thinking more. On the day Jing Wang was due to set out, she was attending the Dragon Boat Festival and changed her mind about not warning him halfway through the event and hurried home before everyone else. Unbeknownst to her, Feng Qian (one of the Young Misses from the draft) had laced her tea with aphrodisiac hoping to have her violated by some random hooligan at the festival and ruined. MC got to Jing Wang's study in time to blabber some nonsense ramblings. Jing Wang was touched by the sentiment but still decided to go anyway (with precautions set ofc since he was already aware even without her telling him). He noticed that MC was feverish and not quite right and tried to straighten her out. Apparently, the drug was too much for little ol' her so MC threw herself onto him. Jing Wang was torn because although he was more than happy to cook the rice, he was worried that she didn't even recognize him and was only acting close by virtue of the drug (never mind her inability to consent but yeah...). When he confirmed that she did know that he was Jing Wang and still insisting on rubbing herself all over him, he just gave up and consummated their ambiguous relationship. Because of the time constraint, he had no time to give her a title and left right away with only instructions for the top servants to keep an eye out for her and treat her well.

After he left, MC woke up and thought he wanted nothing to do with her since he didn't even so much as show his face when she got up. She mistook the fever medicine that the servants brought out for her as contraceptive and misunderstood even further. When she realized she was pregnant, she panicked and almost aborted the baby herself but then couldn't follow through.

During this time, a lot of unhappy things happened and MC became estranged from the Shizifei (who once treated her very politely because she thought she was Jing Wang's woman). At some point, Feng Qian discovered her pregnancy and reported it to the Shizi and Shizifei. The Shizifei wanted to curry favor with Miss Xi (because everyone thought Miss Xi would become the new Wangfei) and invited her and her mother to preside over MC's trial. The imperial physician bribed by Feng Qian misdiagnosed her pregnancy as being not long enough for it to be Jing Wang's as he'd been out for longer, causing everyone to condemn her for being loose and unchaste. At the critical moment when the momos wanted to abort her child by force, Jing Wang rushed to her yard straight from the field and stopped everyone.

He harshly reprimanded the mother and daughter of the Xi family to the point of tears and rebuked his adopted son and daughter-in-law. MC was moved to the main yard to raise the child and give birth safely. After she married in, Jing Wang stripped the Shizifei of her household management duties and delegated top authority to MC instead. After being able to sit stably in her position, MC began to enact revenge and nitpick Shizifei and her lack of children. She added more and more women to Shizi and even promised the title of Cefei (Side Consort, the highest ranking concubine that an imperial relative can have) to the first two concubines that can give birth.

A bunch of things happened through the plot of Zhou Shunhua, who had now become Shizi's most favored concubine. Two other concubines that started out as Shizifei's dowry maids reported pregnancy but were then suspected to be conspiring (for the Cefei positions) when the report ended up being false as a result of a drug they took. Shizi was determined to kill them as punishment but Shizifei refused. They ended up having a nasty spat, even with MC's intervention. In fit of anger, Shizifei ran out in the rain and slipped, destabilizing the 1 month old fetus in her womb that no one had known about up until this moment. The child could no longer be saved and had to be aborted to protect the woman (aiya MC never meant to keel! MC only mean to maim or seriously injure...)

The matter could no longer be concealed from Jing Wang since a legitimate heir had been lost. Jing Wang was very angry and investigated everything thoroughly, tracing the steps back to Zhou Shunhua. As he was about to to sentence Zhou Shunhua to death, ZSH came forward and claimed pregnancy. At this point, the physicians didn't dare to confirm her claims anymore because there were the prior incidents of the dowry concubines taking pills that induced pregnancy-like symptoms. Everyone in the Wangfu could tell that ZSH had taken the pill but Shizi was determined to save her. He insisted they at least wait to confirm so everyone had no choice. Jing Wang did not want to insist on killing ZSH out of concern that it would drive a wedge between him and his adopted son.

Some more things happened and everyone important ended up going to the capital for the New Year Celebration. ZSH was mocked and and satirized by everyone over when she would find the time to 'miscarry' during the visit. Everyone was weary of her, especially Jing Wang and MC. ZSH felt backed into a corner and decided to sow discord between MC and the Dowager Empress Dowager who at this point, had always believed MC had been her loyal but severely useless spy because of how s*upid she was).

Following ZSH's snitching, the GED tested MC. By this time, she had already put him in her heart and could no longer bear to gamble with his life. When the Grand ED tried to gouge her loyalties by making her promise to poison Jing Wang, MC refused to even accept the drug and lie to the GED for fear that she and her husband will never recover as lovers and share feelings this deep again. She was even willing to swallow the poison pill herself so that Jing Wang and her son could remain unscathed but ah... this is a romcom. Of course her husband came to rescue her in time and drag her away from GED's claws.

Since MC failed the test, the GED decided to rely on ZSH instead. Together, they wove a plot to destroy MC's reputation and harm Jing Wang and his new biological son.

MC was led away during Wang Taifu's (Jing Wang's old teacher and something of an ally I guess) birthday celebration by one of the Wangfu's less used maids who said that ZSH miscarried and Jing Wang wanted to meet her. MC noticed something was wrong when they tried to get her to go to a secluded garden and fled while her maids tried to stall the traitors.

Jing Wang had been very vigilant since the start so he was alerted in time and was able to rescue his wife just before it was too late. MC was frightened to point of collapsing and needed medical attention. It was then discovered that she was pregnant again and the plot just now almost killed her baby in the womb.

The elders did some investigation and found out that at the same time MC went missing, Wang Taifu's favorite son became drunk and was led to a room in the secluded garden. This meant that the plot was to send MC to the Young Master Wang's room and stage an affair. By then, even if MC could keep her life by virtue of the baby, there'd be ambiguity surrounding its conception and her and children's good days would of course be finished.

Wang Taifu and the other fellow old ministers of the court were very chilled to find out the extent that the GED was willing would go to. Wang Taifu could be considered among one of the dynasty's most loyal and senior officials but even still his own flesh and blood was almost pushed out to dirty the waters in Jing Wangfu. Through this, Jing Wang gained another group of supporters for his bid for the throne.

When they came home, Jing Wang went straight to the point and uncovered ZSH as the true culprit. At this time, ZSH revealed she was truly pregnant, but only by two months. Jing Wang still refused to believe her even with Shizi begging and protesting to the point of fighting his father's own people to free ZSH. Jing Wang ordered for ZSH to be punished by the board but after just three planks, blood began to stain her skirt to show that she had indeed, been pregnant.

They let her go, but she became haggard and depressed after losing the child that she so desperately hoped and schemed for these past years. Furthermore, the maids and other servants of the mansion had become disgusted by her and would not-so-subtle tr*sh-talk her for being a treacherous white-eyed wolf that 'ate inside but served outside'.

After Jing Wang was done with her, he moved to arrange the death of the 14 year old Emperor by means of 'illness'. After the smoke and dust cleared and the Emperor died with no heirs, Jing Wang ascended to his seat as his closest in kin. He locked the Grand Empress Dowager up and brought MC in as the new Empress.

Around this time, MC became more transparent about her reluctance to let Shizi step on her son's head and inherit ML's achievements. Eventually, ML found out about the book but did not get angry and trusted her even more. They burned the book to prevent the psychological shadow being cast about ML's ominous future. ML had to leave to quell the other vassal kings' attempt to rebel and MC was alone again.

Blah blah... oh my god I'm so tired... Shizi, Zhou Shunhua, and the ED took the opportunity to collude when the report came that the new Emperor was struck by a poisoned arrow and had fallen into a coma. They framed MC for spying for the foreign Tartar people and weakening ML's foundations by poisoning him little by little. Again, ML arrived just in time to stop them from forcing her to commit su*cide. He faked his coma in order to keep their guards down so he could arrive unhindered. He wanted test Shizi's loyalties during this time because he'd grown increasingly wary of his treatment of MC, Shizifei, and the other members of the family. If Shizi did not rebel, ML would've been content to ignore his previous mistakes and ennoble him as the new Jing Wang. ML loved his new son with MC very much and would never let him become a vassal prince under an Emperor of a different surname someday. Unfortunately, Shizi failed the test and was granted poison wine. Zhou Shunhua was granted live burial with Shizi while another one of Shizi's concubines was ordered to become a nun and guard the mausoleum after it was decided that she was complicit in the conspiracy. Additionally, the families of both concubines were demoted and disgraced. Seeing as Shizifei, surnamed Lu, wasn't involved in the plot, she was allowed to divorce Shizi to absolve herself of his crime by association and move back to the Lu family estate. If she so wished, she was also free to remarry properly. ML also suggested to GED that she commit su*cide if she wanted to preserve her daughter and grand-daughter's lives. She followed through.

In the end, MC and ML were able to get their happy ending, birthing 2 sons and 2 daughters under their knees and enjoying familial bliss in the new capital that was moved to the North.


Spoilers about the characters next


MC: Tang Shishi grew up the cherished only daughter of her mother while her father favored his Concubine Su and her children. Although her father wasn't abusive or unkind, he wasn't warm or considerate enough. MC hated him and his whole family for this and swore to do good for herself to bring glory to her mother. Although she's not as noble or crafty as the other Young Misses who came with her, she's quite possibly the most driven and ambitious as she's desperate to succeed but she's... she's not good at plotting. Honestly, she probably would've died on Wangfu Diaries: Day One if not for the protagonist halo on her head. She sucks at scheming and only manages to get away every time because... yeah the plot. It's always by some stroke of sheer dumb luck that her insidious plan backfires so badly she ends up looking innocent or caught in the crossfire. But she does know how to use one thing which is her beauty and charm. She milks the ever-loving f*ck out of her looks and works that magic on Jing Wang to be coquettish and unreasonably throw blame.

Jing Wang: Zhao Chengjun was born the 3rd son of the Shizong Emperor and Noble Consort Gonglie. Overall, he was the Emperor's 4th son and very well loved by his parents. When his father died, the legitimate prince born from the Empress ascended the throne. The Empress became the Empress Dowager and ordered Noble Consort Gonglie to be buried with the Emperor (an outrageous and despotic act as high ranking concubines, especially one with children, have the privilege of continuing to outlive their Emperor and enjoy the younger generation's filial piety). The sons of the Noble Consort were scattered and two died of 'illness'. Of all three boys, only the young and sickly Jing Wang survived and lived in the North for 12 years defending the borders and consolidating his influence.

Jing Wang hated the Empress Dowager and wanted the blood price for his mother and brothers but can only pretend to be disinterested in the matters of the capital and bide his time. I'm not sure if he had anything to do with it, but the son of the ED died shortly after ascension so she had no choice but to prop his little son of a concubine to be the new Emperor. With such a young boy at the head, the ED was wary of Jing Wang so she sent 10 beauties who doubled as spies to the Wangfu in hopes of gouging their intentions. Jing Wang originally did not care about these people and would rather find a convenient reason to unalive them one by one but unexpectedly, he became fond of the most ambitious one.

One of the turning points of his impression of Tang Shishi was when he had her copy an earlier edition of a classic book and she inadvertently corrected it. He expressed surprise that someone like her would actually read and memorize the contents of such a serious book so she revealed that in fact, she learnt all this to please her old betrothed, a prospective scholar from a family of merchants like herself. Jing Wang was surprised that she had a sweetheart before coming to him and sympathized with her. He promised that after one or two years of her behaving well in the estate, he will arrange for her to retire early and marry her beloved back.

Later on, he became jealous of TSS's old betrothed and even suspected that she was aiming for Shizi because her reminded her of her old love. After marriage, he figured that she didn't have any special feelings in particular for the old fiance surnamed Qi and was just looking please him as he was the best prospective husband. He felt that TSS also regarded him as a prospect but didn't despair and decided that since she was decisive like this, he'll just keep striving continue to be the best choice forever (lol ok then).

Eventually, he found out about the magic book and was able to confirm that TSS had grown a sincere heart for him and put his worries to rest and focused on clearing the enemies to give his wife and children a carefree life.

Tang Family: The patriarch, Tang Mingzhe (I think) was very business saavy but somewhat wanton. He and his sons are all clever and careful yet simple like commoners usually are. He was a terrible father and husband but a great merchant that stood out among the masses. After he found out his neglected daughter rose up to become a Wangfei, he changed tunes shamelessly but you know what, good for him. He was determined to please Jing Wang and by extension, Tang Shishi, so he shunned Concubine Su right away and re-delegated the household affairs to Lin Wanxi, his legitimate wife. Alas, the legitimate wife was still awkward and not assertive when dealing with the household management so Tang Mingzhe gave her the reigns but assigned the work to the older maids as to not leave things in Concubine Su's hands and piss TSS off. Concubine Su was behind MC getting sent to the palace because she secretly submitted a portrait of her to be selected as a candidate. When MC left, her betrothed became single again so they saddled him with her half-sister who was born by Concubine Su. The sister was originally very proud and gloat-y but eventually calmed down when she realized the man she stole from MC was not worth a second glance next to Jing Wang of the North. Eventually, Concubine Su was sent away to curry favor with Lin Wanxi and MC. With Concubine Su gone, the other concubines and shu childrens were even more eager and unrestrained in flattering MC's mother all day to get a good impression. Lin Wanxi never got divorced but just continued to stay in the mansion to be fawned over by everyone and then occasionally see her grandchildren from time to time. After Jing Wang ascended as Emperor, Tang Mingzhe still knew his boundaries and didn't overstep, only continuing to do business even more lucratively and contributing to the internal funds. He didn't vie for an official position and just acted as a normal maternal family member to the royal heirs, expressing his sentiments through pricey gifts and whatnot.

Zhou Shunhua: The legitimate daughter of a Duke and the original FL from MC's book. From the start, she was rather upright and had a conscience. Later on, as she competed for Shizi's favour, she became dark and ruthless. In the original timeline, she triumphed above all other concubines and relied on her son to become Xu Zixun's Empress after his first legitimate wife died. It's said that she was the only woman he ever really loved but in the end, when they got older, they inevitably became estranged once the love cooled. Because of their history, the Emperor still gave her face and dignity but stopped favoring her. After her husband died, she became the lonely but most honorable Empress Dowager following her son's ascension. In both lives, she seems to genuinely love Zhao/Xu Zixun but because of this, she's even more fierce. In my opinion, she truly is a formidable schemer. She's so scary—despite being the legitimate daughter of a Duke in the capital and living in wealth and honor all her life, she was still able to endure to extreme lengths and can always hold back her emotions by thinking of the bigger picture at any given time. When she became a concubine, she took the initiative to humble herself and made ZZX pity her. In front of MC (who had become Wangfei), she was even able to put aside her seniority in terms of age and high birth to serve her 'mother-in-law' of a far less prestigious background. Time and time again, she would always manage to pave a path to retreat for herself in advance and the only mistake she even made happened in their new lives where MC was able to become Jing Wangfei. To save her own skin, she allied herself with the Grand Empress Dowager and schemed against MC. Jing Wang had always taken precautions to excruciating detail whenever it came to his wife so the scheme that the GED forced her to go along with failed. Jing Wang was able to figure out that she was behind it and ordered to have her severely punished, result in an accidental miscarriage. After the miscarriage, she and ZZX went the scorched earth route and ended up dying for naught.

Zhao/Xu Zixun: Jing Wang's adopted son and Shizi. His father was Xu Jing and provide meritorious service by exchanging his life for Jing Wang's so he decided to adopt Xu Zixun as his son to nurture as his heir since he never intended on marrying anyway. Shizi was a romantic and had many women, but his favorite was Zhou Shunhua. He was dismissive of his wife since the start and disappointed Jing Wang to the point of suspicion.

Qi Rusheng (I think) : Sorry forgot his given name. He was the original betrothed of FL and had eagerly looked forward to their marriage. When FL left for the palace, he tried to resist but since his efforts were one sided, he had no choice but to reluctantly accept the new fiancee pushed on his head as to not delay his matters. His mother was Lin Wanxi's childhood friend and wanted to have their children marry to reassure Lin Wanxi that her daughter would have a good life with her as a mother-in-law. After he married Tang Yanyan, TSS's half-sister, his mother nitpicked her and brooded because the daughter-in-law she wanted was no longer there. He worked very hard to study for the imperial exams in hopes of bringing glory to his family and prestige to FL when he married her as a scholar. Though their fates were cut and they ended up marrying other people, he still likes and misses her.


And some stuff I really enjoyed about the ML


As an esteemed vassal king, Zhao Chengjun is described as hardworking, focused, and skilled in all pursuits (in addition to being very good-looking and sturdily built the way MLs in these kinda novels tend to be). Because of the countless bitter fruits he's had to swallow as since youth, he's grown into a sort of taciturn and aloof man. His mother died a wretched death undeserving of her identity while his once-awe-inspiring brothers were sent to their deaths before their time. Zhao Chengjun looks dignified and proper on the surface but inside, he's full of hatred for the current heads of the Imperial Family and cannot wait to eat their flesh and drink their blood no matter the price. He's not interested in the affairs of men and women and doesn't even desire a family of his own anymore. He adopted someone else's child to be his heir not just to repay their father's favor of saving his life but also to secure his ambitions.

Later on, he met Tang Shishi, fell in love, and became willing to try out the whole having a family thing but only with her. He was very lenient to her antics before they got married and became even more so after they did. Combined with the fact that MC was wronged by others at the start of her pregnancy, ML couldn't bear to reprimand her for any tantrums or possible overstepping. During her pregnancy, they noticed that they could feel the baby kick and ML became very fascinated. After their son was born, he was even more amazed by how a child of his own and his beloved could come to life. He spent a lot of time choosing the name and nitpicked feeling that some were too old-fashioned or dull or unbecoming. He ended up naming their son Zhao Zigao, a name that MC felt was too masculine (lol girl but he... he is a boy).

As the baby grew up, ML often came to check up on them between work and had family meals regularly. He learned how to hold a child on his own and personally taught "Gao'er" to move. When he was trying to get him to sit up, Gao'er often fell back but ML was always there to catch him before he hit the couch so the baby thought they were playing and laughed and purposefully fell. Instead of being displeased, ML just dismissed it as being too young and didn't tease him anymore. During troubling times like when Shizifei lost her baby and he (ML) had to rush over, he always asks if his son is being properly cared for before he can calm down a bit and deal with the 'troublemakers' below.

There's also another point that I really liked about Zhao Chengjun. He doesn't feel it's beneath himself to take care of the inner yard if he felt that MC was at risk in anyway. He personally arranged a whole security team for the courtyard where MC lived so that regular servants couldn't come in and mess with her stuff. During her labor, people weren't even allowed to leave their courtyards on threat of death or worse because he worried that something could happen at the critical time.

It seems like to him, all of MC's flaws are either a lovable personality quirk or simply a feature he absolutely had to endure because 'he owed her in their last lives'. I'm not saying this is good... but it's pretty cute idk like... I'm toxic like that... Whenever MC made things difficult for her 'juniors', he always turned a blind eye because he either felt that this is the natural flow of things or they deserved it because they wronged her before (aiyo??). To him, the blame can be cast on anyone but his wife. If she's lacking in anyway (ie brains cough cough), then it's his fault for spoiling her so naturally he should take over and continue relieving her of her responsibilities.


All in all, it was a pretty satisfying read. Sometime in the halfway mark, I did get angry a few times because of how s*upid MC acted. She became completely out-of-character by being genuinely self-sacrificing instead of pushing the blame on others like she usually did. After we moved past that point, it became more bearable as she was able to inflict pain on her oppressors tenfold and never fear reprimand.

There was also this extra story at the end about an alternate life of theirs


We come to find out that the magic book's plot actually did happen, but it happened in a previous life. In that life, MC died in the deep palace after losing to the scheme of Zhou Shunhua as they were competing for the favor of Zhao Zixun, Jing Wang Shizi-turned-Emperor. In that life, we see that Jing Wang rebelled and won the throne but died early due to an ambush during an expedition. As he never married MC there, he had no biological heirs so Zhao Zixun seized the throne. When MC died, the eunuch in charge confiscated her treasured luminous pearl bracelet and presented it to Zhao Zixun. He talked to himself and said that if MC wanted to blame anyone for her ending, she should blame Zhao Chengjun because he 'owed' her. ZZX vaguely made statements about how even as she was dying, she still held onto the memento that 'that person' gifted her. He and the eunuch then talked about how 'that person' (ML) was last seen barely fleeing the ambush scene and meeting a monk, talking about a 'book'. It can be assumed that ML died from here but the monk that he met ended up disappearing and they couldn't find traces, causing ZZX great anxiety as he worried that his throne could be compromised by a secret that ML was keeping.

At this time, MC had already come back as a ghost, unresigned to her fate. She overhears the conversation and reminisces how she got her bracelet. When they still lived as Shizi's concubines in Jing Wangfu, she was once calculated by Feng Qian and ended up in Jing Wang's resting chambers. Instead of rebuking her, Jing Wang was generous and did not blame her, even gifting her a beautiful luminous pearl bracelet to replace something she lost. She liked the bracelet very much and kept it with her at all times, wishing to come back to thank him later only to never get the chance as he became busier and busier.

Unbeknownst to her at the time, the luminous pearls had a special meaning.


"Returning the double pearls with flowing tears, regretting not meeting when she was unmarried."

(This is a line from a classic poem. Originally, it also had a hidden political meaning related to diplomatically refusing favor (cough bribes cough) on account of loyalty to another entity but we don't care about that here so we'll look at it from a purely romantic context.)

It's not explained how, but from the chapter we can infer that Jing Wang admired and loved her from afar but could not act on his feelings. He gave her the pearls as a love token but daft MC never realized and wasted his intentions. From this, we can guess that it was likely Zhou Shunhua who told ZZX about pearls and instigated him to execute her, probably on the suspicion of adultery.

In her anger, Ghost!MC chased ZSH when she saw her again but ended up transmigrating to another timeline. She was now in their second lives, but still existed as a ghost. She went back to her old palace and was surprised to see that there was a resident already. After some back and forth, she realized she ended up in an earlier reality where Zhao Chengjun was still a little prince in the imperial palace. Young!ML could see ghosts and ended up bickering with her on whose palace it is. She was very angry with him and told him he 'owes' her while ML had no idea what she was talking about. Eventually, they ended up in a truce and became something like friends.

Once, MC complained about how when she was young, her half-sister snatched a hairpin she liked, causing her to bear a grudge for a lifetime. Later on, ML gifted her a similar hairpin and MC mentioned that this wasn't the first time he gifted her something. She then told him about the pearls and ML realized right away that the 'debt' she mentioned before was a love debt. He felt guilty and had already begun to like her so he treated her better, but then she began to fade.

Around this time, the start of his woes had begun. His Father-Emperor died, followed by his mother, and then his two brothers. During this time, MC kept fading in and out. She tearfully told him to not hold himself back and marry the Xi young lady as planned but 'beware of Dowager Empress Yao, do not adopt a child, and beware the hidden arrow'. When they met each other for the last time, ML begged for her to finally tell him her name and where he could find her but she could only say her name before disappearing completely.

When MC opened her eyes again, she found herself as a child in the old Tang family mansion. Since her waking up, she became more mature and taciturn but her mother just attributed it to her growing up. MC felt sorry for the feelings between her and ML in their last life and how it never came to fruition. This life, she hoped he would marry and settle down well without her even though it hurt her. She followed the path of her old life and accepted a betrothal with Qi Rusheng and intercepted the secret submission that Concubine Su prepared for the palace draft. She successfully evaded getting sent to Jinling this time and followed the path she chose albeit very saltily.

Meanwhile, ML had grown up and finally found out where "Tang Shishi" lived after comparing the portrait his underlings presented and an old portrait of the adult Ghost!MC he painted while she napped one day. He was prepared to take her back but was told that right now, she was but a child and decided to wait a little further.

On the day that MC was supposed to be preparing the rites for getting married to Qi Rusheng, she was called out to be meet an esteemed guest. Despite her resoluteness in this path she chose, MC was still very prickly and irritable because she didn't actually want Qi Rusheng as her husband.

The bonus story ends with MC hearing the familiar voice of Jing Wang saying "I don't acknowledge it" when he was told that MC already had a husband-to-be.


I can hardly call this realistic or riveting, but it was fun to read nonetheless (especially the bonus story). The novel relies heavily on misunderstandings and miscommunication to progress the plot while to resolve it, the author just slaps some conveniently timed rescues by the ML. It's all very cliche and possible niche (?) but I personally enjoyed it so if you can get past the stuff previously described, have a go. <<less
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