A Scent of Time (2023) 为有暗香来

Summary: On a snowy day, Hua Qian ft Zhou Ye is fleeing arrest, desperately trying to save her family, but she gets captured and faints. Hua Qian wakes up to find herself reliving her story from her wedding night to her husband Zhong Ye Lan ft Peng Chu Yue. She recognizes that she has the chance to redo all of the evil decisions she made previously, including stealing her husband from the innocent Mu Yao ft Zhao Qing. She begins to try to make amends in this life, catching the attention of the head of the Zhong Family, Zhong Xi Wu ft Wang Xing Yue. Will she make the amends before she loses everything?


Total Episode Count: 30

Initial Airing Date: October 13, 2023

Platform: Youku


*Note – English translations may not match official translations


Final Rating 6.8/10: It’s another “rebirth” drama where the female lead tries to make amends for her previous actions. It’s a breezy and enjoyable watch. I’m really enamored with the main couple and that’s the my real motivation to keep watching this drama. This is a very young and beautiful cast but the drama suffers from the rather wooden acting from Zhou Ye. 

Hua Qian 华浅

Zhou Ye 周也

Daughter of General Manager Hua. She schemed her way into marrying Zhong Ye Lan in her previous life. After her “rebirth”, she tries to make amends by pushing him away to find his true love

Zhong Xi Wu 仲溪午

Wang Xing Yue 王星越

The head of the Zhong family with an firm grasp of all intelligence. He knows of all the dirty deeds the Hua family has done but becomes rather intrigued with Hua Qian’s change of character

Zhong Ye Lan 仲夜阑

Peng Chu Yue 彭楚粤

Reluctant husband of Hua Qian who first believes that she is a lovely woman. In this life, Hua Qian reveals her misdeeds and pushes him to find love elsewhere

MU Yao 牧遥

Zhao Qing 赵晴

Rival of Hua Qian for Zhong Ye Lan’s affection, she vows to take revenge on those who falsely accused her father of theft. She slowly loses herself in her quest for revenge.

Plot overview

The Zhong family is the wealthiest and most powerful family in the city of Huang, selling incense and medicine to the royal family. The young Zhong Xi Wu is the head of the family and rules with a firm but kind hand. General Manager Hua has a haughty and arrogant daughter, Hua Qian, who would stop at nothing to marry a member of the Zhong family Zhong Ye Lan. With the help of her father, she successfully marries him and also disposes of a rival manager and his family, the Mu family. Her misdeeds do not go unpunished as the daughter of the Mu family, Mu Yao, seeks revenge against Hua Qian. Hua Qian’s entire family is sentenced to death or exile. She tries to escape but faints in the chase. 

She wakes up to find that she’s transported back to her wedding day to Zhong Ye Lan. Stunned at the turn of events, Hua Qian tries desperately to rewrite history and make amends to those she has wronged. However, she never accounted for how history sometimes will go a certain way exactly because of human nature. In her journey to change, she loses more than she bargained for but also forged new relationships in which she does not know the outcome. 


Overall Thoughts

This is another drama produced and written by the famed producer Yu Zheng (于正). He was the writer behind smash hits such as The Story of Yan Xi Palace and Palace. The drama is making minor splashes on Youku, but since this drama doesn’t include A-List stars and the storyline is rather thin, it hasn’t really caught on. Fans have been thoroughly enjoying the offscreen interactions with all of the leads though.
I started this drama as a palate cleanser from the rather depressing drama The Faithful and it’s served me just fine. It’s a rather low stakes drama where the main character Hua Qian is really trying to change but all of the characters don’t understand her seemingly overnight transformation. If you want to watch a drama with a handsome cast, some fun couples, with some nasty but not very intelligent side characters thrown into the mix for good measure, this is one for you.
The drama is based off a book called 洗铅华. The original premise is that that the main character read the book and then woke up as the evil side character. In the drama, the character of Hua Qian woke back up with her memories to try to change history. I like this premise a little better because oftentimes, when a character “transports” in a different world with 21st centuries morals, it really takes me out of the story.


What I liked – minor spoilers

  • Wang Xing Ye as Zhong Xi Wu – The actor was only 19 when he filmed this drama! He’s really convincing as the astute yet tolerant head of the family. His portrayal as the conflicted man who’s trying to suppress his feelings for Hua Qian but also extremely happy when things go south with her marriage is really cute.  At this point, I’m really watching the drama mainly for him and Hua Qian’s relationship. 
  • Characters who behave as they should based on their own motivations – Hua Qian is desperately trying to right the wrongs of the past including pushing her own husband away, trying to persuade her father to give up his general manager role, and convince Mu Yao to stop seeking revenge. However, she finds that it’s not easy for her to succeed and is constantly challenged despite her best efforts. That actually makes a lot of sense to me because she’s the only one who knows the end result and her simply trying to persuade people to change isn’t enough. Actions speak louder than worders and she has to learn that the hard way.
  • Downgrading the stakes – Finally, the story is set around a couple of families in an unknown city. The stakes are much lower but the story still works. Hua Qian does everything she can to divorce her husband and in the context of the drama, a divorce was plausible. In the book, the main characters once again revolve around an Emperor, and Emperor’s brother, concubines, and Empress Dowagers. I started reading the book and was like…there’s no way any of this would fly. As non-royal family members? Yes – plausible. 




What could have been better 

  • Zhou Ye’s acting – Hua Qian is the anchor for our story. Unfortunately, Zhou Ye’s portrayal of Hua Qian is rather wooden. Yes, she is very beautiful but when compared to the acting of Wang Xing Yue, she’s missing a lot of emotion. I really ship those two characters in the drama but that’s mainly due to Wang Xing Yue’s acting and not Zhou Ye’s acting. With her, I mainly come away with – wow, she’s beautiful but that’s it.
  • Relationship building with the main couple – I started the drama with absolutely no information about the drama and just went with the flow. That’s great for watching the show but basically halfway through, I couldn’t figure out who the male lead was. The main couple really works well when they have scenes together but they rarely do. There’s also another love interest for Hua Qian thrown in for good measure that further detracts screen time. Although I blame that decision on the source material.


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