Thursday, October 23, 2014

Book Review: Yakuza Pride by H.J. Brues

Kenneth Harris has spent most of his life in Japan and has absorbed the culture, language and customs. Unfortunately, he never quite fits in regardless of where he is. He stands out in Japan due to his pale skin and blond hair, and he also stands out in America due to his adoption of Japanese customs and the fact that he's gay. When he meets a mysterious and incredibly sexy man at a party, his life is turned upside down because the man he finds himself uncontrollably attracted to is an underboss in the Yakuza, Shigure Matsunaga.

As a fan of criminal organizations like the Mafia, this book was right up my alley. Japanese culture is also something I find fascinating, especially as a fan of manga and anime. This love story between a gruff Yakuza and the somewhat shy American (aka gaijin) was actually pretty sweet and very steamy.

While I did enjoy the story as a whole, there were some problems.
  • I sometimes found that there was way too much detail and narration. There were entire scenes which just consisted of characters, mostly Yukuza officials, talking to each other. In my opinion, many of those scenes didn't really add much to the story and I found myself skimming through those parts.
  • My biggest gripe is the fact that almost 40% of book consists of the kidnapping and torture of Ken. The scenes, graphic and extremely detailed, dragged on for so long that I longed for a reprieve.
  • Certain things that happened towards the end of the book seemed very rushed, especially given the fact that one of the MCs had just been tortured and tied up in a basement for days.
  • There were great action sequences that held my interest, but then those moments were stilted with more narration or long scenes of dialogue.

The MCs were interesting and complex in their own ways, but I think Shigure's employee, Kotaro, was a stand-out character. His youthful innocence, excitement and passion was a joy, especially when much of the story was so heavy and serious.

All in all, I enjoyed this read, but I think at least 50 - 100 pages could have been cut to tighten up the story.

Buy links
Dreamspinner Press | Amazon

~ M

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