Tetsuya, a young male courtesan, is living a life of relative safety until an unknown samurai called Jin arrives on his doorstep, bringing passion and death. Awakened to the strange paths of destiny, Tetsuya chooses to leave the only place he has ever known to follow a samurai who is on a quest for vengeance. Their heels dogged at every turn by paid assassins, Tetsuya and Jin learn to trust each other as they discover hidden truths which may get them killed before their love has a chance to redeem them both.
Review by Sal Davis
The cover of this book is absolutely stunning, even in the black and white version I saw. It’s even better in colour. Deana C. Jamroz has done Reiko Morgan proud, illustrating a key scene in the book in a powerful and tasteful manner.
The character illustrated is Tetsuya, a male prostitute at the top of his profession. Beautiful and androgynous, he is a talented musician as well as being top class in the sack, and has reached the stage where he can pick and choose amongst the clients at the inn where he is employed, though not always wisely. He has a comfortable place to live, enough to eat, good friends amongst the other workers at the inn and in the town. But all that is turned upside down when he intervenes to save a young girl from a wandering soldier and is, in turn rescued by a samurai called Jin.
A day or two later Jin is imperilled and Tetsuya is able to return the favour, thus beginning a relationship that takes Tetsuya from everything he knows and setting them both on a long hard road to adventure and danger. Jin, naturally, is not what he seems, and Tetsuya is far more than the pretty boy for hire that he appears to be at the beginning of the book. That they are destined to be together is established almost immediately, and that their love for each other is unwavering is one of the main themes of the story. Most of the conflict is external, gleaned from plots concerning political manouvring and vengeance.
I know nothing – nothing at all – about early feudal Japan. I haven’t even read Shogun by James Clavell. So from an historical point of view I have no idea how accurate or inaccurate is the author’s depiction of the period. This is a bit of a pity because, as I read, I frequently found myself feeling that I was missing very important points. At other times I laughed at what I assumed to be irony, then wondered if it was supposed to be funny. I found Tetsuya’s girliness and helplessness irritating. That Jin had to spend so much time carrying him around and looking after him when they were in very real danger annoyed me rather than impressing me with his devotion. In short – I just don’t think I understand the tropes of this genre of novel. I have the feeling it’s edging into yaoi territory and the rules that I am used to with western style plotting no longer apply. I also had some problems with the style. There’s a lot of telling rather than showing. In fact I had to go back and check that the first couple of pages of the book were actually part of the story because they read far more like a prologue to give unfamiliar readers some background than a novel. Production values were good, but there are some awkwardly used words, and some very clunky phrasing here and there that the editor should have picked up on.
I honestly tried to like it but it was just too different right from the beginning for me to be able to get into the story. I think that if a reader is a fan of manga or anime they’ll probably have a whale of a time with it but for me – sorry, no, it’s not on the read again pile
Couldn’t find an author’s website