In seventeenth century Japan, during the golden age of samurai and of the Kabuki theater, young actors known as “flying fish” traveled the countryside, performing for audiences by day and giving their bodies to their samurai patrons at night.
Genji Sakura is one such flying fish, yet he dreams of the day he’ll find the man he can give his heart to and leave the loneliness of his itinerant life behind. Though he loves theater, he doesn’t love every part of his profession, especially some of the patrons. So when a handsome ronin, or masterless samurai, comes upon him stealing some solitude for a bath in a hot spring and their encounter turns passionate and profoundly erotic, Genji’s surprised and delighted.
Daisuke Minamoto’s past fills his life with a bitterness that grips his soul and makes him dangerous. Yet his passion takes him when he spies on a graceful young man bathing naked in a hot spring. He has always loved women but he can’t deny the call of his heart or his baser interests.
After an afternoon of sexual bliss, his heart and soul are tormented and torn. Keeping this miraculous lover will require giving up the one thing that has kept him alive for years: his hatred for the lord who murdered his wife. If he loves another, how will he go on and who will he become?
Review by Erastes
It’s always nice to find a more unusual setting, and I know next to nothing about the Samurai tradition other than the fact that I knew that male relationships were pretty much accepted at one point, so I dived into this very happily.
The author’s note at the top of the novel states that she has taken small liberties with some of the time-line but that was all right with me as 1. she’d stated it and 2. I know nothing of the time-line anyway.
I liked the way that unfamiliar words were explained in context–I’ve read many books which try and impress with the non-English words used, but I end with being baffled. Guillone is careful to explain, but not in a way that you ever feel you are being preached at.
The characters of Daisuke and Genji are well done, and different enough from each other without resorting to the rigid yaoi tradition. There is an element of it, because although being as beautiful as a woman and with long hair, tied back like a woman, and even though Genji is quite feminine, he is no weeping uke, he’s able to stand up for himself when it comes to it.
I found some of the prose a little jumpy, truncated sentences, sentences beginning with “And” which annoy me–but they weren’t too common in this book to really jolt me out of the story.
Although only about 80 pages long this little story delivers, both on romantic prose, likeable characters and a sweet and satisfying love story.