Monday, 10 December 2012
Book Review: Little Japan by Reno MacLeod and Jaye Valentine
by Reno MacLeod and Jaye Valentine
Japan. Land of honor and beauty, crowded streets with neon signs, and exotic markets where ancient traditions still hold fast in modern-day society. As Japanese business people rush about their busy lives, there exists a place in Osaka, Japan where a modern take on the ancient tradition of the geisha thrives.
Kuri and Daichi work at Kingyo Club, a popular host club in the Dōtonbori district of Osaka. After sleeping their days away, the boys' nights are owned by the host club lifestyle and anyone willing to pay the steep price for a few hours of hard drinking and flirtatious companionship. Kuri and Daichi are lovers and best friends, and along with their roommates Sora and Takumi, they look out for one another in an occupation fraught with both physical and emotional danger.
In addition to the endless bottles of fizzy champagne, expensive gifts, and confessions of false love courtesy of regular clients, every now and then comes a customer with even deeper pockets and much darker demands. Gabriel Hartley is one of these men. After a chance meeting, Gabriel targets the stunning Kuri to feed his obsession with seducing and dominating young Japanese men.
The relationship between Kuri and Gabriel dramatically changes when a traumatic event plunges them from the Land of the Rising Sun into the land of powerful sheikhs and servant boys in the dark underworld of exotic Dubai. As Kuri struggles with the heartache of having what's most precious to him ripped away, he helps Gabriel learn important lessons about love, honor, and the power of self-forgiveness.
Although this is an M/M romance, with heavy yaoi influences, this is not a light-hearted book. We have prostitution, kindapping and sexual slavery and some scenes that are so heart-wrenching, you wonder if you can bear to read any more, fearing that a happy ending may never arrive. It's a testament to the writers that I just had to read on, even not knowing what was going to happen.
But it is a great book and the writing just draws you in from the very first page. The love scenes, while graphically described, aren't just about the bodies, they're about the emotions between the characters, making them seem that bit more sensual than if it was just about bodies. All the characters are well-rounded and with lots of depth, there are no cardboard cut-outs here.
Kuri seeks out Gabriel after Daichi is kidnapped for a sexual slave in Dubai, as Gabriel is the only person he knows he might be rich enough or have some sort of influence, for who was going to help a host boy? The modernity of Japan is contrasted well with the old-world feel of the male harem where Daichi and others are kept prisoner as sex slaves; the descriptions of both are so vivid that you feel you are there, not just reading about it.
Kuri's hearbreak after Daichi's kidnapping is so well done that you feel it yourself and wonder how things are ever going to be resolved. I was a bit unsure of Gabriel's character at first, but he redeems himself and by the end you were rooting for all the main characters to get their happily ever after. The book packs an emotional punch and I was thinking about it long after I'd finished it. It's a book that makes you feel and connect with the characters. A great read if you enjoy something a bit different.
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