Rating: 4 out of 5
I was browsing the “upcoming releases” section of Amazon’s LGBT Romance page, and saw a book cover that caught my eye. The cover was for the French release of a novel called Yakuza Pride, which I’d never read. Because I absolutely judge books by their covers, I immediately clicked over to the English version. Three sentences in to the summary, I clicked the “Buy Now” button.
I loved the hell out this series! I’m not ashamed, I’ll admit it! I read both of them over the weekend while sick in bed, and seriously enjoyed the heck out of ’em. This is the stereotypical “innocent character falls in love with a criminal” plot, except set in Japan. The innocent guy is Ken, an American artist raised in Japan. The criminal is Shigure, a yakuza captain. Together they
fight crime have a lot of sex!
Look, I can recognize that there are a lot of things wrong with these books. Let me point out a few of the more obvious pitfalls:
- Ken is such a Mary Sue character. He’s gorgeous, has mismatched eyes (one bright green, one brown), is perfect at everything he attempts (art, sword fighting, etc), and Shigure falls in love with him at first sight.
- The terms yakuza and gaijin (Japanese for foreigner) are over-used, to the point of eye-rolling.
- Plot holes deep enough to get lost in.
- Characters who are a bit over-the-top (Kotaro drove me crazy, and not in a good way!)
But I. Do. Not. Care. I don’t care that Ken is too perfect and too amazing, or that there were entire subplots that made no sense or were clearly not all the way thought out. I just want to roll around in these books, because they’re so freaking fun.
Ken meets Shigure at an event and they’re instantly attracted. Thankfully Ken speaks fluent Japanese, and has a perfect understanding of Japanese culture and formalities (of course!), so he makes a good impression on the yakuza. Turns out Shigure is a known kendo master, and Ken is also (of course) really great with a wooden sword, so they arrange a match. Ken wins, because he’s actually super badass. And then they have sex. A LOT of sex. And it’s hot.
The first book, Yakuza Pride, follows Ken and Shigure’s relationship as it forms, and then takes a turn for the darker when Ken is kidnapped and tortured. This brings into play Ken’s family; his dad is a Republican senator back in the US, and having a gay son is bad enough, but having a gay son who’s sleeping with a known gangster is intolerable. Drama ensues.
The second book was actually my favorite though. Yakuza Courage follows Kinosuke, one of Shigure’s lieutenants. I don’t want to go too much into the plot, because it picks up right where Pride finishes (so I’d have to spoil the end of that one), but it was ridiculous and delightful and introduced a crazy cast of characters. Oh, and Ken gets kidnapped again. Of course.
There are books that are ridiculously bad, and there are books that are so ridiculous that they’re good. These are definitely the latter. Final word? They’re fun, the plot is entertaining, and you should totally check them out.
(Oh, and a few important warnings, highlight to read: sexual assault/torture.)
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