I received a Kindle version of this book free from the publisher for review (this time through Goodreads), and I’ll begin by telling you it has one of the most beautiful covers I’ve ever seen! It’s absolutely gorgeous and captures your attention right away, so of course I had to look up the artist who designed it. Her name is Cherith Vaughan for those of you interested.
I’ve never read a story based in Asian culture, so this was a refreshing change for me. I especially loved the language used by the characters. It was very unusual and perfect for the setting. There is a “Note From the Author” in the front of the book, which you should definitely read if, like me, you know almost nothing about Japanese history and culture. I enjoyed this book a great deal, but I have a few criticisms.
The first two and half pages are a lengthy explanation of terms that are part of the narrative, and seem out place. They belong in the Author’s Note – in my opinion. The remainder of the first three chapters are spent entirely on a single incident. The end of the incident is told first as it is happening, then the beginning is told in flash back. I don’t understand why it’s told this way, and it’s a bit tedious. I didn’t think I was going to like this book at first because of that, but thankfully it picks right up from there and the rest of the book flows very well.
From chapter four on the story becomes interesting and picks up momentum as you read becoming more and more exciting. I read the second half of the book in one evening. The main character, Midori is a geisha and the equivalent of a high end call girl with a madame. She is a bit cheeky and rebellious in a world where it’s dangerous, life threatening even, for a woman to be either, and no matter how hard she tries to hide this inclination, you simply cannot deny your own nature. At the end of the day you are, who you are, which can get you into trouble, save you, or both, which is something this novel demonstrates.
The setting is a much different world than we know here in the western hemisphere, but I never once felt lost or confused by these differences. The author did a wonderful job making the feel and mentality of the culture easy to understand and grasp. Though there were moments where I found myself laughing when I’m certain the author was not implying humor, this book is really quite serious for a romance novel. It is different (which I really liked) and adventurous and exciting and explicitly sexual. I am rarely ever turned off by explicit scenes (in fact I’m a fan of book naughtiness!), but in this case I felt the sex was somewhat gratuitous in places which put me off a little.
A bit of warning… this story portrays sexual violence and abuse. If you have difficulty with those themes, you should probably pass on this book.