A MelanieM Review: Yakuza Courage (The Way of the Yakuza #2) by H.J. Brues

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

Yakuza CourageEx-Navy SEAL Brendan O’Farrihy’s life was never the same after his SEAL team deployed to Afghanistan on a near suicidal covert mission. It ended disastrously, killing two of his team members and shattering the lives of the remaining SEALS. Now Brendan works for a Washington lawyer and boyfriend, helping his clients by conducting investigations and acting as security.  Then Brendan is sent to Honolulu on a new job for their client, Senator Harris.  It seems that the Senator’s youngest son has gotten involved with the Yakuza and brought them back with him from Japan where he had been kidnapped.  The Senator’s son, Kenneth Harris,  is living and working at Honolulu dojo , a suspected front for a yakuza syndicate.  Brendon’s job is to investigate and extract the son as necessary. The first step in Brendan’s investigation? Enroll in a kendo class being given at the dojo in question to get close to his subject and observe the situation.

Kendo instructor, the cocky, short-fused, gorgeous Kinosuke Yonekawa has arrived in Honolulu along with his former yakuza underboss Shigure Matsunaga, other ex yakuza members and of course, Ken Harris, Matsunaga’s gajin lover who is helping to see them established in the US. Kinosuke feels cutoff from all he knew, especially his place in Japanese and Yakuza society. American culture and customs confuse him and he feels adrift from the very people who make up his family. Then a new student arrives in class. Freckled, outgoing, handsome and yet respectful. The feelings he engenders in Kinosuke just add to his jumbled state of mind.

As Brendan becomes more involved with Kinosuke, the less sure he is that the Senator has been telling him the truth. The Yakuza are protectiave of Ken and seem to have left their criminal connections behind them in Japan. So what exactly is going on?  When Ken disappears from the dojo, Brendan must decide whether to stick to his original plan or reveal his investigation to Kinosuke and the others in order to help them find Ken and bring him home.  But will Kinosuke ever forgive him?  And will it all be in time to rescue Ken from a danger closer than Brendan had imagined.

Yakuza Courage, the second story in H.J. Brues’ The Way of the Yakuza series, represents yet another new series and author for me.  Her special combination of suspense, romance and all the elements that a variety of cultures bring really made this story (and series) a real highlight for me.  I am working backwards here so I was missing the first installment, Yakuza Pride, where Ken Harris and Shigure Matsunaga met in Japan and the kidnapping that occurred there.  However, I didn’t feel as though that lack of a complete backstory was necessary in order to get connected to the men, the romances and histories central to the plot here.

Words that come to mind when trying to describe the characters, and plot?  Densely packed, beautifully constructed, and always complex.  That applies to everything here.  The characters are especially marvelous.  On one side you have Brendan O’Farrihy and the remaining members of his SEAL family, a damaged, closeknit, and over the top competent group of warriors devastated by a mission gone wrong.  And soon to be reunited in Hawaii.  On the other side?  A closeknit group of Japanese warriors…a segment of the criminal gang that is Yakuza.  They too have been separated, not from each other, but from their material and emotional foundation in the Yakuza organization in Japan.  Two teams or families adrift by circumstances and one man who will bring them all together.  What a great plot!  And to make them all feel alive H. J. Brues steeps her story and characters deep in the culture of Hawaii.  Here  it is the white people or haole who are outsiders.  Not so those of multiracial backgrounds found throughout the Hawaiian Islands, where it can take a true polyglot to understand the mixture of dialects, colloquialisms, pidgin mashups of  English, Japanese, Samoan, and much, much more that has become the language of the people there.

I loved the manner in which Brues folded her knowledge of the various cultures (of Japan, Yakuza, Hawaii, and SEAL) together in such a way that they remain distinct yet commonplace elements of the people and story lines.  Her characters speak the language of their home and cultures and it feels as natural as breathing.  Along the way other details and facets are thrown in, such as the clothing worn by kendo masters and the slippers and furnishings found there. Want to know more about what it is like to don (and take off) the hakama pants worn by Kendo Masters and students? Then read the scene that highlights the difficulty and time it took Brendan and Kinosuke to remove their hakama pants while half crazed with lust.  It comes across as both authentic, and funny.   Dialects swing back and forth from Japanese to colloquial Hawaii then to standard SEAL  speak and English and then around again.   A tremendous merry-go-round of  vivid imagery, local flavor, and layering that can make your head swim if other cultures and languages are not your thing.  For me it felt as if each new page brought another present to unwrap.

There is a tremendous amount of information here and plot complications to  include so at times the reading can slow down, the narrative sluggish under the weight of all those great elements and tactical maneuverings.  Then its starts to pick up as the other SEAL team members arrive and the rush is on to accomplish several missions, save Ken, and complete a HEA for all.  That race towards the resolution is really gripping, the author’s sentences creating a picture of tension, danger, and imminent discovery.  So  many great action sequences coming together for a jam packed explosive finale.

I loved this story so much that I went back and grabbed up  the first in the series, Yakuza Pride.  But that is a review for a later time.  But if you haven’t read that story, don’t worry you can start here as I did.  From that glorious cover to the equally stunning story inside, this is one of ScatteredThoughtsandRogueWords Best of 2014 and highly recommended reads!

Cover artist Reese Dante’s cover is lush, beautifully rendered and spot on for this story.

Sales Links:         Dreamspinner Press (on sale)      All Romance eBooks       Amazon        Yakuza Courage

Book Details:

ebook, 336 pages
Published August 1st 2014 by Dreamspinner Press LLC (first published July 31st 2014)
ISBN139781627988667
edition languageEnglish
seriesThe Way of the Yakuza #2

Book in the Series to date:

Yakuza Pride (The Way of the Yakuza #1)
Yakuza Courage (The Way of the Yakuza #2)

On Tour with Rae Brewer and David’s Dilemma! (contest)

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Rae Brewer’s David’s Dilemma

Book Tour and Contest

For contest details and link, scroll down after the excerpt to the end of the post. And look for my upcoming review of David’s Dilemma!

Jaguar Bk 4Book Name: David’s Dilemma
Author Name: Rae Brewer

  • Author Bio: Rae Brewer is new to writing romance and has found a niche in the M/M paranormal genre. After growing up in San Francisco, Rae now calls Chicago home. Author Contact: Facebook

Publisher: JK Publishing, Inc
Cover Artist: Jess Buffett

 David’s Dilemma Blurb: It’s been three years since David broke up with Michael. He’s ready to find his mate. Only the only man he’s attracted to at all is a hookup from a bar. After hours of passion they separate and David only discovers the next morning the man was his mate. Where can he find him again? And what is his name?

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David’s Dilemma Excerpt:

David woke late Sunday afternoon with a headache, which didn’t seem fair because he hadn’t drunk very much the night before. Damn head cold! He still remembered every minute of the night before. Part of him wished he’d broken his own rule and let the handsome hunk stay over. He got what he wanted, he would have blown me off when he saw me in the light of day. Getting out of bed he stumbled to the bathroom sneezing. He decided to take a hot shower, the steam would clear up his sinuses, for a while. He wanted a clear head so he could convince himself it was time to settle down and find a forever love. No more casual sex!

Setting the temp as hot as he could stand, he stepped into the oversized stall. The room quickly filled with steam and his nose started running. He gave a fleeting thought to the scents he was washing down the drain before he remembered his sheets. His cougar wasn’t very happy with him for kicking HH, the handsome hunk, out of their bed and was pouting by being silent. Of course his cougar was generally subdued when he was showering.

After twenty minutes in the steam his muscles were loose and he could breathe again, for now. Stepping out of the shower onto the bathmat he grabbed a clean towel off the shelf and after a quick rub down, wrapped it around his waist. Taking a look in the mirror he decided to take some cold medicine and spend the day being lazy. He was already envisioning a long afternoon on the couch snuggled in a blanket with a pitcher of lemon water and some chicken soup within easy reach. I’m wallowing, because I already miss him.

First though, he needed to strip the bed and put the sheets in the wash. Later, he knew he’d want cool fresh sheets to sleep in. And right now he was as awake, alert, and as energetic as he was going to be for the rest of the day. Walking through the door to the bedroom the scents from his sheets hit him all at once. His inner cat roared and David was so surprised he didn’t stop the shift.

Leaping onto the bed in his puma form, he rolled around in the sheets before sneezing. Sitting up in the bed he had a sheet wrapped around him, the end flopping over his head. He could see his reflection in the mirror on the opposite wall. Big tough cat, not! Mate! We found our mate!
Shifting back into his human form allowed him to say what he was thinking. “Shit! Shit, shit, shit!” Untangling himself from the bedding he began to pace around the room. I don’t even know his name!

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DavidsDilemmaBadgeTour Dates: 9/4/14
Tour Stops: Parker Williams, Prism Book Alliance, Rainbow Gold Reviews, Velvet Panic, Scattered Thoughts & Rogue Words, Elisa – My Reviews and Ramblings, Guilty Indulgence Book Club, Andrew Q. Gordon, The Hat Party, Cathy Brock Romances, MM Good Book Reviews, Hearts on Fire, Multitasking Mommas, Up All Night, Read All Day, Iyana Jenna, Redz World, Nic Starr, Carly’s Book Reviews, Michael Mandrake

Rafflecopter Code:    a Rafflecopter giveaway

Contest: Rafflecopter Prize: One of three copies of David’s Dilemma.  Must be 18 years of age or older to enter.  Prize awarded is not supplied by ScatteredThoughtsandRogueWords.  See the Rafflecopter link  above for entry form and additional contest details.

On Tour with K.C. Wells and Learning to Love: Final Exam! (contest)

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Join K.C. Wells on her Learning to Love: Final Exam Book Tour!

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K.C. Wells has stopped by on her Learning to Love: Final Exam Book Tour.  Along with participating in an author interview, she has also brought along a contest to enter.  Visit the Rafflecopter link provided and be entered to win a eBook copy of Learning to Love: Final Exam!  Must be 18 years of age or older to enter. Now on to our interview:

 

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words Interviews K.C. Wells

STRW:  Why a story series about three couples instead of one?

K.C. Wells:  I didn’t start out to write a series, you have to understand that. I had a story kicking about in my head for a year or so before I got to the point where I couldn’t wait to write it down. Michael & Sean were there, waiting for me. But then Evan started to blossom as a character. I loved him from the beginning: his sense of humour, the way he was totally at ease with his sexuality, and wasn’t about to hide that for anyone. And about half way through Michael & Sean, All I wanted was for him to find someone to love. Enter Daniel… As soon as Daniel started talking to me, I knew their story would be very different.

So now I’m thinking, “Oh my God, this isn’t one book, it’s two!” And that’s when I started to think that if one couple was good, two was great, then three would be fantastic! I looked at the characters who had made an appearance so far. Guess who started talking to me? Josh.

I always liked Josh. Here was yet another young man at ease with being gay. But if Josh was going to be in the story, who would arouse his interest?
Which is why in Evan and Daniel, Chris makes an appearance, nervous, feeling guilty and wanting to put things right. And Josh, sweet, kind-hearted Josh, finds the shy young man very interesting. Chris arouses his protective nature.

The last book was planned out in April, 2012. I had submitted Michael & Sean and had started to write Evan and Daniel. At that point I had no idea that Dreamspinner Press were going to say, “yes” and publish the first book. I knew when I submitted it that there were going to be others, possibly three more.

STRW:  Was writing the relationship dynamics made easier or harder by having three couples?

K.C. Wells:  It got easier as their characters emerged fully. By the end of Evan & Daniel’s story, Daniel’s dominant nature was coming to the fore, as was his tendency to be jealous. Michael was still Michael – solid, dependable, and totally devoted to Sean. Chris’s shyness stuck out, in direct comparison to Josh’s outgoing nature. And as I began to flesh out each couple, they became more distinctive, less homogenized. What I love about Final Exam is that by now they have grown into their relationships – maybe Josh & Chris to a lesser extent – and each has their own voice.

STRW:  Do you see yourself revisiting these couples in the future?

Well, let’s see now…

There’s a wedding coming up, isn’t there? Josh & Chris have finally set a date, and it’s going to be a church wedding. I can see Chris’s grandmother Margaret’s fine hand in that. And you know they’ll all want to be involved. 😉

And as for Evan and Daniel, once they get their careers on the right track and somewhere to live, they’ll want to see where their BDSM journey takes them next.

 

STRW:  How long did it take to evolve your writing style?

K.C. Wells:  I’m not sure how to answer that! Reading now through Michael & Sean, I’m sorry but my first thought is, “Bloody hell, I got better at this!” By the time I came to write Trusting Thomas, I had learned so much from going through the editing process. I found I was trying to avoid making my earlier mistakes. But for me, I knew I’d evolved when I was writing September’s Tide, in July last year. My Dad had read Michael & Sean, bless him, even though it was definitely not his thing. He’d given me technical advice at the time, assuming, as he said, that I “knew my genre” as far as content went. I was staying with him and Hache, my stepmother, in Montpellier in the south of France. He was writing too. I asked if I could read him the first chapter that I’d just written of a story about an American detective writer with writer’s block, who is sent by his agent to spend a month on the Isle of Wight. Dad sat there in silence while I read the chapter aloud, including David Hannon’s American accent. When I’d finished, he said nothing for a moment. Then he looked at me and said, “I’m so glad you read that to me. This is nothing like your first book. This flows. Its construction is so much better. It reads very well.”
Very proud daughter moment!

I was too close to see the changes but he could, in the space of a year.

STRW:  What’s next for KC Wells?

K.C. Wells:   Sigh……

My problem is that I have too many stories, each of them clamouring for my attention. Once I’ve finished Confetti, Cake & Confessions, which should be any second now, then I’ll be finishing the sixth book in the Collars & Cuffs series, Make Me Soar. This is Dorian’s story. BUT I am also faced with a dilemma. Do I finally get around to writing the third Island Tale, about my blind Dom, Adam, in Submitting to the Darkness? Or will it be my first thriller, Fatal Designs? Or how about my first MMMM?

Yeah, waayyyyyy too many ideas in my head.

Thanks for having me today! ;

STRW:  Thanks, K.C., for the great interview! Loved it and look  forward to all your new stories to come.  Now, readers, check out K.C. Wells’ Learning to Love: Final Exam.  The blurb and excerpts can be found below and don’t forget to enter the contest!

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Book Name: Learning to Love: Final Exam
Author Name: K.C. Wells
Author Bio: Born and raised in the north-west of England, K.C.Wells always loved writing. Words were important. Full stop. However, when childhood gave way to adulthood, the writing ceased, as life got in the way.

K.C. discovered erotic fiction in 2009, where the purchase of a ménage storyline led to the startling discovery that reading about men in love was damn hot. In 2012, arriving at a really low point in life led to the desperate need to do something creative. An even bigger discovery waited in the wings – writing about men in love was even hotter…

K.C. now writes full-time and is loving every minute of her new career.
The laptop still has no idea of what hit it… it only knows that it wants a rest, please. And it now has to get used to the idea that where K.C goes, it goes.

To see more of K.C.’s titles, click here

Author Contact:   K.C. can be reached via…

  • email (k.c.wells@btinternet.com),
    Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/KCWellsWorld) or
    through comments at the K.C.Wells
    Website (www.kcwellsworld.com ) K.C. loves to hear from readers.

 

LearningtoLove-FinalExamFSTitle:  Learning to Love: Final Exam by K.C. Wells
Cover Artist: Paul Richmond
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Buy Links:      Dreamspinner Ebook   Dreamspinner Paperback

Blurb:

One house, three couples, and one year left until their final exams….

Evan and Daniel want to take their D/s relationship to the next level. When Daniel suggests conducting a little research at a BDSM club, Evan is more than up for it. Trouble is, one of their housemates isn’t happy about this.

Finances tighten for new couple Josh and Chris. Wanting to ease some of the pressure on Chris, Josh starts as an agency nurse. But tackling a heavy workload at medical school and working late-shifts leaves little time for the couple. Something’s gotta give.

In Spain, Sean was diagnosed as suffering from migraines. But after the medications have no effect and he starts suffering from other complaints, he decides to get a second opinion without telling Michael. When Michael finds out, Sean’s usually laid-back husband’s reaction shocks everyone. But Michael needs to get his head sorted fast, because Sean needs his strength.

As their school career comes to a close and the one person who holds them all together starts to fall apart, the final exam is a true test of friendship.

 Learning to Love: Final Exam Excerpt:

SEAN WAS getting really fed up with his housemates.

Ever since he and Michael had got back from Spain, the four men had turned into mother hens. Sean was constantly aware of them watching him. At least, it felt like they were. When he’d brought it up, Michael had said he was imagining things, but then again, Michael was guilty of the same thing in Sean’s book. He knew Michael was keeping a close eye on him. Sean hadn’t said a word. These days, he didn’t trust himself to do so without biting Michael’s head off, and that was the last thing he wanted to do.

Okay, so I’ve had a few migraines. Why the scrutiny all the time?

He loved his housemates to bits, but recently he’d found himself snapping at them on occasion, and that just wasn’t like him. He could see the same thought in Michael’s eyes and that hurt. He hated it when Michael worried, especially if he was the cause.

He wanted to scream at them all.

Look, I’m fine! It’s just a few fucking HEADACHES, that’s all!

He wouldn’t, of course, tempting though the idea was. And besides, there was that tiny voice in his head that wouldn’t go away.

What if it’s more than just headaches? What if there’s something else wrong?

At first he’d pushed the thought aside. He’d been to the doctors in Spain, hadn’t he? The doc had been perfectly happy with his diagnosis of migraines

Only now the headaches were occurring more regularly, which was worrisome. The fact that his bloody pills were useless wasn’t helping either.

Then DO something. Get another opinion.

Now that made sense.

Sean picked up his phone and scrolled through his contacts to the clinic where he and Michael got tested every few months.

The sooner he got this sorted, the happier he’d be. And maybe then his housemates would stop mothering him.

He listened for a moment. Michael was downstairs in the kitchen with Chris, Evan, and Daniel. Josh was at the hospital. If Michael knew he was making an appointment, he’d only worry even more.

So that meant only one course of action—Sean wasn’t going to tell him. He’d go see another doctor, see if there were any tests they could run, and maybe get some medication that actually worked. He glanced at the notice board where his and Michael’s timetables were pinned. Being on the same course had its drawbacks, especially if he wanted to book an appointment when Michael wouldn’t be around. The only time available was when Michael saw his personal tutor. At least the clinic was on campus, but he might have to book it a week or two in advance to be sure of getting the slot he wanted.

And if he were completely honest, Sean was starting to get concerned. He rarely got sick, he ate healthily—Michael made sure of that—he didn’t smoke, and his alcohol intake amounted to a couple of glasses of wine per week. So putting up with headaches was pissing him off.

Make the call, Sean. While Michael’s not in earshot.

Sighing, he pressed Connect.

FinalExam600x600BannerTour Dates/Stops:
8/25: Reviews and Ramblings
8/26: Wake Up Your Wild Side
8/27: Prism Book Alliance
8/28: Hearts on Fire
8/29: Parker Williams
9/1: Jade Crystal
9/2: Angel Martinez
9/3: Amanda C. Stone
9/4: Scattered Thoughts & Rogue Words
9/5: Love Bytes
9/8: Regular Guys, Hot Romance
9/9: MM Good Book Reviews
9/10: LeAnn’s Book Reviews
9/11: Cate Ashwood, Dawn’s Reading Nook
9/12: Velvet Panic
9/15: My Fiction Nook
9/16: 3 Chicks After Dark
9/17: Fallen Angel Reviews
9/18: SA McAuley
9/19: Iyana Jenna

 

Contest: Use the Rafflecopter link to enter to win and for more contest details.  Must be 18 years of age or older to enter.
Rafflecopter Code: a Rafflecopter giveaway

Rafflecopter Prize: Copy of the book when it comes out