Rating: 4 stars out of 5
For seven years while training for his life as a samurai, Toho Morimasa has been away from Aoki, the beautiful actor who helped him to heal from the trauma of his parents’ brutal murders. Now, nightmares that Aoki is in trouble plague Toho’s sleep, and he makes the journey back from Edo to Kai, no longer wanting to be away from Aoki’s side. Once there, Toho meets the very real source of his nightmares and vows to honor and protect Aoki. When his beloved Aoki is brutally assaulted, will Aoki survive long enough to understand that the love Toho has for him is the love he too has been craving his whole life but doesn’t feel he deserves?
A Timeless Dreams title: While reaction to same-sex relationships throughout time and across cultures has not always been positive, these stories celebrate M/M love in a manner that may address, minimize, or ignore historical stigma.
Blossom of the Samurai ties up the stories of the three couples that make up the Sword and the Silk Trilogy by Sedonia Guillone and its such a lovely finish to this trilogy.
I’ve been reading her Samurai stories for years and started on this path with Flying Fish back in 2009 (it was rereleased by Dreamspinner Press in 2016). Sedonia Guillone’s tales are gentle tales that move at a pace unusual for most stories, their narrative almost oriental in their flow and language at times. Gentle and yet visited by the violence of the times, all the characters endure hardship to find their other half. One samurai, the other an actor/courtesan, except in the second story which acts as a bridge to the first and third.
In Flying Fish, (a name for a traveling actor) its Genji Sakura and masterless samurai, the ronin Daisuke Minamoto, in Blind Love (Sword and Silk Trilogy #2) the couple is Hirata Morimasa and Anma Sho, leading to the final story with their foster son, Toho Morimasa and Aoki, the actor in Blossom of the Samurai. All three couples (or 5/6ths of them make important appearances here). It brings all their stories full circle, giving the reader further insight into Toho’s tale from Blind Love, and retribution for Hirata and Sho.
I’m hard-pressed to describe Guillone’s style of writing. Soft, yet it has its share of sword fights. Flowery but able to recognize the harshness of life as it occurs to the characters here. And pain does come with a swiftness that’s breathtaking even though we’ve been expecting it. I love her layered characters and the way in which we are able to feel their deep connections to each other with a minimal amount of words as well as the inclusion of Japanese words and settings in an easy, informal manner. It brings this era alive for the reader in a way I love.
However, I wish there was more to this story. I wanted to know more about Toho and what was going to happen with Aoki and their life together. I wanted more length, more of them. It ended too soon. At 112 pages (although that’s this author’s style too), that short length was not enough to bring this gorgeous tale to the fullness it deserved. That’s my only qualm here.
If you love ancient Japan, and lovers in search of their soul mates, pick up Sedonia Guillone’s Sword and Silk Trilogy. I loved all the stories, ending with Blossom of the Samurai.
Cover art by Reese Dante is lovely but not exactly spot on for all the characters.