Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars
I have to say, this series is growing on me, and though I still have issues with some of the writing, the pacing, and am still getting bogged down in the unfamiliar Japanese elements of the book, I am now in that happy/unhappy limbo of being so completely immersed in a story that when I reached the end of the book I just wanted to get to the next one NOW!! The ending of this one was incredibly sweet and satisfying – even though the forces trying to bring down the Bastille clan are just as strong and mysterious as ever…
At the end of Fireworks and Stolen Kisses, Haru and Tally were married, and had become parents of 3 orphaned opossum lijun children. They were just starting to understand and trust each other, Haru was gaining the respect of the Bastille clan, and was coming to understand the American culture as Tally was learning how Haru’s traditionalist upbringing informed his actions and thoughts. Tally was cautiously hopeful that he was breaking through Haru’s walls, and all he needed was time and patience and his em’halafi would grow to love him as Tally loved Haru.
Time, unfortunately, was something they were not to have.
Although most of the elements that set up the conflict in this book were introduced in the first of the series, there were some new ones that were a little jarring. There were extremely dark elements of Haru’s past introduced (although not exactly explicitly, so there is still a little revelation that may come later) that I truly did not pick up on in the last book, so I wonder if the authors created them after the first book was written. The plot also took a decidedly violent turn that I did not expect, and though it was shocking, from that point on I could hardly set the book down – prior to that point, it was moving really slowly, to the point that I might have DNF’ed it had I not committed to the review.
I think what engaged me so much in this book was the focus on how Tally and Haru continued to function in the limbo of excruciating waiting after the initial tragedy and violence. It was truly heart-wrenching. In so many action novels, the characters are moving so quickly from one event to the next that they never have the chance to react and absorb what just happened. Tally had spent his entire life learning to temper the extremely threatening power of his Uktena (snake) nature with restraint in order to fulfill his role as leader of the clan in a way that fostered trust and cooperation. Violence had become anathema to him, so his reaction was as much bewilderment as it was grief. Watching Tally find the balance between violence and restraint in response to the threats to his family was also fascinating to read. At the end of the book, I might have been a little frustrated with Haru, but Tally was my hero.
The cast of characters is still quite large, but seemed a little more comprehensible in this book than they did the first. I felt like I finally had them all straight, which was a definite improvement over the first book! And though the players and the setting are much more defined than they were at the end of the first book, there is still a wide scope of possibility for the next one. Which I am anxiously looking forward to reading now! Overall, a slow start, but well worth the time to read this second installment of an epic series.
Cover art by Emmy@studioenp uses the same models from the first book of the series, but the poses have a deeper meaning this time. The models are still excellent representations of Tally and Haru.
ebook, 1, 444 pages
Published November 20th 2018 by Pride Publishing
Original Title Trysts and Burning Embers (Lijun, #2)
Edition Language English
Series Lijun #2