Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5
After a harrowing seventeen-year separation, Hirata Morimasa leaves his home and secure future to search for his childhood friend, Sho. Blinded by illness when they were children, Sho was sent away, apprenticed to a blind masseur (an anma) to learn his trade, and then disappeared.
Desperate to find the other half of his heart and soul, Hirata willingly sacrifices the prestige and security of his father’s dojo to find him. When an anma who looks exactly like Sho crosses his path in front of a gambling parlor one day, the man flatly denies he is Sho. Hirata knows better and is determined to get the truth… and to get back the friend he’d lost. However, even though Hirata knows in his bones this man is his soul mate, Sho has changed in ways Hirata could not have prepared for in his wildest imaginings, changes that could continue to keep them apart… forever.
The second story in Sedonia Guillone’s Sword and Silk trilogy, Blind Love is a gorgeous blend of Japanese history, culture and a romance that’s perhaps more eastern than western in its outlook on love. I found that remarkably true in keeping to its characters, its era, and the situation the men found themselves it.
Its a heartbreaking story in many regards. Two young boys who love each other, separated first by birth into different levels of stature. One is the son of servants, the other the son of a samurai who runs a dojo. Then comes a devastating illness that blinds Sho and is destined to separate them further when Sho is sent away and disappears. Told from Hirata’s pov, the author writes boyhood scenes of happiness that we can easily connect with them, and then of the utmost terror when the separation comes. From all that has passed before, we know that Sho has become an essential part of Hirata and now that’s been torn away. Trust me, the tears will flow.
What follows gives you some insight into that era and into the heart of Hirata as he grows up. Its hard to believe this story is only 95 pages long.
Its what happens when the men meet again that I think readers (some/most) will have issues with. If any have read or watched any Japanese books or movies, then this part will not surprise you. Its very much in keeping with the tone of the romances or writings of that culture. I’m trying hard not to include spoilers here. It also seemed very, well if not reasonable, then understandable when you hear Sho’s pov of the story and that scene towards the end of the novel. I thought the scene worked. Plus it introduced us to a character, Aoki-san, who is a link to not only the couple in the first story, Flying Fish, but who will be half of the final couple in the last tale in this trilogy. So its suitable that he plays such an inflammatory yet gentle role here. Yes, its possible to be both. He is one to excite the senses in a soft way. Trust me. Read the story.
There is so much here. Not just history of the Shogunate era but all the aggregate loss, compassion, guilt and anger that has built up between Hirata and Sho. Blind Love is also how two men who have never forgotten each other learn to triumph over their past and move on. Again, all in 95 pages. Quite remarkable.
There is one more tale to come. Blossom of the Samurai (Sword and Silk #3), the story of Aoki, the beautiful actor and Toho Morimasa. Who is Toho? Well, now that’s another pleasure to be found inside Blind Love. This is a wonderful series. I highly recommend both books so far. I’m sure I will love the third just as much. I can’t wait to find out.
Cover art by Reese Dante. I wish that the characters had a little more historical feel to them but I like the sepia tone to the coloration.
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.
ebook, 2nd Edition, 95 pages
Expected publication: November 9th 2016 by Dreamspinner Press (first published March 28th 2013)
ISBN 1634775430 (ISBN13: 9781634775434)
Series: Sword and Silk Trilogy – add to your Goodreads shelf here: