Author ~ Sedonia Guillone
Publisher ~ Dreamspinner Press
Published ~ 15th February 2017
Genre ~ Historical M/M Romance
The samurai’s only true master is his heart….
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.
This was such a sweet and gentle book, not my usual style at all. Set in ancient Japan it follows Toho, a samurai-in-training and his childhood mentor Aoki.
Toho was orphaned as a child, traumatized by the brutalization of his parents at the hand of renegade ronin. Rescued by the inimitable Sho and his partner Hirata, Toho is nursed back to health, aided by the lovely Aoki. Heartbroken at their parting when his fathers moved away for work, Toho never forgets Aoki.
Aoki, too had known trauma, having been sent to an acting troupe by his impoverished parents. He learned his trade as well as that of a prostitute in a tea house, something that had a very different reputation in those days.
When Toho sensed Aoki is in danger he undertakes his first solo journey, to find his friend well and welcoming. However, Toho’s feelings have changed and he finds himself unable to see Aoki as merely a friend.
When Aoki is brutalized by his boyfriend, Toho has the opportunity to return the favour and heal Aoki.
If I have one complaint about the book it’s that there are many Japanese words and customs with no explanation. This might well be because it’s the third book in a series, although it certainly stands alone and although I haven’t read the first two books I didn’t feel as if I was coming in halfway through the story. I had to look up some of the words and simply go with the flow as far as traditions were concerned.
Apart from this, the story flowed beautifully and I definitely feel that I got into the heads of the main characters, as well as the others we meet along the way. There was no sense of rushing, even when a lot was happening, and even the death of the evil Sozaemon at Sho’s hand was dealt with beautifully and almost gently. There is great respect in every action taken throughout the book.
I know very little about ancient Japan, although I have read a little in fiction and picked some up in anime. However, it was easy to lose myself in the pictured conjured in my mind and to follow Aoki and Toho on their journey from friends to lovers, which is a far from easy one for either.
There is nothing remotely harsh about this book, although there are brutal scenes. Everything is painted tastefully and it felt like a visit to old friends whose pace of life is slower and surrounded by beauty. The key word is honour and the overriding emotions that of fondness and friendship.
I would heartily recommend this book to anyone who has an interest in Japan and/or sweet love stories.