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Publisher's Summary

Japan, 1825: Low-ranking samurai Uchida Tomonosuke is a devotee of the way of manly love, but he has never pledged himself to another man. Until one day he accidentally crosses paths with Ichi, a beautiful blind masseur who challenges everything he thought he knew about love between men.

Ichi is independent and confident, but his blindness means he is considered a non-person in the rigid social hierarchy. Tomonosuke is torn between his passion for this elegant young man and the expectations of his rank. Not to mention his obligation to his unhappy wife Okyo. But when betrayal and natural disasters strike, it is Ichi who holds the key to saving Tomonosuke's life.

This vivid, meticulously researched novel depicts unconventional lives during the first half of the 19th century in Edo - the city that would become Tokyo. Step into a world in which the gay-straight binary doesn't exist, where androgyny in both men and women is celebrated. This thoroughly researched historical novel presents a realistic, deeply moving view of samurai, geisha, Japanese culture, and disability. It's also a steamy, explicit gay love story that knowingly bends the m-m romance genre.

©2020 Lucy May Lennox (P)2021 Lucy May Lennox
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • Categories: LGBTQ+

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Drama, love, seduction, endurance and poetry

I have been to Japan more than 50 times, mostly for business. I fell in love with Japan on my first visit. I love the beauty of the countryside and the cities and most of all the friends I made and still keep. During my work there I made it as far north as Onikobe and Sendai and south to Kobe, Kyoto and Osaka. I regularly kept up with current politics so I could have deeper conversations with my Japanese friends. There were many things I did not understand about the big industrial leading companies and families of Japan even with explanations by my friends. I regret that I have not yet delved into Japan's history. This book has seduced me into researching more. In fact, I plan to read it in written form so I can research all of the terms, places and see if I can find art for the period. This book showed me some of how the big Japanese companies came from families of the Shogunate period. I read Shōgun 40 years ago, maybe there is more in my memory than I currently can recall. Anyway I am now hooked and will do further research.

I love historical books that allow me to be immersed in that time period and culture. The narrator also has a charming Japanese accent when speaking English that adds immeasurably to the beauty of the audio book. His Japanese is flawless.

The plot is very unique, I cannot think of any book remotely like this. All 4 of the main characters grow immensely because of all that befalls them over the course of action. MC, low-ranking samurai Uchida Tomonosuke starts out very handsome, stoic and non verbal. You at least like him at the start, and I came to love him when he finally takes charge of their situation and leads. MC Ichi is a beautiful young man, blinded by a childhood illness. He was trained to be a masseuse and musician by the Todoza and is fully independent and productive member of society. These improbable guys fall head over heals for each other. Supporting characters are Tomanosuke's wife Okyo and her maid Ri. These women where harder for me to form attachments to, but I eventually loved them as well.

Ms Lennox skillfully shows the strict class system of Edo period Japan. At first this keeps all MC's apart. The more I have traveled the world, the more I see this is true even now for all cultures, or at least all I have come into contact with. A major earthquake and fire cause an instant change of circumstances for this newly formed family and all have to grow and change and improve themselves to just survive. Through it all, Ms Lennox adds poetry and prose that gives grace to important milestones. At the lowest low, I wished I was reading actual words, so I could skip ahead to assure myself of a decent end. Even though a HEA is part of this genre, the dire straits made me very concerned.

I think this would make an amazing movie or mini-series. Costumes, fireworks, earthquake, swords, theater, music, imperious dragon lady (Tomo's mother), etc.....

At the close of the book, the author gives a tremendous listing of English translations for the poetry, almanac for Edo era women, etc... A true gift for those who want to continue to research.

I think I will visit this book both written and narrated for many years to come.

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  • emrys
  • 10-17-21

Brilliant !

What a novel !! I learned so much about nineteenth century Japan - how the population was divided, how so many people were despised because they were not of the right position in society. On top of that it is a wonderful adventure story. You vacillate from one aspect to another. and so much of Japanese society is explored. I cannot praise this book highly enough.
The narrator is very, very good. His knowledge of both Japanese and English is veery impressive.