Reviewed by Nikyta
Title: Yakuza Courage
Author: H.J. Brues
Series: The Way of the Yakuza #2
Heroes: Kinosuke/Brendan & Kotaro
Genre: M/M Contemporary
Length: 336 Pages
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Release Date: August 1, 2014
Available at: Dreamspinner Press, Amazon, Barnes & Noble and All Romance eBooks
Add it to your shelf: Goodreads
Blurb: Ex-Navy SEAL Brendan O’Farrihy enrolls in kendo classes to investigate a Honolulu dojo acting as a front for a yakuza syndicate. Or at least that’s what Brendan’s client, Senator Harris, believes. Through his kendo instructor, the cocky, short-fused, gorgeous Kinosuke Yonekawa, Brendan learns the criminals who are supposedly using the senator’s son, Kenneth, to expand their activities into the US, seem to have severed any yakuza connections. The jaded, soul-scarred former soldier is captivated by the loyalty these gangsters show each other and the way they protect Ken like a tight military unit. Brendan wonders why the senator lied to him, and what the yakuza are shielding Ken from.
When Ken disappears, Brendan suspects foul play and decides to help the man he is falling for, Kinosuke, and his friends, find Ken. But when Kinosuke discovers Brendan has been on the senator’s payroll, all bets are off.
Three years ago, I discovered this book called Yakuza Pride. I say a lot that I love this and that but when I say that I love the yakuza, I mean that they are one of my favorite things to read about. The culture is so rich and they’re so intense with their honor and loyalty that I’m always drawn to those type of stories. So when I read Yakuza Pride, it instantly became a favorite. In fact, I’ve read it at least a dozen times since then AND bought the paperback. I BEGGED the author to write a sequel because Kinosuke deserved his own story. Imagine my surprised AND DELIGHT when I got an email from the author saying my wish came true! I was ECSTATIC and sooooooo happy! And determined to read that baby as soon as possible because I just KNEW I’d love it. And, what do you know? I was right 😉
Yakuza Courage is Kinosuke’s story about how he’s coping with the move from Japan to Hawaii. His whole life has been uplifted and now he’s finding it hard to find his place in the foreign country, even if he is working with his yakuza family at the dojo. Add to that, his “little brother”, Kotaro, is acting up and he has no idea what to do or how to handle the little brat. When Brendan comes to the dojo under the disguise of wanting lessons, he gets under Kinosuke’s skin so much that Kinosuke’s attitude and actions start hurting others. But when he accepts his feelings for Brendan, Kinosuke thinks he’s finally found something that’s “his”… until he realizes that Brendan being around is no coincidence and the betrayal bites deep. But when Ken goes missing, Kinosuke must decide whether contacting the very person who hurt him could be the key to finding the man he owes his life to.
My recap is a little different than the blurb because I wanted to give a little more foundation for what the story is about. It’s taken from three POVs – Kinosuke’s, Brendan’s and Kotaro’s. It follows along as these three navigate their lives. While Kotaro is younger and dealing with issues like school, bullying and fitting in, Kinosuke is have those same issues but more adult-related. He just can’t find his place and it’s driving him nuts. Neither of them have a ‘purpose’ anymore, like they did when they were in Japan and that throws them for a loop and causes them to act vastly different than they normally would. Brendan, actually, has a similar issue in that since he’s been out of the military, he’s found it hard to find a home, a job that he enjoys and a partner to spend it with. They all have their quirks and the three POVs merged very well together by being able to cover all the areas of the mystery, suspense and their lives.
As characters, I adored them just as much as I did in Yakuza Pride. Kotaro is still the bratty little brother who just wants to please, although now he has a hint of defiance in him. Kinosuke is still the smart-mouthed, stubborn and short-tempered man he was, except now he’s also a mix of cocky and insecure. Brendan is different. He’s a hardened soldier who’s pretty cold but he’s also smug and cocky. At the same time, Kinosuke and Brendan connect on the same level. They understand each other and there’s a chemistry between them. I loved that Kinosuke struggled with his feelings for Brendan and couldn’t really understand Brendan. I also loved that once he accepted it, he jumped in with both feet. However, these men are both stubborn and sometimes they just don’t know how to express their emotions, which would put Kinosuke in a situation where he doubted or questioned Brendan’s words and actions. It was sad but I felt like it fit the story and ultimately the characters and made me just want to squeeze them both!
I LOVED this book but I did have two minors issues. One, I was very confused when it came to the point where the yakuza and SEALs were working together to find Ken and what exactly they were doing. It took me a while to connect the dots and figure out why they were posing as businessman, which leaves me to my second issue. There were a few instances where gaps in time were skipped over between one chapter and the next. Unfortunately, I felt like these lapses were important for the story and so when the new chapter picked up, it always took me a while to figure out how much time had gone by, what had transpired during that time and what exactly is happening now. Three specifics situations standout in my mind (right after Kinosuke insults Ken(for the second time) in front of the boss, when Brendan decides to get his team involved and when Brendan goes back to the mainland).
Even with those issues, though, I ADORED this story. It’s been years since I read Yakuza Pride and I can honestly say, that I am completely satisfied with the sequel. Sure, there wasn’t as much romance between Kinosuke and Brendan but I felt like their love was more real because they weren’t basing their emotions just off lust. They had time to learn each other, see each other in action, etc. Then there was the fact that this one has a whole HOST of characters (sometimes a bit too much and my advice is to not try hard to remember all the names) but they were still amusing, especially Brendan’s team (loved Otter!).
This is a story that has a bit of everything in it and really had me engrossed while reading. HOWEVER, I really hope the author decides to write more in this series because I honestly think there’s more potential especially because now Kotaro and Bobcat need a story! Not to mention that little teaser about Shinya at the end so now he needs a story! LOL
Overall Impression: I loved it!
*I received a copy of this book from the publisher in return for a fair and honest review.*