The Scarlet Kimono by Christina Courtenay
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Firstly, I don't really read historicals. It's not that I don't want to read them, I just don't seem to choose them - if that makes sense. The last historical I read was Anne Rice's 'The Feast Of All Saints', and although interesting to read the about 19th Century New Orleans and the gen de colors, I used to be able to put the book down and forget about it. Maybe it lacked romance?
However, I won this book through Choc Lit's Flavour of The Month Award in February (2011) and the minute I started reading I could never forget about it. I begrudgenly would have to put it down, real life getting in the way.
For the first third of the book the hero (Taro) and heroine (Hannah) don't meet. But you know they will, it is their fate. The sensei (Taro's seer) has seen it.
We see two lives unfolding, one in Japan and another in England (then at sea). We go from one culture to the other in the 17th Century - and for me it was believable.
I loved the development of Hannah's relationship with Hoji - the ship's 'Chinaman'. Hannah really was an endearing character. (I think maybe this was because for a modern day woman we have so many more choices and freedom - equality). She's intelligent, well mannered with her upbringing, yet not ignorant, which serves in her favour. But she's tough, stubborn and a fighter for what she wants/believes - otherwise she wouldn't be stowed away on a ship pretending to be a boy!
Through Taro's patience with his wife, and her intolerable sister, Lady Reiko, you learn he's a fair, patient man with very attractive qualities - Oh boy, did I LOVE Taro! He is a good man. (I have a theory about Lady Hasuko and her behaviour, which wasn't quite answered in the book but can't mention it here, for it would be a spoiler... but happy to discuss with anyone who has read this book to see if you came to the same conclusion).
Towards the end, I felt there could have been some more emotion enforced - especially when Hannah's life is truly in danger - I would have liked to have sensed more fear, but it is a small nit in the grand scheme of things with this book. I just enjoyed it for easy reading, a conflicted romance, a loveable heroine and a fanciable and very attractive Japanese hero! (Why is fanciable not in the dictionary?)
Right, off to add Trade Winds on my to-read list!
View all my reviews
Wow - 14 books read so far! Will not pick another up yet until I've finished reading through The Wedding Favour. Reading might be a bit slower now I've got to concentrate on editing my novel. But I'm way ahead of my target's schedule, so that should be fine.