A must read follow up book to Yakuza Pride. Ms. Brues stuns the reader again with a masterful story.
In this second book, it's a flip of cultural clash. This is not a standalone book and must be read after the first one. Shigure moves his entire Yakuza group with him to Hawaii. This is to protect Kenneth from his own father. Hawaii is a place filled with Asian Pacific Islanders. This should be an easy place for the Kenneth and Shigure to settle in. Not so.
Ms. Brues does another excellent job is showing the differences between two cultures. Japanese and American culture are so far apart it is hard to find mutual ground. This is abundantly clear as Shigure's adopted Yakuza family fails to integrate into Hawaiian society. For those who have not grown up in a world where respect and "face" is integral to a person's self-worth, this story will be hard to understand. For someone who grew up in this culture, this story will hurt to read. The growing pains Kinosuke Yonekawa suffers is painfully accurate. Kinosuke is one of Shigure's trusted lieutenants. Now without the Yakuza name, he is back to nothing. For those whom power and respect comes through fear, this downfall is hard to swallow.
The relationship complications in this story are worse because of so many missteps between the two main characters. Brendan is a former Navy SEAL who is so white bread he probably only knows two food groups--meat and potatoes. Falling for Kinosuke, a person he is investigating for Kenneth's father, the Senator, is the last thing he ever expected. Unlike Kenneth who understood the Japanese culture, Brendan is bumbling into it completely blind. His manners and actions show him to be a heavy handed thug crashing through delicately strong Japanese etiquette. It makes me wince because Brendan isn't doing it out of ill will. He just doesn't know any better. Unfortunately, Kinosuke, who may be an excellent martial arts teacher, sucks as a cultural attach??.
This story is less dark than the first yet it still carries the underlying tone of inhumanity. Kenneth's family is a despicable example of what most people hate about politicians. Ms. Brues creates characters who are flawed yet redeemable. Yet for Kenneth's family, there is nothing but flaws. They are evil to the core with the word villain stamped on their forehead. It's rather interesting how badly she paints them.
What I enjoyed most about this story is once again the relationships. The growth from both Kinosuke and Brendan is reassuring. It is because it shows how two different people who judge each other unfairly can come to a middle ground and see each other's point of view. In addition, it shows the bonds of family does not need to be just blood ones. Brotherhood through a chosen family can be just as strong, if not stronger than blood families. The parallels and contrasts between Brendan's former SEAL team mates and Kinosuke's Yakuza members is fascinating.
This story is highly recommended to m/m readers who want to read about cultural clashes which bring forth acceptance.