Title: Coming of Age
Author: Venona Keyes
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Pages/Word Count: 32 Pages
Rating: 3 Stars
Blurb: Akiyoshi ‘Aero’ Kurokuma, author of the wildly popular manga, Ecos, lost his assistant when his best friend retired. After Aero collapses from exhaustion four years later, he is forced to run a contest for an assistant. Placing impossible rules on the contest, Aero is sure no one can win. But a winner emerges: a young man from America, Daniel Beck. The first time he lays eyes on Daniel, Aero realizes he’ll have a hard time hiding his attraction. Daniel is a perfect assistant, but it doesn’t help Aero see past the twenty-year age difference between them. It will take all of Daniel’s charm and the prayers offered at the shrine to make Aero take a chance on the romance they both want.
A story from the Dreamspinner Press 2014 Advent Calendar package “Celebrate!”.
Review: I loved the originality of Coming of Age. There were a lot of appealing elements for me: Super hip, reclusive manga creator; May-December romance; tons of Japanese culture. It was definitely an original plotline, and it was completely awesome learning some new Japanese words, and about some of the holiday traditions; I was born in Japan – Air Force brat – so, I just ate that stuff up!
The contest Aero runs to find his new assistant wasvery cool and unique – albeit set up by him to be impossible to win – and there was one entry that couldn’t be denied. That entry was sent in by none other than Daniel Becker, and American with whom Aero has been corresponding for years, and who would do anything to follow his dream of being his hero’s apprentice, helping to create the manga that he loves.
Where the story ran into problems was, quite honestly, with the love story between Aero and Daniel. As I said, I adore May-December romances, so that wasn’t it… Somehow, things between them just felt a bit flat. There wasn’t any sizzle there. That Daniel was in love with Aero was very sweet, and that Aero was resisting it was understandable, but there needed to be more than just the history of their previous correspondence as backstory. There wasn’t enough present-day connection between them to make it come alive. There wasn’t any fire between them. And I’m not talking about sex, but passion or romance.
Overall, Coming of Age was a nice holiday read. Aero’s best friend, Sato, and his wife, Ikemi were fabulous as supporting characters, and there was some humor and cute elements to the storyline, but it lacked the fire I felt the main characters needed.
You can buy Coming of Age here: