Title: Yakuza Courage
Author: H.J. Brues
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Rating: 4.5 Stars
Blurb: Sequel to Yakuza Pride
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.
Review: Before I started Yakuza Courage, I ended up re-reading Yakuza Pride just to refresh my memory of some of the characters involved in this story. Let me just start by telling you that these two books are not a light and fluffy read.
Brendan has been hired by Senator Harris to spy on the dojo that Kinosuke “Ken “ Yonekawa owns, to find out just what Ken’s connection is with the so-called employees he’s hired to run the place. With help from of a former Navy SEAL, Big B, the two men manage to infiltrate the dojo and wire it for surveillance. It is at this time that Brendan joins the dojo to learn Kendo. One of the cute parts of this surveillance was when Brendan and Big B start listening in on the Yakuza and discover that neither one of them knows how to speak Japanese. Ooops!
Kinosuke is feeling out of touch since leaving the Yakuza to join his boss and lover in Honolulu. Needless to say, Ken’s a bit short tempered and feeling resentful of being relegated to playing babysitter to Kotaro, the boss’s adopted son. So when a new, smart ass gaijin joins the dojo and asks Kinosuke to be his sensei…well, it doesn’t take long for the sparks to fly. Or for them to act on the mutual attraction they have for each other, which leaves Kotaro feeling displaced and Kinosuke short tempered with him. The teenager, now feeling lonely and wanting to fit in somewhere, starts to hang out with the wrong crowd and is caught on surveillance selling drugs.
And it was at this point that Yakuza Courage just took off!
Oh my god, H.J. Brues did it again, surprising me with betrayal, plot twists and so many suspenseful moments that I had trouble slowing my mind down because I couldn’t wait to see what would happen next. I ended up having to re-read some scenes because in my devouring of the book, I found myself missing key things leading up to the next scene. I had to tell myself to slow down a couple of times because I just couldn’t handle the suspense.
As much as I enjoyed reading Yakuza Courage, though, there were a couple of situations that I found hard to believe, and I wish there had been more interaction in the developing romance between Brendan and Kinosuke, like there was between Shigure and Kenneth. If anything, I also want to find out more about Kotaro and his new guardian angel. I’m hoping to see another story in the making with that possibility.
So I’m giving Yakuza Courage a 4.5 Star rating and would gladly give both Yakuza stories a listen if/when they come out in audio. Who knows, getting a second version and the right narrator for Yakuza Courage might change my rating to 5 Stars, but either way, I absolutely love this series!
You can buy Yakuza Courage here: