Book Title: The Yakuza Path: Blood Stained Tea
Author: Amy Tasukada
Release Date: November 28, 2016
Genre: Gay thriller (NOT ROMANCE)
Tropes: Forbidden love, bad boys, tragic hero
Heat Rating: 1 flame
Length: 350 pages
It is the first book in the series and does not end on a cliffhanger.
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A bloody past haunts him. A devastating present lures him back…
Nao hides from his violent past in the Japanese mob by opening a teahouse in Japan’s cultural center, Kyoto. His past comes flooding back when he discovers a gravely injured man with a tattooed chest, a bloody knife, and a Korean business card.
Saehyun would’ve died if not for Nao’s help. He knows nothing of his savior’s connection with the local mafia, but Saehyun has his own secrets. He commands the Korean mafia, the mortal enemy of Nao’s former syndicate.
As Nao and Saehyun grow closer, so does the strength of the Korean mob. A shocking murder pulls Nao back into a past he’d all but abandoned. War is looming, and Nao must choose between protecting Saehyun or avenging the honor of his old mafia family.
Blood Stained Tea is the first book in the The Yakuza Path series. If you like complex characters, blood-soaked violence, and twists you won’t see coming, then you’ll love Amy Tasukada’s gritty crime masterpiece.
The Yakuza Path Series
BOOK 1 – Blood Stained Tea
BOOK 2 – Better Than Suicide
BOOK 3 – One Thousand Cranes
BOOK 4 – The Deafening Silence
BOOK 5 – Flowers of Flesh and Blood
BOOK 6 – Releasing in November
It was no collection of branches, but a human body slumped against the tree roots.
“Are you all right?” Nao yelled over the cracking thunder.
No answer came.
Nao dropped his umbrella and crossed the footbridge in a single stride. The rain trickled down his back, plastering his hair to his neck. As he groped for a cherry-tree branch to steady himself on the embankment, his clog sank into the mud, which slathered between his toes. He pulled one foot up, but the shoe stuck, and he tipped forward. The cold river stung his face, and he spat out the water that had flooded his mouth.
Nao crawled to the body and came face-to-face with the unconscious young man. He had to be a few years younger than Nao. Lightning flashed, exposing the man’s bushy eyebrows and sloping nose. An eye was swollen shut, and blood dripped from his open mouth. Nao grabbed the arm of the man, who hissed in pain. Blood poured out from underneath his cut sleeve. Nao swallowed. He hadn’t seen such flowing blood since that night. The cut was sliced clean and couldn’t have been from the stranger’s fall in the canal.
Nao pulled at the sleeve and held it against the wound.
“Can you get up?”
Nao received no reply, but he waited, hoping the minute or two of pressure would close the cut. The warm fluid flowed out between Nao’s fingers.
“Your arm’s in rough shape. I’ll take you to a hospital.”
“No. No hospital,” the injured man said, and then he muttered something in Korean, but the Korean sounded like the cawing of crows to Nao.
“Someone there should be able to speak Korean. You need to get your arm looked at. Come on!”
Nao reached for the man’s uninjured arm, but the stranger pushed him away with such force Nao fell back into the mud. He curled his fingers into a fist, and mud oozed out. No matter how much the stranger struggled, Nao wouldn’t leave him.
The rain drowned out the man’s continued mumbling. He was probably telling Nao why he couldn’t go to the hospital. Expired visa or lack of insurance, Nao didn’t need to know.
With an uneven step toward the stranger, Nao realized his right shoe had stayed in the muck. His bare foot slid through the sludge, and he grimaced. Lightning flashed, and the stranger’s mouth no longer moved. Nao’s eyes widened. He couldn’t let another person die in front of him.
No reply or movement from the stranger.
Nao clenched his teeth. He grabbed the injured arm, pressing his thumb into the cut. The man hissed in pain and then spat out more Korean. Nao backed away. He had deepened the injury, but the cruelty woke the guy up, so it was worth it.
“We need to get out of the rain before we both get sick.”
Nao tugged the good arm over his shoulder. The man moaned as Nao hoisted him up. The stranger was considerably taller, built larger in all aspects, and he weighed down on Nao’s shoulder. Yet the drive to do something right for once carried him on.
About the Author
International best-selling author Amy Tasukada writes thrilling times of crime, love, and gore. Readers who crave diverse characters, unique settings, and edge-of-your-seat action will devour her Yakuza Path series. Readers who seek less blood and more love will swoon over the Yakuza Path Romance and Would it Be Okay to Love You? Series. Amy is an atheist, queer author who enjoys drinking tea, Japanese street fashion and visual kei music. Her calico cat, O’Hara, is never far from her side. Amy lives in North Texas, but is always planning her next trip to Japan.
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Rating: 4 stars
*I received this novel for free in exchange for an honest review*
When Nao’s chance encounter with a member of the rival Korean mafia draws him back into a world that he thought he had left behind, he quickly finds himself torn between the man whose life he saved and his old loyalties. Saehyun is his opposite in every way, yet Nao still finds himself drawn to him. But Saehyun has his own secrets that could potentially destroy them both.
Blood Stained Tea is the first novel in The Yakuza Path series and is set in Kyoto. Having been to Kyoto myself, the former capital is very different from the modern Tokyo. Seeing as how tradition is emphasised strongly in this novel, it is an excellent choice of setting. Nao runs a teahouse and has dedicated himself to keeping older Japanese traditions alive. Through him you really get to appreciate the rich and historic culture of Japan – and learn a lot about tea too! I really appreciate the time the author took to focus on the traditions and festivals. And it contrasted well against the modern world that Saehyun represented.
Both main characters had something to like and dislike about them. Nao’s timid demeanour was at odds with Saehyun hot-headed and sometimes rash behaviour. However, their romance was not the main focus. It was the power struggle between the warring families that took centre stage. I had mixed feelings about this as the summary implied there would be more romance than there actually was. Given the circumstances, it never fully developed which was somewhat disappointing. Having said that, the novel was so rich culturally and the action in the last quarter of it took away much of my disappointment. The ending was surprising and I am interested in where future novels in the series will lead to.