Book Review | “The Scarlet Kimono” (Book One of the Kumashiro Series) by Christina Courtenay via #ChocLitSaturdays

Posted Saturday, 16 April, 2016 by jorielov , , , , , 0 Comments

ChocLitSaturdays Banner Created by Jorie in Canva.

Why I feature #ChocLitSaturdays (book reviews & guest author features)
and created #ChocLitSaturday (the chat via @ChocLitSaturday):

I wanted to create a bit of a niche on Jorie Loves A Story to showcase romance fiction steeped in relationships, courtships, and the breadth of marriage enveloped by characters written honestly whose lives not only endear you to them but they nestle into your heart as their story is being read!

I am always seeking relationship-based romance which strikes a chord within my mind’s eye as well as my heart! I’m a romantic optimist, and I love curling into a romance where I can be swept inside the past, as history becomes lit alive in the fullness of the narrative and I can wander amongst the supporting cast observing the principal characters fall in love and sort out if they are a proper match for each other!

I love how an Indie Publisher like ChocLitUK is such a positive alternative for those of us who do not identify ourselves as girls and women who read ‘chick-lit’. I appreciate the stories which alight in my hands from ChocLit as much as I appreciate the inspirational romances I gravitate towards because there is a certain level of depth to both outlets in romance which encourage my spirits and gives me a beautiful story to absorb! Whilst sorting out how promote my book reviews on behalf of ChocLit, I coined the phrase “ChocLitSaturdays”, which is a nod to the fact my ChocLit reviews & features debut on ‘a Saturday’ but further to the point that on the ‘weekend’ we want to dip into a world wholly ideal and romantic during our hours off from the work week!

Coffee and Tea Clip Art Set purchased on Etsy; made by rachelwhitetoo.

Acquired Book By: I am a regular reviewer for ChocLitUK, where I hand select which books in either their backlist and/or current releases I would like to read next for my #ChocLitSaturdays blog feature. I received a complimentary copy of “The Scarlet Kimono” from ChocLit in exchange for an honest review! I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

Why I want to read the Kumashiro series:

I was originally thinking of reading Ms Courtenay’s debut novel Trade Winds and the series which expanded out of it (the Kinross series) ahead of reading The Scarlet Kimono – however, I decided to read them in reverse order! One of the reasons why is because I have felt so wholly enthused by another series set in Japan which are the Shinobi Mysteries (recently renamed: Hiro Hattori Novels) by Susan Spann! I have had the pleasure of reading each of the Shinobi Mysteries as they release, starting with Blade of the Samurai and reading Claws of the Cat as I did so! Ms Spann recently changed publishers and is now represented by Seventh Street Books (of whom I am a new reviewer)! Her latest installment in this expansive and lovely series is The Ninja’s Daughter arriving in August, 2016! This series takes place one century before Ms Courtenay’s Kumashiro series – so you can see why I am so wicked happy!

We enter into the Kumashiro series in the year 1611 and by the time we step inside the third novel, The Jade Lioness the year will be 1648! Part of my inspiration to read stories set in Japan is having had close personal friends who lived there throughout my teenage years and early twenties. Our lives drifted apart, but not my sincere appreciation for their country and cultural heritage. I was also first introduced to Japanese art, culture, spirituality, music and food by my maternal grandparents who had a strong penchant for Japan; and although none of my family was able to visit the country in person, we found ways to experience Japanese culture stateside. I still have fond memories of going to Japanese Steakhouses where the foods were cooked right before your eyes, close enough to feel the flames of the fire and delight in the aromatherapy of the foods being cooked!

The only irony is that even as a youngster I was a budding vegetarian, so my fondest memories are everything that doesn’t include meat, poultry or fish! Laughs with mirth. I also fancy miso soup with daikon radish and shiitake mushrooms as an adult who has a health conscience approach to natural eating and living. I truly love emerging inside a corridor of History and thus far along, Spann and Courtenay have given me a way to entreat inside Japan with a heart full of delightful happiness! Bless them! And, imagine they each are writing about samurai and the ways in which the West affect the East!

I have been wanting to focus more on the series being published by ChocLitUK and this year, I’ve started to make en-roads towards this goal as I featured the first novel in the Charton Minster series The Silver Locket whilst following it up with The Scarlet Kimono and circling out with The Wild One which was a dearly hoped for sequel of mine on behalf of the world set in Coorah Creek!

The series I would like to treat myself to becoming acquainted with as I move forward with my ChocLit readings are: the London & Cambridge mysteries by Clare Chase; the Rossetti mysteries by Kirsty Ferry; the Emerald Isle series by Isabella Connor (all Irish lasses would be keen!); the Little Spitmarsh series by Christine Stovell; and the Emma series by Linda Mitchelmore. Whilst continuing to read the series I have in-progress as well as adding the Kinross series by Ms Courtenay, as I have a certain affection for historicals!

On my Connection to Ms. Courtenay:

Two years ago, on the 26th of April, 2014, I created #ChocLitSaturday a weekly Rom chat to celebrate the novelists of ChocLitUK but also, to expand to include book bloggers, readers and writers of Romance who have a penchant for the genre as a whole. Ms. Courtenay started to become a regular fixture, and her encouraging conversations & ability to inspire others to converse freely throughout the chats put me at ease in my new role as a ‘Hostess’. She always seemed to know how to either start a topic or how to best suggest something to break the ice! I was always so very grateful to her and I am thinking I might have forgotten to tell her directly how much gratitude I had for her in those earlier chats! Over the weeks that have followed, I have found myself attached to each of my ‘regular’ chatters during the hour, and I consider Ms. Courtenay a bookish like-minded soul, as we tend to appreciate the same types of stories!

I am disclosing this, to assure you that I can formulate an honest opinion, even though I have interacted with Courtenay through our respective love & passion of reading inside the twitterverse whilst I host #ChocLitSaturday the chat and having previously read her time slip novels. I treat each book as a ‘new experience’, whether I personally know the author OR whether I am reading a book by them for the first time or continuing to read their releases as they are available.

Coffee and Tea Clip Art Set purchased on Etsy; made by rachelwhitetoo.

Book Review | “The Scarlet Kimono” (Book One of the Kumashiro Series) by Christina Courtenay via #ChocLitSaturdaysThe Scarlet Kimono
by Christina Courtenay
Illustrator/Cover Designer: Berni Stevens
Source: Direct from Publisher

Abducted by a Samurai warlord in 17th-century Japan – what happens when fear turns to love?

England, 1611, and young Hannah Marston envies her brother’s adventurous life. But when she stows away on his merchant ship, her powers of endurance are stretched to their limit. Then they reach Japan and all her suffering seems worthwhile – until she is abducted by Taro Kumashiro’s warriors.

In the far north of the country, warlord Kumashiro is intrigued to learn more about the girl who he has been warned about by a seer. There’s a clash of cultures and wills, but they’re also fighting an instant attraction to each other.

With her brother desperate to find her and the jealous Lady Reiko equally desperate to kill her, Hannah faces the greatest adventure of her life. And Kumashiro has to choose between love and compromising his honour…

Places to find the book:

Borrow from a Public Library

Add to Riffle

Add to LibraryThing

Book Page on ChocLitUK

ISBN: 9781906931292

Also by this author: Guest Post about Time Slips, The Silent Touch of Shadows, The Velvet Cloak of Moonlight Cover Reveal, The Velvet Cloak of Moonlight Cover Reveal, Marry for Love, The Gilded Fan, The Jade Lioness, The Secret Kiss of Darkness

Also in this series: The Gilded Fan, The Jade Lioness


Genres: Historical Fiction, Historical Romance


Published by ChocLitUK

on 29th May, 2012

Format: Paperback Edition

Pages: 356

Published by: ChocLitUK (@ChocLituk)

Available Formats:

Paperback, Audiobook, Large Print & E-Book

Read the lovely interview about The Scarlet Kimono via The Word Wenches

Converse via: #KumashiroSeries, #HistRom or #TheScarletKimono

About Christina Courtenay

Christina Courtenay

Christina lives near Hereford and is married with two children. Although born in England she has a Swedish mother and was brought up in Sweden. In her teens, the family moved to Japan where she had the opportunity to travel extensively in the Far East.

Christina’s debut Trade Winds was short listed for the 2011 Romantic Novelists’ Association’s Pure Passion Award for Best Historical Fiction. The Scarlet Kimono won the 2011 Big Red Reads Best Historical Fiction Award. Highland Storms (in 2012) and The Gilded Fan (in 2014) won the Historical Romantic Novel of the Year Award and The Silent Touch of Shadows won the 2012 Best Historical Read Award from the Festival of Romance. Christina is Chairman of the Romantic Novelists’ Association.

Novels: Trade Winds, Highland Storms, Monsoon Mists, The Scarlet Kimono, The Gilded Fan, The Silent Touch of Shadows, The Secret Kiss of Darkness, The Soft Whisper of Dreams, The Jade Lioness, Marry in Haste, Once Bitten Twice Shy, Desperate Remedies and Never Too Late.

Coffee and Tea Clip Art Set purchased on Etsy; made by rachelwhitetoo.

East meets West:

One cardinal truth between the two cultures was the necessity to marry for increased power, wealth or leverage to increase one’s security. This is an attribution shared by the Marston and Kumashiro families as each were hoping a marriage would unite more than familial boundaries and an assurance of heirs. Despite the fact Hannah and Kumashiro grew up in two different worlds, they shared a heart-truth as neither one had ever been properly matched in love. They each had to deal with expectations of their families and/or what their society would dictate without the consideration for their own feelings and motivations. They were each true to themselves but they did not necessary always lead as etiquette would dictate either – they choose to live outside the lines of their cultural divides, and I think in some ways this is what was uniting them.

One thing they both shared is an openness for accepting people and for taking people for who they are rather than to hide their feelings about anyone. Hannah and Kumashiro strike a bit of a balance through their connection of having lived lives where what they had hoped to find was counter-balanced from what they faced out of duty.

My Review of The Scarlet Kimono:

Kumashiro is a proud man – a bit too full of pride to recognise a warning when he hears one from his personal seer, whose seen a premonition about a woman whose arriving in his territory who will upturnt the status quo in such a way as to cause trouble. Like most men before him, he takes prophecy in stead and doesn’t put too much empathsis on what is revealled thinking he can overtake any obstacle which could emerge forth. A short-sided attitude, but one that is expected of him. Meanwhile, Hannah of whom is the sister of a Captain whose ship bound for Japan in trade, has a bit of a ficklement evolving her sister whose common sense is misplaced. In classic style, her sister is meant to marry but another hand has wooed her into being charmed away from a keen match and thus, cause a bit of a scandal in their family.

Hannah had the kind of sister you loathe to admit were possible – one who would twist your words, and convince your Mum about your mishaps even if you were in the right rather than the wrong! Kate is quite the selfish creature without remorse and why Hannah’s Mum hasn’t yet seen straight through her acts of defiant behaviour is a wonder! Their mother appears to believe one daughter over the other, and thus, drawing a wedge between the sisters of whom share no loyalty amongst their sisterly bond. The more you are given to learn about Hannah’s home life, it is far easier to understand her will to leave England and carve out a different kind of future for herself.

Hannah started to conceive of the idea to hitch her ride towards the East when a suitor matched by her parents rankled her ability to find one plausible joy out of the future nuptials. Her chance meeting with Captain Rydon all but sealed her wish to cart herself out of her situation by doing something quite radical and daring! To live the full of the life she felt she had inside her to give, without the restrictions or the glaring criticism she was used to being subjected too. Hannah’s distaste of Mr Hesketh and his manners towards her reminded me remarkably of the unfair match between Elizabeth Bennett and Mr Collins! Equal to her displeasure is Kumashiro’s plight with his new bride Hasuko whose countenance is passable but not quite akin to his own feelings in regards to their marriage. Kumashiro wanted a partner, someone to hold a relationship through life’s seasons not simply a person apt at pretending all was well when nothing felt quite right at all. It is interesting how individually Hannah and Kumashiro were being aligned to understand each other on a deeper level than their intended betrothals!

What a snake of a rake, this Mr Hesketh! Truly a distasteful man and one who has no limits to impropriety and unwelcomed attentions! If I had been Hannah I would have launched a scheme to escape his clutches, too! Oy. And, none too soon!

Hannah is clever and resourceful – two qualities you need if your going to sneak aboard a ship and attempt to take your life back from those who would rather control you! I liked seeing the cat greeting her below decks as it was a nice touch by Courtenay, Hannah would at long last have a friendly companion! Whilst she’s trying to deal with a difficult and hard situation, Kumashiro is at a loss as to understand his marriage – his wife is less than forthright with him, trying to curb his attentions on her and to give him the freedom to love others in lieu of herself. Aside from being warned about this union of his, Kumashiro did go into the marriage with the full of his heart and his will to curate a healthy relationship with his wife – it’s simply sad to watch his earnest attempts to show his wife affection and sincere attraction is not affecting her in the least.

Even I shuddered when Hannah came face to face with Captain Rydon again! Her disguise was so well conceived, he thinks her to be nothing more than common stowaway, which is a bit crazy considering she barely had time to put together her ‘outfit’ but apparently, the quick chopping of her locks and her borrowed clothes from her brother combined with the gritty appearance of travelling without means to care for herself gave the illusion she had hoped would succeed but without the benefit of an ending she felt almost promised to receive! Her main error was choosing which ship to board and how the captain would react upon discovery! Oy vie!

Hoji is the kindly gentleman of whom Hannah met at her sister Kate’s feast celebrating her wedding to a man she did not even love; Hoji was presented as a ‘Chinaman’ to the group gathered but in reality he was Japanese. A fact Hannah learnt (along with his real name) when she was found aboard ship! She was sequestered to the kitchen as a means of ‘paying her keep’ but it’s the friendship she developed with Hoji which granted her the most joy. He took her under his wing and through kindness cared after her whilst never once letting on the fact she was indeed a ‘she’ aboard the ship! His honour of duty is revealled when he tells Hannah he’s a ronin (a samurai whose lost his master and the purpose of his life) who is attempting to sort out what to do next.

By landfall, Hannah and Hoji were simply thrilled at last to find the journey end on good footing – the dangers of sea being high, their journey had been arduous. Kumashiro is hiding his identity from Hannah as much as she is from him; albeit a bit of a tongue-in-cheek exchange where she actually revealled her true name but not the gender of her birth! It was a clever introduction of the two characters – he was part of the original party meeting Captain Rydon and her brother Jacob and yet, Kumashiro was more interested in meeting Hannah; part of me wondered if he had connected the dots between the prophecy of his seer and this mysterious woman with red hair. Hannah had matured greatly over the two year journey, becoming bilingual and settling into her skin with a bit more confidence than when she had left at seventeen. Having gone through this personal growth, she was surprised by being stirred with curiosity for the handsome Kuma (as he held back his full identity as well).

I truly felt for Hannah – how many ill-gotten men who took advantage of women did she have to encounter!? Her brother Jacob was as bad as her father for refusing to listen to her and to understand her side of a situation. How she had the fortitude to draw strength and faith to keep her hope alive is a wonder when given the circumstances she was blessedly given grace to survive!

I took the signal her fate was about to change for the positive after she was kidnapped by Kumashiro’s men because if she had staid in the port town, by the time her brother returnt with Captain Rydon she’d be bound for England once more; left with an indifference towards her adventure still sour on her tongue. It was here where we were privy to more of the traditions of Japanese life – especially their ritual baths and how luxurious it is to spend so much time bathing whilst feeling your body release it’s tensions.

Hannah settled into life at Kumashiro’s castle, where she further explored her understanding of their language (this time in written form) as well as finding herself emotionally drawn to Kumashiro; an attraction he shared. Their mutual respect of each other and their curiosities about each other is what led each of them to look at the other in such a way as to encourage a bond. They were simply honest with each other in a way that was both approachable and calming; neither of them felt they had to hold back their thoughts. A refreshing change for Kumashiro who wasn’t sure if he could know of a woman who would share her mind and in return Hannah found a gentle spirit in a man; something she never thought she’d find either.

I was so consumed by the beautiful romance emitting out of this historical novel, I was swept into the folds of this story to such a degree, I did not want it to end! Hannah and Kumashiro are incredible characters to meet and it’s how their lives start to intersect that keep you up late into the night, as it’s not a book you wish to put down but one to devour, one chapter at a time whilst savouring the journey Courtenay has taken you on!

Such a lovely unputdownable discovery!

I cannot wait to read the next installment – as this surely is a historical drama I dearly love reading and are wicked happy shall be continuing!

On the historical style of Christina Courtenay:

The joy for me in this Courtenay novel is the duality of time, setting and place – as we’re residing between Japan and England as we gain foreknowledge of the two characters whose lifepaths are going to take a strong diversion and alight upon each other! The way in which she grants small details about everyday life in both countries combined with the internal vexations of both Hannah and Kumashiro is what makes reading the story so alive with conflict and angst! Equally proving that drama can be a delicate thread to weave inside historical fiction and takes quite the deft had to conceive!

I appreciated the pacing of this novel – we were given such a lovely narrative in scope, to allow ourselves to curl inside the ‘moments’ with the characters rather than moving at such a clip of a pace to miss certain things. A nice touch too was having certain Japanese words used to explain tradition and the details you’d hope to learn by reading about another country’s cultural heritage. Courtenay has you breathe in the timescape and you feel as if you’ve experienced this place in time as you read the story. I happen to fancy this exploration through fiction because you can live so much through words and how the writer paints the portrait of a scene – it gives a realism to novels and it’s a lovely discovery to have as a reader who appreciates the historical past.

I loved how Ms Courtenay did not write a predictable story on the level that you were never quite certain what was going to befell Hannah – she is a feisty heroine, but she’s one who has a lot riding on her choices and on the will to live differently from the views of her family. Courtenay granted her the ability to think on her feet and to strive to hope she could have a better life if she could get through the adversities that were cutting her to the quick. I loved watching Hannah grow whilst she was at sea and how this growth gave her an empowerment once she reached Japan to where she far more stronger in spirit than when she first left England.

Courtenay has written such a gentle love story as to encircle your mind with her narrative, soaking inside the story as it unfolds and not wanting it to end. She gives you so much time to reside inside this story, you feel connected to Japan but moreso than that even, you feel very connected to her characters.

My hopes for the sequel:

There are certain stories you simply ache to know more about it’s characters, and this is quite true for me in regards to the Kumashiro series! I long to return to this world – where love triumphs over everything else and where barriers are greeted with determined grit and a resolute faith to champion obstacles and adversities. I truly am hoping Midori is the daughter I think she is, as that would be quite fitting to read her story next – especially as she is unable remain in Japan; such a quirky twist of fate, if you think on it!

One thing is for certain – Courtenay has touched my heart with this series, and I cannot wait to continue to read the pages of story that carry me back into it! It is a Historical Romance but it’s very much a Historical Drama because there are so many beautiful layers being knitted together to create this entire tapestry of historical delight!

Synopsis of The Gilded Fan

How do you start a new life, leaving behind all you love?

It’s 1641, and when Midori Kumashiro, the orphaned daughter of a warlord, is told she has to leave Japan or die, she has no choice but to flee to England. Midori is trained in the arts of war, but is that enough to help her survive a journey, with a lecherous crew and an attractive captain she doesn’t trust?

Having come to Nagasaki to trade, the last thing Captain Nico Noordholt wants is a female passenger, especially a beautiful one. How can he protect her from his crew when he can’t keep his own eyes off her?

During their journey, Nico and Midori form a tentative bond, but they both have secrets that can change everything. When they arrive in England, a civil war is brewing, and only by standing together can they hope to survive…

Coffee and Tea Clip Art Set purchased on Etsy; made by rachelwhitetoo.

This book review is courtesy of:

ChocLitUK Reviewer Badge by ChocLitUK.Coffee and Tea Clip Art Set purchased on Etsy; made by rachelwhitetoo.

In case you’ve missed my ChocLit readings:

Please follow the threads through #ChocLitSaturdays!

I disclosed my next ChocLit reads on #BookishNotBookish No.6

And, visit my ChocLit Next Reads List on Riffle

to see which stories I fancy to devour next!

I celebrated my 3rd Blogovesrary on 31st of March, 2016 wherein I revealled my Best of the Best Reads for 2015 via my End of the Year Survey. More than one ChocLit novel made the cut and received a special Award from me to acknowledge how lovely it was written!

Coffee and Tea Clip Art Set purchased on Etsy; made by rachelwhitetoo.

My ChocLit readings this Spring 2016:

The Silver Locket | Book No.1 of Charton Minster series by Margaret James (review)

Evie Undercover | by Liz Harris (review)

The Wedding Cake Tree | by Melanie Hudson (review)

Upcoming next: The Wild One by Janet Gover | View my cover reveal post for this novel!

Coffee and Tea Clip Art Set purchased on Etsy; made by rachelwhitetoo.

*IMPORTANT NOTICE*

Our beautifully lovely chats via Nurph are gone but our chat is resilient! When I went to host our lovely chat this Saturday (9th of April) I noticed Nurph was simply *gone!* without forewarning – therefore, our past year’s chats are not yet blogged about nor archived on my blog as I was working towards that goal. Some are but most of our lovelies will remain in memory only. As we move forward, I’ve decided to start using a new app for chats, which is TweetChat as it allows you to buffer and not buffer the incoming tweets, thus, I created a small tutorial which is sticky on @ChocLitSaturday as a short guide to help you use this new platform as we resume our conversations! Remember too, @TweetChat can assist with tech problems, too! *I later changed my mind about using this platform!

I hope we’ll see you chatting with us! Spread the joy of #ChocLitSaturday to your bookish friends! Visit my post on #ChocLitSaturdays vs #ChocLitSaturday for more information! And, the words I expressed about #ChocLitSaturday on my spotlight for The Wild One by Janet Gover.

Remember you can also drop in on the conversations are your able too!

Coffee and Tea Clip Art Set purchased on Etsy; made by rachelwhitetoo.

I look forward to reading your thoughts & commentary! Especially if you read the book or were thinking you might be inclined to read it. I appreciate hearing different points of view especially amongst bloggers who picked up the same story to read.

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{SOURCES: Book Covers for “The Scarlet Kimono”, “The Gilded Fan” and “The Jade Lioness” were provided by the author Christina Courtenay and used with permission. Author photograph, Author Biography, Book Synopses and ChocLit Reviewer badge were provided by ChocLitUK and were used by permission. ChocLitSaturdays Banner Created by Jorie in Canva. Coffee and Tea Clip Art Set purchased on Etsy; made by rachelwhitetoo. Post dividers by Fun Stuff for Your Blog via Pure Imagination.}

Copyright © Jorie Loves A Story, 2016.

I’m a social reader | I tweet as I read

Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

  • 2016 Historical Fiction Reading Challenge

About jorielov

I am self-educated through local libraries and alternative education opportunities. I am a writer by trade and I cured a ten-year writer’s block by the discovery of Nanowrimo in November 2008. The event changed my life by re-establishing my muse and solidifying my path. Five years later whilst exploring the bookish blogosphere I decided to become a book blogger. I am a champion of wordsmiths who evoke a visceral experience in narrative. I write comprehensive book showcases electing to get into the heart of my reading observations. I dance through genres seeking literary enlightenment and enchantment. Starting in Autumn 2013 I became a blog book tour hostess featuring books and authors. I joined The Classics Club in January 2014 to seek out appreciators of the timeless works of literature whose breadth of scope and voice resonate with us all.

"I write my heart out and own my writing after it has spilt out of the pen." - self quote (Jorie of Jorie Loves A Story)

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Posted Saturday, 16 April, 2016 by jorielov in #JorieLovesIndies, 17th Century, Bits & Bobbles of Jorie, Blog Tour Host & Reviewer, ChocLitSaturdays, ChocLitUK, Coming-Of Age, Compassion & Acceptance of Differences, Domestic Violence, East India Company, Equality In Literature, Fathers and Daughters, Historical Fiction, Historical Romance, Indie Author, Japan, Japanese Fiction, Kidnapping or Unexplained Disappearances, Life Shift, Modern British Literature, Multi-cultural Characters and/or Honest Representations of Ethnicity, Parapsychological Gifts, Realistic Fiction, Rebels and Rogues, Romance Fiction, Women's Fiction, Women's Rights




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