Friday 4 March 2011

Review: The Scarlet Kimono - Christina Courtenay

Abducted by a 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 a 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.

My thoughts:
Hanna Marston was not as pretty as her older sister and therefore her family didn't care about her, and wanted her to marry some old guy with 5 kids. Something that Hannah did not want so what does she do, oh yes she hides on her brother's ship that is sailing for Japan. I did like that she had the guts to do that. But as always, come on, are men really that stupid that they do not see that she is a girl, she was like there for 2 years or something. This is a common trope in books so I am used to it, but still it just makes me think men are fools.

Anyway she hid and she even learnt Japanese from the cook. Smart girl! So ok the rest were fools, but she and the cook who was Japanese were smart, lol. Which brings us to Japan. This is where the story gets good, because it's a premise I really enjoy. She gets abducted by a handsome warlord because his seer has seen Hannah in his visions. Of course the rest finds foreigners ugly but Taro is smitten by Hannah and she is finds him attractive too. And yes I do like the whole abducting a bride thing. Because he is a perfect gentleman, he asks her to teach him English and he treats her with respect, and he wants her whatever anyone else says. A romance is blossoming.

To the rest of the cast then, there is the wicked Lady Reiko who wants Taro for herself and is prepared to do anything. There is Captain Rydon and her brother Jacob, but honestly they are so much in the background so who cares. This is Hannah's story and her struggle. But she never sees it as a struggle. She holds her head high, she has respect for all, and when Taro says she is beautiful she gains self-respect too.

The book has romance, drama (a book always need a bitchy woman), and culture clashes, I liked those of you can say it like that. The Japanese finds the foreigners ugly and weird because the English never bathe. It was interesting to see a romance set in this time.

The story was the best part of this book. She is the first English woman to ever set foot in Japan, and then a handsome warlord takes fancy to her. I do like doomed love. And it was an easy and fast book to read. Nice mix between historical fiction and historical romance.

Reason for reading:
Again the story

Interesting story

I love the swirly things.

Pages: 352
Genre: Historical Fiction/romance
Publisher: Choc Lit, March 1st 2011


  1. Wow, I didn't think women did things like that in the 17th century! Good for Hannah, escaping on a merchant ship :-P

  2. I might just pick this one up for that cover alone - it's gorgeous. Yet the story sounds really good too - nice review and thanks for adding another one to my wishlist. I did end up buying It Happened One Bite the other day and we both know who's fault that is. lol.

  3. Yes men can be that stupid! Sounds like a fabulous story.

  4. This sounds like a good book I like that time in Japan's history ,the culture and the people,I'll put that on my list of books to read.....B.

  5. I like that its set in Japan.
    Men can be so stupid and blind! I never understand how they can deceive men that easily.

  6. Sounds good. I'll keep an eye out for it. Great review!

  7. @Aarti
    Most likely she would have been raped, and died during the journey, but let's not think of things that might have happened. Instead she was one brave girl

    Lol, hihi, yes I am bad, bad bad. But I do love a story that makes me turn page after page just needing more ;)

    Oh men, why are you all so silly ;)

  8. I would enjoy the Japanese setting!

  9. BJS
    I have actually never read anything about Japan in that era, only things happening during the last century, so it was really refreshing

    I mean ok I would get it if it was a 10 year old girl cos it is a bit hard to know the difference with some if they really try. But just because Hannah wasn't big in certain areas they saw nothing. Lol

    Do that :)

  10. Oh my goodness that cover is beautiful and wow, that book does sound like quite the drama!

  11. WOW...well, I grew up in sure a warlord would risk lossing face over a woman...I grew up in Japan in the 60's even then women walk three feet behind...never could they speak back to a man ..they were nothing more then were not abusive towards women normally but no woman took the chance...or she could be missing her head very quickly....wasn't worth the risk IMHO. So, that this warlord would treat her with equal respect as he held himself...wouldn't be believable to me, having lived there.

    Yes, even I thought Americans/Europeans were ugly...I was so use to their softer looks and I was very young...not use to the American faces.


  12. Ah, now Hannah sounds like quite a woman! And I think men can be fools sometimes, or maybe choose not to see what they don't want to.

  13. I like the premise! Nice cover too.

  14. I agree with Houston/Hawk. Honour for a samurai or a warlord was EVERYTHING. Even if he loved a girl desperately, he would never compromise his honour to get her - his own family (father, brothers etc.) would kill him or force to commit seppuku (a honourable suicide for those who faced such a choice). Nice book but not true.

    Cover is good indeed!

  15. This sounds good. I think the part about her having a lot of power would have been more the fantasy. However, it IS fantasy... so I think I would enjoy this one. Great review.

  16. This one appeals to me. Thanks for a great review.

  17. this one sounds good, i hadn't heard of it before. i like that it has some romance!

  18. Sounds fast paced and fantasy together!

  19. @Chris
    I liked the premise too :)

    Awww swirly things, gotta love those, and the sunset

    Well, dunno if he really treated her with equal respect. I mean he was nice and all, but I am sure he still saw himself above of her. So he never lost face since the only time he was with her, he was alone with her

  20. @Carol
    Lol, I think we all can agree they are fools, hihi, how mean I am

    It was fun to read something else

    Well, did I say that.. oops, anyway, nope she had no power at all. She sat there in her room all day with her maidens and he called for her at night. And he did not let her leave

  21. @Ana
    And that is why this one was more romance than fiction, lol. Yup I never complain about things then. Cos honestly, that girl would have been found out, raped, and if she was still alive when they reached Japan she would not have been let of the ship.

    As for honor, it was just him, no family at all. So everyone else was under him and had to do as he said. No one knew she was there and he kept her hidden. He would never had taken her if the seer had no told him that she would be a danger to his clan and he had to act then cos the clan was everything. Then he saw she was not a treat but then it was too late since he liked her. But we do not know what happened afterwards, what did the rest of Japan think of this? But she had saved the live of his son so he owed her that. And he thought she was amusing, since she was nothing like his first wife. But let's hope she learned manners for when she met other people in Japan cos yes then it would end badly if she not.

    But, romance ;)

  22. Nise
    I am happy that it sounds good :) It was mix, not fiction, not romance

    I liked that too, I do like some romance, lol

    All good things :D

  23. Great review! I love your thought that a book needs a bitchy woman. So true!!

  24. I was just thinking the other day .. we see a lot of England/France/Scotland/Ireland historical romances, but not a lot from other parts of the world. Then.. voila! You show us this! It sounds really interesting! And, I'm with you - As much as I don't mind the stowaway trope, I've got questions! LOL! :)

  25. Sounds good, I dont see a lot of historical romances set in Japan so it sounds so interesting.

  26. Sounds good and I love the cover.

  27. @Kaye
    They do bring out the drama, sure sometimes too much, but here there was just enough bitchiness without me wanting to slap her at once

    I know, it's always the same places time after time. So it's fun to see other places now and again. And Japan was just lovely and perfect

    It's nice with a different setting now and again

    It is so pretty :D

  28. this one sounds pretty great..that cover is awesome!!

  29. Certainly sounds like an interesting read. You've intrigued me!

  30. Oh I like the different setting. Thanks for a fab review B :)

  31. Is the name Hannah a common name for the 1600's?

  32. This sounds awesome, and I actually really like the cover...go figure! Fabulous review! :)

  33. @Staci
    The swirly things, so much prettier in real life too :)

    Lol, that is why I am here :)

    It was nice for a change, so much better than the same old same old...even if I love that too

    Hm, well it's used in the bible and those were so popular. I had to check, and Newton's wife was named Hannah so yes it was around

    You never know what you go for in the end :)

  34. Thank you for the lovely review Blodeuedd and thanks to everyone else too - so glad you all like the cover! Sorry to come in late on this, but I just wanted to add that Hannah did have help during the journey from the Japanese cook, plus the fact that everyone was so dirty in those days, so staying disguised as a boy may not have been as difficult as it sounds :)
    Regarding the name - I chose it partly because it was around at the time, but also because 'hana' in Japanese means 'flower'.
    Thanks again!

  35. Thanks for stopping by Christina :)
    Oh yes, I totally forgot about Hana, I really liked that you had done that



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