Blue Rose by Sui Lynn

Title: Blue Rose
Author: Sui Lynn
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Buy link: Amazon.com
Genre: Contemporary M/M Romance
Length: Novel / 170 pages
Rating: 2.5 out of 5

A guest review by Kassa


THE BLURB:

Luck and an impromptu jam session bring college student Quinn Yamamoto to the Blue Rose, a small R&B nightclub. He meets handsome club owner Enjoji Tatankata and it’s love at first sight, but no one said love would ever be easy.

It’s one thing after another: keeping his grades up and working to make ends meet, learning about a family he didn’t know he had, reliving buried memories of horrifying abuse in his nightmares, discovering that his new lover has dangerous secrets… nothing in his life could have prepared Quinn for this.

THE REVIEW:

Blue Rose is an odd story with two seemingly unrelated parts to it. The first part is so sweet it may test even the most die hard romantics. The characters meet, exchange their life stories in a bar, sleep together, and are soul mates before the sun has come up. They’re totally in love, swearing eternal fidelity and moving in together for the long haul. This of course ignores some major issues the story has set up but who cares since love at first sight cures everything. The next part of the story deals with Enjoji and Quinn’s family expectations and the typical over the top evil villain – who actually has henchmen. The second half is marginally better than the first but the syrupy sweet love made me roll my eyes too much to enjoy this one.

The blurb warns readers that the characters fall in love at first sight so it’s not a big surprise that they immediate have sex (without lube or condoms mind you) but it’s still too much when they’re declaring they are soul mate status mere hours later. This stretches any kind of belief since Enjoji is not only straight but engaged to be married. Quinn thinks nothing of this since it’s a Japanese arranged marriage and is all about getting in Enjoji’s pants anyway. Although Enjoji’s never been attracted to a man before, he’s well into the sex (even rimming Quinn). The fiancé and straight status are never thought of again as Enjoji and Quinn can’t spend a moment apart from each other. Quinn immediately moves in, they declare their undying love constantly to each other and everyone else, and the story then skips ahead time while telling the reader why they’re so happy, happy in love.

I admit I had some problems with this since the story spends considerable time setting up Quinn as near perfect. He’s the oldest son of a widowed mother with a younger sister and he’s not only working several jobs to put himself through college but to send money home too. He’s brilliant, good at nearly everything, handsome, charismatic, and falls in love with his soul mate the first day back at college. The love of his life wasn’t gay but turns gay at the first kiss and is totally devoted to Quinn with no qualms about suddenly being gay. Likewise Enjoji is near perfect. He lives a somewhat humble existence above the music bar that is his passion but is filthy rich as the family CEO and the head of the Yakuza.

For those that don’t know the Yakuza is a Japanese crime syndicate but don’t worry since Enjoji is turning it all legitimate with great results. So perfection is really the main descriptor here as Enjoji’s money and influence (all for good mind you) pretty much cures any problem that crops up. There are some problems later on in the story with a twist on Quinn’s past. These introduce the tension and conflict into the story. There are some issues with Quinn’s grandfather – the evil villain with henchmen – but again Enjoji clears these up rather quickly, all the way calling Quinn his beloved, “my love”, and no one batting an eye at two men openly affectionate at the head of a Japanese crime family.

The story has some good elements, most notably the quirk regarding Quinn’s past and upbringing. This actually is what pulled me back into the story when I wanted to die from the sugary sweet overdose. The twist – without giving spoilers – is interesting and clever and actually plays well to the Yakuza history. The villain is over the top without a shred of subtly but I almost could have gone with that if the resolution hadn’t been so bland and boring. There are way too many coincidences as well that just conveniently take care of any problem and the resolution with Quinn’s mother had me groaning at its obviousness and ridiculousness.

I think the easiest way to describe this book is extreme. From the good to the bad, the story goes over the top in the descriptions, actions, and characters. The men certainly communicate but they are constantly reassuring each other that they love each other, they’ll never leave, they’re soul mates, they could forgive anything, and the language used is often very corny. Lines like “their love took them higher than any man-made machine could ever take them” (pg. 139) litter the writing and make the story difficult to enjoy. On the one hand this makes for a romantic story with a definite happy ending, but on the other hand it’s just too sappy sweet for me. I need something to cut through that and give some good tension and release.

39 comments

  • As an author who has both hit and miss with Kassa, I very, very much appreciate her voice as a reviewer. I appreciate her honesty and her clarity of opinion. Yes, she is a hard sell sometimes, but I can almost always tell if I’d like a book or not by her review (sometimes I know I won’t like books she loves or will loves books she doesn’t–it has to do with her depth of reaction and specifics in her reasoning), and I always learn something about my story when she reviews me.

    All reviews are exposure, which is something we authors always need. “All ink is good ink,” many have said, and it’s true. Obscurity is the real enemy. Reviewers, who do this for nothing at all (especially Kassa, who very often is not reading a comp copy of a book) are absolutely not our enemy. Authors are of course free to make their own decisions and have the right to speak as they wish, but I urge us all to be gentle to our reviewers, who are not only our best PR tools but our gateway to vast numbers of new readers, regardless of how they review our work.

  • If a review is ‘geared towards the targeted audience’ from the get-go, then all they’ll ever be are those “Wow! 5 stars!” reviews with no depth or commentary or criticism to them at all.

    And a review is more than one person’s opinion? Umm, a review is EXACTLY that. A person’s opinion. Just like it’s your opinion the book is great, it is someone else’s opinion that it isn’t. And attacking a reviewer isn’t going to get anyone anywhere.

    • That’s not true at all. A book can be geared toward an intended audience, and fail. I reviewed a kid’s book that I thought even kids wouldn’t like. In this case, the right audience for Blue Rose will love it.

      No, as I said before, a review is a guide, not meant for a reviewer to sharpen his or her axe at a writer’s expense. Too many reviewers do just that, in an attempt at cleverness.

      • How do you know that the book YOU reviewed negatively wasn’t in fact loved by the ‘right’ audience?

        If we’re to go by that logic, why bother reviewing at all?

      • Julie, you miss Kassa and Sean’s points, entirely. A review is a reader’s response to the book and not a guide to a “targeted audience”, because, hello, the reviewer is obviously the “targeted audience” since they’ve read the book and are reading within that genre.

        Granted, I do not read yaoi, yet I do have an interest in getting my feet wet *pun NOT intended, Kassa (mebbe…)* in this genre.

        Julie, take a fresh look at other reviews and see that they are, in fact, opinions of these reviewers.

        The fact that you seem to think Kassa is attacking the author is beyond me. Her review is in depth. Hell, it’s much more in depth than mine are. However, if you want even more in depth, I suggest you hop over to Smart Bitches, because their reviews do tend to get long-winded since they’re so in depth. However, be prepared to dislike those reviews too, because you’re going to think they’re attacking the authors, and not articulating their reasons for liking and/or not liking parts of books.

        But, hey, be a Debbie Downer, I am pretty sure there is someone out there who appreciates it.

        *You need to remember, reviewers are readers first.* This means that their reviews are THEIR opinions on books they choose to read (whether bought or provided by the publisher/author).

        DISCLAIMER: I’m much too lazy and tired to even attempt to check my grammar, spelling and punctuation. Enjoy!!

        PS: Kassa, great review!!

  • I have also read this novel and I must disagree with you on just about everything you said. Especially the part where you said you weren’t attacking her, you were simply giving your opinion.
    Your tone was a mocking one, clearly intended to belittle the author while making yourself sound clever and witty. A review is more than just one person’s opinion. A review should be geared toward the target audience intended by the author, and how they will perceive and like it. For readers of sweet romantic stories, Blue Rose is wonderful – heartwarming, sweet and endearing. It doesn’t matter how you feel about it personally.

    It is also the perfect yaoi story.

    You need to step back and remember what audience you’re reviewing for. It has nothing to do with you.

    • Hello,

      I’m glad you enjoyed the book. However I must disagree with just about everything you said. I have no desire to belittle authors nor do I attempt to make myself sound witty. I don’t find this review particularly witty or funny. It’s an honest, intelligent review on how one person (me) thought of the book. I can disagree and provide an honest review without attacking the author.

      A negative review is not an attack on the author. I never personally attacked the author nor directed any comments to the author personally. I mentioned several issues I had with the STORY, which is what I clearly disagreed with. Pointing out negative issues with the STORY is not attacking the author. I’m sorry you disagree with that.

      I’m glad you liked it. I did not and attempted to provide a review that would reflect the reasons why so readers could be aware. I read a lot of yaoi so I know the genre yet again, reading and reviewing is often based on personal preference. All we can do as reviewers is provide an honest review of our thoughts. I was asked for a review and I provided an honest critique without bias or attempt to slander the author.

      • You completely missed the point of what I was saying, Kassa. A review is not just your opinion of the material, it is meant to be a guide for an intended audience. It’s not whether you like it or not. It’s whether the target audience does.

        Obviously, you are not among the target audience. Perhaps you should remove yourself from the equation, and try again.

        • I think you misunderstood me. How am I not the target audience? I read yaoi…I like yaoi. I read m/m and like the genre. How am I not the intended audience? I chose the book because I wanted to read it.

          If that is not the target audience, then no one would read anything. Just because I didn’t like the book does not mean I shouldn’t review it.

          I wrote the review from the perspective of someone that specially wanted to read the book, reads widely in the genre it’s published, and for similar readers. I understand your point but a review IS one person’s opinion on the material. It should include details that will let readers know if the material will work for them or not. But ultimately every single review is an opinion on the work.

          • If you are as familiar with yaoi as you say you are, then you know that even with the broad category of yaoi, there are sub-categories that are distinctive and disparate. And there are proponents of each type, who enjoy the elements that make up each type.

            You dislike the very elements that will appeal to someone else who likes them. If, for example, you find sumo wrestlers unappealing, then it is unlikely you will enjoy a book with sumo wrestler heroes. You complained about the sugary sweetness of Blue Rose – but that is what some people look for. For them, Blue Rose will be perfect.

            Another examples – menages. Some people love them. I am not one of those, so I would never presume to review a book which features a menage because I know going into it that I am setting myself up not to like it.

            A review is a guide – that is what a review is – to talk about the elements of the book, and let the reader make up his or her mind about reading it. Just because you read m/m or yaoi doesn’t mean all the books are intended for you. They aren’t.

            The very elements that you denigrate are the ones that are most yaoi like. Everyone has their own brand of yaoi, that’s all I’m saying.

        • Julie

          A review is not just your opinion of the material, it is meant to be a guide for an intended audience. It’s not whether you like it or not. It’s whether the target audience does.

          I guess I missed all the discussion about this review which I thought had been put to bed 2 months ago when the book was first reviewed.

          If I may venture an opinion in this wide ranging discussion about YAOI, and who our reviewing audience should be for particular books, a review is just that – one person’s opinion of a commodity whether it’s a book, a bottle of wine, a meal, a movie or anything else. We don’t target our opinions to a specific “audience”, we say what we think about a book and whether we like it or not and most important, why – which is what Kassa did. I’m sorry you do not agree with Kassa’s opinion. That’s your right and also your opinion.

          I understand that you love this book and that’s great, but Kassa didn’t and she stated her reasons why. You can’t change her opinion and she obviously won’t be able to change yours. So can you not agree to disagree?

          Many other readers did not like this book and said so right here, so I don’t understand why this review is so important to you. We have many 5 star and a few 1 star reviews here and readers disagree some of the time with our opinions, but we feel it’s their right to have a differing viewpoint. Also, we do our best not to have extended discussions of why they were wrong and we were right, since it’s merely a difference of opinion.

          BTW we don’t attack authors we just review their books.

  • I think Wave should be ashamed of herself for ‘making’ you review this book. We reviewers all know what a sadistic taskmaster she is, assigning books willy-nilly no matter what our personal preferences are. Ok, so that is the alternate universe version of Wave’s world. You know, the one with a reviewer’s travel budget…………? sigh….

    Great review. I didn’t notice that many spelling and grammitcal errors. And even if there were some, blame them on Wave. lol That’s what I do. lol I know I’m picking on Wave. Poor Wave.

    • John
      You pointed out yesterday that I spelled the word “recommended” incorrectly in a review. So I included an extra letter – I thought the word looked hot the way I spelled it. 🙂

      No travel budget for you. When we go to Berkeley California you are staying at home in Texas – you can communicate with the rest of us via conference call. LOL

  • Hi After reading your review and having read this book I agree whole heartedly. This could have been such a great story without the instant love,without the silly Yaguza background and with a slow build-up of the affection that should have been there. The college chums would have been fun if they were actually included after the tease with the jam session. The instant gay for you device to me is so unbelievable ,especially in a traditional Japanese family like Enjoji was from.I wonder if AJ’ just might be Sui Lyn in disguise,because his reaction was off the wall.

    • Great insight Mary. I agree with your assessment and that’s the kind of book I think maybe would have resonated more with readers (from what I can tell). The instant gay for you with the Japanese family works well in manga or yaoi but not so much in novel format. It’s always nice to hear those who’ve read the book and their opinions!

    • Hi Mary

      I wonder if AJ’ just might be Sui Lyn in disguise,because his reaction was off the wall.

      AJ asked me to clarify that he is not Sui Lynn.

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