The Red Thread of Forever Love

Title: The Red Thread of Forever Love
Author: Nicole Kimberling
Publisher: Loose-Id
Buy Link: Buy Link The Red Thread of Forever Love
Genre: M/M Paranormal
Length: Novella (102 pdf pages)
Rating:  5+ stars out of 5, DIK

A Guest Review by Cole

Review Summary: A wonderfully fresh Japanese paranormal which was sweet, cheeky, and had me laughing out loud.


Folklore researcher and PhD candidate Hank Caldwell has a problem. He’s come to Japan to get information for his book on supernatural creatures called yokai. Along the way he discovers that yokai are not only real, but one of them is determined to make Hank his forever lover.

Translator Daisuke Tachibana knows all about the shadowy figure in a business suit who keeps accosting Mr. Caldwell. He knows the creature must be stopped, but how? Their upcoming research trip to a remote, hot springs resort will be exactly the opening the yokai is looking for. Now if only Tachibana could stop thinking about Mr. Caldwell’s naked, freckled body submerged in steaming water long enough to formulate a plan to keep the amorous creature at bay.


Hank has a problem. Somewhere along the Japanese countryside he’s picked up a very amorous gay yokai — a Japanese love spirit whom he has lovingly dubbed “Fingers,” because he’s so handsy. He has been traversing the country with his publisher’s translator, Tachibana, researching for his book on Japanese folklore. Now he has to admit that the phenomenon he’s been academically researching is actually real, but he’d rather lie to the whole academic world than admit that the yokai he did meet is a gay spirit who proclaims to be his ‘forever love’ and keeps trying to ambush him in bathroom stalls or while changing to see if his carpet matches his drapes. At the same time, Hank is continually confused by his traveling companion Tachibana. He’s been traveling with the man for more than a year and though he seems so distant and is obviously straight, Hank is sure that Tachibana keeps checking him out whenever his back is turned. As they travel further north to study the story of The Devil of Lake Towada, Hank starts to miss his family. Its Christmas and he’s here alone with Tachibana and Fingers, wishing he had a boyfriend. Suddenly, Fingers doesn’t seem so bad, just overeager…

Tachibana, however, has an even bigger problem. Not only is he gay and in love with Hank, but he is the reason Fingers was let loose. But the further they travel together and the better they get to know each other as friends instead of coworkers, he might just be able to help Hank, send Fingers away, and end up with Hank all for himself — if he can only find the courage.

This novella was so thoroughly entertaining, I read it front to back and then front to back again, all in one day. I never do that, but when I finished it the first time, I had to go back and read the beginning again, where we see Fingers at his most hilarious, and I found I couldn’t stop reading. This story is so many different types of stories all wrapped up in one neat, little package. Its a fairy tale, a parable, a hilarious take on a Canadian’s experiences with the Japanese, and a story of two men whose worldview’s are changing. For Hank, this means his acceptance of the supernatural. For Tachibana, this means his acceptance of his sexuality and his latent spiritual powers. I won’t mention the creation of Fingers, even though it is told very early on, simply because I loved finding out in the prose and not the book’s blurb. Suffice to say, this is really a very important part of the story, so there is not a whole lot about the plot that I can tell you. That doesn’t matter, though, simply to say that Fingers was one of the funniest characters I’ve ever read. Essentially, he is a spirit created and imbibed with the virginal, horny, love-struck aspect of a boy/man. He is that horny teenage boy that has no filter on what he says while remaining completely endearing and loveable simply because of his ignorance. He is obsessed with every man that comes in Tachibana’s path (much to Tachibana’s consternation), but he knows that Hank is the one — evidenced by the red thread connecting his pinky to Hank’s pinky. Obviously, this must mean they share a true soul connection and are fated to be ‘Forever Loves.’

This is the first book I’ve read by Nicole Kimberling, and I must say that I will be looking at her other books. Her writing here is flawless — the prose written with a light and adept pen in direct correlation to the three main characters and their dance around each other. I lived in Japan for a while, and the story was interspersed with little cultural differences and tidbits that sent me right back to that feeling of such cultural difference. The differences of all the separate areas of Japan were represented really well — culturally and geographically. Though there were so many strong points in this read, the main stars were the characters, all of whom I fell in love with. Here are a couple of examples:

“I only want to be close to you.” The yokai’s long fingers tugged at the blankets. Hank held on firmly. He knew from previous experience that this particular spirit, whom he’d nicknamed “Fingers,” wouldn’t cause him bodily harm, but it got way too personal. “Can I look at your underpants? Are they Calvin Klein like before? I like your Calvin Kleins. Did you get them in Vancouver?”

“I told you, go away. My shorts are none of your business.”

“Do you work out?” … Hank lurched sideways, but too late. The tongue slapped against the side of his neck and slid like a hot washcloth up the side of his cheek. Long fingers fumbled at the elastic band of his pajamas. Hank grabbed them. Fingers let out a giggle. “You want to hold hands? There’s a red thread from my pinkie to yours … We’re fated to be together.”

Dear God, no!

The second time the yokai appeared was at the beach.

Sleepless and lonely, Tachibana had gone down at daybreak to watch the sunrise. Two young surfers had been there, taking advantage of the empty sand and waves. They had been stunning in their wetsuits. Tachibana had been watching them, imagining they were lovers. The way they talked to each other, smiled at each other seemed so beautiful that he had been filled with a yearning to join them. Suddenly, the yokai had come loping down the beach like an excited dog.

“I like you!” he’d roared, tie flapping behind him. “Please have sex with me!”

I loved this book. It is a pretty quick read, because it flows so smoothly. It is truly original and I have a feeling that it will remain one of my favorites of 2011. Highly Recommended. Enjoy!

On a side note, I love the cover art by April Martinez, which is what attracted me to this book in the first place


    • Damn! Foiled again! I looked for it, but I must have been hasty. Well, I suppose I’ll just have to get it and read it anyway 🙂

  • Hi Cole. I’m so happy you enjoyed Red Thread. Honestly, I thought that virtually nobody would like this story. I’m not sure why. Anyhoo, as the editor of Blind Eye Books I have to say that Turnskin is actually available as an ebook from –the exclusive distributor of Blind Eye Books digital releases.

    Or you could try writing me and seeing if I would send you a free copy. I mean, your chances are pretty good of getting an free copy at this point. If I were you, I’d press this advantage. If you wait much longer, I’ll ask you to knit me a hat or something in exchange for an free reading copy and then there you’ll be, knitting and knitting…

    Yeah, strike now while the iron is hot. Avoid all all those clicking needles.


    PS–I’ve only ever stayed in Japan on exchange for about 2 months, but I’ve kept up a relationship with my Japanese host parents for 17 years. This relationship was in fuel for much of the cultural commentary in Red Thread.

    • Hi Nicole! I can’t believe that I missed Turnskin being an ebook. Apparently I’m way late in reviewing it too, so I’ll just have to get it myself and read it 🙂 Thank you so much for the offer though!

      I think that a lot of authors probably have doubts when writing a story that doesn’t fit the typical m/m format or norm, if they’re playing with the rules a bit. I just think that you were majorly successful — this was one of the best books I’ve read in a long time. I had such a good time reading it.

      I only stayed in Japan for 2 months too! Sadly, though, I haven’t kept in touch with my host family. We didn’t hate each other, but we certainly didn’t hit it off. I wish I could have kept in touch though, because I absolutely loved Japan. This summer will be 10 years… wow, tempus fugit, eh? So, I suppose that was why all the little cultural tidbits in this book meant something to me. Its the little things.

      Look at me, I’ve gone all nostalgic 🙂

      Thanks for writing a wonderful story, I’ll be keeping it around for a long time to read when I need a pick-me-up.

      PS. I’ll knit you a hat anytime you want, no incentive required 🙂

      • Cole–I only stayed in Japan for 2 months too! Sadly, though, I haven’t kept in touch with my host family. We didn’t hate each other, but we certainly didn’t hit it off. I wish I could have kept in touch though,

        NK–Well, if your profile info is accurate, you were 16 when you went, right? I went when I was 26 with a company called Cultural Homestay. I think it’s probably a lot easier to be long-distance friends with people when you start out being an adult already. It just changes the hierarchy of the relationship–especially when you’re talking about a country as vertical as Japan. When I went I was a mysterious foreign single lady with tattoos who was “Christmas Cake” in spite of clearly being good looking, rather than being somebody else’s kid who you must keep from dying or be dishonored forever, so I think that made it fundamentally easier to continue the friendship.

        (BTW Did you ever hear that term–Christmas Cake? Basically it means “no good after the 25th”–get it? I wasn’t really that amused by the guy who told me that– particularly since I actually was married, per se and had been since I was 17–just to my wife.)

        Cole–Thanks for writing a wonderful story, I’ll be keeping it around for a long time to read when I need a pick-me-up.

        NK–You’re welcome. I actually wrote it the way I did to cheer myself up so I’m glad it worked on somebody else too!

        • Yeah, I was 16 when I went there and spent most of my time in high school, even though at home I would have been on break 🙂 It wasn’t so bad, but I think you’re right. If I had been older I would have made different types of friendships, plus I would have gotten to experience a totally different culture, which would have been nice. Oh well, maybe I’ll go back someday 🙂

          I’m glad you wrote this story the way you did… I think it will cheer up a lot of other readers as well.

      • Okay. It’ll be the first book I’ve read by Nicole Kimberling. She’s been someone I’ve been meaning to read but you’ve motivated me take action. 🙂

        I was reading something by Josh Lanyon the other day and he thinks very highly of this author.

        • Yes! It was in the discussion over his post on Tuesday about mainstream publishers. Thats what made me pick up this book when my other review wasn’t going so well, Josh’s comment. I already had it in line for review, but it would have been a while. I’m so glad I had it jump the line. Now I can’t wait to read her other stuff.

          • Hi Cole:

            I finished this last night and really enjoyed it. I’m going to read it again after work because I’m sure it will be even better the second time around. (You always get more out of a good book from multiple reads.)

            I had a smile on my face the whole time and actually chuckled out loud a few times. Maybe it resonated with me because I live in Canada & lived in Vancouver for years and I’ve been reading manga and yaoi for a long time now. Plus I’ve been to Japan – although very briefly.

            Whatever the reason, I enjoyed the story immensely. It was very well written. On the surface it was a lighthearted, amusing read and I loved the three characters – especially Fingers.

            I found the underlying themes of personal growth and change were subtle but definitely there and it made me feel as if I was reading something more satisfying than just a quick humorous story.

            Thanks for reviewing. I might not have read this otherwise. Now I’ll have to go and find more books by Nicole Kimberling.

          • I’m so happy you liked it Pender! I know, it was much better the second time around for me too for exactly the reasons you mentioned, the underlying themes of growth and change. Plus, I loved the characters so much I just had to spend more time with them 🙂

            I’m glad that my review brought a book to you that you wouldn’t have read otherwise. That makes me very happy 🙂

  • You are very bad for my wallet. 😛

    Have added this to my list for my next ‘buying day’ as it sounds like a fun read.

    Nice review, darling. *cheeky grin*


    • *sigh* I am very bad for my own wallet 🙂

      Let me know what you think, I’d like to hear if you liked it. Thank you Tis!

  • I liked Ghost Star Night and Turnskin is in my TBR pile right now. I wasn’t so sure about this one after reading excerpt, but, well, with a review like that it sounds like I have to try it! Thanks!

    • Thank you Pea,

      I’ve just bought Ghost Star Night and I can’t wait to read it. Also, Turnskin sounds really good but its by Blind Eye Books, which means its not available as an ebook yet (although hopefully soon, since they’re updating their database). Hopefully, when they do I’ll be able to review it 🙂

      I really hope you like The Red Thread of Forever Love! I wish I could read it for the first time again, Lol.


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26, male, gay, baker, knitter, sometimes writer, and voracious reader of all things | contact me: cole.riann[at]
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