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on 8 May 2011
I'm not one for historicals. Either I know enough about the period to get annoyed by inaccuracies, or I am simply not interested. However, this was not just an historical, but a travelogue on ancient Japan and I loved the details; the descriptions of the clothing and the food (made me hungry for sushi), the houses and the culture clash when East meets West for the first time ever, gave the book a rich feel. It took me a while to warm to Taro, I found him a bit chilly at first, but I soon warmed to him when he tried everything he could to make his wife love him. Hannah was feisty and stood up for herself, unlike a lot of historical heroines who wait to be saved by a man all the time (another reason I rarely read them).

This was a very different kind of read, and I finished the book knowing more about a subject than when I started - which is always a plus in my book. A great culture-clash romance.
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on 18 July 2017
Very good read.
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on 11 October 2015
Good read
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on 1 March 2011
This totally involving and convincing story begins in the early 17th century when a Japanese warlord's seer warns him a red-headed, blue-eyed woman is a threat to him. She's also on her way to Japan.

Back in England, Hannah Marston is about to be forced into an arranged marriage with a disagreeable old widower, so she disguises herself as a boy and stows away on a ship bound for the Far East. On board, she is taught Japanese by the ship's cook, and when she arrives in the trading port of Hirado she is more than ready to be fascinated by this strange new land and its people.

She didn't envisage falling in love, but when warlord Taro Kumashiro's soldiers abduct her and take her to Taro's fortress in a wild part of the country, she is both terrified of and intrigued by him. She's determined not to show her fear, and although Taro senses this fear he is impressed by her courage. He's also impressed by her intelligence and her kindness towards his motherless little son. As they meet and talk in the evenings, they are drawn to each other and find themselves falling in love.

This novel offers so many romantic treats. Hannah is a lovely heroine who can't fail to enchant and engage the reader, who goes on an epic journey with the young English girl. Taro is gorgeous, a perfect romantic hero who is charismatic, powerful, handsome and clever, but also kind and generous. There are some wonderfully sensual and erotic moments in this story and, although Taro and Hannah are an unlikely couple, the reader can't help being touched by their devotion to each other, and wanting them to find happiness together.

The writing is excellent. It's fluent and highly readable without being over-descriptive. The author takes the reader's hand and makes her feel she is really there, in a Japanese garden, or in a towering fortress, or in a remote forest.

I finished this story feeling I'd had a great romantic read and that I'd learned a lot about Japan, as well. A worthy successor to Trade Winds, this is a splendid historical novel.
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VINE VOICEon 2 March 2011
I absolutely loved this book. Having thoroughly enjoyed Christina's debut novel, Trade Winds, I was really looking forward to reading The Scarlet Kimono and, happily, it exceeded my expectations.

Christina is an incredibly versatile writer. She switches effortlessly from describing 17th Century life in a samurai daimyo or lord's castle in Northern Japan to English family life, and from the bustle of a busy port, be it Plymouth in England or Hirado in Japan, to covering life on board a merchant sailing vessel in between. Her attention to detail is incredible and, as a result, I felt as if I were right in the middle of the action, shadowing the characters, which is where I hope every book will take me.

As for the characters, Taro Kumashiro is an unusual romantic hero at first sight but he's also irresistible: a powerful Japanese warrior lord in command of thousands of men, who is honourable, fierce, brave and loyal, but also fair, deeply intelligent and attractive. His sensei or adviser, Yanagihara, is a wonderful creation, who imparts a sense of foreboding when he sees Hannah's approach in a vision but is also a calming centre for Taro and gave this reader a real insight into Japanese philosophy on life and fate.

As for the heroine, Hannah Marston is a young English girl, who has impulsively stowed aboard one of her father's ships rather than be forced into a loveless arranged marriage. She's headstrong and wilful but also intelligent, kind and compassionate. She has an openness and willingness to learn that will not only help her as she adjusts to life at sea but also prepare her to fully experience a new country, its people and culture in contrast to her fellow countrymen. To help her in this, she has the wonderful Hoji-san, who has to serve the Ship's Captain until he saves his life and can be freed, and acts as Hannah's sensei. I felt that I learnt a lot about Japanese culture and customs so that, like Hannah, I was similarly prepared when her ship docked and the action shifted to Japan.

Christina's love of Japan, its people, culture and customs, shines through in this book and, ultimately, I think there are two love stories in this novel: the one between Taro and Hannah, with its clash of personalities, cultures and attitudes; and then there's the one for Japan and all things Japanese. It's a richer and more rewarding reading experience for having both and I'd urge you to take on board provisions and stow away somewhere where you won't be disturbed until you've finished reading this.
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on 24 March 2011
This is the second book I have read by Christina Courtenay, the first being her debut novel, Trade Winds.

I really enjoyed this book. Unfortunately, I read this book during a very busy time, so it was read in short bursts which hindered me, a little, with the reading of it. However, saying that, I did find myself making time to read this, as I was enjoying it so much; especially the latter half of the book.

The story is about a young girl, Hannah Marston, who lives in Plymouth, England, with her family. She is betrothed to a man whom she despises and feels like the runt of the litter. When things seem like they can't get any worse, she overhears her father speaking to her brother, about a voyage on one of his ships, to Japan. She decides to stow herself onboard to get away from everything.

But things do not go to plan when she realises she is onboard the wrong ship. Luckily, she is allowed to stay onboard and she becomes a worker, cooking for the crew. This is where she meets Hoji-san.

When they arrive in Japan, Hannah is kidnapped by Taro Kumashiro, a very powerful warlord, who has been warned of her arrival by Yanagihara, his Sensei. She was seen as being a threat.

As the story progresses, Hannah and Taro's relationship develops, and we see that maybe she is no longer seen as the prisoner she once was. With conflicts from Taro's sister in law, Lady Reiko, and a strong clash with culture and will, can these two ever be more than English prisoner and Japanese warlord?

A very well written book that has strong, believable characters who are easily identified with. Christina obviously has a love of Japan, and it shows well throughout the book. She describes the difference in cultures and countries very well, and makes the story jump off the page, bringing it to life.

Another great book by a talented author. I look forward to her next one.
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on 27 February 2012
I have just finished reading The Scarlet Kimono, I absolutely loved it.
you got a feeling of the size and diversity of Japan and the differences
in the landscape. I do not usually read historical romance, but enjoyed this so much, that
I also downloaded another 2 of Chritine Courtney's books.
This book one that could be read over a lazy weekend or on holiday.
I would also love to see a sequel to this story, as i would love to see how
Hannah fares
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on 1 March 2011
Hannah is betrothed to a ghastly man, Mr Hesketh. She cannot bear the thought of her future with this man and decides to stow away on her brother's ship bound for Japan.
She manages to hide her identity by posing as a young boy, which brings problems of it's own.

Meanwhile, in Japan, Taro Kumashiro marries a beautiful woman, but she loves another.
Taro's adviser and seer has a vision of a woman visiting, on a ship, who could bring danger.

When the ship docks in Japan, Hannah, still undiscovered as a woman, is rumbled by a local and is kidnapped by warriors.

What is to be Hannah's fate in this foreign land and in the disguise of a young boy?

This fast paced, action packed story was exciting from the first chapter. Bravery in the toughest of situations, relationships, love and loss. A mix of emotions, all captured in a gripping storyline.

Well researched and full of interesting detail about early trading ships discovering Japan and the traditions of both England and Japan at that time. i enjoyed reading about the different traditions and lifestyles.

I really enjoyed this novel. The Haiku was a lovely touch. Would recommend

*I received a copy of this novel for review. This did not influence my review in any way.
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on 5 March 2011
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.

Anyway she hid and she even learnt Japanese from the cook. 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.
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on 9 December 2014
couldnt hold my attention
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