The Kissing Blades
The Kissing Blades moved along so quickly that it ended before I was ready for it to be over. Another 25 pages for more character development and Jessica Hall’s latest would’ve landed on my keeper shelf. As enjoyable as it was, though, the main characters get the short end of the stick in a story that is overstuffed.
Kameko Sayura has a thriving jewelry design business and is happy with her life. Her recently deceased father headed a Japanese criminal syndicate, and her youngest brother is following in his footsteps. She’s had no contact with her family for some time. It comes as a horrific surprise to discover that her 16-year-old assistant, Tara, was kidnapped from her shop and a bloody sword left in her place. The police believe Kameko killed the girl and hid her body somewhere. Kameko cannot reveal the truth – the kidnappers have contacted her and demanded ransom, but if she goes to the authorities, Tara will be killed. The kidnappers want a collection of swords (the subject of the previous two books in this series) and it is rumored that Kameko’s father possessed them. Adding suspense is that Kameko received a letter from her father shortly after his death in which the swords are mentioned. The letter surprised Kameko at the time because her father considered her a non-entity in the family.
Kameko’s only hope is to contact rogue agent Sean Delaney, and ask that he help her find the swords in five days. But Sean was released from service after an incident involving Kameko in The Steel Caress and now works as a ranch hand. When Kameko locates him, he’s passed out after getting drunk (the love scene that follows is a definite ick factor for me). Sean wants nothing to do with Kameko, never mind that he can’t stop thinking about her – he knows he isn’t anyone’s hero.
Once he manages to sober himself up, he is definite hero material. The tortured Sean tends to brood about how unsuitable he is for Kameko, but she believes in him when no one else will. Her faith in him allows Sean to realize he can be a better person. It’s for this reason that I really wanted to get to know both of them better.
It’s unfortunate, then, that characters from the previous books in this series show up to take their turn in the spotlight, which detracts from Sean and Kameko’s romance. They never get the attention they deserve, and an interesting secondary romance is also given short shrift. Trying to resolve the plot line in a week just made everything more hectic and took even more attention away from Kameko and Sean.
The book’s strong suspense plot moved briskly and held my attention. The final resolution is suitably surprising. The Kissing Blades is occasionally violent, so readers who dislike a moderate level of gore should be forewarned. This is a book that stands alone, but I’ll be seeking out its predecessors and if Hall can beef up the romantic aspect, I’ll look forward to her future books.