Publisher: City Owl Press (May 4, 2021)
Releases on: May 4, 2021
Genre: LGBTQIA Dark Historical Paranormal Romance
In Hiro’s world, youkai are a supernatural story used to scare children into obedience, and to keep men out of back alleys and brothels. Until Sakurai Hideyoshi walks through his door with a fantastical tale of a samurai who had killed a thousand men and drank the blood of his enemies, a man that lived in darkness but sought beauty to keep it at bay.
A story both terrifying and romantic…and completely ridiculous.
Unless it is true.
Convinced something softer lurks behind Hideyoshi’s hard mask, Hiro follows him home. And discovers the story is real.
Only instead of the blood of his enemies, it is innocent blood taken.
Hideyoshi tells him never to return. Yet after Hiro’s mother is mortally wounded, Hiro runs back to the one being he knows with the power to save her. When Hideyoshi can’t, Hiro begs him for the next best thing: the power to avenge her.
As Hiro becomes youkai, he faces a new threat, something darker, older, and far more dangerous. With Hideyoshi at his side, Hiro must decide what he’s willing to sacrifice--and what he’s willing to do--to protect this new life before he loses everything for a second time.
If you like Bella Forrest, P. C. Cast, AJ Tipton, or Anne Rice, you will love this beautiful dark paranormal fantasy romance.
@Archaeolibrary, @PromotionsPsst, @PretentiousAho,
I awoke in stages. First, with a gradual and intense awareness of my body, down to the ends of the smallest hair, and all of it buzzed, ached, groaned. I tried to move, but the brush of fabric, even the changing currents of the air, sent a crash of sensation through me that took my breath away. Heart pounding, head reeling, my whole body pulsed, and I gasped when I realized it was my own blood sliding beneath my skin, whispering a secret I couldn't quite grasp.
And then, there was sound, the light, rhythmic ting of metal on metal, not loud, yet each repetition pricked like needles. I groaned, and the sound paused, followed by a distinct rustling that drew steadily closer. Footsteps. Cold fingers slipped around my heart and squeezed the air from my lungs, gradually tightening as the sound grew louder, closer.
“Open your eyes, Hiro.”
Something brushed against my cheek, warm and familiar yet completely foreign. I jerked into violent motion, pushing off the floor and slamming my back against the wall. Eyes still squeezed tightly shut, I swiped at the empty air in front of me.
“Stop fighting,” he said softly, rough hands clamping around my wrists in an iron grip. “Focus.”
“Sa-Sakurai—” I clamped my hands to the sides of my head as my own voice pounded in my ears. Loud. Everything was so loud. The wind in the hallways. The birds in the trees. Sakurai-han's heartbeat. Mattaku, I could hear his heartbeat.
“What—what's happening to me?”
“Look at me, Hiro,” he said, low and commanding, taking my face in his hands. “Open your eyes slowly and look at only me.”
With a deep, wheezing breath, I cracked one eye open, slamming it shut again as the flickering light of an oil lamp swam into my vision. I groaned and pitched forward as the world tilted under me, and I gripped Sakurai-han's wrists as if it might buck me off. He shifted his hands to my shoulders, and he forced me upright, silently urging me to try again.
His eyes. I lifted my head and found his eyes, black as obsidian and flashing darkly, thin, straight brows pulled low over them. They filled my vision until I could see nothing else, and I fell into their cavernous depths. Before I even realized it, I was touching him, my fingers brushing lightly over his brow, down the wide bridge of his nose, along his high cheekbones. His face glowed from within the shadow of his long hair like the moon in the midnight sky.
“You're…” Beautiful. The word seemed so inadequate.
His eyes lost some of their edge, and I swooned. He caught my hand in his and pressed it against his chest. Beneath my palm lay hard, lean muscle and heat and the subtle but quick thump thump thumping of his heart.
He mirrored the action against my heart, his hand nearly spanning the width of my chest. “Listen, Hiro,” he said in a thick voice. “Not to the world, but to your heart.”
As if a switch had been flipped, my ears turned inward, and an overwhelming warmth enveloped me. I heard his heart beating beside mine, within mine, our souls mixing and folding into each other, a strong but gentle presence inside me.
With a whimper in my throat and tears burning behind my eyes, I fell into him. I knew only him, the heat of his skin, the brush of his breath, his arms wrapped protectively around me. I had the feeling he'd done something unspeakable to me, yet with my nose buried in his broad chest, I felt safe.
“What…what did you…” I started, still struggling to catch my breath.
“I've made you.” His lips brushed against my hair.
I lifted my head and felt my cheeks flush with an emotion I didn’t understand. It was as if I'd died and Sakurai Hideyoshi had taken possession of my soul.
5 out of 5 (exceptional)
BLOOD PACT is the second book in the Youkai Bloodlines series, and we start off with Hiro. He is a geisha, taken in from the street, and now a man of renown because of his voice. When a local thug takes offense at Hiro entertaining a samurai, Hiro's world is torn apart.
This isn't a romance story, per se. It is diving into the world of the mythological, fantastical, horrible. Hide would do anything for Hiro, apart from show it! And Hiro has enough heart for both of them. Even Asagi recognises that. Yes, they are in here too, but I don't think life has treated them kindly since last we met. I do so want a HEA for them, back with their maker.
Although this is book two, as Hiro puts it, this is only the beginning. I love where the story is going, plus the character development and supporting cast. You end up with more questions than answers, and it's just perfect for this series. This book is long enough to sink your teeth into (!), and is perfectly paced, giving you action and then a time of rest. Diving into cultural mythology is a bonus for me.
A fantastic addition to the series and absolutely recommended by me. I can't wait to see what happens next.
** same worded review will appear elsewhere **
* A copy of this book was provided to me with no requirements for a review. I voluntarily read this book, and the comments here are my honest opinion. *
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