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    A Suspenseful and Romantic Read!!!

    ----3.5 Stars---- This book was an interesting, intriguing, and suspenseful romantic read! I found the main characters, Sakura and Jin interesting, however, I didn’t find them relatable or easy to connect with. Usually, the books I read, I identify with a character or I find a character that reminds me of a close friend or family member. Neither was the case with this book. I liked that Sakura was strong, fierce, intelligent, sassy, and confident. However, she was also very cold, rude, distant, and stuck up. She presented herself in a manner that she was better than and more important than those around here. This came off extremely harsh and frigid. She preferred to be alone and kept herself isolated. Later down the road we learn that this is all a shell; that she is protecting herself from being vulnerable and getting hurt. I must admit, the best part of the book was her character’s journey of self-discovery. Sakura is finding herself in this book and her transformation, learnings, and understandings were exponential! I really enjoyed watching her grow - especially since I was so turned off by her at the beginning of the book! But, watching her story unfold, her finally start to open up to possibilities and actually letting people in and get close to her – it showed strong character development! I wasn’t fond of Jin either at the beginning as he was such a player and his ego barely fit through the door! I liked that he knew and understood all these girls fawning over him were just after him for his money and status. And I liked that he wanted a girl that wanted him for him and that she would be someone with virtue, character, and intellect. Sakura was just that! Sakura challenged Jin! However, Jin was pleased to have found someone who wasn’t groveling at his feet – he didn’t understand why she wasn’t and he seemed to be getting annoyed that she wasn’t falling for all his lines and tricks. Sorry, but that part was really dumb!!! Jin finally finds what he’s been looking for and he has to complain that Sakura is making him work for it – which is what he wanted??!! LOL!!! Typical guys!!! Anywho, after so many pages of that, he also does some growing up throughout the book and has some redeeming moments. I really liked how supportive he was for Sakura and how he was there for her during some difficult scenes. I really liked the story line concept and found it intriguing! The author has fascinating ideas about the Yakuza’s, Japanese crime dynasties, and the elite heirs and their lifestyle! The story line worked and there were definitely quite a few plot points to keep the story going – especially since it’s on the longer end of 328 pages. However, this book felt a bit over-complicated and confusing at times as there was just so much going on in the story. There were several passages I had to re-read to figure out what was happening and get back into the story. I love the in-depth amount of research the author did while constructing this book. It was clear she was very familiar and well-versed on Japanese culture, customs, and traditions. The author provided so much detail and such vivid descriptions it made the scenes easy to picture. There are some predictable scenes. However, there are also some unexpected twists and turns and misdirection’s that you won’t see coming! This book is book one in the Hanami Book Series. This book can be read as a standalone. Unfortunately, I felt the ending was a bit unfinished as there were still a few unanswered questions that I’m hoping book two will tie up some loose ends! Also, please note there are some very detailed, graphic, violent scenes that may not be appropriate for all readers. All in all, there were just a few hang-ups for me, but overall, I still enjoyed reading this book and would still recommend it. There is an intriguing story line and great characters that do make this book an interesting romance, new adult, romantic suspense, and contemporary read! So, add it to your TBR List and get to reading – you won’t be disappointed! **Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of this book and have voluntarily provided an honest, and unbiased review in accordance with FTC regulations.**
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