The Red Thread of Forever Love by Nicole Kimberling
Length: 96 pages
A "Not Quite New Year" Story!
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.
This is a cute story that immerses the reader in Japanese culture, specifically folklore. While I enjoyed the historical elements, the romance, and the plot, I had a hard time really sinking into the story. Everything was good, but I never deeply associated with any of the characters, which left me pleased but not completely satisfied.
While this story starts slow in order to develop the culture and character relationship, the end picks up, culminating in their relationship and a dramatic turn of plot. The pacing was a bit of a struggle in the beginning, but a necessary evil and definitely worth muddling through.
This is one of those stories that I enjoyed but never wow'd me, leaving me with very little to say. It could be that it just wasn't up my alley, or not relating to the characters kind of ruined it. Nonetheless, I would recommend this story to others, especially those interested in Japanese folklore, who like a little bit of humor, and who are looking for something serious but not too heavy. It's an interesting mix of cultures, characters, and rhythms. And if Fingers annoys you in the beginning, he'll probably grow on you by the end! :)