The final book in Christina Courtenay’s acclaimed Kumashiro Saga is now available, and I couldn’t resist reading it as soon as we got a copy in the office! The first book in the saga, The Scarlet Kimono, won the Big Red Reads 2011 Best Historical Fiction Award, and the second book, The Gilded Fan, won the Romantic Novelists Assocation’s 2014 Historical Romantic Novel of the Year Award. Read on to see my thoughts, and other reviews, on The Jade Lioness…
The Jade Lioness takes place in 17th-century Japan. Temperance Marston jumped at the chance to escape wartorn England to accompany her cousin Midori and Captain Noordholt on a trading expedition to Nagasaki. However, she soon finds the country’s strict laws for foreigners curtail her freedom. On a dangerous and foolhardy venture she meets Kazuo, a ronin. Kazuo is fascinated by her blonde hair and blue eyes, but he has a mission to complete and he cannot be distracted. Long ago, his father was accused of a crime he didn’t commit – stealing a valuable jade lioness ornament from the Shogun – and Kazuo must restore his family’s honor. But when Temperance is kidnapped and sold as a concubine, he has to make a decision – can he save her and keep the promise he made to his father?
I finished reading this book not too long ago, and I really enjoyed it! It was captivating, and the descriptions of historical Japan were lovely. You can tell that the author really loves the culture, and her intimate knowledge of the country shows through (she lived in Japan as a teenager). The relationship between Temi and Kazuo was sweet, but this book is more than just a simple romance. A large part of the plot revolves around Kazuo’s quest, and all the action, adventure, thrills, and danger that go along with crime-solving were present. Also, it was great getting a glimpse into Midori and Nico’s story after The Gilded Fan ended. What’s particularly wonderful about this saga is that while characters and events from the past books are referenced, they are all standalone novels. You don’t have to have read The Scarlet Kimono or The Gilded Fan to fully enjoy The Jade Lioness (although, obviously, I recommend reading them, too!). Anyway, you don’t have to take my maybe-a-bit-biased word for how great this story was. Check out some other reviews:
“When I realised that ‘The Jade Lioness’ was another book in the ‘Kumashiro Saga’ I squealed with anticipation. This series by Christina Courtenay is what made me discover my love for Japan!…Along with some brilliantly crafted secondary characters, and the storyline of the mystery of the Jade Lioness, Christina Courtenay has delivered a fantastic addition to the ‘Kumashiro Saga’ which is definitely not to be missed.”
-Old Victorian Quill
Read the rest of this (5 star!) review on the Old Victioran Quill blog here.
“First and foremost, this is a love story. A tale of an impossible romance, a forbidden love that crosses cultural divides. We experience respect, friendship and love develop between two people who simply cannot be together. Overall, I found this to be an entertaining and interesting story – a historical romance with a difference.”
-Curious Ginger Cat
“Christina Courtenay brings to life the sights, sounds and smells of Japan. Temperance and Kazuo are both likeable, very believable characters and their growing attraction to each other is obvious. This book is primarily about forbidden love which grows across a cultural divide and in unlikely circumstances.”
-Portobello Book Blog