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Silapa Jarun

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Member Since: Sep, 2008

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Katana Duet : Samurai's Forbidden Love
by Silapa Jarun   

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Publisher:  BookStrand Publishing ISBN-10:  1606012509 Type: 


Copyright:  July 2008 ISBN-13:  9781606012505

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The Matsumoto twins, or "mirror samurai," are bound together by a horrible crime committed during the civil war. Eager for a new beginning, the brothers travel to America where they are befriended by the Lennartsson brother and sister, Konrad and Klara. Akeno becomes attracted to the seemingly innocent young Klara, while Aki allies himself with, Konrad, who is desperately trying to find a cure for his sister's mysterious illness.

The Matsumoto twins, or "mirror samurai," are bound together by a horrible crime committed during the civil war. Eager for a new beginning, the brothers travel to America where they are befriended by the Lennartsson brother and sister, Konrad and Klara. Akeno becomes attracted to the seemingly innocent young Klara, while Aki allies himself with, Konrad, who is desperately trying to find a cure for his sister's mysterious illness.

The bond of brotherhood between the samurai grows into a forbidden relationship as they realize "Katana Duet" is not the only stage show they must perform for money but they must also play out an elaborate act to free themselves from a deadly game in a household full of secrets.

 Book Video

My body hurts. If I can just destroy this shell, then I’ll be free. If I die, I won’t have to think about it anymore. Akeno clutched the side of his head, as if doing so would keep his skull intact, and exhaled. “I don't want to think about it!” The samurai, wearing just a thin kimono, the last layer of his fine clothing, wrapped his arms around his center like covering a gaping wound and shivered as he kept his pace towards the depths that lay ahead. He stood in the waist high water like a statue, not hearing the shouting and splashing behind him.

Strong arms seized the dazed man and tried to pull him back to land.

Akeno yelped in pain. “My ribs hurt. Don’t touch me!” he gasped. “They did this to me! Let me go! I must destroy this body.” Incomprehensible sentences continued to pour from Akeno’s cold lips even as he began to realize someone was calling his name.

“Akeno! Wake up!”

A strike across the face brought Akeno back to his senses, and his eyes found an identical figure before him.

“Aki?” he breathed. “I hate myself.”

“How can you say you hate yourself when we are the same? Do you hate me, Akeno? Do you?”

“No, no.” Akeno was shaking his head, his face a contorted sculpture of pain and confusion. “N-Not you.” He pointed at his chest. “Me, I hate myself. Me.”

“Brother, you don’t exist. Only we exist. You cannot hate yourself.” Aki slowly reached out to hold his brother’s trembling shoulders and whispered, “Tell me everything.” They stood still in the water, one listening, one whispering.

Akeno was shaking. “I can’t live with this dishonor.”

“Then I’ll destroy the ones who hurt you. Once I have punished them, you will not have to think of this again.” Aki placed his palms on either side of his brother’s face and watched as the faint moonlight illuminated the pale, smooth skin.

“A-Aki, there was only one that night.” Akeno chewed his lower lip and wiped away the tears with the back of his hand. I can’t remember all their names or hideous faces. “Hamada is the one who should die.” The samurai winced when he rubbed the back of his hand across the tender corner of his bruised and swollen lip.

Aki nodded. “I will dispatch Hamada with my own hands. Listen carefully. The peasant riot is moving closer to the camp tonight. When it does, you have to escape and meet with the others heading to Edo.” Once Hamada’s blood is spilled, I will have atoned for abandoning you, Akeno. We were in that room together.

“I won’t leave without you.” Akeno could not stop crying. “We came together and we should go together.”

“We will not be separated for long,” Aki said, trying to soothe his sibling’s emotions. “I promise it will be only temporary.” He clenched his teeth. “Akeno, I will not allow them that one to touch you again. I’ll take care of you from now on.”

Akeno, the gentle sibling, sobbed into his brother’s chest. “I—I am ashamed.” Disbelief strangled Akeno’s voice as he looked away and squeezed his fists. “It’s not supposed to happen to men.”

“I’ll restore your honor. But first, you have to give me your clothing before leaving. They have not seen me, so it will be easy.” Aki tried to absorb the waves of grief from Akeno, but his own growing anger easily overshadowed the attempt. “Take off the wet clothing.”

Aki dragged his twin to the water’s edge slowly, never letting his hands leave his brother’s body. He watched him strip away the soaked cloth. Seeing Akeno’s toned and lithe body was like experiencing a strange dream. It was as if his brother was an external reflection of his soul. He tried not to look at all the bruises, but it was hard to tear his eyes away from the corner of Akeno’s damaged lip.

“Now you take my clothes, Akeno. They’re dirty and wet too, but at least you will not look like our Lord’s page anymore.”

Aki pointed to the corner of his own mouth. “You have to ”

Akeno punched his brother.

The older brother staggered backwards and cradled his chin. “Good.” Aki could feel the blood crawling down his chin. “Perfect. Now we match!” As usual, brother can guess what is on my mind.

Torches carried by the mob soon blazed across the horizon, and the chants of the farmers rumbled across the plain. They would not stand a chance against the Imperial army that rushed forth to put down the insurrection. Everyone was starving. The domain’s farmers who fed the samurai were left with nothing when the siege began. Even breast milk stopped flowing, and many babies withered away as the war climaxed. Akeno reluctantly made his escape amidst the chaos but constantly looked behind him, hoping that perhaps Aki would follow.

Aki ran a broken wooden comb through his hair as he watched Akeno slip into the night with both their katana, swords, tied to his back. All weapons were turned over to the enemy officers. All except the two Matsumoto family heirlooms Aki had buried under a tree earlier that day. He smoothed his raven black locks to make them proper, as those of his brother, and returned to the storeroom where the prisoners crouched around a weakening fire.

A teenager who was a subordinate page looked up. “Hey, Akeno?” Kajinosuke eyed the handsome older samurai suspiciously.

Tadayoshi, another attendant, tilted his head to the side. “Aki, what are you trying to do? Look, some people can’t tell the difference, but I know both you brothers too well. Why are you dressed like Akeno? Where did he go?”

Aki sat down slowly and smiled. “Kajinosuke, Tadayoshi, tomorrow we are going to take care of some scoundrels, and you two will help me.” He stretched out on the straw-covered floor as the two youths looked at each other. The older twin looked at a spider in the upper corner of the wooden structure. Its long legs moved slightly on the web, stretching out the silk. Aki closed his eyes and committed the name Hamada, which Akeno had whispered, to memory. Akeno did not need to tell me who those animals were. I was there. I saw everything. I’ll never forget. Why did he just give me one name?

Aki smiled to himself. “While many people in our Ise-han have seen us ‘mirror samurai’, few can tell us apart. I’m counting on the enemy to be just as confused.”

Professional Reviews

Fallen Angel Reviews
Katana Duet: Samurai’s Forbidden Love by Silapa Jarun is a homoerotic love story based in the time of Feudal Japan.

Aki knows that the end is near. He and his twin brother Akeno pledged their lives in the support of the Tokugawa Shogunate, and when they lost to the Imperial troops, to the winners go the spoils. Aki is scared for his brother after Aki found him trying to drown himself in the lake. Aki vowed to avenge Akeno, and then they managed to slip away to try and start a new life. Things are very difficult for them to obtain success because their past affiliations are held against them. They have always worked together and thought of themselves not as two but as one person. Determined to succeed, Akeno earns money the only way he can, as a personal assistant/ lover, to gain enough money to send his brother to America, the land of opportunity, where he eventually follows. The two end up in Wisconsin as boarders for a brother and sister, Klara and Konrad. Aki is assisting Konrad in his experiments with Akeno working around the house. Klara and Konrad’s family are very upset not just over the arrangements, but the potential effects to Klara’s ill health. Klara has always been sick, and Konrad is determined to find the cure to her illness. As the story unfolds questions of alliances of the siblings will confuse and delight the reader. Will Aki and Akeno finally realize their true feelings for each other? Who are Klara and Konrad and what do they want from Aki and Akeno? What is really going on at the boarding house and does it bode well for the brothers?

Ms. Jarun has created a unique story by mixing characters from Feudal Japan into an early American culture to fashion a story that is fast paced and unpredictable for the reader. I loved the scenes from Japan and how Aki and Akeno adapted to America, sometimes with more success than others. It was interesting to see how individuals from both cultures responded differently to the same situations. The scenes where Aki and Akeno finally expressed their true feelings for each other was moving and very erotic. It was interesting to see how both sets of siblings found themselves in similar situations, but looked upon it differently, maybe due to the different cultures. It was fascinating to watch the action unfold and not be able to figure what was really going on until the very end. I will definitely look for more books by Ms. Jarun.

Reviewed by: Teresa

Dark Angel Reviews
In 19th century Japan, a horrid civil war has rent the nation asunder, creating havoc among all classes. Identical twins Akeno and Aki Matsumoto are among the victims, and barely escape to America. The Lennartson family take them in as house servants. Konrad and Klara have their own mysterious pasts and concealed secrets, which mirror the Japanese samurai twins much as those two mirror each other. Klara has a debilitating illness, Konrad works in his lab to rectify. She develops an arcane interest in Akeno, the more emotionally wounded of the twins. His brother, Aki, identifies with the stern and sturdy Konrad.

The continuing revelations in this novel are truly amazing. Author Silapa Jarun weaves an extraordinarily involved tapestry with the foil of the defeated Samurai twins contrasting the elusive ethereally ill Klara and her relative Konrad. A man who seems so open and aboveboard, Konrad harbors his own mysterious drives and secrets. Akenko, who nearly did not survive the atrocities of the civil war in his homeland, is emotionally scarred for life, and so appeals to Klara, who is barely a survivor herself. In the end, a series of astounding revelations will upend the reader's sense of certainty and leave the storyline lingering in the mind for quite some time. Silapa Jarun has a taut grasp of background historical detail and the period comes alive with sensory perceptions, both in the Japanese setting and in Wisconsin, where the reader can almost feel the snap of cold and the bite of the wind. Emotional and sensual tensions between various combinations of the four characters tighten minutely and almost imperceptibly, but inescapably. A multilayered and complex story, KATANA DUET is memorable and thought-provoking.


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