book reviews · m/m romance

Book Review: Reiko Morgan’s “Over the Mountain of the Moon” (2010)

over-the-mountain-of-the-moonI was a little hesitant to read another “courtesan” story, but this book’s preview chapters were so immensely compelling that I dove right in! The story remained compelling throughout, moving at a fast pace, with a new danger or difficulty around every corner that’s sure to keep you glued to your seat.

Over the Mountain is probably the most sentimental and romantic book I’ve read in a while. I don’t say that as a negative, but I was a little surprised! The speed of Tetsuya and Jin’s romance was possibly too fast at the beginning, a little incredulous perhaps, but as time went on it became clear just how well suited they were for each other, and how good they were for each other. So perhaps there is such a thing as love at first sight, and this is it!

The setting of the book was just lovely, and Morgan’s descriptive writing is beautiful. There was no excessive, forced, this-is-Japan description; it simply was Japan (probably best to leave your history lessons at the door, though; I don’t think strict historical accuracy was the goal here- and it wasn’t necessary!). The story takes place in winter, with the snow and ice a permanent feature and background throughout the book. It was gorgeous. And as someone who has a serious love of (almost fetish for!) kimonos, all the silk was an absolute delight.

One downfall of the fast pace of the book was, I felt, the sheer frequency with which our main character found himself in peril. And yes, he did learn to defend himself and contribute towards his own (and Jin’s) saving more than once, yet the book does have a slight damsel-in-distress feel that didn’t sit quite right with me. I have to say that I’ve also come to appreciate how in many recent M/M romances, the roles (all kinds, including sexual) both men play vary so much, and are so balanced; yet in this book, Tetsuya is clearly, determinably, coded female, and the weaker partner. Still, both characters were compelling, and there was a lot to enjoy in their romance.

Overall this book was very enjoyable, and the setting was just beautiful. I look forward to reading more of Morgan’s work!

{Summary from Amazon.com:}
Tetsuya, a young male courtesan, is living a life of relative safety until an unknown samurai called Jin arrives on his doorstep, bringing passion and death. Awakened to the strange paths of destiny, Tetsuya chooses to leave the only place he has ever known to follow a samurai who is on a quest for vengeance. Their heels dogged at every turn by paid assassins, Tetsuya and Jin learn to trust each other as they discover hidden truths which may get them killed before their love has a chance to redeem them both.

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