Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Hanami by V.C. Buckley (Spotlight, excerpt, review, and GIVEAWAY) GFT

V.C. Buckley


GENRE: Romance, New adult, romantic suspense, contemporary



“I am no princess… I am Yakuza,”

SAKURA SHINTANI is the heir to the Dragon Clan—Japan’s most notorious crime dynasty. But can she keep this fact a secret from the annoying brats of Oniyuri Academy?

She must try to master her demons while trying not to hurt anyone. But having the face of an angel puts her on everyone’s radar… including the arrogant heir to Asia’s most powerful tycoon, KENJIN KIYOHARA. He senses the danger, but Sakura is too interesting to be left alone.



Jin rolled his eyes, settling his gaze back on the girl. He wasn’t surprised with their reaction.

The new girl was hot, but so what? It took more than a pretty face to get his attention. He wasn’t that easy to impress, and he was certain she’d be throwing herself at him anyway. Just like everybody else. He was sure this girl wasn’t any different from the love-crazed hyenas that stalked him.

Jin pushed back his shoulders, seeing her start towards him with her eyes still trailing on the ground.

Already? Jin thought, suppressing a laugh. He crossed his arms, waiting for her to get closer, and sure enough she stopped right in front of him. She was even prettier up close. Asian but with a hint of Caucasian mixed in.

“What?” he asked, smirking. He already knew what she might say: whether he was Kenjin Kiyohara, the sole heir to Kiyohara Industries? The questions were all the same. He thought she would have at least waited until class was over like the rest of them.

“Move your feet. You’re blocking my way,” the girl said in a sharp tone.  She shifted her gaze up at him like a threatening knife. Her topaz-colored eyes darkened, sending icy tremors down his back. He felt as if he’d been hit by a curse as his mind turned blank.

When she finally looked away, Jin was able to regain his senses. He tucked his legs out of her way, and she passed, leaving goosebumps in her wake. His eyes followed her, waiting to see if she’d look back, but she never did. Jin’s hands were trembling. His thoughts became jumbled while he struggled not to look anymore.

What was that? What just happened? This was a first for him. He couldn’t contain himself. His presence had no impact whatsoever. Instead she looked like she wanted to kill him!

Jin took a deep breath, replaying the moment in his head. Who was this girl? She sure got his attention, all right—and it left him in pieces. He fought the urge to look back again.

This girl…Jin thought. There was something about her. He couldn’t shake off the feeling. She seemed dangerous.

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AUTHOR Bio and Links:

V.C. Buckley was born in an isolated government facility and shipped off to an Island in Southeast Asia where she grew up braving tropical thunderstorms and warding off evil villains. At sixteen she was discovered by an agent and jetted off all over the world. Her stories come from gritty moments of her childhood to the glitz of her travels. She now lives in Manila with her husband, two kids and an herb garden that has hijacked her balcony.

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My review:

3.75 out of 5 stars

Hanami by V.C. Buckley is a young to new adult contemporary romance set in Japan. The story focuses on the heir to the feared Shintani clan, Sakura, and her attempts to fulfill the roles expected of her, including honoring a family contract and attending a prestigious school open only to the elite of society. Her self-imposed vow to never become as vulnerable as her parents were is tested as she learns to interact with her peers and deal with the challenges presented by those who wish to either curry favor or destroy her.

This story provides fascinating glimpses of the harsh society ruled by the formidable Yakuza while detailing the coming-of-age of the person who is struggling with her own identity. I liked many aspects of the story, including the elements of Japanese culture that are sprinkled in and the arc of Sakura’s journey, as well as the mysteries that are gradually unraveled, but I felt that other elements are not well fleshed-out, including the hierarchy of the school and the students, how Sakura became involved in the punitive aspects of her position, the role of the scholars and the scope of their duties as interns, the major competitive events, etc. Those who have triggers should be advised that there are some elements of graphic violence as well as potential assault situations.

This is listed as a new adult romance, and that is accurate with respect to the ages of the main characters, but the evolution of the relationship(s) is very tame, reflecting Sakura’s isolation from her peers up to this point.  The writing is stilted in places, with odd word choices, and the action is jerky at times, but the imagery evoked is vivid and the storyline is intriguing. I enjoyed watching the blossoming of emotions and seeing Sakura’s competence but felt some things were a bit inconsistent about her situational awareness and vulnerability. The mystical element was a bit over the top for me but it did serve a dual purpose, although I was surprised that one character was mature enough to make a pivotal decision that seemed uncharacteristic. This is the first book in the series of the same name, so I expect that many of the dangling threads that irked me will be addressed in subsequent tales and I look forward to learning more about this unique and intriguing character and those around her.

A copy of this title was provided for review


  1. Another great book to discover. Thanks so much for sharing this with us.

  2. Are any of the characters based on real people that you know?

  3. What's your favorite part about writing?

  4. romantic suspense is one of my favorite genres and this does sound really good to me
    sherry @ fundinmental