Book review: Masara Minase — Lies and Kisses

Wealthy young executive Tatsuya Soga is trying to trace the younger half-brother he hasn’t seen since they were both children, when their father divorced his second wife and threw wife and child out of the house. While Tatsuya’s waiting for the detective’s report, he goes to a friend’s bar for the evening, and has a bad case of love at first sight when he sees a young waiter playing the bar piano. Haru seems interested in him in return; which isn’t surprising because as rapidly becomes clear to the reader, Haru knows who Tatsuya is and still hero-worships his adored older brother while being convinced that the Soga family must hate him. Tatsuya quite innocently proceeds to seduce Haru in the belief that the attraction is sexual on both sides, leading to much angst the next day when he finally gets that report with a recent photo and the current name of his long-lost brother…

Emotional ups and downs follow as Tatsuya tries to protect Haru from the knowledge that they’re brothers, while resisting Haru’s attempts to get him back into bed. It gets all the harder when he discovers the shabby conditions in which Haru lives, and feels he has to take Haru to live with him. There’s more than one twist to the tale before reaching an ending that’s more or less happy and leaves them together.

This is a single-volume story, so the plot’s not that deep, but there’s still a solid story that’s got more to it than just an excuse to throw two pretty young men together and spice it up with a suggestion of incest. And it’s well set up, with the nine year age gap between the men making it plausible that Tatsuya wouldn’t recognise the 17-year-old he last saw as a child, and Haru having a good reason to be in that bar.

The characters are interesting and pleasant people. Tatsuya is a decent, kind man who cares about other people, and while he’s pushy when he first seduces Haru, it’s an honest case of mis-reading signals rather than refusing to take no for an answer. Haru’s believable as a teenager who’s pretending to be older than he really is, but who’s still vulnerable inside. There are also some good supporting characters, in particular Haru’s older step-brother from his mother’s third marriage.

This one has plenty of explicit sex, but it’s there to serve the story, which is good news if you find sex boring without a story to go with it. It’s not as graphic as in some manga, but it’s erotic as it is.

The artwork is excellent, and apart from the colour cover there are also two very nice colour plates inside. The physical production quality is extremely good, with heavy paper and crisp reproduction of the art.

The subject matter’s going to squick some readers, but if you can handle that, this one’s well worth a look.

Lies & Kisses at Amazon UK

Lies & Kisses at Amazon US

LibraryThing entry

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