My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars
The Italian Connection 2 starts where the first novel left off. Leaving his lover Julian Romano, Philippe finds himself in trouble when old nemesis Jun Watanabe chases him down. Jun wants the ultimate revenge – to break Philippe in body and spirit by selling his body to the Yakuza – but his employer Tanaka, rock singer Tommy Sear and Julian have other ideas.
If you liked the first novel, chances are you’ll like the second. The yaoi inspiration of the first novel is back again, with the Yakuza (Japanese mafia) working with Jun to get revenge on Phillipe. The action scenes are good, and the pace is pretty much breakneck through the whole novel, keeping the pages turning as we discover Tanaka’s clever plan to rescue Phillipe and Julian’s niece from their kidnapper. The ending was also much sweeter than I’d imagined, leaving this story on a very happy (if somewhat unrealistic) note.
The editing in this novel was better than the first, with only a few mistakes. I wasn’t particularly fond of the way the Yakuza men were constantly referred to as “Yaks”, since to me that seemed to make the Yakuza seem less intimidating than they had the potential to be, but otherwise it was a solid enough story with a firm happy-ever-after.
I’d definitely recommend this series to fans of Japanese anime and manga, who will appreciate the fact that while this is a contemporary series, it’s more about fantasy than reality. Those looking for realistic depictions of modern romance probably won’t find this to be their cup of tea, but for those of us who love the idea of a dance company fronting for a crime-fighting squad, it’s a solid, entertaining read. I would have liked to have seen more of Phillipe at work, but this is a romance novel at heart and the relationships are ultimately its focus.