Yugi Yamada – DMP / June – 2010 – 1 volume
At some point, after I had read Close the Last Door about five times, I realized I could have more of what I liked with characters I recognized if I went ahead and picked up this volume. So I did. Even though it crosses over into territory I am not at all comfortable with. Having said that, this was still a great book.
We saw a few chapters featuring Shoichi and Shunji in Close the Last Door, and this is their story. Technically, they’re not brothers, which is a thin line to walk in this kind of story. I always hate when this comes up, and I try to avoid it. But I like Yugi Yamada quite a lot, and I adore every page of Close the Last Door, so I really wanted to give this a try. Plus, I was hoping for Atsushi and Kenzou chapters. Atsushi only makes one brief appearance, and Kenzou is in and out periodically, but there’s nothing like the Shoichi and Shunji chapters in Close the Last Door.
One thing to its credit, the story is all about Shoichi pushing Shunji away. Again and again and again. He pushed Shunji away when Shunji was 18, and he was gone for ten years. He pushed Shunji away again when he re-appeared. And even when he can almost accept his feelings for Shunji, he still pushes him away until he realizes how lonely he is. All of this is most heartbreaking, and while there’s nothing ambiguous about the two of them together, I did like that almost all of the interaction between them read like Shoichi was not interested and was completely shutting Shunji down. One line I really liked, from just before Shunji left the first time, was along the lines of “I want a brother. If you can’t be that, I don’t need you.” Very cold, but to the point. Shoichi isn’t actually Shunji or Kenzou’s brother, but he obviously wants to be, and he knows how terrible it could go for both of them if he’s not.
There’s some stories about Shoichi’s job as a tax officer, too. While he’s pushing away and trying to find a happy medium with Shunji that doesn’t involve painful separation or the two of them having a physical relationship, he’s trying to figure out a way for one of Shunji’s friends to keep her shop, and in another story, a way for an old man to keep the house he inherited from his domestic partner.
But mostly, it’s about a painful relationship and the way the two of them go about it. They relent in the end, of course, because this is a BL book. But I do like that it spent more time than not with Shoichi trying not to make that happen.
One thing I should mention, I love Yugi Yamada best because she is very funny. She has a light touch with all her couples, and they are frequently best when they are bickering back and forth. Unfortunately, Open the Door to Your Heart doesn’t really take advantage of that strength. It’s a very melodramatic book, and while there are brief moments of humor (which are still very funny), it’s very dark compared to most of her other work. That it’s still so good is an indicator of just what a fine writer Yamada is.
I still wasn’t comfortable with the book, and can’t wholeheartedly recommend it because of that, but again, it’s quite good. The romance is believable, even more so because the two are made to suffer so much. And both Shoichi (a very cold, distant man) and Shunji (more free-spirited and lighthearted) are easy to like. And, truth be told, I read every single one of Yugi Yamada’s books over the past month or so, and this is probably the best after Close the Last Door. I like all of her books a lot, and this one was better than almost all of them, which should tell you something about it. It’s really very good. I just wish that one detail was different. Sigh.