A couple of years ago, a reader sent me an article from a local newspaper here in Los Angeles about a very successful, highly intelligent student from Tokyo who'd come here on a student visa for his final year of college. This is a very common practice with Asian families, but this young man was not given much money before he left home (not so very common) and struggled to finance both his studies, rent, and little luxuries like food.
He wound up homeless and on skid row. For a while, he was able to dupe his family into believing he was doing well. Then the calls stopped. They hired a detective to find him, hardly able to believe the end result. Their beloved son had slipped into mental illness and would not return home for fear of shaming his family. I never found out what happened to him, and frankly I was afraid to learn the truth. But his story stuck in my mind and I borrowed the germ of the idea for my new cat shifter book Stranger Rice, co-written with D.J. Manly.
In our story, the hero, Basho, has moved to Hong Kong to work for a rich, mysterious man named Kanji little suspecting he's a tiger shifter. Basho feels he is failing at his job and is lonely and over-worked in the incredible, fast-paced, but daunting world of Hong Kong business.
Basho's mom is a force to be reckoned with. She suddenly announces she's going to visit. How can Basho possibly convince her he is all the things he's lied about in his calls and emails - including being a straight man involved with a successful businesswoman?
To top things off, his unrequited crush on Kanji suddenly looks like it's mutual. Will he be preparing batches of his family's traditional stranger rice when his mom arrives? Or will he be um…meowing for his supper?
When A.J. told me about this story, I was intrigued. I read the first part and thought what in the heck am I supposed to do with this? It's really good but where do I take it? It didn't take me long to figure it out. This story was so rich in character and detail. I just dove right in like one would to a good bowl of rice.
What is it about rice anyway? Well, it's so versatile and filling. You can eat it with just about anything, or on its own, or you can throw things into it, and dress it up. There are different kinds, some really fragrant or grainy. And that's what it was with this story. It had such richness, and it in the end, it was filling just like that bowl of rice.
And of course, let's not forget the domineering Mom, who hasn't been exposed to that, either to your own or someone else's mother?
But the most intriguing character is Kanji, sexy, sleek, a real animal in the bedroom, roar!
Enjoy. D.J. ☺
Stranger Rice by A.J. Llewellyn & D.J. Manly is now available at Amber Allure.
If you'd like the chance to win the entire pax collection, just leave a comment on today's post. On Saturday, a winner will be picked at random from all the comments made this week on the blog. Comment on all, and that's multiple chances to win!