I've loved many of K.J. Charles's books, but for this one, I'm teetering between 2 and 3 stars. During the first half of the book, I was seriously frustrated (as could be seen from my updates) - I can't handle stupid MCs and Kerry did some incredibly idiotic things. My companion in BR, Mel, even abandoned the book for this reason, so I had to continue alone, with her enjoying my misery.
I'm actually glad I read on, because the second half of the book was more enjoyable. There was a lot of action, and even though none of the stuff was actually very surprising (you could see disasters coming from a mile away), it was pretty entertaining and written well. I especially enjoyed the description of the maneuvers to save Sonja:
Finally, as the train pulled into Ikebukero, a number of things did happen, pretty much at once. One of the yakuza in the carriage to Sonja’s right had been jammed up against a woman for much of the journey. She was probably a bit chunky for his taste, and definitely past her prime, as she was pushing thirty, and I don’t imagine he even noticed her until, as the train lurched slightly as it slowed, she swayed against him, gave a shrill gasp of fury, turned and punched him in the groin with a cry of “Groper!” The yakuza went down like a sack of bricks, as any man would do, considering that Junko was a prizewinning kickboxer, and her thick mittens were pulled over knuckledusters. The crowd swayed out of the way to let the poor man collapse, whereupon she gave him a short-range kick to the same target with her pointy shoe, adding, “Pervert!” with righteous indignation. At this point his partner grabbed at her arm. Junko turned deftly, so that he appeared to be going for her breast instead, let out a shriek of maidenly alarm, and swung her loaded handbag, smacking the second man in the face so hard he went stumbling back into the awed crowd, where a hitherto unnoticed young man in a rather cheap suit jabbed two rigid fingers into his kidney as the train came to a complete stop.
The solution was quite elegant, with (nearly) all of the puzzle pieces fitting together neatly. The only problem I have is that the Kerry in the culmination scene (discussing with the Korean mafioso, doing excellent strategic thinking and having an answer to everything) couldn't have been the Kerry from the first half of the book, who offered the yakuza countless opportunities to find and attack her, without thinking of even the most basic things (like throwing away your phone, or at least turning it off). That Kerry was fierce and smart and admirable, as opposed to the stupid girl in the first half of the book.
I liked the romantic developments in the book, including the fact that Chanko wasn't your average tall-and-dark romantic interest. The growth from active dislike to attraction, although maybe a bit swift, was believable because of the extraordinary circumstances, and the (fade-to-black) erotic scenes were smoking hot (especially the foot massage!). The one thing I didn't get was the scene with Taka where he seemed to show some (reciprocated) attraction to Kerry as well, because it was so disconnected from the rest of the story and didn't really go anywhere, but the HFN was the right solution, considering the short time they had known each other.
All in all, since I enjoyed the second half of the book, I'm rounding my 2,5 stars up to 3 on Goodreads, but I'm disappointed because I expected more from this author.