Blog Tour: Released (The Nogiku Series #2) by S.J. Pajonas ~ Excerpt, Brianna's Review and Giveaway!
I wonder if Sakai is up. Now is the time for me to visit him the way he visited me before the concert. Perhaps he’s always an early riser.
I get dressed, brush my hair and clip the long strands back over my ear with some pins Aunt Lomo left in the makeup bag she gifted me. Slipping on my shoes, I send Jiro a note on my tablet and close the apartment door quietly behind me.
Two flights up the stairs is Mariko’s apartment and Sakai said he was in the penthouse above her. Mmmm, the heady scent of onions and garlic cooking is getting stronger, so I climb the stairs even faster. When I reach the landing, two large caucasian men stand on either side of the only door in the hallway.
“Can we help you, miss?” asks the man on the right.
“Etoooo, I’m here to see Mark Sakai. Who are you?”
The one on the left reaches into his bag sitting on the floor and pulls out his tablet. “Please scan your hand, miss.”
I examine them both before stepping up to his tablet and placing my hand on the screen. Is this some new security Sakai has hired? The man examines my credentials and puts his tablet away. “You’re cleared. You may scan your hand at the door to request entrance.”
The man to the right of the door steps to the side. I watch both warily as I palm the scanner, and the chimes ring inside.
Maybe I should have thought to message Sakai before I came up? The door opens, and he is standing shirtless with his hair down. It’s about time I got to see those tattoos of his, but I have to admit I’m a little embarrassed by his informality.
“Sanaa-chan, jet lagged?”
“Yes, sorry, Mark. Jiro is still sleeping.”
“Come in.” He doesn’t acknowledge the men standing on either side of the door, and they don’t acknowledge him. “Are you hungry, Sanaa? We were about to eat breakfast.”
“Yeah, sure. I could eat. What’s with the guys, Mark?”
His apartment is huge. A loft-style design with lots of open space and high ceilings sprawls out in front of me. His bedroom door is ajar on the right, and another door to a large bathroom is open next to it. The living room area is immediately to my left, and on the couch is a woman’s bag and jacket. Did he just say we were about to have breakfast?
“They’re security. Why don’t you come in and sit down at the kitchen table with us? I’d like you to meet Lucy.”
Shit. I’ve intruded on some private time Sakai is having with a lady friend, or girlfriend, or something. I doubt he would have let me in if he didn’t want me here, but I’m frozen in place and don’t want to step farther into his apartment and ruin his lovely morning.
He sighs and pushes me out of the way so he can close the door. Turning to walk to the opposite side of the apartment, his tattoos face me, and all over his back and up over his shoulders to his neck is a large samurai warrior entangled with a dragon. Damn, that’s hot.
Just as the embarrassed blush rises to my cheeks for thinking anything about Sakai is hot, I’m stopped by the sight of a woman seated at the kitchen table. She’s in her late thirties, fair-skinned, bright green eyes, her red hair messy and pulled into a quick knot at the back of her head.
*I’d like to thank the author for providing me an ARC, in exchange for my honest review.*
With the way Removed ended with Sanaa all by herself in that house, I couldn’t get back to her fast enough. I wanted to know what was next for her, and how she’d get out of the situation she was in. I wanted answers, and I wanted to know what would be the consequences of everything that happened in the second book. Lucky for me, I got answers, along with character growth, as well as relationship developments.
Sanaa grows a lot in this book. She’s really changed from how she was in the beginning of the series. She’s coming into her role very well, and I can’t wait to see what else will happen to her. I love how Sanaa still says exactly how she feels to Jiro. I love the fact that she tries her best to not let the awful things that have happened to her get her down. Sanaa is a wonderful character to follow, and I think having her narrate the whole story is just perfect.
Then, there’s Jiro. Oh, how I love Jiro!!! Even when it doesn’t seem like it, he’s always looking out for Sanaa. He’s always doing little things, even when it appears he isn’t. The relationship between Sanaa and Jiro grows significantly throughout this book, and I’m really excited to see what will become of them in future books. I love the two of them together, and think that they are a really amazing couple.
The side characters in this book were really interesting. I don’t like Jiro’s mother half as much as I did in book one. Come to think of it, I don’t really like any of the characters that we met in book one, with the exception of Sanaa’s aunts who didn’t even really feature in the story. I did really like Kentaro, though. I thought that he was going to be totally different than what he was, and I was happy to be wrong.
The plot of this story was interesting. It was about Sanaa trying to rally up alliances before the move to Yusei. There were some action scenes, and Sanaa had to be really careful in this book because there were people after her and her friends. However, this book was also about Jiro and Sanaa’s relationship. It changes significantly by the end of this book, for the better I think.
Overall, I really liked this book. It was definitely a great follow-up to Removed. I loved that Jiro and Sanaa still talked things out, and when they didn’t, I never got annoyed with Sanaa because you feel everything she does. You understand the motives for her actions. I loved the action scenes too, and not all of the mysteries have been solved yet. On the contrary, this book ended with even more questions, and I really wish I had book three right now.