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Non-Stop Till Tokyo

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A man with a past is her only hope for the future.

Kerry Ekdahl’s mixed heritage and linguistics skills could have made her a corporate star. Instead, she’s a hostess in a high-end Tokyo bar, catering to businessmen who want conversation, translation and flirtation. Easy money, no stress. Life is good—until she’s framed for the murder of a yakuza boss.

Trapped in rural Japan with the gangsters closing in, Kerry doesn’t stand a chance. Then help arrives in the menacing form of Chanko, a Samoan-American ex-sumo wrestler with a bad attitude, a lot of secrets, and a mission she doesn’t understand.

Kerry doesn’t get involved with dangerous men. Then again, she’s never had one on her side before. And the big, taciturn fighter seems determined to save her life, even if they rub each other the wrong way.

Then her friends are threatened, and Kerry has no choice but to return to Tokyo and face the yakuza. Where she learns, too late, that the muscle man who’s got her back could be poised to stab it.

Warning: Contains graphic violence, swearing, and implied sexual abuse.

417 pages, ebook

First published April 29, 2014

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About the author

K.J. Charles

58 books8,108 followers
KJ is a writer of romance, mostly m/m, historical or fantasy or both. She blogs about writing and editing at http://kjcharleswriter.com.

She lives in London, UK, with her husband, two kids, and a cat of absolute night.

Twitter https://twitter.com/kj_charles
Join the lively Facebook group at https://www.facebook.com/groups/13876...
Sign up to the (infrequent) newsletter at http://kjcharleswriter.com/newsletter

Please **do not** message me on Goodreads as I no longer check the inbox due to unwanted messages.

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5 stars
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 47 reviews
860 reviews231 followers
May 5, 2014

Well damn…that was brilliant!

I am a big fan of action movies.

Sometimes I finish watching a great action movie, strong plot, amazing effects, killer characters, and I can still feel the adrenaline rush when I leave the theater. And I can still see the afterimages in my head for hours. And I can still ruminate about the story for days. And I can still rave and recommend it to people for months.

Non-Stop Till Tokyo is better, more entertaining, more energetic, and more memorable than any action movie I’ve ever seen. AND I LOVED IT! My heart was pumping and I felt IN IT during each and every scene! I could NOT get enough. I was hooked.

Kerry, our heroine, is special but nothing special. And I love that about her. She’s not perfect, but far from imperfect. She’s COOL AS FUCK without meaning to be. And I swear to god, despite her bad luck, I want to BE her.

When you have THIS STRONG a character, the others tend to fall into the shadows. But KJ Charles works some SERIOUS magic (as she’s known to do in all her books) and creates such INTERESTING, no, FASCINATING side characters that it feels equally their book, not just Kerry’s. I will not soon forget Taka, Noriko, Yoshi, Sonja, Minachan, the yakuza, Kelly that bitch, and most special in my heart…*sigh*…Chanko.

Ok, so I’m perplexed how I could even find myself attracted to a former sumo wrestler on a diet, trying to get his life together, but still a man with a violent past. A man that every person in the story describes as “fat”. A man that grunts and has temper issues. Not your typical leading man. But a man IMPOSSIBLE NOT TO FALL FOR! GAH! I want a Chanko…pleeeeease!

The story is VIOLENT and shit, the action, the intrigue, the suspense…is TOP NOTCH. Some may struggle with the bloodshed and unapologetic brutality…especially to women. But, it was all IN YOUR FACE and REAL and NECESSARY and I can’t imagine the book toned down at all.

I can see that some may find all the Japanese words, descriptors, settings to be a bit confusing. I did. But, I just couldn’t let it take away from my enjoyment. Because the author lends so much authenticity to it and again, is unapologetic in how she presents everything…I don’t get an opinion…I’m just along for the ride.

And it was a glorious, action-packed, heart-thumping, HAWT, can’t-wait-for-what-happens-next, I-give-a-fuck-about-these-characters RIDE!

I’m pumped!

Read it!
Profile Image for Heather K (dentist in my spare time).
3,857 reviews5,634 followers
February 19, 2015
*2.5 stars*

Um, this is awkward.

Everyone else loves this book, and I totally get why. It is fast-paced, action-packed, and different from your run of the mill romances. To boot, the plot is interesting and the story is well written. However, it just wasn't the book for me.

To be fair, I'm not a romantic suspense reader. In fact, I actively avoid them because I just don't enjoy those types of books. However, as a HUGE fan of K.J. Charles and her other works, I had to try this one.

I really think this is a case of "It's not you, it's me."

I'll try to explain what didn't work for me. First of all, I don't love books with large ensemble casts because I get confused as to who is who and why they are there. Those types of books don't appeal to me much. I would much rather read a book with a couple of main players and that is it. In this story, the friends of Kerry played a huge role, and I found myself getting lost a bit in the shuffle.

I also didn't feel much chemistry between Kerry and Chanko. I really liked the idea of them as a couple, but I don't think the passion came through for me. It might be partly because I didn't connect with Kerry much. I found her to be aloof and sort of annoying, which colored my whole reading experience.

And the plot... ugh, suspense really isn't my thing. I felt like I was getting whiplash going from location to location and having the MCs concoct one scheme after another. That, combined with the length of the book (over 400 pages), made it really hard for me to finish. In fact, I repeatedly put this book down and had to force myself to pick it up again.

I don't want to dissuade readers from trying this book- far from it. I think K.J. Charles is brilliant, and I'm sure fans of M/F suspense will really enjoy this one. I just think this book was wasted on little ol' me.

**Copy provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review**
Profile Image for Julio Genao.
Author 9 books1,988 followers
July 7, 2014
flawed, but compelling.

as a thriller, it's too dependent on expositional dialogue, with a dissatisfying deus ex machina, to boot.

as a romance, it suffers from the demands of the suspense storyline, which was ambitiously involved.

the unfortunate result is a story that is only a little more than a series of intense conversations between various parties who need to have things explained to them.

however, the gaijin author's abiding affection for that titular city and its singular people fairly radiates from the page—which made for a fun read, despite my quibbles.

plus BONUS OMGz for nonewhite, nonskinny samoan wrestler love interest.

mmm. my toes curled up like a couple orders of shrimp cocktail.

and as for that deus:


mata ne.

be seeing you.
Profile Image for K.J. Charles.
Author 58 books8,108 followers
April 24, 2014
A departure for me: m/f, very heavy on the thriller, contemporary, set in Japan...

This book is dear to me. I loved living in Japan, I loved writing a balls-to-the-wall violent fast-paced thriller, and I had huge fun with Kerry's voice, Chanko's frankly difficult personality, and their utterly disgraceful friends and accomplices.

I'll say now: there's insults and racial slurs (because this book contains bad people and also rude people), serious violence and off-page sexual abuse. Please heed the warnings. Otherwise, enjoy!

Profile Image for Sarah.
1,725 reviews103 followers
May 24, 2014
This was a damn cool book. I loved the premise, the over the top violence had me covering my eyes and Kerry is definitely one of my favourite heroines this year. I did feel a little short changed on the Chanko sex. Dude was hot and I wanted to read more about that bad. Prurient tastes maybe, but fade to black was a bit stink. Loved the setting however and I wish there were more books like this. Fresh, different and a heroine who doesn't exactly fit the mould.

Oh, and maybe a book about the Korean mob boss? He was oodles of interesting. Hmm. But maybe I've just read too much Finder by Ayano Yamane!
Profile Image for Lilia Ford.
Author 15 books186 followers
February 13, 2015

This is not a genre I usually read or want to read, but I love Charles so I picked this up. No regrets. Basically, it's a solid thriller, with the added plus of a lot of fascinating, very authentic-feeling details about life in Japan. That was definitely what I liked most. The writing was great as expected, but the book felt long and I contemplated giving up at the 50% mark, though I'm glad I persevered. I liked but didn't love the heroine, which made me less invested than I wanted to be. Luckily I loved the non-traditional hero, as well as how the climax depended on the combined efforts of the ensemble. I did not like that there was no sex, but what can you do.

This is different enough in every way from Charles' M/M offerings that I don't know that I would urge Magpie fans to run out and get it. I think it will mostly appeal to fans of international thrillers, especially Yakuza stories. It's definitely worth reading for the portrait of Japan.

Profile Image for Jo.
172 reviews70 followers
October 10, 2014

I am lost on how much I want to put this book in everyone's hands, email it to them drop it through carrier pigeon, Guhghhh Do whatever it takes to have more people read and discover the beauty that is Kerry and my beautiful sweet Chanko.

Charles has opened my eyes to sumo wrestles as sex symbols.. Who the eff knew.. I am sooooo limited that I never knew this was a thing.

This book is an action, adventure caper like the best of Ocean's 11 or the Sting but ratched up to 1000.

There are some dark parts and the hero's wear grey hats they have not always done the right thing but you still fall in love with them and brush off the past because they are trying to do right and if not they will make them pay.....

and this is were I have realized I have serious justification issues with people and things I love.

Susan's review is so much better stated but basically boils down to the same thing read, read
Profile Image for Heather C.
1,468 reviews213 followers
May 7, 2014
A non-stop action thriller with a side-dish of romance.

Kerry Ekdahl is like a chameleon. She can change her entire appearance with only a few tweaks to her wardrobe and learn any language within a few weeks. She uses her unique skills working as a bar hostess…interpreting and mingling and flirting with wealthy businessmen…including powerful yakuza members. When Kerry is framed for the murder of a yakuza boss, she flees the city of Tokyo hoping the whole misunderstanding will straighten itself out. But when the danger turns on her friends, Kerry can’t leave them unprotected and must bend to the demands of the yakuza family, and ends up putting her life and trust into the hands of a man called Chanko, a former sumo-wrestler on the path to a new life.

Setting: This was very Japanese. No, I’ve never been to Japan, nor do I know much about the country other than what I’ve learned from a high-school foreign exchange student many years ago and a few more language and cultural references I have picked up over the past few years by reading Japanese influenced stories. This was very Japanese! From the language to the mannerisms to the hierarchy of social structures, not to mention the geography. Everything about this book screamed “THIS AUTHOR KNOWS HER SHIT!!” It was so vivid, I felt like I was right there in Kerry’s nightmare.

Pace: The initial feel of the story was this overwhelming sense of urgency: Kerry trying to get on the train and out of Tokyo before the yakuza guys notice her, but the tempo tended to get bogged down occasionally with the frequent details and descriptions and explanations and interpretations of the Japanese culture. Yes, I found all that fascinating but, for me, it made for slower reading during certain scenes because I had to take it all in and digest it before I could comprehend what was really going on…or what it meant. That is not a complaint, because I feel that in order to keep the story legitimate and accurate to the culture, those details needed to be there. And for someone like me who is a bit slow, needed those interpretations. It just wasn’t “easy” reading for me…I had to use my brain A LOT!

Mystery: Oh man, I was so into the complexity of who did what and how Kerry was going to get out of the bad situation. It had a little bit of who done it, what are we going to do about it, where did they go, why did they do it, how did they do it?????? Back to what are we going to do about it? And the way it all worked out in the end…loved every bit of that! In fact, it would make an awesome movie.

Characters: So many complex characters running around here. All well developed and true to their character. I liked how Kerry didn’t always make the best decisions, but she was selfless to the point of sacrificing herself in order to protect those she cared about. And Chanko, not your typical romance hero as he doesn’t fit the sexy stereotype. (I would love to see an image of who inspired his character, because I was totally crushing on Chanko!) He was like a big block of ice in the beginning and I loved the early scenes with him and Kerry and all the insults and banter flying back and forth. Then we get to know the warm cuddly, teddy bear that can turn into a charging giant at any moment. Then there was Yoshi, one of Kerry’s best friends. While I wanted to strangle him throughout most of the book, I was still afraid something bad would happen to him and Kerry would never forgive herself.

Romance: The romance definitely takes a backseat to the mystery/suspense plot line, which was entirely what I was expecting. I was feeling all the sexual energy between Kerry and Chanko anyway: every word, every look, every touch… And when they finally gave in to the attraction, GAH! I wanted to throw my Kindle across the room because it was FADE-TO-BLACK!!! I know, I know. That makes me a big, fat hypocrite, but I wanted to see that sweet intimacy between Kerry and Chanko…NAKED! Was it because he was ��fat”? I don’t know, but that wasn’t stopping me from wanting it! I don’t believe it would have interfered with the pace of the story, either. :(

Ending: The big showdown at the end between the good guys and the bad guys was one of my favorite scenes in the entire book! Come on, that’s not a spoiler. I said this was a thriller and a thriller always has to end with a BIG showdown. It’s a bit HFN, when it’s all said and done, but it’s left open ended enough to where there would be plenty if room and potential for a sequel. Please. 


Reviewed for The Blogger Girls
Profile Image for Meep.
2,060 reviews201 followers
July 9, 2014
DNF - Despite KJ Charles being one of my few auto-buy authors this book lost me at just past 80%

There's an intricate, fast paced Japanese Mafia Yakuza Vs Hostesses plot. Told mostly through dialogue even when self-preservation screams 'loose the phone'. Most of the action is relayed in conversation rather than witnessed or felt and I didn't get much of an impression of where they were, how far the characters had travelled or of how much time had passed. Charles' knowledge and affection for the country however is obvious and the book reads like a love letter to Japan. I found that aspect interesting and nicely delivered, the culture really comes across.

Major LOVE for the hero being a large in every sense ex-sumo. Chanko does his side-to-side jog and explodes off the page - take that Mr Air-brushed perfection! It's the reason I bought the book and I can't express how much I heartily approve. It's a heavy sprinkle of magic. I LOVE Chanko:

Only quibble there is that the sex is off-page! Noooo! I wanted some smexy Chanko action!

Unfortunately the heroine and narrator Kerry makes less of an impression. Despite the story being in first person she keeps her secrets and doesn't share her emotions. The distance stopped me fully connecting to the story though the fast pace carried me through. She shares a little family history past the half-way point but the effect is still too enigmatic a narrator. Also her emotions rarely go beyond confessed nausea and tears

Despite the flaws it's a tightly written and a KJ Charles, I could have happily given it 5stars until my reason for DNFing. The action as I've said all happens away from the narrator which causes problems for the first person narration that I personally think was unwise here. There's suddenly a scene without the narrators presence referencing another woman's pov and it didn't work. But also some character stupidity and the fact it highlighted to me how little I was connected to Kerry. Warning Spoiler-

The feel of the book is authentic and good but I found myself wanting to love it more than I actually did. The best way I can describe it is a stylish fast paced action movie. It would work really well on the big screen but in book form I needed more from the characters.
Still CHANKO Floating hearts Wallpaper
Profile Image for starsaga.
772 reviews8 followers
May 1, 2014
3.5 stars, good mobster book, missing the romance,
I enjoyed this wild and crazy ride across Japan with the dry and sarcastic heroine and her bodyguard. It was interesting and made even more so by the obviously well-understood cultural context of this author. I learnt a lot, but I did not feel a lot. I don't think I will read anymore like this by this author because it was not really an escape and I did not feel that I got to know the characters at all. It was good, it was different but it was also brutal, quite convoluted and sort of dry. So a story with a lot of potential but did not quite satisfy me.
Profile Image for Kara-karina.
1,658 reviews252 followers
April 10, 2015
I did not expect that from K.J. Charles, that's for sure! This is an adrenaline-fueled, gloriously action-packed thriller in the best tradition of Hardboiled, and you can be sure I was in heaven reading it!

Kerry Ekdahl is an odd girl. Half Chinese, half Swedish, she lives in Tokyo and works as a hostess, because she is bored and wants easy money. She is a talented, clever polyglot, but she doesn't know what to do with her life, and her only family are her friends - Noriko, Yoshi, Taka and a few girls from her bar.

All that easy life ends when a fellow hostess frames Kerry for an attack which ends in death of her patron who happens to be the head of one of Yakuza families.

Kerry must run, and her crazy friend Taka sends her a sumo wrestler for help to make sure she survives in the process.

Chanko is a big Samoan guy, and he is angry and fed up with Japanese extreme prejudice to foreigners, but he also expresses same prejudice when he first meets Kerry, thinking that she is a manipulative hooker. They clash, they snap and their dialogues are sheer pleasure to read.

When Yakuza break the rules and severely injure Kerry's closest friend, she is forced to come back to Tokyo and she only has 72 hours to find the item Yakuza desperately wants back or just turn herself in and die.

Peeps, there are so many layers or awesomeness here, I don't know where to start!

First of all, Kerry is great at thinking on her feet, and she surprises the reader at every turn. Secondly, her friends are equally amazing, and they pull their resources together to vanquish the enemy.

Chanko is a delight in his own way. Cynical, taciturn, with an unspoken criminal past, he is mostly silent and imposing, while Kerry stays a driving force behind the whole operation.

Tokyo is wonderfully described. All the craziness, the sheer crash of humanity, the myriad different ways for Japanese to express themselves... K.J. definitely did her homework well.

At last, the plot is clever and twisted in the best tradition of good action movies. I loved this book even if it's very different from anything else I read from this author. It was awesome and crazy, hugely recommended for the fans of Taylor Stevens.
Profile Image for Erika .
415 reviews129 followers
February 3, 2015
3.5 stars

Non-Stop Till Tokyo was just that: non-stop. Non-stop action and non-stop fun. I enjoyed the heck out of it, especially after I Googled Samoan/Maori/Polynesian men and realized that GOOD LORD can they be yummy as hell. Just Google "hot Polynesian men", I'll wait right here...

Mmhmm, exactly.

It was extremely refreshing to read a book featuring not your usual all White cast of characters, especially one that was written so well. Don't get me wrong, there were some things that I didn't love about the book, like the way the main MC, Kerry, could be so naive sometimes (hasn't she ever watched an action movie or police procedural??), but all in all this was a lot of fun.

One thing that did really bother me was the use of myriad fonts throughout the book. It's not a deal breaker but it is annoying. One thing that didn't bother me even though I thought it might was the off page sex. I don't normally like that but it didn't bother me much because it wasn't something the book absolutely needed.

Is this KJ Charles best book? No. Is it highly enjoyable? Yes, and that's all I ask.
Profile Image for Mel.
648 reviews78 followers
Shelved as 'did-not-finish'
July 9, 2015
*** DNF at 23% ***

I am such an Asia fan. Like Charles I've lived there—not in Tokyo like her, but in Macao, China, which is totally different, but still Asia. So I kinda desperately wanted to read this book. And I tell you, you can feel on every page that Charles knows what she's speaking of. That's absolutely fabulous.

So, me and M/F books... Here's the thing, the females drive me fucking crazy. There are all kinds of reasons for it, and this time I encountered the TOO-STUPID-TO-LIVE HEROINE. Argh. Look at my updates if you want to know more, I'm too lazy right now.

In my current mood, I know I'll get more annoyed with every small thing, so I'll spare me that and quit. I'm a quitter these days.
Profile Image for Cait.
997 reviews29 followers
April 11, 2023
It was a lovely crisp morning. I looked out of the window at the deep-pink blossom of a plum tree, petals sticking to the twisted black boughs against a cloudless sky, and as I looked I started to understand something that I'd never quite appreciated. The rage[...], the sick fear[...]: they were burning in my gut, but the plum blossom was still perfectly, transiently beautiful. This was why castles built for bloody siege had to have curved roofs and moon-viewing platforms, why a besieging feudal lord would come within bowshot of the castle walls to listen to an accomplished flute player within, and get an arrow in the chest for his pains. Maybe you didn't really get the plum blossom until you had the war.

as a kj charles completionist,

but truly. so good. love this bar girl thriller in spite of (because of?) its ebony dark'ness dementia raven way–leaning opening. love a specifically talented person whose life in fact does NOT get easier as a result. so close to that 5-starrer especially by the end but I have enough hesitations that I must temper my fingers and reign in my eagerness, but honestly, just, a fuckin blast.

- kjc could ~write me the phone book~ har har har
- what I think kj herself would describe as a "cracking thriller"
- this book turned me a lil straight! sexy! like hello that one foot scene? never been my thing but enough to give anyone a kink

- man, that fatphobia, though. for example: mama-san. for another example: love when I think a fat guy is hot but I don't like him on a personal level (yet!!!) so I have to tell him how grotesque his fatness is. this will not get even the most cursory of handwavey treatment when we do eventually start macking
- sucks when women die for manpain but I can't say I feel much better about it when it's a female character for whose plot other female characters are brutally sacrificed

language + culture:
- wodge
- yakubyo gami, which charles has as "bringer of evil. jinx."
- freeter
- omamori
- okay DON'T judge me for this but I actually didn't know what 'blag' meant before this in spite of a strong fratellis phase in early high school
- in hock to

miscellaneous (also a little bit languagey lbr):
- always excited for a lithuania shoutout even though we are BALTS: "you'd swear I was middle european. a bit slavic, a bit germanic—you'd place me in vilnius or krakow, maybe."
- primrose path VERY good hostess bar name
- madder than a sackful of rats is fun
- "if there's one thing you can bet the farm on, it's that men never empty their coat pockets"
Profile Image for Lila.
843 reviews9 followers
July 20, 2014

4 stars read for me.

Well, I read this book in one sitting. I guess this will be a normal thing for KJ Charles because it never took me more than a day to read any of her books.;)
Ok, on a more serious note, this is a quick read because Non-Stop Till Tokyo is a non-stop action. Fast paced plot managed to held suspense and keep me interested to the very end.Our heroine, Kerry, is in a big trouble and on the run from yakuza due to mistaken identity setup. Her only ally sends her help in a form of Chanko, who is a big mean mofo and who is totally immune to her genial personality that made her one of best-earning hostesses. Of course,when yakuza is after you, the problem turns into mess up of epic proportions since they play by their own rules and Kerry's friend ends up badly hurt in process. I really liked how serious author made this problem because when you're up against criminal organization they're not going to handle you with gloves. Every advantage they have they are going to use. Also, except one crazy psycho, I never got the feeling of Mustache Twirling Villains- they didn't hurt or threatened because they liked it, but because they were practical.
One of things that will definitely strike anyone who read this book is setting. Book has such a strong sense of place, I felt like I was in Japan. I was never in Japan myself, but it felt very authentic to me.
Novel is told from first person pov and being in Kerry's head was really fun. Kerry is all kind of awesome, she is very intelligent, she speaks several languages fluently and she is a very good listener and knows how to use it to her advantage. That's why she made me mad few times since she made some moves that were bordering on foolish and were worthy of facepalm. Kerry's perspective made me laugh more than once. My favorite quote:
"Taka and Chanko were exchanging the grunts that pass for communication between men." :)
Many golden lines like this and sharp, witty dialogue I came to associate (and expect) from Charles already. I love how she writes banter.
And that brings me to Chanko. Not because he is a particularly chatty (he is somewhere between cowboy with monosyllabic answers and designated driver for bunch of crazy kids), but he is very observant and his comebacks were priceless.It's good to have him on your side when you're running from yakuza, but for a romantic interest... hell, yes, he is something new. I was gunned up to read this book as soon as I saw " a Samoan-American ex-sumo wrestler with a bad attitude", because ex-sumo wrestlers just don't ping on romance hero radar often (hm...never?). And we are not talking about some watered version of it: he is a 6'7" tall, 300 pounds, scary mountain of a man. You know how in romance they usually make big men softies? Well, Chanko is not a softy at all. He has a bad temper, he is a kind of smartass, he is not very apologetic...but when he's on your side he is 100% on your side.
The reason I chunked the star is because publisher tagged this as a romantic suspense, but frankly I would say it's more of a thriller with romantic elements. I am not so picky about these things, but I am mentioning it here because there are no smexy times. Just fade in the background kind of thing. I understand Kerry and Chanko couldn't have time to dwell on romance because of time-sensitive, life-threatening yakuza problem, but I wanted to see Kerry climbing him like a tree just once, ok?description
Especially since I know KJC writes really hot scenes.
I don't think it's particularly fair to compare it to her other series series,since, frankly, this book good enough to stand on its own, but after huge success of Magpie books, I guess it's kind of inevitable.
So for those who read KJC before, this book is a big change in style but interesting characters, guaranteed laugh and plot that keeps you glued to your ereader is the same. She is a really good storyteller; if she by any chance announces her next thing is scifi I'll be all over it.
For those who never read KJC before, this book is easy to get lost in. In a sea of run-of-the-mill settings and emotionally constipated billionaires novels, finding something new was a really a welcome change for me. Recommended.

*for those who are worried about violence warning, it's more off the page except for one scene, but nothing graphic.
Profile Image for Alison.
762 reviews30 followers
September 5, 2020
3.5 stars. Wow, this book is non-stop (it had to be said)! It's fast-paced and action-packed and violent all the way through. What a ride! While this is one of my most favourite authors, I've had this sitting on my Kindle for two years, I think because it's a genre I'm not really into--contemporary romantic thriller. It's interesting reading a Charles book that's contemporary (this is her only published contemporary story, though it's sadly now out-of-print) and I think it threw me off a little at first, but I soon got sucked in by the action. It's violent and gritty and full-on and fast and I'm not kidding when I say it's non-stop. This book is somewhat of a love letter to Tokyo and the city is so vibrant and real and present. I love how Japanese this story "feels" and the focus on the language itself is neat. And how cool is it to have a love interest who is a giant of a grumpy, fat, Samoan ex-sumo wrestler? Very cool. Kerry's a little distant and I didn't quite warm to her possibly because of that. I liked that both main characters aren't white. The secondary characters are fantastic and I would happily read more about Taka and Yoshi and Sonja and Minachan. The dialogue was, of course, fantastic and smart and funny because this is KJ Charles. This novel has gone out of print, which is really sad because it's great. Perhaps the author can be convinced to republish?
901 reviews31 followers
December 31, 2021
So so good. Perhaps one day she’ll write a sequel.
Profile Image for Jeannie Zelos.
2,801 reviews50 followers
January 27, 2015

Non-Stop 'Till Tokyo, KJ Charles
Genre: Romance
Review from Jeannie Zelos book reviews
I love KJ Charles Magpie series, read all of them so far and they are in my keepers files, so I was keen to see how she would do with this very different romance. They are gentle historical, fantasy, M/M romances and this one is a contemporary suspense type romance. Two very different styles and yet I could get the same feeling of reality, characters I enjoyed and felt were genuine, and the setting once again felt real to me even though I’ve never been to Japan. The dialogue is sprinkled every now and then with Japanese words but from the context we know what they mean. It adds to the foreign country feel of the story, and I love the way the cultural nuances, the way the Japanese are very polite even when they are actually very angry, are explained. It made me feel as if I was there with the characters.
Its a story that starts gently with linguist Kerry using her skills in a high end bar, where she earns a good salary for just chatting and being friendly with bored, stressed businessmen. They just want someone to listen to them, to sympathise and sound intelligent – its nothing more than that, no seamy prostitution, though if the girls want to do that they take it elsewhere. Its from one doing exactly that which ends Kerry in the muddle she’s in. The Yakuza are after her, convinced she knows something or has something they want after one of the Brothers is murdered....and they aren’t the type who will sympathise if she says “sorry, it wasn’t me”!!
Kerry ends up on the run, escaping them by the skin of her teeth. One of her friends gets her someone to help, but Chanko has secrets of his own, and he sees Kerry as some ditzy, stupid prostitute that's using her friends to get her out of a mess. Slowly though he comes to respect her, when the dangers heat up and she doesn’t shy ways from them in an effort to help her friends.
I really enjoyed this book. Its got for me the perfect blend of romance and suspense, not so little that its dull, not so much that i feel I’m swamped with info and can’t follow the story. Its a mystery that gradually unfolds, bringing them all more and more into danger. It got to the point where i just couldn't’ see how the author could get them home free, out of danger, I couldn’t see what more they could do – and then they manage to turn things to their own side, and some changes happen that work with them, not against them as they have so far. Its masterfully done, and I was happy to be along for the ride, to see just how they managed to pull themselves out of the mire that they’d been thrown in. I love Kerry’s interaction with the Korean boss Park! Then for me there’s the perfect ending, a brief epilogue tying up any loose ends and telling me where everyone currently stands in the story. Very satisfying that part, I hate to be left wondering what happens next.
Stars: Five, a really fun read and one that kept me gripped. .
ARC provided by Netgalley and publishers.
Profile Image for Susan.
1,463 reviews42 followers
September 4, 2020
I was fortunate to find a copy of this e-book through my local public library many years after it went out of print. Since its publication K.J. Charles has become quite the juggernaut in M/M historical/paranormal fiction and one of my favorite authors. I can't say Non-Stop Till Tokyo is as strong as her later books, but it's still enjoyable although very different.

The book starts out with our heroine Kerry running for her life, and the danger never lets up till the epilogue. And the stakes just keep getting higher - at first she's trying to save her own life, but then she puts herself into even more danger trying to protect her two best friends, one of whom has already been violently victimized. At times the book is hard to read because there is no safe place, and hardly any time to catch a breath before the next dangerous scene.

Then there's the singular character of Chanko, the big, bad former sumo wrestler with a dark past who comes to Kerry's rescue and sticks around because...well, we're not sure at first, but Kerry is as good at reading people as she is skilled at languages, so although she doesn't quite trust him, she knows he isn't out to hurt her. I can't say they were the most romantic couple I've encountered in KJC's work, but their interactions are appropriate for two people whose lives are in constant danger.

KJ mostly writes M/M fiction, but Kerry makes me wish she had more female MCs. She's a complicated character, smart and brave but also somewhat drifting through her own life without being very proactive about it. She is petrified about being a target of the yakuza, but she's pissed as hell too about the unfairness of it all, and she gets to put her brains to good use at a critical moment where Chanko's brawn isn't enough.

There isn't as much fun, snarky dialogue as in later Charles books, but Kerry's descriptions of the subtleties of Japanese are fascinating and just as much fun for word lovers like me. The secondary characters, including Kerry's friends and hostess coworkers, all have important parts to play and their safety comes to be just as important to the reader as Kerry's.

In a Facebook conversation with the author, she said that it didn't make sense to re-release this as a self-published work as she has done with many of her other Samhain titles (her exact words were, "It sold so incredibly few copies, I cannot tell you. It would be more cost effective if I went round to people's houses and and told them the story individually). But if you are fortunate enough to come across a copy in your library, I'd highly recommend it.
Profile Image for Buka.
50 reviews6 followers
December 4, 2014
To me, a long-time Japanese learner who has visited Tokyo just this summer, this book was like a favourite cake made by my mother. So satisfying, and I just couldn't get enough of it!

I feel kinda haughty saying this, since K.J. Charles has way more experience with Japan itself than me, but I hadn't noticed any inconsistences with setting and cultural aspects. And Japanese language - oh my god, she was so on point about its quirks and difficulties! Like the complexities of verbs of giving and receiving, because it actually is quite hard to understand who is doing what to whom in Japanese.

Of course, this book is not just setting. I won't repeat the synopsis here but I liked the plot, loved characters, pacing and romance and I didn't want to roll my eyes a single time.

I gave it four stars because I can't say that it opened some new horizons or moved me in a profound way. It was a very satisfying book that, just like four star's description says, I really liked.
It is a highly enjoyable, well-written, well-researched romantic suspence that has so many good selling points (an unconventional love interest, a smart heroine who is a person, not a walking cliche; well-formed characters, strong sence of place, etc.) that I wholeheartedly recommend it even to someone who is not interested in Japan or Japanese language at all. You won't be lost and you certainly won't be bored.
Profile Image for Erin Books.
152 reviews6 followers
November 22, 2014
This book got weirdly mixed reviews on Amazon and I was curious why, as this author is usually fantastic. And now that I've read it, I can kind of see why- it's a fantastic, fast-paced, well written action story that also has a romance in it. If you bought it looking for a romance, you might be surprised. (I won't say disappointed, because I don't agree with those Amazon reviewers- this book is too fun.) This book is begging to be made into a movie! Can you imagine? And the romance was great; I am totally in love with Chanko. He's definitely my kind of guy, and a nice break from your boring, whitebread romance hero.
Profile Image for Ollie Z Book Minx.
1,817 reviews17 followers
April 6, 2020
Well, that was definitely a thing. Not KJC’s best work but the bones of compelling, well researched storytelling are there. Far too much explication, imo, combined with some characters and events that were clearly setup so that further exposition wasn’t necessary ... except that it was. The “hero” is a complete jumble of parts that don’t really add up to a whole person and he comes out as the worst of the various caricatures. That said, it’s great to see a non-white hero who *isn’t* there only for his potential to be “exotic,” and the bits of him caricatured weren’t his race, though I could’ve done without the fat shaming. Everything about his nickname for the heroine is head-scratch material, making an excellent analogue for their entire relationship. The heroine can’t quite decide if she’s a Mary Sue with a DarkPast™️ or a hard-living PI dripping in noir.

Still though, for all its faults, this was engrossing and entertaining and I’m more than a little bummed the sequel it sets up is unlikely to ever be forthcoming. Then again, the book I really want is Taka’s (with his relationship to Yoshi FULLY explored plz plz).
Profile Image for X.
592 reviews
September 25, 2022
Holy shit this book is the perfect action movie. Just reading it got my adrenaline so pumped - now I’m ready to run for my life, quickly disguise myself and blend into a crowd, take on the yakuza, or etc. as my situation may dictate. An episode of Alias for five hundred pages or so. Better than maybe any other action thriller I’ve read? I’m not exaggerating.

KJ Charles is a great writer in a lot of ways but her plotting is unparalleled and it has never been more clear than in this book. Add in a savvy, manipulative, brilliant survivor of a heroine, a 6’7” ex-sumo wrestler with the sense to meet her exactly where she’s at (and who can take out mobsters without breaking a sweat), the incredible cast of side characters… and while the action is intense, it’s never glamorized. The stakes are very very very real. I was on the edge of my seat the entire time.

Look I love the historical romances - and I never thought I would be saying this! - but if KJ Charles wanted to write another contemporary action thriller? Yeah, I would be the *very* first in line.
Profile Image for AJ.
277 reviews2 followers
April 15, 2021
While markedly different from the rest of her works, this book still bears the hallmarks of the KJ Charles style, namely: high-speed law breaking chases/escapes, grumpy but good mains, and a peek into an out-of-the-ordinary world.

Some things get lost in translation (culturally speaking. I can't imagine most westerners would understand the implications of things such as keigo and water women) but Charles does a good job of getting the idea across without devolving into an anthropology lesson. It's refreshing to see this view of Japan, through the eyes of a tired gaijin who could only pass as a local with her language and situational know-how (and not through the weeb-ified wank dreams of an otaku).

Don't take this one too seriously; it's simply good, clean (I mean, as much as the premise allows it be) fun with enough romance and humor to power through just how horrific organized crime can be.
Profile Image for Elisa.
151 reviews6 followers
December 25, 2021
3.5 stars. Not your usual KJ Charles, but it is still KJ Charles and that woman can write. I loved that it felt like a full immersion in Japanese culture, and that so many plot points hinged on the main character's linguistic abilities. I would have liked the romance to be more prominent.
Profile Image for Dani Myrick.
Author 2 books3 followers
April 16, 2015
3.5 stars, rounded up to 4 because KJ Charles is awesome.

I have a certain expectation from KJ Charles' work--possibly because she is an editor herself--for a high-quality read, no matter the genre. In this, she did not disappoint. My inner editor never once screamed me out of the story.

So, Non-stop Till Tokyo is listed under Samhain's romance and romantic suspense categories, but I think that is a bit misleading. I'd call it a fast-paced thriller with just a dash of romantic flavoring and enough Japanese culture thrown in to give it a strong sense of place.

I don't think I've ever actually said this about a novel, but I wanted more of the sappy romance. More significant looks and tender moments. More angst about what a bad time it was to find someone you connect with when your life is totally screwed. But the romantic potential between Kerry and Chanko seemed overlooked in lieu of the more immediate needs of the external plot. When they finally did hit the sheets, I was like, whaaaa…? Really? Now? Wait, I don't get to see any of it?? Well, fuuuuck! Generally speaking, I don't consider sex scenes to be a replacement for relationship-building, but they are a quick and dirty way to show your characters connecting, especially in high-intensity stories that span only days or weeks. I would have gladly settled for at least that much between these two characters.

Anyway, I'd definitely recommend this, but more to thriller/suspense fans than romance ones, especially if you have any interest in Japanese culture.
Profile Image for Lotta.
1,040 reviews18 followers
August 27, 2015
After finishing this, I wanted to sort it into a collection on my kindle, but none of my usual collections fit. How do I even place this in a genre? It's not romance, although there is love involved. It reads more like an action movie with the yakuza, only the main character has such an insane talent for languages that finding the right actress would probably be hard. I know the main character herself sort of dismisses her own knack for picking up languages, but I am wildly impressed (and quite jealous).

I have been sort of saving this book, and as I started it, it was the last of Charles' published books that I had not yet read. Mostly because it's so different from her other books. And I liked it, liked that the main character was an interesting, intelligent woman, that the love interest was a POC of non-standard size and that it wasn't full of any tropes that I know of. It was absolutely steeped in Japanese culture and Tokyo geography, which I suspect was well researched and probably true to life.

Ah, I have nothing to round this up with. Good thing I'm not the one writing the books.
Profile Image for Betsy.
508 reviews
December 4, 2015
Fabulous pacing. What the world needs in all its fiction is great pacing and KJ Charles did a fantastic job. I loved this story. I found Kerry to be a bright, engaging, charismatic and multi-dimensional heroine. The ensemble of hostesses, office workers, dodgy small time crooks, ex sumo wrestlers and real, big time mob gangsters worked like a well oiled machine. Kerry's friends were priceless and well-done. Bad guys were beyond scary for me. Kerry's courage was logic defying -- as was Chanko. Like everyone else, I fell for Chanko. Like everyone else, I was a bit disappointed by the fade to black.

Overall, I was deeply impressed by the excellent pacing and the enthralling and breathtaking adventure. I highly recommend.
Profile Image for Lane Swift.
Author 11 books28 followers
April 30, 2014
Having read several of KJ Charles period novels I was curious to see how the voice of her modern female protagonist would compare. From the off, I loved Kerry. She felt immediately real and the setting, modern-day Japan, was as vividly drawn as Charles portrays Victorian England.
The action starts on the first page, and finishes on the last. Several times I found myself actually holding my breath and wondering how much more drama I could take, let alone Kerry and her crew.
This was a roller-coaster thriller with a wealth of rich and diverse characters. I don't want to spoil for any of the story, only highly recommend it.
Profile Image for Eve.
550 reviews42 followers
June 23, 2015
I've read lots of stories where the man of action helps the beautiful girl of dubious morality who finds herself in trouble. What's interesting about this one is that this one is told from the perspective of the girl. It's an action thriller with a nonstop plot and sharp fast writing. The writing style and general mood of this reminded me a lot of Andrew Vachss, and that is a compliment in every way.

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