Title: Better Than a Dream
Author: Raica Sakuragi
Illustrator: Katsumi Asanami
May Contain Spoilers
Yuuki is still mourning the loss of his love, Tsukada, who died a year ago in a mountain climbing accident. With a view of Mount Asahidake to greet him every time he looks out his window, it’s hard to put the lingering shadow of Tsukada behind him. When a stranger arrives at his small cafe and asks for a job, Yuuki just wants to send him packing, but a sampling of his cooking convinces him to hire the handsome chef. Unable to pay him more than a trifling wage, he also throws in room and board. When the sparks start to fly between them, will Yuuki be able to put the past behind him, and give love another try?
I enjoyed this bittersweet tale of lost love, as two people forget their unhappiness and guilt and reach out for the love beckoning to them. Yuuki can’t get over the death of his lover, or the memory of how he spent the last day of Tsukada’s life, contentedly tending to his customers as Tsukada lay dying under a layer of snow. With the past still haunting him, he can’t move forward with his life, and he’s only going through the motions. He keeps himself busy with his cafe, keeps himself distant from others, and struggles to forget the past. His friend Shin comforts him, and though Shin casts longing glances at him, Yuuki pretends not to notice the other man’s interest. He’s not ready for another emotional entanglement, especially not with his childhood friend.
Into his cafe walks Kamishiro, sporting a mountain-climber’s backpack, a limp, and a mysterious past. After Yuuki is convinced to hire him, they begin a journey of atonement. Though Yuuki at first can’t help but compare Kamishiro to Tsukada, he slowly begins to develop feelings for the chef. When Shin sees that the two are growing closer, his jealousy almost threatens to destroy their blossoming relationship. Passions and emotions explode, running a collision course to betrayal. Will the wedge that Shin has driven between Kamishiro and Yuuki lead to more tragedy?
I liked the setting of Better Than a Dream; it’s set at a cafe in a remote Hokkaido town. The majestic Mount Asahidake is a looming presence, always there to remind Yuuki of the love he has lost. His life is full for regrets, but he’s not ready to try to put his unhappiness behind him. Even his friendship with Shin is a source of guilt, as he rebuffs the other man’s teasing overtures again and again. Only Kamishiro, unkempt and not quite whole, has the power to breach Yuuki’s defenses. When he learns that Kamishiro has an ulterior motive, their contentment is destroyed. All of the emotional turmoil kept me turning the pages, hoping for a happy resolution for the heroes. These guys have both suffered, and they deserve to find some happiness together.
Rated for NR
Review copy provided by Junè