Akira Hamada is driven by past failure. Two years earlier, she had a chance to kill her greatest enemy-Kaito Mitsui. Instead, the Yakuza boss forced her to become an assassin in his employ. Now Akira carries out the bloody business of the notorious crime syndicate and hates herself more each day.
When Mitsui hears that his sister's murderer will be on the cruise ship Starfish, he immediately tasks Akira with eliminating the man once and for all. This is what Akira has trained for, but a series of strange events on the ship tests her resolve and shows her a way to redemption.
Devon Lyons, on the other hand, has nothing to do with assassins. He's merely accompanying his aunt and uncle, Sara and Paul Lyons, on a free cruise.
Little does he know that the two are the true targets of the charming Japanese tourist he has just met! Akira knows that either Sara or Paul is the killer but doesn't know which one. She hopes seducing the handsome Devon will lead to better intel, but she is surprised to find herself trusting him. And soon, the pair finds themselves fighting for their lives on the high seas.
|Product dimensions:||5.51(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.78(d)|
About the Author
Kaylin McFarren has won over forty national literary awards for her work, including her series of romantic thrillers, Threads. McFarren is particularly proud of the Golden Heart Award nomination she and her daughter, Kristina McMorris, received for their book Flaherty's Crossing.
Before McFarren devoted herself to the written word, she worked as the director of a fine art gallery in Portland, Oregon's trendy Pearl District and as a member of the Oregon Arts Commission.
McFarren enjoys traveling, doting on her dogs and three grandsons, and working at various charitable organizations. She is currently president of the Soulful Giving Foundation, an Oregon nonprofit supporting cancer research and treatment.
For more information about McFarren and her latest books, she invites you to visit her website, www.kaylinmcfarren.com.
Read an Excerpt
Blood streamed down the side of Akira Sato's face at an alarming rate, mixing bright red against the white porcelain tub. As the showerhead splayed hot water over her body, she watched it with strange fascination, circling and disappearing through tiny holes in the drain. She picked up a white washcloth and mindlessly scrubbed against her narrow waist until her skin turned bright pink. Then she lowered the coarse cloth and rubbed longer than usual at the triangle of black hair between her legs and upper thighs, stopping only when it became painful. At least on the outside she felt cleaner, but inside was a different matter.
The consequences of her actions could not be remedied, nor could they be wiped away. Yet despite her resolve for this justified killing, she remained lost in a sea of hopelessness — incapable of seeing a way out.
Then why are you still here? Pick up your sword and end it now. The words echoed in her mind, taunting and teasing. She didn't care about anything — or anyone. Why should she? Mitsui had insisted all ties be cut with the people she had once loved, including the Buddhist monk she might have married.
She poured a generous amount of shampoo into the palm of her hand and lathered her long black hair, gingerly touching the wound her victim had inflicted. The gash in her scalp would disappear in due time, just like her other scars. But the bloody slaughter in the living room had left a horrible mess and would need to be addressed before she left the house.
After thoroughly rinsing her hair, she worked on her face with the bar of lavender soap, removing the black eyeliner, blue eye shadow, and whorish red lipstick she had applied for Kurosaki's benefit. It wasn't fair by any means, but there was no going back to the naive geiko she had been. With eight deaths to atone for in her afterlife, she was cursed in both worlds and simply waiting to die at the hands of another assassin. She squeezed her eyes shut and pressed her back against the cold white tile, hugging herself as water washed away her tears.
She heard a muffled sound in the next room and turned off the water. After easing the shower door open, she strained her ears and heard nothing, but her instincts told her otherwise. She stepped onto the bamboo grate covering the stone floor and grabbed the katana sword resting against the wall. The sound of someone rapidly approaching increased her heart rate. Her right hand shook involuntarily, yet she managed to remain calm. The bathroom door flew open suddenly, exposing two members of Kurosaki's gang.
The first man stared at her, snarling. "You murder a man in his home and have the nerve to use his shower? What kind of monster are you?" He reached for her arm while the second man stood back watching — his coal-black eyes piercing her skull.
"The worst kind," Akira spat. She drew her sword with lightning speed, beheading the first one with a one-handed horizontal cut. Blood sprayed over the mirror above the sink. She dropped her sheath and held the sword in front of her with both hands. The second man's face paled, and his jaw slacked. He remained motionless for endless seconds before charging at Akira with a knife stretched out before him. With one swift movement, she raised her sword above her head and brought it down hard and fast across his neck. She pulled the blade back, sending blood spraying across her face.
Another body fell to the floor.
Akira could feel sweat gathering at the base of her spine. She wiped her eyes with her forearm to clear her vision. Tears threatened to break loose and destroy the fortification she'd built.
The voice was back in her head, moving her forward. Keeping her from crumpling into a pitiful mess. Don't be a fool. Finish the job you were sent here to do.
She found two capsules in the outside pocket of her bag and popped them into her mouth. It took nearly a minute for the numbing effects to take hold. Then she set to work dragging bodies from the house and dropping them into the pit she had found in the woods. When she was finished, she stepped into the shower to wash the dirt and blood off a second time. After cleaning the bathroom floor and walls and scrubbing the living room thoroughly, she dumped all the evidence into the pit outside and set everything ablaze with a match and a bottle of Château Guiraud. Her only salvation rested in the fact that Kurosaki's nearest neighbor lived too far away to witness the gruesome scene and strange smell filling the air.
A cool breeze touched her skin. Too cool. She looked down at herself and was instantly reminded of her nudity, which she had forgotten with the work she'd undertaken. A nervous laugh escaped her lips, and once more she found herself questioning her sanity.
Gravel crunched under the tires of a rapidly approaching car, sending Akira scurrying to the house. She secured the door behind her and pulled on her clothes. Then she peered through the glass panel in the entry. With her sheathed sword at her side, she waited for an intruder to take shape. Seconds ticked by as the dust settled. Then the car door opened. Black boots appeared below a pair of faded black jeans. They were topped with a red T-shirt, half covered with wavy black hair. A huge wave of relief washed over Akira when she spied a face. It was Yuki Ota — Mitsui's daughter-in-law — coming here to assist with the aftermath of her mission. However, as usual, her timing was way off.
Anger smoldered in Akira's heart. She opened the door and called out, "What took you so long?"
Yuki shrugged a shoulder. "I had some important matters to take care of tonight."
Akira tossed her head haughtily. "More important than helping me?"
Yuki curled her full lips in disdain. "Have you already forgotten? I protected you from Mitsui-san when no one else would."
Of course, Yuki was right. If not for her intervention, the gang lord's men would have made short work of Akira after discovering the threat she had made on Mitsui's life. But reaffirming that knowledge didn't wipe away the extreme measures she'd taken to hide her murders.
"Maybe you should have left me to die."
"Stop feeling sorry for yourself," Yuki snapped. "At least you don't have to kiss up to Mitsui-san."
Akira handed her a baggie containing "tokens" from her last job — personal items to confirm the deaths of the men in the burn pile. Yuki turned it over, studying the silver lapel pin and gold chain necklace Akira had lifted from Kurosaki's men before dragging them outside. "Oh, almost forgot this." She gave her the silver dollar Kurosaki had been rolling with his knuckles. "It's interesting what people place value in."
Yuki studied it for a few seconds before tucking it into the back pocket of her jeans. Then she slid into the driver's seat of her black Lexus and waited. Akira climbed in the passenger side and slammed the car door behind her, anxious to disappear.
"I have great news for you," Yuki told her as she turned over the engine.
Anger trickled away and left her head throbbing. She touched her scalp again. It was tender, and she noticed a trace of blood on her fingertips. "Let me guess. Mitsui-san's leaving Japan for good, and I never have to see him again."
Yuki laughed. "Sometimes I wish that too." She tied her unruly hair in a knot and secured it with a red lacquered chopstick. Then she grabbed the steering wheel and stepped on the gas, sending gravel flying.
"So what kind of news do you have?" Akira watched Yuki's profile, testing her patience.
"He wants you to take down another murderer. A British gallery owner cruising in the Caribbean."
Akira huffed. "And you consider that great news?"
Yuki glanced at her. "Take care of this job, and your obligation to Mitsui-san ends. He's given permission for you to start your life over anywhere you choose. Just as long as it's not in Japan."
Akira took a deep breath and rubbed her palms on her skirt. Where would she go? What would she do? Like most girls in Japan, her dreams of being famous began at a young age. She studied harder and longer than all the maikos in her family home, excelling in music, dance, social graces, and international languages. As the seasons changed in Gion, she matured in her abilities and ultimately earned the respect of everyone around her. Yet she lived a sheltered life as a geiko — always being told where to go, what to do, what to say. After being forced by Mitsui-san to leave her profession, she never considered what freedom would mean — away from his control and the only home she had known.
Yuki turned to her. "I assume that's what you were hoping for."
Akira nodded. The scooped collar on Yuki's red shirt revealed the three gold stars tattooed on her neck, matching the ones on Akira's hip. They were a constant reminder of their commitment to the Zakura-kai, Japan's notorious yakuza family. They were a ruthless, barbaric crew who considered compassion a weakness and failure the best reason to die. After spending six months in their company perfecting her techniques, Akira was no better than the rest of them — just a little less obvious.
As the landscape sped by, her delayed reaction took hold. She jiggled her leg up and down, chewed a ragged nail, and checked the time. The pills she had taken to dull her reality were wearing off quickly, leaving fragments of a surreal nightmare in her brain.
"Damn it, relax," Yuki told her. "You've got nothing to worry about." She motioned her head toward the rear seat. "Everything you need is in the black binder: background information, photographs, travel documents, and an altered passport. You have ten days for this job — more than enough time. Do it right, and you'll be rewarded for your loyalty. Mess up or kill yourself, and Oka-san will die."
Akira stared at the dashboard, gnawing on her bottom lip. She hated the thought of killing another human being, but risking the life of the woman who had raised her was simply out of the question. And according to Mitsui-san, suicide wasn't an option. "Are you going with me this time?" Akira asked. "Is that the plan?"
Yuki smirked. "What's wrong, little geisha? Don't think you can handle the job yourself?"
Akira frowned. "I think something may have escaped your attention. How am I supposed to deal with the crew and tourists on the ship? If someone should see me ..."
"Like I told you, you've got nothing to worry about. There's been more than five thousand deaths on passenger ships, and the majority of them are still unsolved. No one will suspect the involvement of a pretty, young tourist, especially with her father on board."
Akira's voice faltered. "My ... my father? What do you mean? He died years ago."
Although Yuki's smile was sardonic, her eyes held a glint of humor. "Your new father: Takashi Hamada. Mitsui-san chose him because he has the right look. He studied in Los Angeles and speaks perfect English. He's also a Zakura-kai cleaner and will make sure nothing goes wrong."
Akira stared straight ahead, her mind swimming in doubt.
As they approached an intersection, Yuki slowed the car to a stop and took the opportunity to provide more information. "Two months ago, Mitsui-san's sister was found dead at the bottom of a swimming pool. The Mexican authorities in Cabo San Lucas ruled it an accidental drowning, but her best friend and the men sent to retrieve her are convinced that an English couple was involved. Apparently, they got into a heated argument with Keiko over two reserved lounge chairs, of all things. The pool manager relocated their belongings and did his best to calm everyone down. But early the next morning, a gardener found Keiko facedown in the pool."
Akira narrowed her eyes. "Why would anyone kill someone over deck furniture? I mean ... isn't it possible that Keiko accidentally fell into the pool and drowned? It's not like it hasn't happened before ..."
"It doesn't matter what you think, Akira. It's Mitsui-san's decision. But just so you know, a bartender was strangled in a neighboring town. It was the same place where Paul Lyons's wife was refused service and asked to leave." Yuki increased speed as she veered off toward the freeway. "I've been told that if you can't figure out which member of the Lyons family was involved, then you need to take them both out."
A married couple? Are you kidding? Akira had disposed of more men than she cared to remember, but she'd never considered the possibility of killing a woman — let alone a foreigner. She glanced at Yuki, knowing this was the same ambitious archaeologist who had been dismissed from a drilling project in Mexico after attempting to sell artifacts on the Internet. The same woman who had castrated a lover for failing to please her. The same schemer who had a long history of blackmailing businessmen with illicit photos and had been shipped off to Thailand by Mitsui-san after stealing diamonds from a hidden tomb in the Sea of Japan. And now she was sitting here insisting on the assassination of a British couple whose greatest mistake could turn out to be arguing with the wrong person at the wrong time. Yuki wasn't just a sociopath; she was a murderous, conniving bitch who had no feelings or empathy for anyone.
Akira released a deep, resentful sigh. There was no possible way she could do this. Not without being absolutely sure of their guilt.
Chilled air blew in through the car window, whipping her long ebony hair across her face. She dismissed it and stared off into the distance, allowing herself to be hypnotized by the green landscape unfurling beyond the sedan's shiny black hood. The car jittered when Yuki turned the wheel a second too late trying to avoid a dead rabbit. It was just a small bump, but Akira shivered and pushed her hand into the cleft between the seat cushions. She touched something fragile and withdrew a crushed red rose — like a boutonniere a man might have worn.
Yuki huffed. "It was already dead ... and anyway, there are zillions of rabbits in the world." Her voice had an artificial huskiness, undoubtedly acquired from the tough characters she kept company with in the seedy nightclub below her apartment.
Akira whispered, "Stupid things." She squared her shoulders and sat up straight. "Where are we, anyway?"
"Just below Onekama." Yuki jammed the car's cigarette lighter in with her thumb. "Get me a smoke, huh?"
Akira pulled a large tan purse from the back seat and fished around for a cigarette.
Yuki cleared her throat. "You're important to our family, Akira. Our boss is depending on you to do this right. Understand?"
"Completely." Akira poked a cigarette between the woman's lips.
Yuki smoothed her hair again. "He won't forgive a screwup, not even by you."
"Yeah, I get it."
Akira's thigh muscles cramped. Her temples throbbed. Something was terribly wrong with this scenario. She could feel it in her bones.
Yuki lit her cigarette and replaced the lighter before adding, "Then we're all set, right?"
"Well, I don't ... think so. I just wondered, you know? About using a phony passport. I mean, it's not something I would have ever considered trying. Not unless I was planning to spend a million years in jail."
Yuki half shrugged. "It's not phony ... just altered." She took a long pull on her cigarette and blew a stream of smoke to the side before flipping it out the window. "Tastes like crap."
"So whose is it? The passport, I mean."
"It belonged to my cousin." Yuki pushed the cigarette lighter in again and nodded toward her purse. "You mind?"
Akira tore the cellophane off a fresh pack of Winstons and tapped the box the way Yuki sometimes did. Then she passed the cigarette over and asked in a casual way, "What's her name?"
Yuki lit up and replaced the lighter. "Amato. Akira Amato. Thanks to Mitsui-san, you have something in common. A beautiful name."
Excerpted from "Twisted Threads"
Copyright © 2017 Linda Yoshida.
Excerpted by permission of CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
The Death Ship, ix,
Author's Note, xiii,
1 Killing Time, 1,
2 New Assignment, 4,
3 Cruise Blues, 13,
4 Departure, 22,
5 Enticed, 31,
6 Close Quarters, 39,
7 Newfound Love, 45,
8 Pleasantries, 58,
9 Premonition, 69,
10 Infatuation, 73,
11 Clueless, 86,
12 Adoration, 91,
13 Introduction, 106,
14 Revelation, 124,
15 Affirmation, 139,
16 Ignorance, 143,
17 Intrusion, 151,
18 To Hell and Back, 157,
19 Master Plan, 172,
20 Truth Be Known, 176,
21 Observation, 183,
22 At Last, 189,
23 Reassurance, 201,
24 Picture Perfect, 213,
25 The Reveal, 219,
26 High Stakes, 225,
27 Fish Bait, 235,
28 True Confessions, 240,
29 Forgiveness, 253,
30 Disaster Strikes, 260,
31 Preparation, 278,
32 Twisted, 283,
33 Revenge, 293,
34 Trapped, 296,
35 The Perfect Shot, 306,
36 Complications, 309,
37 The Challenge, 321,
38 The Agreement, 327,
39 Closure, 330,
40 Reconciliation, 336,
41 Paranoia, 340,
42 Laters, 346,
About the Author, 355,
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
This is my first Threads series book and I wasn’t sure what I was going to be reading. The drama of who killed Akira’s sister was interesting but I was more invested in the romance. How could a relationship that started as a lie work? Would it work? I had to keep reading to find out. I loved the characters. Akira was intriguing. Her skills as an assassin made her dangerous, thrilling, and an unknown. I wasn’t always sure if she was being truthful about her intentions and found many times that I doubted that she even knew what she was hoping to happen. Devon was great. There were times I thought he was a tad naïve. He fell for Akira quickly and seemed to just believe everything she told him. His aunt and uncle were hilarious. I laughed at Paul’s head in the sand attitude. He seemed to accept everything at face value and not want to make waves. Sara was crazy. There is no other way around it. From the very beginning she was off her rocker and full of drama. There were times I felt the story was a little slow with a little too much weird conversation between characters but just as that thought came along the story seemed to pick up and I was flipping pages unable to put the book down. I’d recommend picking up your own copy and enjoying the cruise with Akira, Devon, and the rest of the gang.
MY REVIEW OF 'TWISTED THREADS' BY KAYLIN MCFARREN I was captivated and intrigued by "Twisted Threads" by Author Kaylin McFarren. This is the fourth book in the "THREAD" series and I did feel an a disadvantage. I would suggest that you read the other books to understand the characters and plot in a better way. There are twists and turns, and adventure. The genres of this book are Mystery, Suspense, Thriller, and Psychological Thriller. There is murder, secrets, and revenge. There are also some erotic scenes for those readers that are sensitive to that. This book is high-packed with tension, and I appreciate that Kaylin McFarren has many layers in her books. Is anything the way it seems? San Francisco Book Review states," A tantalizing glimpse into a secret world of desire. Dive deep in to the layers to this intoxicating blend to twisted pleasure and intricate mystery. Edgy, fierce and undeniably stimulating" The author describes the characters as complicated and complex. There are many characters that could be suspect to the various murders on a cruise ship. A family on board the cruise ship becomes the assassin's target after a Japanese Crime lord's sister has been killed. Akira Hamada, a former Japanese geisha is assigned to be the assassin, or else her. life is in danger. There are many dimensions to Akira's personality, and at times she appears courageous and brave, and at other times she appears to need protecting. Who really is the murderer? What is the motivation? Can Akira leave this life behind and find true happiness? I would recommend this book for readers who enjoy suspense, a thriller, mystery and intense events. I received an Arc of this book from Kaylin McFarren, and Creative Edge Publishing for my honest review.
I have previous read from this series and I really liked it. It's one of those that I stubled onto and have been following since. Kaylin McFarren is really good at pulling you into another cultural world while keeping up with a steamy romance mystery. This book is a great continuation of the series and continues the pace from before. This one has us on a cruise ship and it is definitely a twisted adventure for Akira. Akira has a chance to get out of the life she is in, but it requires a one last kill type of a job for an out. Akira works along side of a treasure hunter in this book who we have previously met. So I would definitely read the previous books for sure. Anytime you get into a series there is a history built within the world that you want to know. Basically you should just read the whole series. Be warned this book is definitely in the erotica category so know what you are getting into when you read it.
A compelling romantic-suspense book As the title suggests, Twisted Threads is a novel filled with twists, surprises, and varied turns of events. Just as the reader is tempted to surmise the suspect, a sudden twist in the story occurs. The author skillfully entangles the story together that the reader would find it difficult to put the book down once you started reading it. Written by Kaylin McFarren, the book is fourth of a series of Threads. But it can actually stand alone. The central character of the story is Akira, a geisha turned assassin. Professionally trained by a yakuza-type organization, she’s commissioned to exact justice for the death of an important figure of the group. To accomplish her mission, Akira has to embark on a 10-day cruise on the ship on which the suspects are said to be on board. Equipped with her sword and a firm stance to kill, she summarized her mission in these words: “… the only thing sweeter than a secret is revenge.” Her master plan includes befriending and getting close to the nephew of the Lyons couple, intending to make him an unwitting accomplice. As soon as the ship starts its voyage, the twists also begin rolling off. One unexpected twist in the story is when Akira falls in love with her target accomplice. McFarren is indeed a master at keeping her story compelling without losing track of the title of the book. From beginning to end, the threads keep on entangling covering mystery, revenge, adventure, romance, and loyalty to family. On the technical side, meanwhile, I should say Twisted Threads has undergone thorough editing and proofreading. I haven’t noticed any major typographical and grammatical glitches in the book. I give Twisted Thread a rating of 5 out of 5 stars. And I recommend it to people aged 18 years old and above. I don’t suggest this to younger readers because of its graphic content. It contains some sensitive scenes that are not suitable for young readers. Twisted Threads is also a good gift item. I haven’t read the first three installments of the Thread series. But since I find this volume compelling, I can’t wait to read the previous 3 volumes. I’m convinced at McFarren’s storytelling skill.
Akira Hamada has an enemy ... Kaito Mitsui. Kaito is also her employer ... he's turned her into an assassin. Kaito had a sister who was murdered. He wants Akira to be on the cruise ship where his sister's murderer will be. There are two suspects ... so who murdered Maito's sister ... and who will Akira turn her gun sights on? Twisted Threads is the fourth and the last book in Threads series. I have not read the previous three books, and I most likely would have liked this one better if I had. There is a bit of romance involved, some suspense, even a bit of comedy here and there. Many thanks to the author / Creative Edge Publishing / Netgalley for the digital copy of TWISTED THREADS. Opinions expressed here are unbiased and entirely my own.
We are proud to announce that TWISTED THREADS by Kaylin McFarren is a B.R.A.G.Medallion Honoree. This tells readers that this book is well worth their time and money!
This is the fourth installment in the Threads series. I highly recommend reading the previous installments before reading this one. Akira, a geisha turned assassin is given a way out if she only succeeds in one last mission. Find the killer of her boss' sister, then she could start a new life. Only, she must do it on a cruise liner full of people and prying eyes. On board the ship Akira must build relationships while trying to figure out who the killer is. The last thing she expects to find on this last mission is love, but love she finds. Devon, vacationing with his Aunt and Uncle, is recovering from his own broken past when he sees Akira. Together, love blossoms as the mystery surrounding the ship grows. With neither's future promised, they find themselves fighting against all odds to solve the mystery. If Akira wants to have a future, she has to solve the murder and protect herself at all costs while still keeping up her guise, no matter how much it hurts her. Mystery after mystery unfolds in this captivating story. Murder after murder as revenge is sought by more than one person. I enjoyed how not everything fell into place at the same time. Each mystery remained it's own, the key to each being revealed slowly and methodically. It was fun to guess who each killer was, and seeing who it really was and how things played out as each came to a close. From the very beginning, the reader is thrown head first into the action. Twisted Threads is a captivating read that grips it's reader until the end. It had been a while since I have found myself glued to a book and I found it refreshing and exciting. The flow was a steady fast pace. The characters were well developed and easily relate-able in their different struggles. Each character was unique and had many layers to them. The story over all was well written with very few grammatical errors found throughout. There were a few erotic scenes which were tastefully written. Over all, this is a book I enjoyed immensely and would happily read again. With that being said I give Twisted Threads by Kaylin McFarren a 4 out of 4 stars. I look forward to reading the previous works in this series.
Twisted Threads starts out rather gruesome with the bloody killing of several individuals by Akira a trained assassin working for the Japanese mafia. She is assigned her last kill before the mafia grants her freedom to live the life shed like. However the final assignment does not go as planned aboard a cruise ship sailing through the Caribbean. She falls in love, innocent people are killed and the plot twists occurring often towards the end of the book keep you on your toes. I enjoyed this book more than I expected given its rooted in the Japanese culture to start and the names of the characters do not roll off the tongue as easily as some others. I wasnt expecting all of the sexual torture that occurred towards the end of the book, but that did liven up the ending. If you are a fan of thriller books this book definitely keeps you in suspense until the end. It was hard to follow some of the character development because people were given code names to cover their identity and towards the end of the book it seemed to drag on for me, but at the end it was worth the wait. I think if I had read the prior three books in the series pieces of the puzzle would have been more clear. Id give this book a 3 out of 5.
Although I am no stranger to mysteries and psychological thrillers, Twisted Threads went far beyond most. It not only grabbed me intellectually -- because I love solving crimes -- but it also tugged at my emotions. McFarren's characters are well developed and multi-dimensional. No one is the proverbial good guy or bad guy. Each character possesses a believable mix of traits that leaves you guessing what they will do next. Since I grew up watching action packed Asian movies with martial arts, this was fun to read. By the way, many of the romantic scenes would have made Bruce Lee blush!