Reviewed by Tori
Favorite Quote: How could a man be so arrogant yet so humble?
Schooled is a short peek back into the lives of Ronin and Amery Black. Despite their differences (cultural and sexual) they learned to adapt and have gotten married. When Ronin heads to Japan for his yearly martial arts training with his sensei, he decides to take Amery along as he can not bear to be parted from her for so long. This vacation/honeymoon combo is exactly what Amery and Ronin need though Amery wasn’t prepared for exactly how much time Ronin’s training would consume their time or lives.
As Amery tries to adjust to the cultural and language differences she is experiencing, Ronin is going through his own adjustments. His sensei master is challenging every aspect of Ronin’s life, forcing Ronin to make some difficult decisions that reverberate through his marriage. Can Ronin and Amery survive the changes or is this trip the beginning of their end?
I have enjoyed the relationship James has built between Ronin and Amery. Two complete opposites who fell in love despite their differences and clawed their way to find common ground between them. Schooled revolves around Ronin though is told from Amery’s point of view. He is going home and he feels both excitement and trepidation in introducing Amery to his culture and family. This trip shows a vulnerability in him we haven’t really seen in the series. He has to balance the demands of his culture against the need to show his wife she is everything to him. There is a lot of emotional scenes that are used to show how far Ronin has come to opening up emotionally and verbally; able to accept and show his love for Amery.
Amery is having some issues of her own. She is unsure of what her role is exactly concerning Ronin while in Japan but her natural enthusiasm , addictive wit, and love for Ronin has her looking for anyway to support him without losing pieces of herself. She has also become more open and confident in her relationship with Ronin. She refuses to let him shut her out.
We see some old and new faces; all of which had a role in developing Ronin into the man he is now. Ronin’s grandfather is a force of nature to be reckoned with but Amery more than holds her own with him. We meet the man who taught Ronin his rope play. H and Amery develop a wonderful rampart which goes far into helping Amery make an important decision she herself has been wrestling with.
As this book focuses on Ronin and his reasons for being in Japan, the romance and it’s emotional counterparts are more pronounced while the actual erotic scenes are far less then we have seen previously. Very little rope play is seen. Both of them are completely open to one another and I found this book to be far more playful and sweet.
Schooled is a wonderful short story that takes care of the few remaining obstacles that may have eventually caused issues for Ronin and Amery. James wraps up their story, assuring us they truly belong to one another in all possible ways. We are also gifted a small scene from Unraveled, the next book in the series, which features Ronin’s sister, Shiori and one of his employee’s, Knox.