I do enjoy a Harlequin manga now and then! Here are a couple random titles I bought for my kindle recently.
The Venetian’s Midnight Mistress by Carole Mortimer and Yuko Ichiju
This was an enjoyable Harlequin manga, but I expected something a tiny bit more dramatic and angst-ridden from a story called “The Venetian’s Midnight Mistress.” Dani is a driven interior designer with the type of complicated family situation that seems to drive Harlequin heroines into the arms of a tall, dark, and handsome man. Dani’s grandfather is a jerk. He’s unhappy that his only heir is a woman, and he treats Dani’s father horribly for only producing a female grandchild. He’s arranged his will with a penalty – if Dani doesn’t produce a son the family will get nothing. Dani’s worried about her reproductive choices robbing her parents of the fortune that they’re entitled to, but she’s already had a disastrous first marriage and doesn’t want to enter into a relationship again. Dani’s best friend Eleni has a tall, dark, handsome, and arrogant older brother named Niccolo, who says seductive things to Dani like “When I think about kissing you, it makes me kinda sick.”
Sure enough, Eleni throws a masquerade ball and Dani and Niccolo are overwhelmingly attracted to each other when they are both wearing masks. They hook up, and Dani is horrified to realize that she’s slept with Niccolo. She escapes, but Niccolo soon figures out who his mystery woman was and heads after her. Dani soon finds out that she’s pregnant and Niccolo promptly proposes, but her psychological issues with commitment are going to prevent her from being happy with her new fiance.
The art for this title was fine – a bit middle of the road and generic, but that’s what I tend to expect from most Harlequin manga. I wish there had been some slightly more exciting plot elements like amnesia, a terminal illness, or a kidnapping, but for a nice predictable read featuring a masked ball, this volume delivers.
The Italian Prince’s Proposal by Susan Stephens and Kaishi Sakuya
This volume focuses on a marriage of convenience. Emily is substitute singing for her ill sister in a club where she’s spotted by Prince Alessandro. He decides that she’s the perfect fake bride for him. He arranges a meeting and feeds her chocolate from his home country. She slaps him. Clearly they are perfect for each other! Alessandro needs a bride so his father can abdicate the throne and officially retire. Emily needs money to help out her ailing sister. As in most Harlequin volumes focusing on a marriage of convenience, the couple soon develop feelings for each other, but a terrible misunderstanding threatens to tear them apart!!
The character designs for this volume were attractive, and the art was clear and easy to follow, if not very detailed. I appreciated that Emily enjoyed the chocolate festivals and wine making rituals of Alessandro’s home country. Really, with abundant chocolate and wine, I feel like most women wouldn’t mind the whole marriage of convenience thing. This wasn’t a standout title for me, but it was still fun for me to read. I think I need to be a bit more careful to pick titles that are a bit goofier, because I tend to enjoy Harlequins when there are more outlandish plot points than I found in these two volumes.