It has been far too long since I’ve read some harlequin manga! Much like the romance novels themselves, these manga are perfect to read when you want to switch your brain off for a little while. I’m coming down with a cold, so I relished the opportunity to read about pregnant women who somehow manage to attract the attention of millionaires. I think millionaires must really like motherly types, I have no other logical explanation. All of these books are available for rental at emanga.com.
Claiming his Pregnant Wife – Sometimes it can be tricky to adapt books, even formulaic ones like Harlequin novels. This is a middling example of Harlequin manga, just because there were so few transitions between scenes it felt more like an outline of a story than the story itself. Erin is a tourist in Italy when she becomes stranded and happens to meet a beautiful Italian man named Francesco. They start to date during her vacation and she discovers that he’s been hiding the fact that he’s an incredibly wealthy businessman. They quickly marry, but their new marriage starts to disintegrate when Erin suspects him of being a womanizer like her father. Some of the character motivations seemed to come out of left field – all of a sudden Erin starts not trusting Francesco due to her psychological issues with her parents’ marriage, but this isn’t really hinted at earlier in the manga. It generally had a very choppy feel, with characters suddenly introduced, and various reasons for the couple to be apart worked through. The art was a little static, and looked rushed, with the characters sometimes displaying awkward poses. Not the best example of a Harlequin manga.
The Millionaire’s Pregnant Mistress – This title had more of the loopy plot developments that I expect and enjoy in a good Harlequin manga. Tess is a hard-working chambermaid at a resort hotel who had a one night stand with a rich guest. He turns out to be Benjamin Adams, a millionaire movie producer who is haunted by the death of his wife and unborn son. He wasn’t haunted enough to stop himself from having a one-night stand with a maid though! He makes sure to tell Tess just how emotionally damaged he is after she tells him that she’s pregnant by saying “”Your existence itself will dig deeper into my wounds!” Benjamin decides that he doesn’t want a repeat of his past tragedy and will move her into his mansion to make sure she and the baby are safe during the pregnancy. While he’s planning on taking responsibility for the baby, he doesn’t plan to give Tess anything other than support payments after the baby is born. Tess has a hard time adjusting to the millionaire lifestyle and keeps trying to work at the hotel while she’s living at the mansion. Benjamin and Tess bond over their shared love for the movie Psycho (!) and begin to strike up a friendship. While the art in this title showed most people having problems with triangle-shaped chins, overall the art was a little more fluid and Tess’s glossy hair, limpid eyes, and devotion to her beater of a car made her an appealing heroine.
I was happy when I started reading this volume and saw that instead of the rushed, less detailed art provided for many of these harlequin titles, it opened with a detailed scene of married but estranged actors confronting each other on the red carpet, complete with glossy hair and borders of floating flowers. If there aren’t flowers used as backgrounds in every few pages of a Harlequin manga I feel cheated. Jennifer is an actor and married to Italian superstar Matteo. They’re in the process of divorcing because Matteo romanced the actress that played the evil temptress in their most recent movie. Apparently she is also a temptress in real life. Temptress! There’s a series of flashbacks that show how they first fall in love, when Jennifer was appearing in a play and lured Matteo in because she didn’t care about his fame and wealth. Matteo liked a challenge! Now, as they split up Jennifer’s harpy of a mother keeps lecturing her about the evils of men, and Matteo’s trusty staff don’t put her phone calls through to him. Harpy! Betrayal! Jennifer gets cornered at a party by another womanizing actor named Jack, whose hairstyle, plucked eyebrows, and eyeliner somehow reminded me of John Taylor circa 1983. Duran Duran! Actually many of the fashions in this series ranging from Jennifer’s side-ponytail to the harpy mother’s blouse with attached bow evoked a certain over the top 1980s glamour, which I found amusing because this manga was produced in 2008. Matteo saves her, they get trapped in an elevator, and they make love. Love in an elevator! Jennifer finds herself pregnant, and she and Matteo begin to rebuild their relationship. Because if you need to trap a man, get pregnant! This was highly entertaining, and the lush art did a great job of evoking the fabulous lifestyles of the protagonists.