Harelequin Manga Series: The Stanbury Crown: Royally Wed

One of the fun things about romance novels in general is the way they are often arranged in linked series, where the relationships of different couples are introduced but you still get a chance to peek in on the previous couples when they show up as supporting characters in subsequent books. Often these series will be linked by siblings, so there just happen to be three unmarried sisters or brothers who all find connubial bliss by the time the trilogy is over. The Stanbury Crown series focuses on an imaginary country called Edenbourg, and here’s a look at the first two volumes in this four volume series.

The Expectant Princess by Rin Ogata and Stella Bagwell

Princess Dominique has a hopeless crush on the lawyer for her family, Marcus Kent. She confessed her love for him and was rejected so she decided to throw herself into her studies by moving abroad. Dominique hides her identity while she’s in America. She returns to her family for a royal gathering. There’s plenty of drama in the first few pages of this manga. Dominique’s father the King goes missing under suspicious circumstances. His car crashes but his body isn’t found. Dominique is confused and anxious because she had an affair with a married man while she was in school, and she’s pregnant. Marcus is newly divorced. When Dominique and Marcus come together to investigate her father’s death, he makes it clear that he still sees Dominique as a child and any relationship between them would be in appropriate. Dominique tells Marcus about her condition and he promptly proposes in order to protect the royal family. Dominique rejects him because she doesn’t want a loveless marriage but Marcus begins to realize that he’s been lying to himself about his true feelings. The art and adaptation for this volume were fine, nothing spectacular but perfectly fine for a Harlequin manga.

The Blacksheep Prince’s Bride by Miho Tomoi and Martha Shields

The mystery of the King’s disappearance continues on in the next volume as Rowena goes undercover as a nanny in the royal household. Jake is forth in line for the throne and in need of domestic help because he’s divorced with a toddler son. Jake is the son of the King’s estranged and possibly evil brother, and thus a prime suspect for the kidnapping of the king. While Rowena struggles with an unearned reputation as a fast woman and Jake is trying to clear his name they grow closer. There were a few awkward poses and a little stiffness in the art, but this was offset by some cute character interactions. When Jake finds out that Rowena is a spy he’s annoyed not because she lied to him, but because he’s worried about how she views her own safety – what if he’d turned out to be an evil kidnapper and she went into his house unprotected? Everyone comments that while Jake may be a suspect he couldn’t possibly be guilty because he likes children and puppies. So, if you might find yourself suspected of kidnapping obscure European royalty, be sure to accessorize yourself with an adorable moppet and some wee doggies. Overall, I thought this volume was pretty much right in the average in terms of Harlequin manga quality. I’m still amused by the idea of finishing up this series by different authors and illustrators and I have to admit that my hopes are higher for the next book in the series, Codename: Prince because that title just seems intrinsically entertaining.

Access to electronic copies provided by the publisher.

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