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Married by Mistake by Takako Hashimoto and Renee Roszel Wilson
I didn’t realize when I started this that it is a further book in a series with a harlequin manga I read earlier, To Marry a Stranger. In this book, the heroine of To Marry a Stranger has been impregnated by her husband with an eye patch. Helen starts having contractions near the infamous “Mansion of Love” so of course she and her sister Lucy are stuck with having to deal with a sudden home birth in the romantically cursed house. Lucy manages to assist her sister with having twins in the space of a panel. Let me tell you, I’ve had twins and it doesn’t happen that quickly! Lucy is exhausted after assisting her sister and thinks back about her fiance Stader, who kept postponing their marriage. This Stadler guy is no prize as in Lucy’s memory he appears with wavy hair and an odd sort of cravat. Do not trust a man wearing a cravat unless you live in the early 19th century, ladies. Lucy is woken by Jack, a man with intense eyebrows and a decent suit who is wearing a tie instead of a cravat. This looks promising.
Lucy mentions the legend that if a woman spends the night of her birthday at the mansion of love, the first man she sees the next day will be her destined love. It is the day after her birthday, and Jack looks both befuddled and horrified. He’s Lucy’s ex-stepbrother and he has loved her for a long time. It turns out that Lucy’s horrible cravat-wearing fiance has decided to get engaged to an actress and travel to Lucy’s hometown in a fit of cravat-inspired cruelty. Lucy’s family promptly decides that Lucy has to pretend to have a fiance for revenge and Jack is just the person for the job. The art in this adaptation is really much better than the typical Harlequin manga title. The backgrounds might be sparse, but the character designs are distinct and attractive. What I found most amusing was the wacky facial expressions of Lucy’s family as they cheer on her fake romance. I was especially amused by the antics of Lucy’s one-eyed brother-in-law Damian who was the tortured hero in To Marry a Stranger, as he keeps popping up in chibi form with a big grin to cheer on his sister-in-law. In conclusion, men with cravats are bad, but men with eye patches or suits are good. This is what I’m taking away from this Harlequin manga.
Caribbean Desire by Cathy Williams and Takane Yonetani
The cover for this looks good, because it appears that there are wind machines blowing the male and female leads’ hair in opposite directions. Unfortunately the inside of this manga doesn’t feature the goofy fun I tend to prefer in my Harlequin manga adaptations. Emma arrives on an island to interview the rich businessman Alastair for his biography. She develops an intense dislike for the Conrad, the man currently running Alastair’s company. Emma has a secret connection with Alastair’s family, but will she reveal her secret before it is too late? And what will she do with her growing attraction to Conrad? The storyline was as predictable as Harlequins usually are, but there wasn’t really any humor to lighten things up. The art and adaptation were pretty typical, with stiffly posed characters and sketchy backgrounds. This wasn’t a good title to read right after Married by Mistake!, because it really suffered in comparison.
Marriage Wanted by Debbie Macomber and Eve Takigawa
Savanna is a wedding coordinator with an injured leg. Dash is a divorce attorney who has given up on love. Together they find love through a marriage of convenience, as one always does in Harlequin romance world. I tend to enjoy Harlequin manga very much when the art has a vaguely 1980s aesthetic. Even though this adaptation was produced in 2005, I still see a bit of a retro feel to the art with Dash’s square jaw and Emma’s bright eyes. Savanna is convinced the she’ll never find love because her limp makes her unattractive to men. Dash comes into Savanna’s store and proceeds to lecture her about the meaninglessness of weddings when he finds out that she’s planning his little sister’s wedding. Dash and Savannah spend more time with each other and decide to enter into a marriage of convenience when he needs a wife to get a promotion and she needs a husband to get her parents to stop being so overprotective. There wasn’t much humor in this title, but the art was better than average and it was fun seeing Dash and Savanna argue with each other over the value of marriage.
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