Stepping on Roses Volume 7

Well, seven volumes in and I think that now I’m finally willing to forgive Stepping on Roses for not being quite as effortlessly cuddly and charming as Rinko Ueda’s series Tail of the Moon. Stepping on Roses still manages to be entertaining due to its historical setting and the romantic foibles of its characters. One of the reasons why I never warmed up to the series before is because the hero Soichiro is so much of a jerk to Sumi. While there was a similar relationship dynamic at play in Tail of the Moon, overall I found the ninja protagonists much more sympathetic than the Meiji era couple in this series. But circumstances change in this volume, showing Soichiro to be much more supportive of Sumi and flexible in his way of thinking than before. Shoichiro’s enemies have executed a series of successful maneuvers that end up ousting from the presidency of his family’s company. Faced with the choice of giving up his bride of convenience to maintain his lifestyle or sticking with Sumi and living in poverty, he chooses Sumi. They move back into the shack with Sumi’s brother and her adopted siblings, and Soichiro has to adjust to living in an entirely different way. He tries to find work and fails while Sumi is holding things together at home. Eventually he realizes that one thing he can do is teach all the children in the neighborhood who can’t afford school fees.

There are plenty of funny scenes with Sumi’s family as everybody tries to adjust to their changed circumstances. Unfortunately there is absolutely no way for Soichiro and Sumi to come to terms with their feelings for each other when they’re surrounded by all of her relatives. As a villain, Nozumu has turned absolutely psychotic, maneuvering himself to take over Soichiro’s company, adopting a slicked-back hairstyle of evil, and showing up to give Sumi money, flowers, and random proposals of marriage. I’m sure Soichiro and Sumi will find a way to get out of their impoverished circumstances, even with Nozumu acting like he’s gone off his meds. Overall, this was a pleasant and diverting volume to read, mostly because Soichiro was so much more interesting when taken out of his familiar surroundings that I found myself rooting for this couple for the first time.

Review copy provided by the publisher.

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