Harlequin Manga Quick Takes from Jmanga: Avoiding Mr Right, The Celebrity Doctor’s Proposal, and Princess of Convenience

All of these Harlequin manga titles are on Jmanga.com! I’m reviewing them in order from least to most favorite.

Avoiding Mr Right by Sophie Weston and Keiko Okamoto

The heroine of this story is Christina Howard, a girl who serves as a crew member on various ships and has a tendency to yell loudly in banks in Athens when they won’t give her any money. As she’s freaking out over her lack of funds, she runs into a rich bank customer named Luc who treats her to coffee and offers to lend her money to pay for a hotel room. Christina throws his money back into his face proclaiming that she doesn’t need it because she’s “an independent woman.” A independent woman who happens to be able to crash with a local friend. Luc is intrigued by the way Christina yells at bankers and messily eats croissants, thinking “she’s a type of girl I haven’t come across before.” Christina gets a job working on a ship belonging to minor royalty and keeps randomly running into Luc, who keeps plying her with coffee. Perhaps he likes his women jittery. She doesn’t want to be tied down to anyone, but feels attracted to Luc despite her general suspicion of him. It turns out that Christina has been serving as crew on his ship, getting to know his sister and his niece and nephew.

The adaptation for this series sprinkles a few good background images of the exotic setting of the story, and the art is generally clear but the characters sometimes look a little stiff and there are often panels with almost no backgrounds or details at all. Avoiding Mr Right is pretty typical of most Harlequin manga adaptations, which I’m betting are rush jobs. The story and characters are a bit on the bland side, without some of the crazy plot twists that I tend to enjoy in most Harlequin stories. Overall, this manga was so-so. Not terrible but not reaching the heights of craziness that I tend to enjoy in my Harlequin manga adaptations.

The Celebrity Doctor’s Proposal by Sarah Morgan and Masami Hoshino

I find that Harlequin books are more enjoyable if they employ at least one or more adjectives in the title, so I was hoping for good things from The Celebrity Doctor’s Proposal. This book was more lively just due to the bickering relationship between the main characters. Anna is a doctor at a small village in a small family practice. Her boss is going on a vacation, and he brings back his son and Anna’s old frenemy Sam, who has gone onto fame as a reality TV doctor. Anna thinks Sam is a dilettante who doesn’t take medicine seriously. When she finds out that Sam is her new partner for the summer she’s extremely unhappy. Sam thinks that Anna’s overwhelmed by the volume of work and doesn’t have the time to notice that her office manager is dealing with a family crisis. As Anna spends more time with Sam she begins to realize that he might actually be a good doctor after all, celebrity status aside. The townspeople think that the pair are destined to end up with each other, and Sam’s parents arranged their vacation from the clinic in order to play matchmaker. Anna finds herself having to live at Sam’s house when the cottage she was attempting to buy exhibits structural defects. Apparently wonky windows can be a sign of structural instability instead of rustic charm. Sam and Anna have several slice of life scenes when they trade dinner chores and enjoy the beach. The character designs in The Celebrity Doctor’s Proposal have a bit of individual flair that is always nice to see in this type of manga, and overall the art is fluid and self-assured. There was plenty of time spent on the motivations and changing feelings of the bickering doctors as their relationship evolved, so overall this Harlequin manga is much better than average.

Princess of Convenience by Marion Lennox and Takako Hashimoto

So there’s something about slightly old school shoujo art combined with the crazy plots of Harlequin books that works a strange alchemy upon me. If there’s a heroine who has improbably curly hair, a steely-eyed hero, and some sort of insanely convoluted plot involving dead ex-wives, marriages of convenience, and imaginary European countries in a Harlequin manga there’s a high probability I am going to enjoy reading it. I will enjoy reading it even more if alpacas play an important role in the plot. So this title delivers on all fronts!

Jessica, a divorced bereaved mother and fashion designer, is driving around a teeny tiny European country when she gets in a car accident with another woman dies in the crash. Sarah’s fiance Raoul visits Jessica in the hospital and is oddly philosophical about the death of his fiancee, inviting Sarah to convalesce in his castle. As one does when someone gets into a horrible car accident with the woman you were going to marry. As Jessica is sitting down to dinner with Raoul and his mother, a boorish relative bursts in and announces that they’ll have to be out of the castle in a few days. Due to the complicated inheritance laws of his country, Raoul has to be married to serve as regent, and his wedding with Sarah was going to be a marriage of convenience. Jessica hears a child crying in the castle, the heir to the throne Edouard. She decides to swoop in and comfort him. Poor Edouard has been locked in a strange room with a carnival of horrors decorating theme along with a mini-army of horrible nannies. Raoul comments “It’s diseased. This room. This country.” Not only is Raoul royalty, he’s also a Doctor who wants to go back to serving in Doctors Without Borders once his country is on the right track. Jessica decides that she’s going to help Raoul out and proposes marriage to him!

They get married but their issues aren’t over yet, as there is supposed to be a witness stationed outside their bedroom to witness the consummation of their marriage. Jessica isn’t happy about this, and she argues with Raoul on her way back to the castle, but she’s distracted by alpacas! Twin Suri alpacas that aren’t being cared for properly! She takes the alpacas back to the castle! There is a pretty hilarious scene when the witnesses to the royal consummation are startled by the sounds and conversation coming out of the bedroom, not knowing that Jessica and Raoul have set up a track and are engaged in competitive toy car racing. Hashimoto’s art has a stylized old fashioned quality that suits the charmingly erratic plot elements of this story which combines personal tragedy, evil European royalty, and cute baby alpacas. Hashimoto also illustrated one of my other favorite Harlequin manga titles, To Marry a Stranger, which features a hero with an eyepatch, and who doesn’t love heros with eyepatches? Overall, Princess of Convenience provided the exact combination of humor, slightly deranged plot, and pretty art that I enjoy most in Harlequin manga adaptations.

Electronic Access provided by the publisher

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