Harlequin Manga: Ordinary Girl in a Tiara and The Greek Tycoon’s Defiant Bride

I was excited when emanga.com announced that they were releasing a bunch of new Harlequin manga on their platform! I’m going to pretend that emanga wanted to give me an awesome holiday present, because I am always up for reading some Harlequin manga.

tiara

Ordinary Girl in a Tiara by Jessica Hart and Yuki Shiomiya

available on emanga.com

Harlequin stories are plenty formulaic, so much so that pulling off a Harlequin romance that is both familiar and enjoyable can be somewhat tricky. Part of the fun for me when reading Harlequin manga is encountering plot elements that I’ve seen before, but executed in an interesting way. This is one of my favorite recent Harlequin manga reads. Ordinary Girl in a Tiara is, as one would surmise, about an ordinary girl who ends up accidentally taking up with royalty. Caro has an intense love of vintage fashion and an interesting past where she went to school with the elite of Europe on scholarship. Caro’s best friend Charlotte is a princess of a tiny European country who calls upon Caro to provide a diversion by dating her distant cousin and rumored fiance Prince Phillipe.

Phillipe shows up at Caro’s door to ask her to be his fake girlfriend, and he is suitably horrified by Caro’s devotion to horrible crochet vests from the 1970s. Clearly he is a man of great taste and refinement. Caro agrees to go along with the charade of dating him, and goes back to his tiny European country only to get caught up in court politics. Phillipe is struggling to establish himself as the future ruler, and the fake couple gradually become a real couple as they begin to spend more and more time together. All too often in Harlequin stories, the hero acts like a big jerk, but while Phillipe does have is standoffish moments he and Caro are a very sympathetic couple. There are elements of humor in Caro’s unending parade of vintage fashion choices, and while the art isn’t terribly detailed, it doesn’t suffer from the lack of fluidity and expression that sometimes plagues Harlequin adaptations. Highly recommended!

greektycoon

The Greek Tycoon’s Defiant Bride by Lynne Graham and Natsu Momose

available on emanga.com

Whenever I read Harlequin manga, I tend to go for the volumes that have the longest and most ridiculous titles involving Defiant Brides, Virgin Stable Girls, or Secret Agent Secretaries (I just found out that there is a romance with the title Secret Agent Secretary, I think I’m going to have to read it). This manga was exactly what you would expect from the title, as it does indeed feature a Defiant Bride of a Greek Tycoon!

Maribel is an ordinary girl (aren’t they always!) who is desperately in love with her deceased cousin Imogen’s ex-boyfriend Leonidas. Maribel sees Leonidas at a memorial service after running away from him years before, but she returns to her life as a single mother, confident that romance will not find her again (OR WILL IT!?). Leonidas shows up at Maribel’s house and is immediately suspicious when he discovers that she has a toddler with the name of his grandfather. The narrative structure of this manga was interesting, because it kept switching between the flashbacks where Maribel and Leonidas are just getting to know each other, and the present day where Maribel is desperately trying to get away from him in order to live an ordinary life. The relationship unfolds in both the present and the past, leading to a time when Maribel will perhaps not be quite so defiant about being in a relationship with Leonidas. I enjoyed the art in this volume. The paneling was a bit more varied and interesting than I tend to expect from a Harlequin manga, and Momose frequently cuts in detailed close-ups of the characters when they are in the grips of a dramatic emotion.

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