Harlequin Manga: The Tycoon’s Pregnant Mistress and Her Sheikh Boss

The Tycoon’s Pregnant Mistress by Maya Banks and Nanao Hidaka


The Tycoon’s Pregnant Mistress manages to hit some sort of Harlequin manga trifecta, because the pregnant mistress in question gets cast off, kidnapped, and develops amnesia in the first 30 pages! The woman with the eventful life is Marley, and her boss is a slightly dimwitted Greek tycoon named Chrysander. Marley finds out that she’s pregnant and attempts to have a meaningful talk about their relationship with Chrysander, only to be shut down and promptly kicked out when Chrysander discovers top secret business documents in Marley’s handbag only minutes after his extremely suspicious secretary pays him a visit at their home. While he might be successful in business, Chrysander has very little insight into human nature, as he kicks Marley out onto the street, where she is immediately scooped up by kidnappers, appearing four months later in an advanced stage of pregnancy!

Chrysander is very suspicious of his pregnant former mistress who has amnesia, but he is determined to Do the Right Thing and decides that he’s going to take care of her and her child. Marley attempts to get her memories back, all the while being slightly bewildered by the continued presence of Chrysander’s skanky secretary and his distant nature. The art for this title is about average for a Harlequin manga, it is attractive despite some slightly odd proportions, and while it doesn’t have the lush 80s retro vibe that I tend to love the most in these manga adaptations, everyone’s hair is glossy and there is a profusion of brooding greek tycoons.

Her Sheikh Boss by Carol Culver and Earithen


The story for this manga is fairly predictable, but I really enjoyed the art for this title, which had a loose sophisticated style that reminded me a bit of Walkin’ Butterfly. Claudia is a highly efficient secretary working in the United States for Samir, the prince of a country in the Middle East. She’s indispensible for his business, and he decides to take her along when he goes home to his country. Samir tends to view Claudia as an efficient piece of furniture, and when Claudia goes on her trip she is profoundly dismayed to find out that her boss his traveling back to his family in order to get engaged!

Claudia has developed a secret crush on her boss, and she struggles with her feelings as his family regards her with suspicion. As Claudia visits Samir’s country he begins to see her as a woman for the first time, as she throws herself into new experiences with enthusiasm. His fiancee seems very unenthusiastic, perhaps due to the handsome male servant that follows her about wherever she goes. The art captures Claudia’s transformations and shifts in moods easily and there’s plenty of billowing hair and the occasional camel. While the illustrations aren’t necessarily very detailed, there’s more variation with the paneling and I found myself just as entertained by the art as the story. The complications that keep Samir and Claudia are resolved nicely, and overall I found myself pleasantly entertained.

A Dark Fable of the Forest, Vols. 1 and 2

A Dark Fable of the Forest Volumes 1 and 2 by Yuriko Matsukawa

As I started reading A Dark Fable of the Forest I thought that the art style looked pleasingly familiar, and then I remembered that I’d previously read Matsukawa’s other books published on emanga.com, Late Advent and two collections of short stories. While I enjoyed her other books, I think A Dark Fable of the Forest is my current favorite manga by this author, simply because there are some enjoyably gothic elements in the book that are getting me in the Halloween mood.

Dark Fable of the Forest Vol. 1 is available on emanga.com


Alyssa is a student who works at a reporting agency that specializes in paranormal and unexplained happenings. As she’s hunting down a myth about a particular type of rare bird that lives in a forest in Austria where young children frequently disappear, a strange brooding man dressed all in black seems to observe her. Black birds and dark feathers are interspersed with panels showing Alyssa’s investigations, creating a bit of a foreboding air. Alyssa and her companion are rescued by the mysterious stranger, who remains silent as he hosts them in his house, taking time out now and then to brush the hair of an elaborate porcelain doll. Alyssa is determined to investigate the silently mysterious Chevalier Bayard Gran d’Or, but there are events happening in the forest that are being caused more by human greed than the supernatural.

As the story progresses, Alyssa begins to learn more about her mysterious protector as she continues with her investigations into other unexplained phenomena. The porcelain doll ends up actually being a sentient being named Pineau Rouge, but it is amusingly over the top to see the brooding Chevalier carrying around what looks like a miniaturized Victorian girl who has no problem expressing herself.


A Dark Fable of the Forest Vol. 2 is available on emanga.com

The series settles into a well-executed monster of the week manga, as the Chevalier keeps popping up just when Alyssa needs him if she’s investigating murderous plants, unexplained appearances of saints on castle walls, or issues with her own relatives. The episodic nature of the manga is nicely balanced by the developing relationship between Alyssa and the Chevalier, and the suggestion that they may share a connection other than happening to be in the same place at the same time far too often for coincidence. Matsukawa’s illustrations are detailed and attractive, and the Chevalier has enough bird like characteristics in his character design to seem quite otherworldly. Alyssa actually becomes the very type of thing that she’s investigating towards the end of this series, as the monster of the week type story ends up morphing into a climatic battle between good and evil. The ending felt a bit rushed, but that’s often the case with two volume series. Still, I enjoy reading the occasional shorter series like this just because it is nice to be able to read a complete series in a couple days. This is a fun manga to read in October, as the gothic elements are both amusing and creepy. I’m glad to see emanga continuing to translate the occasional shoujo title, as it is nice to be able to stumble across a more quirky story like A Dark Fable of the Forest.

Eat for Your Life vol. 1


Eat for Your Life Volume 1 by Shigeru Tsuchiyama

This book is available on emanga.com

I do enjoy food manga now and then, and since unfortunately this is a genre that we only get a small sampling of here I’m always interested in a new title. While there are plenty of manga that I’ve read devoted to particular dishes or types of food, eating with friends, or in the case of Toriko eating incredibly weird things, this is the first eating competition manga that I’ve read. I found the combination of sports manga plot structure and endless drawings of bowls of katsudon compelling.

Ohara is a salaryman with a reputation as a gourmet. Perpetually broke due to his habit of going on food tours, he stumbles across an eating competition and decides to try his luck. Ohara fails, but he catches the eye of a professional food competitor named George. I could tell at a glance that George was going to be Ohara’s eccentric mentor because he was wearing a fringed leather jacket, sunglasses, and a ponytail. George appreciates Ohara’s ability to savor what he is eating as well as his rudimentary but sound eating technique.

Ohara begins to be pulled into the world of competative eating, but with some informal coaching from George, he might be ready to take his love of eating to the next level. The situations and characters in Eat For Your Life follow the “try your best” theme of most sports manga, except here one tries to conquer insane serving amounts of food as opposed to facing an opponent on the sports field. Eat For Your Life was amusing. The art was well executed, but not particularly distinctive, and there wwas a decent amount of humor as Ohara reacts with a rookie’s amazement to the world of competitive eating. I recommended this title for foodie manga fans.

Electronic access provided by the publisher.

Takasugi-San’s Obento Vol. 1

Takasugi-San’s Obento Vol. 1 by Nozomi Yanahara

This title is available on emanga.com, and the print volume is available for pre-order.

I’ve always been a bit interested in bento, even though I haven’t made it yet. I like the idea of all the cute bento boxes and accessories you can buy, and it certainly seems like a healthy way to prepare lunch. Takasugi-San’s Obento will appeal to foodie manga fans and those who enjoy slice of life stories. Takasugi is a hapless newly minted professor who hasn’t been able to get a regular faculty position since getting his doctorate. While the manga says his subject area is geography, his research methods look a lot more like cultural anthropology to me. While Takasugi is in his early thirties, he gets blindsided with adult responsibilities very quickly when he gets word that his long-lost aunt has died and left him her 12 year old daughter Kururi.

Kururi ends up being a tiny, doll-like girl who mainly presents herself as a blank slate. She does however get extremely excited about grocery store bargains, as she and Takasugi mainly attempt to bond with each other through the process of making lunch for the next day. Along the way they explore favorite meals and how the preparation of a bento can take on a deeper meaning. Kururi shops around to find the ingredients for a lunch her mother used to prepare for Takasugi after he makes an offhand comment about remembering his Aunt’s lunches. When Takasugi observes the differences between Kururi and her classmates at school he concludes that the way to fix things is to put more ingredients in her bento.

Different dishes and geographic variation with food are addressed as Takasugi and Kururu slowly get used to living with each other. They communicate mainly through food preparation. There’s a bit of a humorous element to this slice of life manga, as Takasugi’s eagerness to prove that he isn’t creepy for being the guardian of a 12 year old girl comes across as somewhat creepy, and his colleagues are constantly talking about Takasugi’s lack of job direction. There are some glimmerings of romance, but the focus of the manga is on food preparation, and I hope it stays this way for the next volume. It was interesting to read about the various ways of making bento in the context of this slice of life story.

Don’t Tell My Husband, Vol. 1

Don’t Tell My Husband, Vol. 1 by Kei Kousaki

This volume is available from emanga.com

I have to admit that one of my main criteria for buying romance manga is often the title. So when I saw that Don’t Tell My Husband was josei manga, I decided to give it a whirl on my kindle paperwhite. This is a fairly hilarious housewife escape fantasy title that reminded me a little bit of Lady, Lady and the movie The Heroic Trio, just because the main character’s appearance is completely at odds with her inner resources and actions.

Minano spends her days as a sheltered housewife, practicing traditional Japanese skills like flower arranging. The first story features her going out to shop for dinner, over her husband’s objections. She goes to a bank where she’s taken hostage. Instead of panicking, she coolly manages the situation, giving first aid to a shooting victim and talking about the situation with the bank robbers. When one of the robbers slaps a bank clerk, Minano bashes his skull in with a pipe while commenting that she can’t stand men who hit women. Minano comments to her fellow hostage with a small smile that she’s “Just gotten a little angry.” She then proceeds to execute a divide and conquer strategy on the bank robbers, splitting them up and confiscating their weapons. The police detective on the scene is an old boyfriend who comments that “I bet you surprised everyone with your fragile housewife persona.”

The other chapters in this book follow the same general outline of Minano using her amazing abilities to perform sophisticated cat burglary and rescues a woman injured in the mountains with some impressive impromptu snowboarding skills. Minano’s antics are superhuman and the contrast between her meek persona and her actual abilities is pretty funny. This is definitely a manga to read for story and characters over the art. Kousaki has basically only two character types, and since almost everyone in the manga is blond it is sometimes really tricky to keep track of who is speaking. Minano’s husband basically looks identical to all the other men she encounters, so when he actually has a conversation with another man I was a bit confused as to who was saying what. There’s some slight weirdness about the noses of the characters in full face views that looked a bit odd. Overall, I enjoyed the story and the situations very much. The $7.99 price tag on this is a bit of a stretch given the quality of the art, although I realize that it costs just as much to translate manga with not-so-great art as it does a much more elaborately drawn title. If the first and second volumes were priced at the under $4.00 range of much of the digitally available Harlequin manga, I probably would have picked up both volumes and enjoyed them as a fun, disposable summer read.