Harlequin Manga: His Virgin Mistress and Night of Love

I recently read several Harlequin manga, and there was not a single kidnapping, secret baby, or case of amnesia in any of the titles! Despite my disappointment, there were a few manga in this batch that were entertaining. I’ll have another Harlequin manga post soon!

His Virgin Mistress by Anne Mather and Kazuko Fujita

This title seems very logistically complicated, or perhaps not very useful, because it seems like having a virgin mistress would be counter to the purpose of having a mistress in the first place. In this case, Joanna has agreed to pretend to be the mistress of a Greek tycoon who is struggling with a horrible illness. He’s returning home for his daughter’s wedding and doesn’t want his family distracted with the knowledge that he’s suffering from an incurable disease, so he decides to distract them with a beautiful young fake English mistress instead. Does he have a handsome son? If you have to ask you have never read a Harlequin romance! Demitri is incredibly perplexed when he meets Joanna, because she seems far too serious and intelligent to be a mistress. He’s instantly attracted to her, and horribly conflicted because he doesn’t approve of his father having a mistress.

The art in this title was a few steps above what I come to expect from a Harlequin manga. The character designs are attractive and distinctive, and Fujita illustrates the interactions between the characters with great fluidity. Demitri stomps around in the throws of angst, and Johanna is much more disposed to dealing with her turmoil inwardly. I’d recommend this title if you enjoy romances with a Mediterranean setting or virgin mistresses.

Night of Love by Diana Palmer and Harumo Sanazaki

I bought this title because the cover made me think that it would be a good example of the 80s manga style Harlequin manga adaption that I find particularly delightful. However, when I started reading I was a bit distracted because all the male characters were strongly afflicted with a case of triangle face. Most of the illustrations of men in this book basically gave them the facial structure of a guitar pick, with insect-like eyebrows. I did find this title entertaining because the heroine Meg was a prima ballerina with an injury who is forced to return home to recuperate. She’s spunky and still carries a torch for Steven, a businessman who she used to be engaged to. Their families conspired to break off the engagement for both of them. There is much emotional trauma when Meg and Steven meet again and their attraction to each other is immediately rekindled. There are many panels of sad people with flowing hair with roses in the background, which always adds that special touch to any Harlequin manga adaptation. There’s a lot of “I hate you but I love you!” in the relationship between Meg and Steven, and they gradually realize that they’ve both been making incorrect assumptions about each other’s feelings. There’s a random prince from the Middle East and a spy-related subplot to add additional suspense to the story. I have to say that I found the ending of this book a bit disappointing, because Meg demonstrates plenty of spunkiness throughout the book, yet towards the end of the book she just decides to give up so many of the things she’s been invested of for so long. This isn’t uncommon in Harlequin titles, but it is a little too old fashioned for my taste.

Harlequin Manga – The Venetian’s Midnight Mistress and the Italian Prince’s Proposal

I do enjoy a Harlequin manga now and then! Here are a couple random titles I bought for my kindle recently.

The Venetian’s Midnight Mistress by Carole Mortimer and Yuko Ichiju

This was an enjoyable Harlequin manga, but I expected something a tiny bit more dramatic and angst-ridden from a story called “The Venetian’s Midnight Mistress.” Dani is a driven interior designer with the type of complicated family situation that seems to drive Harlequin heroines into the arms of a tall, dark, and handsome man. Dani’s grandfather is a jerk. He’s unhappy that his only heir is a woman, and he treats Dani’s father horribly for only producing a female grandchild. He’s arranged his will with a penalty – if Dani doesn’t produce a son the family will get nothing. Dani’s worried about her reproductive choices robbing her parents of the fortune that they’re entitled to, but she’s already had a disastrous first marriage and doesn’t want to enter into a relationship again. Dani’s best friend Eleni has a tall, dark, handsome, and arrogant older brother named Niccolo, who says seductive things to Dani like “When I think about kissing you, it makes me kinda sick.”

Sure enough, Eleni throws a masquerade ball and Dani and Niccolo are overwhelmingly attracted to each other when they are both wearing masks. They hook up, and Dani is horrified to realize that she’s slept with Niccolo. She escapes, but Niccolo soon figures out who his mystery woman was and heads after her. Dani soon finds out that she’s pregnant and Niccolo promptly proposes, but her psychological issues with commitment are going to prevent her from being happy with her new fiance.

The art for this title was fine – a bit middle of the road and generic, but that’s what I tend to expect from most Harlequin manga. I wish there had been some slightly more exciting plot elements like amnesia, a terminal illness, or a kidnapping, but for a nice predictable read featuring a masked ball, this volume delivers.


The Italian Prince’s Proposal by Susan Stephens and Kaishi Sakuya

This volume focuses on a marriage of convenience. Emily is substitute singing for her ill sister in a club where she’s spotted by Prince Alessandro. He decides that she’s the perfect fake bride for him. He arranges a meeting and feeds her chocolate from his home country. She slaps him. Clearly they are perfect for each other! Alessandro needs a bride so his father can abdicate the throne and officially retire. Emily needs money to help out her ailing sister. As in most Harlequin volumes focusing on a marriage of convenience, the couple soon develop feelings for each other, but a terrible misunderstanding threatens to tear them apart!!

The character designs for this volume were attractive, and the art was clear and easy to follow, if not very detailed. I appreciated that Emily enjoyed the chocolate festivals and wine making rituals of Alessandro’s home country. Really, with abundant chocolate and wine, I feel like most women wouldn’t mind the whole marriage of convenience thing. This wasn’t a standout title for me, but it was still fun for me to read. I think I need to be a bit more careful to pick titles that are a bit goofier, because I tend to enjoy Harlequins when there are more outlandish plot points than I found in these two volumes.

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

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

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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

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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.

Virgin Slave, Barbarian King and Raintree: Haunted

Virgin Slave, Barbarian King Vol 1 by Louise Allen and Takako Hashimoto

Available on emanga.com

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This manga will appeal to historical romance fans, and people who enjoy a bit of sweeping adventure in their romance manga. Julia is a noble Roman woman who is quite horrified when her city is overrun by barbarians. She is even more horrified when a barbarian chieftain named Wulfric decides to carry her off in order to force her to serve as a slave. Wulfric’s long blond hair makes him look like a slightly more bloodthirsty version of Dorian from Eroica with Love, which I found amusing. Julia sees that Wulfric is far more humane in his treatment of Roman slaves as he’s sacking her city than their Roman masters were. She begins to start questioning her way of life and the way she unthinkingly took advantage of other people’s servitude. Julia is far too self-assured to meekly start serving anybody, and while she does start to fit in with the Visigoths, she also manages to fight back against Wulfric in some amusing ways. The art in this volume is much more detailed and assured than I usually expect to see in Harlequin Manga adaptations. As the story progresses, Julia begins to learn more of the pressures the barbarians face, as well as the political struggles that Wulfric has to deal with. My main quibble is that the ending felt a bit truncated, and I’m assuming that is because the adaptation of the story was actually split into two volumes. Still, this would be a fun manga for historical romance fans. I was reminded of Red River a bit, although this story didn’t have the complexity of story found in that manga. I’m happy that emanga.com is releasing some historical romance adaptations!


Raintree: Haunted Vol 1 by Kazuko Fujita and Linda Winstead Jones

Available on emanga.com

This manga is adapted from a series of Silhouette Nocturne Harlequin books, so I was expecting a contemporary paranormal romance and that’s exactly what I got. Gideon Raintree is a detective from a family with varied psychic powers. He can conveniently speak to ghosts, but he has issues emitting random bursts of electricity and thus will never know the joys of owning a smartphone. He is also occasionally visited by a ghost who claims to be the spirit of his future unborn daughter. Even Gideon finds this a bit disconcerting. Gideon gets assigned a tough yet beautiful new partner named Hope, who finds his numerous eccentricities suspicious even while she admits to herself that he is distressingly attractive. Gideon and Hope work to track down a female murderer who may have a connection to the occult, and along the way Gideon finds himself revealing more and more about his odd powers to his new partner. Kazuko Fujita has adapted a ton of Harlequin manga, and it shows in her attractive character designs and capable art. This is another Harlequin manga with much better than average art, and I enjoyed the way Fujita made the murderess look much more haggard and desperate than the other characters. Sometimes in manga-land everybody is portrayed as equally attractive, with just slightly different hairstyles, so I appreciated the extra attention to detail here. The story continues in the second volume of this manga, but the first volume also had a fairly satisfying conclusion. Also recommended!

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.

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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!

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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.