Chizuko Beppu / Jessica Steele – Harlequin – 2010 – 1 volume
I fell off the Harlequin wagon, I’m sorry. They are varying degrees of entertaining, but they’re my sort of entertaining. This was one I downloaded the first half of when I bought my iPod, but I only just now sucked it up and bought the rest. I prefer reading these on emanga to my iPod, but there are several volumes of Harlequin manga available in the app store where the first third or so is free. It’s hard to turn down free. I think they’re a little cheaper in the app store, but on eManga, they’re $4 a pop. Not too bad.
This one was actually pretty good. Normally I’m not expecting that, just a cheesy romance. This is dramatic, for sure. Taye, a young career woman, advertises for a new roommate and gets the standoffish Magnus instead. An artist, Magnus snubs Taye and takes every opportunity to slip in a snide comment. With no other candidates for roommate, and not able to afford the rent herself, Taye has to put up with him while juggling a couple rich boyfriends on the side. But she finds Magnus is the one who’s willing to listen when she has family trouble, and is hurt when one of her boyfriends proposes and treats her like a possession. There’s more to Magnus, of course, because this is a Harlequin novel, but her boyfriends played a prominent enough role, and were initially nice enough, that it wasn’t blatantly obvious what was going to happen from the first page. Taye and Magnus are also both likable, and I enjoyed the evil characterization of Taye’s mom. The romance also moves forward very slowly, so it’s not an unlikely smoldering hot union as soon as the two characters meet. My personal preferences run more towards this type of story, so it was easy for me to like.
I also liked the artwork a lot, too. Normally I don’t notice, but Beppu draws faces that are somehow both cute and sinister, and she has more detailed and elegant art than what I’m used to in these Harlequin books.
In the end, it’s just another Harlequin romance, and you know exactly what you’re getting as soon as you pop open the file. But this is one of the better ones, if you feel so inclined.