Tomo Ootake / Narise Konohara – June – 2011 – 1 volume
Uh, wow. It’s been awhile since I’ve read a BL book like this that wasn’t really a BL book. It kind of transcends the genre constraints of BL and makes itself into a regular, very fantastic romance story.
Asaka is a wedding planner, and completely devoted to his work. He feels like he constantly has to prove himself, since he is one of the few men in his profession and very serious about helping his clients have the perfect wedding. One day, he runs into his first solo client, Sasagawa, and the two begin meeting on a fairly regular basis. Asaka is in awe of Sasagawa. Sasagawa forgave Asaka a horrible faux pas on the day of his wedding, and Asaka also sees Sasagawa and his wife as the perfect couple and very inspirational, since they are precisely the type of couple he loves helping with their wedding.
Sasagawa meets with Asaka fairly regularly, and Asaka slowly realizes he mostly talks about his job endlessly, without Sasagawa contributing to the conversation. He often asks about and praises Sasagawa’s wife, but Sasagawa isn’t all that interested in opening up, and claims he doesn’t mind listening to Asaka. Soon, Asaka finds out why Sasagawa seems to be on his guard all the time: Sasagawa’s marriage was a sham, but he loves his wife enough to let her get away with the sham and live with her lover. He misses her every day, and waits impatiently for her calls and any attention she wants to give him.
This is horribly, horribly sad, and the first half of the volume is about developing this, Asaka helping Sasagawa get over it, and the two of them slowly, very slowly, falling in love. They do little more than exchange an experimental and very chaste kiss by the end of the first “story.” It’s about their relationship and the two of them falling in love, but it’s also about their lives, and how each fits into the life of the other. It’s a great story because of that, and I loved how very real the characters were. They weren’t terrible stereotypes, and they were supportive friends before they became lovers, and not in the usual “okay, when is the sex coming” way.
The second half of the book introduces some relationship troubles for them, and I liked it a little less than the first half since much of the plot hinged on the fact that a conversation would have cleared up months of misunderstandings. But the misunderstandings stem from both of them being unsure how to proceed in a homosexual relationship, and then they both try different tactics to forget the other when things start to fall apart. Even though the whole this is simple miscommunication, watching their relationship fall apart is a slow and very painful story, and I liked the nuts and bolts of it just as much as I liked the first half.
There are very few BL books like this one. It’s not as good as Future Lovers (it’s slightly more mundane, even with the wedding planner stuff), but it’s close, and among some of the best of the serious BL books I’ve read. Pick it up if you’re at all interested in BL with older couples, it’s a wonderful book.