Sunday, October 21, 2018

Playing the Dutiful Wife by Takako Hashimoto

This Harlequin manga is an adaptation of a romance novel of the same name written by Carol Marinelli. I haven't read the original, which is the case for most of the romance novel manga I read, but it's always a blast to check out the trashy soap opera-esque storylines in a fun new format. The quality of the stories and the art varies a lot too, with some being incredibly fun and beautifully portrayed and others... not so much.

PLAYING THE DUTIFUL WIFE falls smack-dab in the middle. The art is very nice but the story is incredibly OTT and cheesy and feels like an excerpt from one of those long-lived soaps that certain people refer to as "their stories." Meg is the legal consult for her parents' real estate business and terrified of flying. One day, she finds herself in business class seated next to the Brazilian millionaire, Niklas. Initially, he's not very nice to her but when he sees how scared she is, he goes out of his way to comfort her which results in some hanky panky and an honorary membership to the mile high club.

With an unplanned landing in Vegas, what better way to consummate their below-the-sheets fondling than a Vegas wedding and above-the-sheets fondling + bona fide hanky panky? Of course the next day, Niklas tells her it was all a mistake and absconds with Meg's heart, leaving her more terrified of flying than ever before, as well as with a fear of being abandoned and betrayed by men.

When some of Niklas's female employees contact her, she is less than thrilled - but then they tell her that Niklas is in jail and in need of her help. He's been accused of fraud, a crime of which they claim he is innocent, and they have the proof to free him... as long as Meg can sneak into the jail and give him specific instructions. How does she do that? By arriving as his wife for some conjugal visits.

This book... was so OTT and cheesy. It's like the author had a checklist of all the big romance cliches and was inserting them one at a time, before scratching them off. Everything from an orphaned hero to a virginal heroine to a mysterious twin to betrayal to unplanned marriage - it was all here. I'm finding that to be the case with some of these Harlequin adaptations, which probably speaks to why those tropes became tropes in the first place, if so many of these books have them. I did have a lot of fun reading the book, though, and if it had been a bit more developed, I'd have given it a solid 4.

Thanks to Netgalley/the publisher for the review copy!

3 to 3.5 out of 5 stars

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