Wowowow, that was really good! This is the Harlequin manga that I like. TWILIGHT VOWS isn't just a Harlequin romance, it's a Harlequin romance about vampires. It's also the first of these books that I've actually read in novel format. Maggie Shayne writes these deliciously trashy vampire novels that kind of remind me of L.J. Smith's Night World series, only for adults. When I saw this on Netgalley, I made a choked-up squee sound because when I was in my early twenties, I thought Maggie Shayne was the shit. In manga form? Oh man, I couldn't wait.
Rachel was almost murdered by her greedy, evil relatives when she was a child. She was saved by a mysterious man who brought her back to the kindly Irish people who raised her. Now a grown anthropology student, Rachel has returned to Ireland to study the myth of the O'Rourke vampires who, according to local legend, lived at the Dante Castle at the edge of the village.
Reading this manga made me remember how much I loved the books when I first read them. Donovan, the hero, isn't a bad guy. He's one of those old-fashioned, brooding vampires who has courtly manners but feels lonely, and yes, he has a bit of the ol' guardian angel syndrome that's common in paranormal romance. He also says some truly romantic things to the heroine, especially towards the end.
The romance has a lot of angst, but it's balanced out by some odd humor. There are some especially funny moments in here with the hero's bat demons. They are pretty cute, even though they're kind of evil. Overall, though, I would say the tone is gloomy and wistful. I found myself enjoying it a lot more than I thought I would, because I have always preferred my vampires to be either morose or homicidal (or both). But no, this is a great adaptation of a romance series I really enjoyed.
Thanks to Netgalley/the publisher for the review copy!
4 out of 5 stars