By Haruka Momo and Maro. Released in Japan as “Marielle Clarac no Saiai” by Ichijinsha Bunko Iris NEO. Released in North America by J-Novel Club. Translated by Philip Reuben.
There have been a lot of J-Novel Heart series by now, of various shades and types, and one thing that Marielle Clarac has over the rest of them is that it’s easily the biggest in terms of page length. These are all chunky books, a good 50 or so pages longer than the average light novel, and filled with lots of plot complications and twists. It’s nice to see the reader getting some bang for their buck. Especially as, as with previous installments of the series, we have to alternate between Marielle’s crime solving persona and Marielle being a complete flibbertigibbet, going on about romantic and BL-laced tropes while also sometimes missing the obvious. But that’s why we’re here, and we wouldn’t have it any other way. Last time I said the wedding seemed imminent, and it still is (the next volume is called “The Wedding of…”), but first we have to deal with a bit of a crisis that might put a wrench in things. It’s hard to marry when your fiance is under arrest.
To Marielle’s horror, Simeon has been taken into custody for allegedly selling state secrets, and while it’s fairly obvious he isn’t doing that, she is ordered not to interfere in the investigation. As you can imagine, she does not obey this order at ALL, twisting around various vows and promises she makes with an increasingly frustrated Prince to try to see who is framing her beloved. Is it the childhood friend who seems to have a troubled past? Is it the gorgeous woman who wears pants and seems to be very friendly with Simeon indeed? (And does this mean that Simeon has had other women before Marielle?) Is it the gorgeous blond who looks like he stepped out of Rose of Versailles, who Marielle keeps getting saved by at odd moments? Is it Simeon’s puppy-like brother? (OK, it’s probably not.) Or is it the angry Naval commander with a vicious hatred of Simeon? The answer… is not TOO surprising, but well handled.
Now that Marielle and Simeon are a couple, and know of each other’s feelings, but are NOT married yet, there’s a lot of tension between them. Part of this is simply that they are really lusting after each other, and there are several almost kisses here, along with Simeon trying to exercise great restraint in not pushing Marielle up onto his desk and having his way with her. Balancing this is Marielle’s poor self-image, which continues to balance with her extroverted confidence – she’s accepted her plain looks, and so doesn’t get upset when they are pointed out. (Simeon does, as his brother finds out in a painful way.) This leads to some doubt and jealousy when she meets Rose, who also could have stepped out of the pages of Rose of Versailles. Among this is the usual thriller stuff, including a visit to a brother far shadier than the one Marielle usually sneaks into, and another wonderful conversation with Marielle’s nemesis Lady Aurelia, who will be best friends with her by Book 5 at the rate they’re going.
So another fun entry in the series, provided you can tolerate the heroine basically doing whatever the heck she wants with no regards to the consequences.