By Haruka Momo and Maro. Released in Japan as “Marielle Clarac no Shukusai” by Ichijinsha Bunko Iris NEO. Released in North America by J-Novel Club. Translated by Philip Reuben.
We’re nine volumes into Marielle Clarac, and she’s been happily married for quite a few of them. That said, the audience is still more interested in her as the heroine of a mystery/thriller than it is her as a socialite and wife. Which she would probably think is a good thing, as Marielle is starting to doubt herself as a socialite and a wife. Growing up inevitably means feeling that you have not grown up enough, and Marielle is worried that she is not really bringing to her marriage the things that wives should be doing. Instead, she’s getting kidnapped, solving crimes, causing international incidents, etc. Fortunately for her, her husband is having the same sort of issues, wanting to always be there to protect her but knowing that that’s impossible, and still dealing with being jealous of any other man who’s remotely close to her. Which, in this series, is pretty much every man. Basically, they’re both awkward dorks, and made for each other.
The main plot of this book concerns Prince Gracius, the orphaned son of Orta’s former king. He’s recovered his memories, but is now having to deal with something that all rich and powerful people have to: sycophants and hangers-on. Indeed, the people around him seem particularly bent on making sure he listens to them, and they seem to hate Marielle in particular. She doesn’t really care about that, however, as she wants to make the prince experience Noël, their Christmas equivalent, without fear of getting assassinated. Even if this means having to call in Lutin in order to disguise him. For once things actually work perfectly, but Marielle does not endear herself to Gracius’ entourage. And now there are rumors that she’s being unfaithful?!
There’s a running gag in this book that’s actually about the series’ main running gag, which is that Marielle still thinks of herself as being able to blend into the background and be dull and plain, and it’s increasingly untrue. Sure, she can get away with it while hiding from those who want to frame her by having her sexually assaulted (a rare unpleasant part of this otherwise pleasant book), but when she’s around her peers she is now increasingly the center of attention… mostly because of what she’s been doing the previous eight volumes. This also means that the rumor doesn’t really go anywhere – anyone who knows Marielle even a little bit will know how ridiculous it is. I was also amused to see that she’s learning – she suspects a letter from Gracius is fake, brings her servants and a guard, tells Simeon where she’s going… and STILL gets drugged and kidnapped. Sorry, Marielle, it’s the genre, not you.
This series is simply a barrel of fun, and also one that is easy to recommend to casual readers, as Marielle’s BL obsession is the sole “this is definitely Japanese” element – no reincarnated villainesses, no isekais, and no game stats. Just a series of mystery thrillers.