By Iota AIUE and Hakuseki. Released in Japan as “Hyōgetsu no Kishi wa Dansō Reijō: Naze ka Dekiai Sarete Imasu” by Meteor Novels. Released in North America by Cross Infinite World. Translated by Grantas Sireikis.
The latest of Cross Infinite World’s offerings, I mostly picked this up because I enjoyed the author’s last book released over here, As the Villainess, I Reject These Happy-Bad Endings!. That one was a textbook villainess story, with the writing elevating it despite it having no real twists on the standard plot. The writing is not quite as good in this book, but it’s essentially similar: this is a standard reverse harem shoujo where the heroine has to dress up as a guy, and the plot goes exactly how you’d think. That said, there are a few points of interest. First of all, it does keep the identity of “who is gonna be the love interest” hidden for about half the book, which is better than most books in this genre. Secondly, it’s… much gayer than I was expecting. I know the cross-dressing invites that, but much of this reads like a BL series, and there’s also a yuri fanboy in it. For het romance, it’s not very het.
Bernstein von Eisberk was born very weak and was not expected to survive. Possibly for that reason, her father had her baptized as a boy. The weakness quickly passed, and she grew up to love horses, swordsmanship, and magic, which she excelled in. That said, she lives in a kingdom where only men can be Royal Knights. As such, she decides to take advantage of this and join the military academy as a man. The deal is that if she’s ever caught out, she has to leave the academy and never return… and also never see her childhood friend (who knows her secret) again. As she attends the academy, and becomes the very model of an elegant bishonen knight, she attracts a lot of lovestruck fans, both men and women. As for her own thoughts… she’s seemingly indifferent… but that will change.
As I said, the broad beats of Bernstein’s character arc are vigorously unsurprising. The love interests consist of a) one childhood friend, who has loved her since he was a child; b) one prince of the realm, who believes that he’s fallen for another man, and is OK with that; c) one underclassman tsundere who masks his affection as spite; d) one older brother figure from her home lands who watches out for her, and e) a weirdo court mage who discovers her secret and is now really into the idea of her and the princess being an item. The last one held the most interest for me, as it was the only part that wasn’t from the standard tropes. As it turns out, he and the princess share a deep love of pairing Bernstein with other people, and it’s mildly amusing. The main flaw of this book is that it feels rushed – It was meant to be a stand-alone, but for once I think an extra volume or two might have helped to make things flow better.
Still, if you like shoujo romance, or if you like BL novels and don’t mind that the main guy is a girl, this is a good choice.