Original text by Sharon Sala
Art by Esu Chihara
Harlequin K.K./SOFTBANK Creative Corp., 125 pp.
Rating: YA (16+)
Though still mourning the recent loss of her mother, Honor O’Brien strives to keep her mother’s memory alive by caring for the restaurant she started after the death of her husband. When a young man from Colorado sweeps into town and sweeps Honor off her feet, she’s surprised to find herself experiencing real happiness alongside such fresh grief. She’s even more surprised to discover that the man she’s fallen for so quickly is actually in town to deliver a rather appalling truth about her own origins. Can Honor truly find love with the man whose job it is to tear down everything she’s ever known?
This manga starts out strong, easily establishing a believable whirlwind romance between Honor and her out-of-town suitor, Trace, as well as a solid foundation for Honor herself, including her close relationship with her mother and their restaurant’s built-in “family.” If Honor’s surroundings don’t exactly feel like Texas, they do feel like home and all the things (wonderful and hurtful) that go with it. Less well-developed are the story’s antagonists—long-lost relatives threatened by Honor’s arrival into their lives—which keeps the volume’s dramatic climax from truly packing a punch. The greatest sacrifice made in the name of single-volume romance, however, is the lack of time allotted to Honor’s grief after Trace’s revelation, which robs her of an opportunity to achieve real depth.
Though DMP’s adaptation suffers from stunningly sloppy lettering—pages and pages of square blocks of text artlessly pasted over rounded speech balloons—the visual storytelling is quite effective. Honor, in particular, is expressively drawn, which plays a large role in her believability, especially in the beginning.
Though the manga’s middle chapters are too rushed to support the story as well as they might in prose, Honor’s Promise is a sweet, dramatic, genuinely poignant romance.
Honor’s Promise is available at eManga.com. Review access provided by the publisher.