I love the way there sometimes seem to be themes with the Harlequin manga that’s added to the emanga site. Sometimes it is all about billionaires, sheiks, or pregnant mistresses. I noticed today that there were three titles that incorporated the word “revenge” so I of course decided to read all of them. I’ve listed them here ranking from least to most favorite.
The Millionaire’s Revenge by Cathy Williams and Hiromi Kobayashi
This was the first revenge title that I sampled, and it was the least entertaining. I was hoping for some more vengeance but instead we got a simple story about a pair of star-crossed lovers. Rich girl Laura has an affair with stable boy Gabriel, but refuses to marry him. Years later, he returns having made millions of dollars while her father has gambled the family fortune away. Gabriel is determined to have his revenge by buying the estate of his former employer and enacting a scandalous plan to make Laura fall in love with him yet again, only to reject her. Of course, they find love after all. I generally tend to prefer my Harlequin titles to be a bit loonier than The Millionaire’s Revenge. There was no murder, kidnapping, or any other shenanigans, so this title didn’t really inspire much enthusiasm from me while reading it. The art is the fairly standard rushed adaptation, and some of the dialogue felt a bit on the stilted side. You can safely give this Revenge title a pass, because the next two are much better.
The Italian’s Passionate Revenge by Lucy Gordon and Junko Okada
Passionate Revenge! I was hoping for more excitement in this title, and it did amp up the drama a little bit. Elise was forced into a loveless marriage by her father, leaving behind her Italian boyfriend Angelo. Years later, her husband’s employer shows up at the funeral and whisks her away to Italy. Elise is mesmerized by Vincente’s “fiery eyes” and they start an affair. But what is Vincente’s true motivation?! It turns out that he’s been employing a private detective to assemble a profile on Elise. He’s the cousin of the long-lost Angelo and he has decided to avenge the death by suicide of his broken hearted cousin. But the past may not be what it seems! This title was a little more exciting than The Millionaire’s Revenge, since it featured past suicides, seductive Italians, and a private detective who walked around wearing an inexplicable eyepatch. The art was as good as you can expect from a Harlequin adaptation, but sometimes the characters were drawn with odd facial angles that were not very attractive. There were plenty of tearful inner monologues about revenge, and overall I found this much more entertaining than The Millionaire’s Revenge.
Purchased for Revenge by Julia James and Masako Ogimaru
This was by far my favorite of the three revenge titles, as it features a cracktastic plot and better than usual art. I knew that I was in for a treat when I read the first page of the manga and saw that it featured a cute guy in a tuxedo being thrown out of a casino into a dirty alleyway. In the South of France, Eve is being forced to endure the odious company of her father’s business associates. When she steps out for some fresh air she meets a handsome stranger. They share a kiss in the moonlight, and they part. She never expects to see him again, but she finds out that the man she was mesmerized by is her father’s most hated business enemy Alexi. Oh, the humanity! Ogimaru’s art is fluid, with more interesting panel layouts than I tend to see in most Harlequin manga adaptations. The higher quality art combined with the crazy plot elements made this manga very enjoyable for the lunacy factor alone. Alexi assumes that Eve is a prostitute because there are rumors circling that her father has a habit of pimping her out to his business partners. When Eve is roofied by her father who then invites Alexi to sample her unconscious body, Alexi’s fears are confirmed. So in just a few pages, Purchased for Revenge has inadvertant attraction, a hostile business takeover, mistaken prostitution, and a destitute heroine. It gets even crazier as it goes on, although the consummation of Eve and Alexi’s romance features the rather tortured gender dynamics that you might expect from a Harlequin manga circa 1985. I haven’t even touched on the alcoholic mother, charitable foundations, and past murder that come into play later in the story. Purchased for Revenge was the best by far of this bunch of Harlequin manga.
Access to electronic copies provided by the publisher