By Kotoko and Esora Amaichi. Released in Japan as “Konyaku Haki o Neratte Kioku Sōshitsu no Furi o Shitara, Sokkenai Taidodatta Konyakusha ga “Kioku o Ushinau Mae no Kimi wa, Ore ni Beta Boredatta” to Iu, Tondemonai Uso o Tsuki Hajimeta” by SQEX Novels. Released in North America by J-Novel Heart. Translated by Stephanie Liu.
If I’m being honest, as a romance novel this one felt like a bit of a chore. It’s another in the line of Japanese books that I’d summarize as “communication is important”, as we first meet our main couple when they are having the most awkward lunch ever, not even bothering to look at each other. Then we get, well, the title, and after that there’s a lot of lies piling up, on both her side and his side, and the subsequent “falling in love again” part mostly happens because of said lies. This can be a bit hard to take. On the bright side, I did find myself interested throughout the book, as the reader gets no backstory at all before things start, so we’re as much in the dark as Violet supposedly is – how did things get as bad as this? The book is a mystery.
Violet Westley is currently miserable. She’s been engaged to her fiancee Phillip since birth, owing to a debt owed by one family to the other from over a century ago. Unfortunately, Phillip is quiet, reserved, impassive, and uninterested in conversation, and Violet is also shy and awkward. Then one day she’s in a carriage accident and doesn’t wake up for a week. When she does, she has a “brilliant” idea – she’ll fake amnesia, and use that as an excuse to end the engagement. Unfortunately, Phillip runs over to see her the moment that he’s heard she’s awake, and tells her all about their relationship – they were madly in love with each other and very doting. Violet stares – what the hell is he lying for? Why has he suddenly become vibrant and outgoing? Is this really her fiance?
The best part of the book is gradually tracking down what Violet and Phillip’s past was really like, and how the two of them came to be the way they are at the start. Part of it is the usual romantic misunderstandings (Violet hears a staged conversation meant for someone else), and some of it is just down to Phillip being a giant introverted dork in a genre which needs its romantic leads to not be giant introverted dorks. Once you realize what his real feelings are like, they actually feel a bit heavy – s I said, the romance part of the book is not that great, and he feels a bit too obsessed and overdramatic post-amnesia. As for Violet, she doesn’t really have a strong enough personality beyond “the reader” – she’s the equivalent of those isekai protagonists who are all “generic guy with black hair”. Even her faults – well, aside from the lying – are “cute” faults, like being a terrible cook and a terrible embroiderer.
If this was done in one volume, I’d say it was all right. It has a second coming out, though, and I worry that it will feature more annoying misunderstandings. I may stop with this one.