By Miyako Miyano and Hayase Jyun. Released in Japan as “Kakure Saijo wa Zenzen Megenai: Gibo to Gimai ni Ie wo Oidasareta no de Konyaku Haki Shite Moraou to Omottara, Shinshi datta Konyakusha ga Hageshiku Dekiai Shitekuru Yо̄ ni Narimashita!?” by DRE Novels. Released in North America by J-Novel Heart. Translated by Ray Krycki.
As you may have noticed given that it’s every other review I’ve written for the last year or so, the villainess genre has really exploded in Japan, as well as translated into English. Everyone loves seeing the villainess struggle against her fate. Sometimes she’s accused falsely. Sometimes she redoes her life so that everyone loves her. Sometimes she even embraces the villainy. But the one drawback to this is that authors sometimes miss writing actual villainess types. Sure, you can make the supposed heroine secretly evil, but it’s not the same. We want women with expensive dresses and jewels and stepsisters with drill curls holding their hand up to their mouths as they sneer “Ooooohohohohohohoho!”. If you miss this sort, good news! The stepmother and stepsister in this book fill the job admirably. Honestly, I might have been more interested in them than the heroine.
Our heroine is Jeanette, who has spent most of her 13 years being abused by her mother and sister, but being doted on and protected by her father. Unfortunately, one day her father disappears, his carriage found (without a body) in a ditch. Naturally, evil stepmother immediately throws Jeanette out of the house. But that’s fine. This is a learning opportunity, just like every other piece of abuse Jeanette has suffered, and she’ll face it with a smile and GUTS! Still, she’d better break off the engagement to the count, because after all she’s disgraced now. There’s just one slight problem – everyone who knows her loves her to bits, especially her fiance, who when he hears that she’s been thrown from her house swoops in to offer her a much better deal.
I’ll be honest, I found Jeanette somewhat exasperating. First of all, I wish she were about four years older. Secondly, her “genius ditz” personality can be fun, but also verges on annoying, particularly when she needs to be clever and figure things out but also not clue in to the fact that her family are being abusive. I ended up being far more interested in Leila and Ariel. Ariel is merely a spoiled daughter who’s been trained by mother to look down on Jeanette – there’s no actual hatred there, and when it turns out Jeanette is a golden goose she’s quick to turn. Leila, though, is painted in a far harsher light, being a wasteful spender and also a massive sucker for scams. I hope we see more of them in Book 2. Which is going to happen, because Daddy has to come home soon.
If you like this sort of book, it’s a decent entry, though not essential. Jeanette is a genius for business, but when it comes to interpersonal relationships she’s a disaster.