By Sumire Saiga and Saya Shirosaki. Released in Japan as “Gunjin wa Ai no Kemono” by Sonya Bunko. Released in North America by Steamship. Translated by M. Jean. Adapted by H. Qi.
(This book is meant for readers over the age of 18,. and the review uses a few words that are a bit naughty.)
Steamship is one of Seven Seas’ many different imprints, and specializes in what my grandmother might have called “smutty books”. Until now, they have specialized in manga titles, all under the “josei” umbrella and basically a romance-novel style manga, only with added sexual content. Now we get this stand-alone novel, which is the first light novel under the imprint. We got a sexually explicit light novel licensed a few years ago, but that one was more on the “for guys” end, and I think Amazon pulled it relatively quickly. This one is probably safe, if only as if you removed all the sex scenes from it, it would still have a coherent and interesting plotline. Well, eventually. This book is a slow starter, and does not exactly have prose that compels you to read on, so it took me a while to get into it. In addition, a word of warning, there’s as certain amount of “codependency is good if it’s romantic” here.
Giselle is a young woman of marriageable age, but unfortunately she’s seen as a bit drab, so all the potential marriage meetings she’s been to have ended in failure. Then her brother, a soldier in the royal army, brings home a colleague, who was kidnapped and enslaved as a young boy, and still has a bit of a slave mindset to him. Giselle takes pity on him and tries to teach him how to think for himself and not just do whatever anyone tells him to. In fact, she’s falling in love with him, and he with her. This is, needless to say, a bit of a problem given that he’s an ex-slave and she’s a noble. As if that weren’t enough, the King has asked for her to join his court as one of the royal concubines. This is not really an order that can be refused. What will become of her relationship with Wallace?
So, first of all, the sex is fine. There’s quite a bit of it, mostly featuring different positions and quite a bit of cunnilingus. Wallace had a tendency to put everyone before himself, so blowjobs are not really on the table, and even asking if he can do her from behind is saved till the end when they’re far more familiar with each other. The main reason to read this, though, is the intrigue. The King straight up admits that he’s using Giselle as a hostage to keep Wallace loyal to him, and the threat ends up driving the latter half of the book. As I indicated earlier, Wallace worships the ground Giselle walks on, and would happily murder anyone if she asked him to. Meanwhile, Giselle has always felt drab and unloved, except maybe by her brother, so suddenly getting someone who adores her and is also fantastic in bed is quite a cocktail. Hopefully a lack of constant danger will allow these two to mature as a couple to where they aren’t the only thing in each other’s lives.
Despite pedestrian prose (AO3 has spoiled me) and a tendency towards romance tropes (there’s a sexual assault here, though Wallace arrives in time to break it up, and he’s always a gentleman to her in bed), this got better as it went along, and I’d recommend it to those looking for a good smutty book.