By Haruka Momo and Maro. Released in Japan as “Marielle Clarac no Kyuuai” by Ichijinsha Bunko Iris NEO. Released in North America by J-Novel Club. Translated by Philip Reuben.
The author describes this book as a “calm and gentle” story, and I suppose, given that the previous book involved Marielle getting involved with pirates and her wedding had her kidnapped, falling into a river, etc. that that is correct. In reality, all it means is that all the action and danger to our heroine is packed into the last quarter of the book. Heck, even the main storyline in the book has Julianne, Marielle’s friend and BL reader, accused of attempting to poison the royal family. When you are the light novel equivalent of Murder, She Wrote, calm and gentle seems like a long time ago. That said, this novel also serves as a reminder that the only thing worse than the attitude of nobles towards commoners is the attitude of greater nobles towards lesser nobles. Marielle had to deal with this as well, of course, but at least Simeon was only an Earl. When the Prince of the Realm is head over heels in love with you, and your parents are social climbers, it can be quite the headache…
Marielle is happy as a clam as the book starts, but inevitably gets dragged into this mess. After all, Simeon and the Prince are friends, and she and Julianne are friends. She’s the reason the two even met in the first place. And the Prince is now doing his best to not act like a pathetic drip. Mostly. So it’s time to meet the parents, who are worried that a girl from a lesser barony winning over their son means she has intentions other than love. This is not helped by Julianne herself, who is firmly convinced that their classes are too far apart, and is in general far too practical to simply leap into something like this. The answer, of course, is to have Marielle around, as she is both very much a part of the royal world now and also frequently the opposite of practical. Can she get Julianne to admit her own feelings, get the King and Queen to learn what type of person she is, and not get stabbed preventing an assassination attempt? Note: the answer to the last question is no.
Yeah, as noted, this book leaves all its thriller aspects for the last quarter, and spends most of the time in mystery and romance mode. The King and Queen are both very likeable people – indeed, the whole royal family is pretty great – and the moral of the first 3/4 of the book might just be “don’t assume everyone loves dogs”. But there has always been the threat of war and politics lurking at the edge of this series, if not directly involved with it, and there is a definite anti-monarchist faction, which decides to take more decisive action. It is rather startling to see Marielle, who I have previously described as a flibbertigibbet sustain a serious injury in this book, though in best action heroine style this does not stop her from sticking around till everything is resolved before passing out. Heck, she even does the “I can’t run in this dress” clothing rip!
So yes, another strong volume, and fans of Marielle who notice that she doesn’t fangirl QUITE as much in this book will, I suspect, get more of what they want to balance it in Book 7. Will the nation go to war? And can Marielle find a way to write romance novel about it?