Featured Columns

February 24, 2010

Bento Bako Lite: Harlequin Highlights 5

If you surf on over to Digital Manga Publishing’s eManga website, where you can read digital copies of manga titles (by buying points to spend on buying or renting them), you’ll find a section of the site under the name “Harlequin.”  What you’ll find there is a collection of short romance titles (most run about 126 pages).  They go for 100-200 points a piece, which is just over a dollar (you can buy 500 points for $5.50).  They are essentially comic adaptations of romance novels.  Since these are short, low budget titles, I feel that it would be best to group them together and review several at once.  This week we’ll look at Jack and the Princess and One Summer in Italy.

First up is Jack and the Princess, art by Junko Okada, with original text by Raye Morgan.  Princess Karina is experiencing the last free summer of her 22 years.  Soon she’ll be in an arranged political marriage.  By accident she runs into Jack Santini, a cop on probation (pending a case), as he tests her home for security breaches.  She is immediately captivated by him, and insists he be hired as a bodyguard, hoping that having someone like him around will give her good memories during her final summer of freedom.  Karina talks to him, pretending to be a maid, so Jack is quite shocked when he learns that she’s the princess.  Karina had simply wanted to be friends with someone for once, but Jack becomes all business when he’s assigned to guard her.  However, after he spends some time alone with her, he’s charmed by her innocence and loneliness; he begins to feel sorry for Karina, for being trapped in such a lifestyle and being forced to marry a stranger.  When her innocent, passionate feelings start getting under his skin, he backs away due to the large gulf between their social status.  Will he still come running to her rescue when she is in danger?


Next up is One Summer in Italy, with art by Nanami Akino, and original text by Lucy Gordon.  Holly (well, her real name is Sarah, but they call her Holly the entire time) is on a train meant to take her to her flight to England, when she finds herself being pursued by local police.  Her Italian boyfriend planted a stolen painting in her luggage, and she is afraid that she’ll be implicated in the crime and sent to jail.  She moves through the train cars to escape the police, and finds herself in a first-class room where a little girl named Liza and her nurse are seated.  Liza, whose mother was British like Holly, takes a liking to her and invites her to hang out in her compartment.  Just when she is starting to drop her guard around the little girl, Liza’s father appears.  Unfortunately for Holly, Matteo Fallucci is a judge; but fortunately he is a judge with a soft spot for his daughter, and gives in to Liza’s pleas that they help Holly, who appears to be in trouble.  Matteo puts the pieces together right away, but decides to trust Holly and has her come to his house while he investigates her case.  His motive is greater than simply helping someone in need – Liza has formed a fast friendship with her, so he wants her around for his daughter’s sake as well.  Matteo is honorable, but cold, even to Liza, appearing to suffer from intense grief over the death of his wife eight months ago.  But under this stony exterior he is harboring a dark secret.  Can Holly heal both the grieving Matteo and the lonely Liza?

Jack and the Princess is a sweet little story, aside from the fact that the royal family hired a man who is currently suspended pending a drug trafficking hearing.  That little bit doesn’t really make sense.  One Summer in Italy is a little…implausible.  The judge invites a total stranger into his home, to stay, just because his daughter took a liking to her.  In the end, of course, he wants her to stay, but it takes some silly nonsense to get to that point.  And his final exclamation of “I couldn’t love you while my life was in danger!” is pretty melodramatic, and a little nonsensical besides.  But the rest of the story, the stuff involving Matteo’s wife and daughter, has a lovely bittersweet sensibility about it.

Check back on Monday morning for my review of Millennium Prime Minister, volumes 1 and 2.


All images copyright © Harlequin.  Access to eManga provided by Digital Manga Publishing.



  1. […] How to Capture a Martini (Kuriousity) Chris Mautner on vol. 1 of King of RPGs (Robot 6) Kristin on Jack and the Princess and One Summer in Italy (Comic Attack) Johanna Draper Carlson on vol. 1 of My Darling! Miss Bancho (Comics Worth Reading) […]

  2. […] How to Capture a Martini (Kuriousity) Chris Mautner on vol. 1 of King of RPGs (Robot 6) Kristin on Jack and the Princess and One Summer in Italy (Comic Attack) Johanna Draper Carlson on vol. 1 of My Darling! Miss Bancho (Comics Worth Reading) […]

  3. Ok, Jack and the Princess actually sounds interesting given how the dude feels. Being with a girl, or a dude, because you “feel sorry for them” can’t be a good thing!

  4. billy

    If I had to choose between the two, I’d read Jack and the Princess. 🙂

  5. Kristin

    I would too, Billy. 🙂
    One Summer in Italy, apart from the relationship of the father and his daughter, was kind of silly.

  6. […] Accidental Mistress Author: Junko Okada (Jack and the Princess), original story by Cathy Williams Publisher: Harlequin K.K./SOFTBANK Creative Corp. Vintage: […]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *