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December 24, 2009

Bento Bako Lite: Harlequin Highlights 1

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 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 Honor’s Promise, Keeping Luke’s Secret, and Married Under the Italian Sun.

bbwhonorspromiseHonor’s Promise is about a young woman named Honor O’Brien.  With her mother’s death still fresh in her memory, it’s a struggle for Honor to carry on from day to day.  Then she meets a man named Trace Logan who sweeps her off her feet.  But this smooth talker from Colorado isn’t being totally honest with this good ol’ Texas gal.  He surprises her by showing up at her lawyer’s office, as she tends to her mother’s matters, and claiming to be from her paternal grandfather, J.J. Malone.  It turns out that Honor’s mother isn’t her real mother, and her real family has at last tracked her down.  Honor is whisked off to Colorado to meet this family, where she will have to put aside her anger at Trace’s lies so that he can protect her from a relative’s greed induced panic.  Honor’s Promise is drawn by Esu Chihara, with original text by Sharon Sala.


bbwlukessecretIn Keeping Luke’s Secret, young history professor Leonie Winston is invited to the great actress Rachel Richmond’s house.  She is greeted by Rachel’s son Luke, whose birth was a scandal 30 years ago, and who has a strange automatic hostility toward her.  He barely believes that Rachel invited Leonie to their home, but Rachel did indeed invite Leonie…so that Leonie could write her biography.  Why is Luke so against his mother revealing her life to the public?  And why did Rachel pick a relatively unknown author to write such a high profile book?  Art by Hinoto Mori, with original text by Carole Mortimer.

bbwmarrieditaliansunMarried Under the Italian Sun follows Angela, who played a ditzy bimbo named Angel on television for 8 years, and has recently divorced from her husband.  The terms of the divorce gave Angela a beautiful house in Italy, and she has decided to move there.  When she arrives, she finds the previous owner, Vittorio, tending to the lemon orchard on the property.  She doesn’t receive the warmest reception from him, and tries to find a replacement, finding Vittorio arrogant and bitter.  However she quickly realizes that the staff respects Vittorio, and she isn’t likely to find anyone who cares so much for the crop, new to the country as she is, so they come to an agreement.  In this new, relaxing environment, Angela is able to forget her scandalous past, and her fresh, vibrant energy manages to charm Vittorio.  That is, until a need for money to keep the orchard running throws Angela back into the world she claimed to have left, leaving Vittorio hurt and confused, and wondering why she would choose to lower herself into that world once again.  Art by Mayu Takayama, with original text by Lucy Gordon.

These are all fairly straight forward romance stories.  They’re kind of sweet, and pretty simple.  The art inside is what you see right there on the cover (except in black and white, obviously).  If you know a woman (or you are one!) who enjoys romance novels, this may be a good introduction to comics.  I know that a lot of guys are always trying to get their girls into comic books, and the Harlequin books are pretty light and easy to read; what I mean is that they aren’t overpowering like your average manga, in their style and story.  They shouldn’t scare anyone away.  So head over to eManga.com, where you can read them online, via the Adobe Flash player.


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



  1. These are great summaries Kristin! I’m sure fanboys everywhere are looking for gateways to get their ladies into comics!

  2. InfiniteSpeech

    so locking them in a room filled with nothing but comics isn’t the way to go?

  3. billy

    I like that MUtIS cover.

  4. Haha! No, locking them in a room filled with comics won’t do it. But something like this might be a good way to go. Especially if they do read romance novels, and particularly if they read the ones these manga are based on. The only problem I can see is that they might be put off having to read them at a computer, instead of holding a book in their hands.

    All the covers are pretty nice, Billy, but that is a good one. The inner art is nice as well.

    There aren’t a LOT of these available, but I’ll be doing at least two more little highlights like this for the Harlequin titles.

  5. […] three titles are far weaker than the previous three we looked at in my last Harlequin Highlights.  Millionaire Husband is probably the best of the three, but even it’s a little sloppy.  As […]

  6. […] finally, To Marry McAllister, art by Junko Murata, original text by Carole Mortimer (Keeping Luke’s Secret).  This title (the novels anyway) is part of a series of books called To Marry the Bachelor […]

  7. […] up is Amber by Night, by Mayu Takayama, original story by Sharon Sala (Honor’s Promise). Twenty-nine year old Amelia moved in with her two aunts, Rosie and Willy (Willhimena), when her […]

  8. […] Billionaire Bachelors: Stone Author: Esu Chihara (Honor’s Promise), original story by Anne Marie Winston Publisher: Harlequin K.K./SOFTBANK Creative Corp. Vintage: […]

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