Author: Raye Morgan
Author/Artist: Junko Okada
Publisher: Harlequin K.K./SOFTBANK Creative Corp.
Rating: Older Teen (16+)
Synopsis: “The summer of her 22nd year. That was the last time Princess Karina experienced freedom. She is about to have a political marriage for the sake of her royal family. Before she is forced to marry a man whom she does not love, she wishes to experience love. It seemed her wish might just come true. The tall and handsome Jack Santini comes to live in the estate as a bodyguard. Karina falls for the talented and charming Jack, and wishes, just once, that she could kiss the man she fell in love with for the first time…”
Karina is blond, fluffy haired, doey-eyed and raised to trust everyone despite several kidnapping attempts. As a Princess she’s meant to marry another aristocrat as chosen by her family and this coupled with her having never had a friend before leaves her feeling a bit lonely. Then you have Jack – your tall, dark and handsome suit-clad, steely-eyed bodyguard with a tender stare. You know the type. Bitter after a recent suspension from his job as a police officer, he tries not to allow himself to get too close to Karina after his past relationship led to his troubles.
Almost immediately Karina is drawn to Jack but it doesn’t start off romantic. The story plays off her naivety and innocent disposition as she wishes to have Jack be her first friend. Meanwhile Jack as her newly hired bodyguard keeps noting all the holes in her family’s security while simultaneously being amazed at the old fashion and restricted life style this young girl has been living.
Naturally you give an inch and the characters take a mile and soon they’re looking at each other quite differently. Jack leans that way much quicker than Karina who doesn’t really click into her feelings until an impromptu childlike ‘I want to learn how to kiss so kiss me’ encounter. But alas, societal boundaries separate the two for what could an orphaned cop with the ability to protect at all costs offer a young Princess looking for companionship? Not an aristocratic marriage at the very least.
The artwork of this story is comparatively attractive – more modern than some of the other fare offered by the same company on eManga. Karina is pretty and Jack is good-looking – together they make for a perfect visual couple you can envision atop a six-tier wedding cake. The little details on things like the backgrounds and clothing of the art also invoke a strong sense of setting when in the royal halls of their semi-humble estate.
But like those before it in this genre you can’t help but laugh at the ending– a quaint well-that-was-amusing laugh for an end all too-easy and far too perfect. But that’s escapism romance for you. It’s no surprise that Jack and the Princess will get together for their happily-ever-after, remaining then just the slightest curiousity in how they’ll manage it. Eloping? Inexplicable sudden parental consent? Or is Jack actually royalty? The ending hits on fine-orchestrated tune – two pages and you’ve neatly tied up every issue the story had set in place.
These types of stories aren’t for everyone – cynics in particular likely need not apply for this kind of work. There’re very ‘safe’ stories, meaning no matter what drama occurs within the story, you know it’s all going to be okay in the end. Thus far I’ve come across few in the selection of eManga titles that even have so much as a rival-type character – it’s all circumstantial that the two love-birds are apart until a sudden situation change prompts a sunset rendezvous into an unplanned (but expected-to-be-perfect) future.
While shallow and a little silly, there’s still a distracting-charm to these stories that make them a good momentary breather from more involved one-shots. Jack and the Princess falls right into this mold – a throwaway title that’s still worth one read through if only to pass some time – still lacking compelling content but not flawed for its intent and purposes.