Author: Gayle Wilson
Author/Artist: Karin Miyamoto
Publisher: Harlequin K.K./SOFTBANK Creative Corp.
Rating: Older Teen (16+)
Synopsis: “It’s the social season, and 17 year old Emma heads to London, with her family’s hope of finding a rich husband weighing heavily on her shoulders. One night, a mysterious man approaches her. A refined handsome face, curly black hair and deep blue eyes… Emma falls in love at first sight and shares with him her first kiss. 12 years later and now a widow, Emma visits the Earl of Greyston to discuss the marriage of her stepdaughter. It is the Earl’s younger brother who is betrothed to her stepdaughter, but the Earl never shows himself. While staying there, Emma spots the man she kissed all those years ago in a portrait on the wall…!”
On route to London to find a rich husband and rescue her family from poverty, Emma is a young woman who dreams of one day falling in love. During a snowstorm that momentarily strands her, she meets a man and the two share a kiss they’ll remember for years to come. Flash-forward those twelve years-to-come and young Emma is now a middle-age widower. While she doesn’t regret the content life she has led, she does mourn the romantic love that never was and her thoughts soon trail to the man with whom she shared only a few moments.
Having raised her new stepdaughter with love and affection, Emma now seeks to aid her in marrying the man she loves. It’s these romantic notions that trigger her memories of the mysterious man she met that blizzard night over a decade ago. Elsewhere, the mysterious man of memory is also living his days with Emma on his mind. Left with a scar on his face after a battle at war, the Earl keeps himself locked away in a tower, content to manage his family’s finances away from judging eyes. But his younger brother won’t hear of it and demands that the Earl be introduced to his fiancé and give his approval. Naturally the young man’s fiancé is none other than Emma’s stepdaughter.
Prisoner of the Tower is your very classic love story playing on unconditional love at first sight. In true Harlequin fashion the end of the story is pure, unwavering and a little unbelievable. Honestly in that regard its more than a little cheesy – a archetypal happily ever after that sees a love-at-first-sight couple drop everything to be together, despite knowing next to nothing about each other. The fantasy nature of it is satisfying for what it is, but those looking at things more practically may not be able to help but question what kind of relationship is in store for these two down the proverbial road.
The anticipation of the two finally meeting again, while also being aware of the other’s identity, proves the most compulsory reason to keep reading. You know it’s going to happen but between Emma’s romantic notions and the Earl’s internal sadness, you’ll still find yourself caring enough to keep awaiting the moment.
The artwork, drawn by Karin Miyamoto, is on the attractive side and the artist seems comfortable drawing the era-style clothing. The style itself has a very classic shoujo feel, reminiscent of much older titles. The Earl looks like a sufficiently heart-bruised gentleman while Emma flows with the grace and sensitivity expected of her, though her eyes tend to look a little too glazed at times.
Prisoner of the Tower doesn’t offer anything especially unique as a harlequin romance but the timeline its set in and the experienced age of the leads provide a charming backdrop to their probable results.