Title: Marriage at a Price by Chizuko Beppu & Miranda Lee
Published by Harlequin K.K./SOFTBANK Creative Corp.
Available at eManga
I saw one word in the description for this title and it immediately caught my attention. What was it? Why, the word was “horse.” Marriage at a Price is about a young woman who is struggling to keep her horse farm, which is heavily in debt. Her mother has just died, and Courtney is given the bad news that the farm is so leveraged that it’s going to be very difficult for her to find the financing she needs to keep it running. That is definitely a plot that got me clicking the Read button faster than you can blink.
This was one of the better Harlequins, and I’m not just saying that because it has horses. The horse elements of the story were very weak, and some parts of Courtney’s grand scheme to make the farm profitable didn’t make much sense. She proudly tells Jack that the herd consists of 3 mares and 60 stallions. If it’s a breeding operation, I can see why they are losing money. She’s got the mare to stallion ratio backward!
Anyhoo, Courtney desperately needs money, so her horse trainer friend takes her to the track to meet prospective investors. Her problem? The only guy who seems trustworthy had a run of bad luck and lost most of his fortune when his business partner ditched him. They can’t deny their attraction, however, and Jack promises to help her raise some cash. First, though, he has to inspect the farm and make sure she’s being honest with him. Before he tries to convince his friend to back her business, he has to make sure everything is on the up and up.
I wish Marriage at a Price has been about 30 pages longer. All of the Harlequins suffer from an abbreviated plot and a rushed sense of pacing, which makes it hard to buy the heroine’s emotional journey. The stories have to remain simple, and the titles that attempt to be more challenging or complex come off as a confusing mess. In terms of coherence, there were a few spots where events did not flow smoothly, and it’s hard to buy into the emotional commitment between Courtney and Jack, considering the short time they spent together.
The art is very attractive, though there are some awkward proportions that occasionally made me grimace. The illustrations fit the mood of the story very well, and are more whimsical and playful than other entries under the Harlequin umbrella. Courtney is independent and determined to be successful in her own right, and her expressions and boldness is evident in her character design.
While not without its flaws, Marriage at a Price kept me entertained enough to download a sample of the novel this comic is based on to my iPad. I am curious to see how different the book is from the comic; I just need to carve out the time to read it!