Interview with Sydney Somers, Author of Busted

Please welcome special guest Sydney Somers!  Sydney is here to chat about the third book in the Promise Harbor Wedding series.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Describe yourself in 140 characters or less.

[Sydney Somers] Romance writer, book lover, chatty introvert, margarita maker, culinary disaster, zombie enthusiast, video game addict, loves life.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Can you tell us a little about Busted?

[Sydney Somers] Busted is the third book in the Promise Harbor Wedding series and features a reformed rebel heroine turned police detective, who arrests the hometown hockey legend the night before his best friend’s wedding. The blurb says it better than I do though. :)

Hockey star Jackson Knight has a hundred reasons not to return to Promise Harbor, but none of them are good enough to get him out of attending his best friend’s wedding. Even with a career-ending knee injury, every puck-bunny in town will be gunning for him.

Worse, getting a pair of cuffs slapped on him at the bachelor party could ruin any chance of getting back in the game, even as a coach. Unless he can convince the arresting officer to smooth things over—by going to the wedding as his date.

Hayley Stone figures posing as Jackson’s girlfriend is the least she can do to salvage his reputation. Plus, having a man with a toe-curling smile on her arm will keep her ex off her back.

What starts as a simple plan to deflect small-town pot-shots unexpectedly becomes a sizzling night that hits Jackson like a full-body-check to the heart. Now he’s determined to prove that she’s the best of reason of all to come home—for good.

Warning: Contains a fiery powerplay both on and off the ice, skin-tingling forced intimacy, interfering grandparents, bear costume hijinks, a haunted house and the kind of game-changing chemistry worth fighting for.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] How did you come up with the concept and the characters for the story?

[Sydney Somers] The concept for the Promise Harbor Wedding series was brainstormed by Kelly Jamieson, Meg Benjamin, Erin Nicholas and myself. Once we had the idea of a wedding that doesn’t go off as planned, we basically broke the wedding party down so that each author took one as a main character. From the start I knew I had the best man, Jackson, and that was pretty much it, until I got this image in my head of a woman sitting in a church musing about the fact that she’d arrested her wedding date. I was off and running after that.

I’m also a big hockey fan and have always wanted to write about a hockey player, but I knew it would take a certain kind of woman to keep Jackson on his toes. Hayley was up for the challenge though. :)

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three words best describe Hayley?

[Sydney Somers] Determined, devoted, and if you ask Jackson, dangerous.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] If Jackson had a theme song, what would it be?

[Sydney Somers] Hit Me With Your Best Shot by Pat Benatar and the song definitely pops up in Busted. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zRbXMW…

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Name one thing Hayley is never without.

[Sydney Somers] Her gun. Or maybe that’s just AFTER she meets Jackson lol

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three things will you never find in Jackson’s bathroom?

[Sydney Somers] Soap on a rope, coordinating hand towel sets or bubble bath. Hayley might bring him around on the latter.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What is Hayley’s greatest regret?

[Sydney Somers] Aside from arresting the best man the night before the wedding? :) Her biggest regret would definitely be not getting the chance to say goodbye to her father.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What are your greatest creative influences?

[Sydney Somers] On the creative side I’m influenced by almost anything: Memories, places I’ve visited/would like to see, images, news headlines, movies, books, music. I’m constantly surprised by the story ideas triggered by all of the above, especially when paired with the question, “What If?” That’s what really fuels my imagination. :)

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three things do you need in order to write?

[Sydney Somers] Wine, chocolate and a personal masseuse. A girl can dream, right? Seriously though, I can write anywhere as long I’ve got my laptop, pen and paper (because sometimes I just have to hand write) and music. Music is a must.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What is the last book that you read that knocked your socks off?

[Sydney Somers] I recently finished Wait For You by J. Lynn (who also writes under Jennifer Armentrout) and it was my first New Adult book. I was really impressed with it!

[Manga Maniac Cafe] If you had to pick one book that turned you on to reading, which would it be?

[Sydney Somers] I adored reading Nancy Drew paperbacks when I was a kid (Betty and Veronica double digests don’t really count, do they?) For the romance genre though, it would have to be Perfect by Judith McNaught. I loved the whole kidnapped and forced intimacy storyline. Before that the closest I got to reading romance were the often tragic love stories in Danielle Steel books.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What do you like to do when you aren’t writing?

[Sydney Somers] When I’m not chasing after my kids, pretending I love to do laundry (doesn’t everybody?) or fighting my current addiction to Candy Crush Saga, I’m curled up with a book or trying to prove how kick butt I am at Black Ops 2. Emphasis on trying.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] How can readers connect with you?

[Sydney Somers] They can visit my website – http://www.sydneysomers.com
Friend me on Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/sydneysomers https://www.facebook.com/authorsydney…
Follow me on Twitter – http://www.twitter.com/sydneysomers
Nine Naughty Novelists Blog –
http://www.ninenaughtynovelists.blogs…

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Thank you!

You can purchase Busted and all of the other books in the Promise Harbor Wedding continuity from your favorite bookseller or by clicking the links below:

 

About Busted:

His game… her rules.
The Promise Harbor Wedding, Book 3
Hockey star Jackson Knight has a hundred reasons not to return to Promise Harbor, but none of them are good enough to get him out of attending his best friend’s wedding. Even with a career-ending knee injury, every puck-bunny in town will be gunning for him.
Worse, getting a pair of cuffs slapped on him at the bachelor party could ruin any chance of getting back in the game, even as a coach. Unless he can convince the arresting officer to smooth things over—by going to the wedding as his date.
Hayley Stone figures posing as Jackson’s girlfriend is the least she can do to salvage his reputation. Plus, having a man with a toe-curling smile on her arm will keep her ex off her back.
What starts as a simple plan to deflect small-town pot-shots unexpectedly becomes a sizzling night that hits Jackson like a full-body-check to the heart. Now he’s determined to prove that she’s the best of reason of all to come home—for good.

Interview with Elizabeth Chadwick, Author of Shadows and Strongholds and Giveaway!

 

Please welcome award winning author Elizabeth Chadwick to the virtual offices today!  Elizabeth’s latest historical release is Shadows and Strongholds.  After we chat about her book, you can enter for a chance to win a copy!

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Describe yourself in 140 characters or less.

[Elizabeth Chadwick] A time traveler who loves the Middle Ages, chocolate, chatting, her husband and her dogs. Oh, and the Marshal men!

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Can you tell us a little about Shadows and Strongholds?

[Elizabeth Chadwick] Certainly. It’s a coming of age story based on a family history that was written down in the 13th century. It’s set in England, on the Welsh borders, and is about a boy, Brunin FitzWarin, who is sent to be a squire at the great castle of Ludlow in the hopes that it will be the making of him after he’s had a difficult time at home. The lord he is sent to serve, Joscelin de Dinan, has two daughters. The younger one, Hawise, is something of a tomboy with a bright, forthright nature, and like no one Brunin has ever met before. There is also his lord’s ward, Marion de la Bruere, a pretty, dainty girl, who has her eye on Brunin as future husband material. It’s the story of how Brunin finds out just who he is amid the harsh realities of 12th century England with different factions fighting for the crown, and how Hawise and Marion learn their own often hard lessons as they mature during fraught times. It’s a historical novel that deals with events that actually happened, and has a fair share of swash-buckling, dramatic tension, well-seasoned with romance.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] How did you come up with the concept and the characters for the story?

[Elizabeth Chadwick] I found them in a medieval chronicle from the 13th century called The Romance of Fouke FitzWaryn. So this is based on the history of what really happened. Brunin FitzWarin and Hawise de Dinan did really exist, and this is the story of how they faced up to their challenges.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three words best describe Brunin?

[Elizabeth Chadwick] Deep, smouldering, courageous

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Name one thing Hawise is never without.

[Elizabeth Chadwick] Her determination

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three things will you never find in Hawise’s bedroom?

[Elizabeth Chadwick] Small silver bells (read the novel and find out why not!), Brunin’s grandmother, Ernalt de Lylse’s hawking gauntlet.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What is Brunin’s greatest regret?

[Elizabeth Chadwick] Not getting to hang out with his father as man to man.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What are your greatest creative influences?

[Elizabeth Chadwick] Pictures of artifacts from the Middle Ages, chocolate in all its forms, and heavy metal music.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three things do you need in order to write?

[Elizabeth Chadwick] Time enough in the day to do it, copious amounts of tea, thinking space.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What is the last book that you read that knocked your socks off?

[Elizabeth Chadwick] Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] If you had to pick one book that turned you on to reading, which would it be?

[Elizabeth Chadwick] How Far Back do you want to go? The Silver Brumby by Elyne Mitchell. That was the book that moved me on from elementary to more detailed reading.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What do you like to do when you aren’t writing?

[Elizabeth Chadwick] I go for long walks with my husband and dogs, I take photographs, I read, listen to music and I cross stitch if I get a moment.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] How can readers connect with you?

[Elizabeth Chadwick] They can drop me a line at elizabethchadwick@live.co.uk. Or connect at Twitter or Facebook, details at my website www.elizabethchadwick.com

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Thank you!

GIVEAWAY TIME!

Ready for your chance to win Shadows and Strongholds? Just fill out the widget below. Earn extra entries for following.  US addresses only, please.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

You can purchase Shadows and Strongholds from your favorite bookseller or by clicking the links below:

 

About the book:

A medieval tale of pride and strife, of coming-of-age in a world where chivalry is a luxury seldom afforded, especially by men of power.

England, 1148—ten-year-old Brunin FitzWarin is an awkward misfit in his own family. A quiet child, he is tormented by his brothers and loathed by his powerful and autocratic grandmother. In an attempt to encourage Brunin’s development, his father sends him to be fostered in the household of Joscelin de Dinan, Lord of Ludlow. Here Brunin will learn knightly arts, but before he can succeed, he must overcome the deep-seated doubts that hold him back.

Hawise, the youngest daughter of Lord Joscelin, soon forms a strong friendship with Brunin. Family loyalties mean that her father, with the young Brunin as his squire, must aid Prince Henry of Anjou in his battle with King Stephen for the English crown. Meanwhile, Ludlow itself comes under threat from Joscelin’s rival, Gilbert de Lacy. As the war for the crown rages, and de Lacy becomes more assertive in his claims for Ludlow, Brunin and Hawise are drawn into each other’s arms.

Now Brunin must defeat the shadows of his childhood and put to use all that he has learned. As the pressure on Ludlow intensifies and a new Welsh threat emerges against his own family’s lands, Brunin must confront the future head on, or fail on all counts….

Review: Peanut by Ayun Halliday & Paul Hoppe

 

 

Title: Peanut

Author: Ayun Halliday and Paul Hoppe

May Contain Spoilers

From Amazon:

"Before you write me off as a delusional psycho, think about what it’s like to be thrown into a situation where everyone knows everyone . . . and no one knows you." Sadie has the perfect plan to snag some friends when she transfers to Plainfield High—pretend to have a peanut allergy. But what happens when you have to hand in that student health form your unsuspecting mom was supposed to fill out? And what if your new friends want to come over and your mom serves them snacks? (Peanut butter sandwich, anyone?) And then there’s the bake sale, when your teacher thinks you ate a brownie with peanuts. Graphic coming-of-age novels have huge cross-over potential, and Peanut is sure to appeal to adults and teens alike.


Review:

When I received this book, I was a bit mystified.  Why, oh why would anyone pretend to have a fatal peanut allergy?  Baffled, I dug right into this graphic novel, intrigued to see if there was a compelling reason for Sadie to fabricate such a serious health issue.  After finishing the book, I have to say that I didn’t find it.  While the characters are likable, the rationale behind Sadie’s pretend illness just didn’t cut it for me.  Sadie’s little white lie, which quickly spirals out of control, is spun in an effort to be more popular at her new school. 

After talking to a girl about her medical alert bracelet, Sadie is so fascinated by the thought of having a severe peanut allergy that she orders a bracelet of her own.  I wanted to question how she was able to accomplish this, online, without a credit card or her mother’s knowledge, but I didn’t.  I just followed along with Sadie as she experiences the unintended consequences of her little lie.  A concerned teacher has her freaked out because she hasn’t turned in a health form, signed by her mother,  to the school nurse, and that EpiPen that she’s supposed to carry with her at all times?  Yeah, she needs a prescription to have access to that prop.  When a new friend asks to see it, she flips out on him.  When her new boyfriend thinks that she’s eaten a chip cooked in peanut oil, she realizes that living with this lie isn’t going to be easy.

The thing that kept me engaged in the story was Sadie’s fear of discovery.  Afraid to fess up to her new friends, she just keeps digging herself into a deeper and deeper hole.  She is terrified that the truth will come out, and when it does, that she will lose all of the friends that she’s made.  When reality does come crashing down around her, it is every bit as awful as she feared.  I think that the fallout was shortchanged, and that mending her bridges went too easy for her.  From her first day of school, the image of herself that she projected was all based on fallacy, and the small amount of page time given for her repentance was disappointing.

The art is quirky and it works well with the tone of the story.  I loved the splash of color from Sadie’s clothes. 

Grade:  C+

Review copy provided by publisher

Review: Strobe Edge Vol 1 by Io Sakisaka

 

Title:  Strobe Edge Vol 1

Author: Io Sakisaka

May Contain Spoilers

From Amazon:

Being in love can light up your life… A sweet love story that will warm your heart!


Review: 

When I first read the book blurb above, I thought it was pretty lame.  After reading Strobe Edge, though, I think it very accurately and very succinctly describes this high school romance.  Ninako is shy and reserved, and everyone thinks she and her childhood friend, Daiki will eventually get together.  Daiki makes no secret of his feelings, but he has never voiced them, leaving Ninako, who is kind of clueless, thinking that they are just friends.  After circumstances have her and school heartthrob Ren cross paths several times, Ninako discovers how kind and thoughtful he is, and she falls in love with him.

Strobe Edge captures all of the awkwardness and exhilaration of falling in love for the first time.  Ninako falls head over heels for Ren, and who can blame her? He’s gorgeous, and better yet, he is nice.  What a combo!  As her feelings for Ren grow, so does her guilt over them.  She has finally picked up on Daiki’s feelings, and she feels awful about her lack of feelings for him.  She blames herself for leading him on, and though she doesn’t want to hurt his feelings, she knows that she has to level with him.  So along with the giddy rush she experiences whenever she sees Ren,  she realizes that her feelings are going to hurt one of her closest friends.

I don’t want to spoil any other plot points, so instead I’ll urge you to give Strobe Edge a try if you enjoy series like High School Debut and Kimi ni Todoke.  This introductory volume will leave you smiling as Ninako slowly begins to blossom, shedding her reservations and allowing herself to come out of her shell.  She knows that her heart will more than likely get broken, but for the time being, she is enjoying how she feels about Ren.  Because she is so sweet, and because she is taking this huge risk, you can’t help but cheer her on.  Will things work out between her and Ren, or is Ninako doomed to heartbreak?  I don’t know, but I can hardly wait to find out!

Grade:  wavering between a B+ and an A-

Review copy provided by publisher

Review: Stepping on Roses Vol 8 by Ueda Rinko

 

Title: Stepping on Roses V 8

Author:  Ueda Rinko

May Contain Spoilers

From Amazon:

Poor Sumi Kitamura… Her irresponsible older brother Eisuke keeps bringing home orphans for her to take care of even though they can barely afford their own basic needs! Just when Sumi’s financial problems become dire, wealthy Soichiro Ashida enters her life with a bizarre proposition: he’ll provide her with the money she so desperately needs if she agrees to marry him. But can Sumi fool high society into thinking she’s a proper lady? Moreover, is it worth giving up everything for this sham of a marriage?

Sumi asks Nozomu to stop buying the land where she and Soichiro currently reside, and he agrees on one condition—Sumi has to leave Soichiro and become his wife instead! Faced with the possibility of eviction, Sumi must decide whether she’ll live in poverty with Soichiro or take Nozomu up on his offer…


Review:

Every volume of Stepping on Roses just gets better and better!  Each one leaves me dismayed when I reach the last page because I have to wait for the next release.  Rinko Ueda knows how to build  the suspense and the drama so that by the time you reach the last page, you are a quivering mass of emotions.  Some volumes that means being upset by the injustices Sumi has to overcome, and some leave you with an adrenaline rush, cheering Sumi on as she manages to stay true to herself and deal with adversity.  This volume left me pumped for Sumi – she’s finally had enough, and she is going to try to turn the tables on Nozomu.  You go, girl!  I only hope she can wage a battle against the crafty, unscrupulous Nozomu without compromising who she is.

Just when it seems as though things can’t get any worse for Sumi and her family, things do.  They get monumentally worse.  After being thrown out of their home by Nozomu, they are without shelter, have no money, and even less food.  They have lost everything.  Nozomu has poisoned the ears of most of Soichiro’s acquaintances, and nobody will hire him for fear of Ashida Product’s reprisals.  When Soichiro becomes ill and the doctor refuses to treat him because they have no money,   Sumi knows that she must give in to Nozomu’s demands.  She sells herself to him in order to help her family.  Poor Sumi!  Her desperation is palpable.  She will do whatever is required to keep her loved ones safe, and it’s not going to be easy for her.

What I enjoyed most about this volume is how Sumi begins to subtly exert her will against Nozomu.  She is passive on the surface, but underneath, she is learning the fine art of subterfuge  from her new fiancé.  He doesn’t care about anything but getting the best of Soichiro, and his single-mindedness is actually making it easier for Sumi to stage quiet rebellions.  With her reputation in tatters and her family’s well-being on the line, she doesn’t have much to lose.  I loved seeing her plans begin to bear fruit, and finished the last page with a feeling of elation.  I finally started to believe that things will work for her in the end, and I haven’t felt that positive about Sumi’s future in a while.   

One person  I would like to see more of is Komai, who I always liked, even when he turned traitor.  What is his deal?  Is he a traitorous scum?  Or does he somehow think he is doing what’s best for Soichiro?  Because there is no way that Nozomu, who is clearly psychotic,  could be a better employer than spoiled and over-indulged Soichiro.  I think?  Unless he really is evil?  Maybe we’ll find out in February, when the next volume is released!

Grade: A-/B+

Review copy provided by publisher

Weekly Shonen Jump Alpha December 31st Edition

So after last week’s epic 220+ page issue, this week’s weighs in at – 118 pages.  Kind of a let down for the New Year.  Anyway, let’s see what’s in this issue of Weekly Shonen Jump Alpha!

One Piece Chapter 692 – The fight between Luffy and Caesar Clown was a bit of a let down.  One punch and it was over.  Sigh.  All that build up, and one punch sends the guy flying into the stratosphere.  There’s plenty of commotion around the New World with the news of Caesar’s defeat, and Luffy and his gang are still trying to escape from the deadly poison gas, so I’m sure that they won’t get much rest, but still.  I wanted more.  Not a Naruto length fight, but a couple pages at least?  Hopefully the next set of villains will give Luffy a little more trouble.

Bleach Ch 520 – I had a little trouble following this chapter, due to my Bleach reading gap.  Shunsui Kyuraku has been appointed Captain General and  Squad One captain, and for his first task, he wants to teach Kenpachi Zaraki zanjutsu.  That doesn’t go over well, but Shunsui argues that with so many headed to Reiokyu, the Soul Society is practically defenseless.  To keep this somewhat spoiler free, he wants the “first” Kenpachi to teach him.  Argh!  I know that this must be an epic moment in the story, but because I haven’t been following it for – uh about a billion chapters, I have no idea the significance of this revelation.  The thought of jumping backward and trying to catch up is too daunting to consider.  And, oh, yeah, Ichigo didn’t rot, corrode, or combust in Tenjiro’s magic ponds, so he’s good to go for his next adventure! 

Naruto Ch 613 – Oh. My! The battle with Obito and Madara continues!  Ten Tails proves more problematic than the combined ninja force anticipated.  Things are looking grim!  Ten Tails is fighting back, and Naruto and his allies are helpless against the assault.  No! Injures are mounting, deaths are escalating, and the battle seems hopeless!  Just the way I like it!  How will the forces of good ever defeat the forces of evil?!  It might take another 10 chapters to find out, but I’m there all the way.

Toriko Ch 215 – This is the first chapter of Toriko that I found somewhat engaging.  I guess sparkling food always does the trick for me.  Brunch is spitting fire after a heated confrontation with Zebra, and he’s determined to beat Komatsu’s butt.  Komatsu’s hero worship takes some of the wind out of his sails, and when he sees how happy the remaining ingredients are and that Komatsu can hear their voices, he develops a new admiration of the runty little chef.  I still find the art bizarre, but Brunch’s sudden change of heart about Komatsu has me intrigued.  Will he just use the trusting little Komatsu to elevate his own position in the competition, or will they form a friendship that lasts beyond the cooking battle?  For a change, I ‘m invested enough in the story to look forward to next week’s chapter.

Nisekoi Ch 55 – The steal a kiss from Raku contest wrapped up in this chapter, and I hate to admit it, but it was pretty fun.  Tsugumi is unbelievably flustered at the thought of kissing Raku, and not just because he’s Chitoge’s boyfriend.  Paula is pulling out the stops to prove that she is every bit as skilled as Tsugumi, and because Tsugumi is so freaked out at the thought of kissing Raku, Paula quickly gains the upper hand.  Until Paula makes off with Raku, and Tsugumi begins to process her feelings for him.  Then – KABOOM!! She snaps.  I loved her solution to the whole kissing thing, and her reaction to Paula after the contest ended.  The art is generic, but I like the clean lines.  I just wish that Raku and Tsugumi didn’t look so much alike to me.

Cross Manage Ch 14 – I like this series a lot.  The non-date that might be a teeny weeny bit like a date continues!  Toyoguchi and Sakurai arrive at the sporting goods store, where Toyoguchi introduces Sakurai to Ryu.  Ryu is a jerk.  He plays lacrosse on a college team and is also a member of the national team. While he adores Toyoguchi, he thinks that Sakurai is being cruel by encouraging her to try to improve her lacrosse skills.  Ryu totally rubbed me the wrong way, and I so badly want to see him eat a huge serving of humble pie.  He is so dismissive of Toyoguchi’s ambitions to become a better player, and he comes across as a giant schmuck.  He wants Sakurai to quit as the team manager, and to ensure that he does, he challenges him to a lacrosse contest.  Because all disagreements and confrontations are settled by a contest in manga.  Usually an extremely one-sided contest, where the hero has zero prospects of winning.  Could you imagine what would happen if this was a trend in real life?  Obama could challenge Boehner to a one on one basketball match (or any athletic competition, for that matter), and that fiscal cliff impasse non-sense would be over!

No Kenshin this week *sob* 

Review: Stepping on Roses Vol 7 by Rinko Ueda

 

Title: Stepping on Roses V 1

Author:  Rinko Ueda

May Contain Spoilers

From Amazon:

Poor Sumi Kitamura… Her irresponsible older brother Eisuke keeps bringing home orphans for her to take care of even though they can barely afford their own basic needs! Just when Sumi’s financial problems become dire, wealthy Soichiro Ashida enters her life with a bizarre proposition: he’ll provide her with the money she so desperately needs if she agrees to marry him. But can Sumi fool high society into thinking she’s a proper lady? Moreover, is it worth giving up everything for this sham of a marriage?

Soichiro’s reputation becomes tainted when Sumi’s true background is exposed, and even his position as president of his company is threatened! Sumi feels terrible for the trouble she’s caused Soichiro, so she decides to leave him. Will Soichiro choose to let her go, or will he forsake everything for her instead?


Review:

I just love this series!  Rinko Ueda has a knack for telling beautifully illustrated romances with lots of angst and melodrama. These are better than afternoon soaps.  Seriously! If you ever enjoyed a soap opera, download the sample chapters from the Viz Manga website and start reading Stepping on Roses.  I love the elegant drawings and the historical setting.  The contrast between the wealthiest and some of the most humble Japanese at the time makes for so many opportunities to add almost insurmountable challenges to  Sumi’s life.  Now, after Nozomu’s diabolical plans, Soichiro has lost control of Ashida Products, and he’s forced to face a life of poverty head on.  After throwing his lot in with Sumi and refusing to give her up in order to keep his company, he’s discovering just how unpleasant life can be.  So long abundant food, clean clothing, and warm baths!  I used to despise Soichiro, but my feelings for him have completely reversed in the last few volumes of the manga.

Now, Nozomu, on the other hand, has turned into a complete slime ball.   After his plot to wrestle control of Ashida Products comes to fruition, thanks in part to Sumi’s lazy, greedy brother, he let his true colors show.  Brilliantly!  Complete with a new evil-guy, slicked back hairdo, all of his focus is aimed at destroying Soichiro and stealing Sumi away from him. Her feelings don’t matter to him.  All he wants is what his ex-BFF has.  What is wrong with this guy? How could I have so completely misjudged his character?  Nozomu is the perfect villain, because part of me still feels some lingering affection for him.  I can’t help it!  He was such a nice guy, and it’s hard to accept that he’s taken an irreversible turn to the dark side.  He always seemed so gentle and kind!  Maybe he still is, somewhere in there, under all of his jealousy and hatred for Soichiro.  I am so dying to find out what is going to happen next, so this manga is a great example of the correct way to use cliffhangers, at least to keep me engaged in the plot.  How can I not want to know what happens next, with all of these high emotional final pages? 

While Sumi slips seamlessly back into her former life, privileged Soichiro has a much harder time.  He was willing to give up his company so he could be with Sumi, but things aren’t going to be a cake walk.  He can’t find a job, Nozomu keeps popping up at the most aggravating times, and the loss of his company stings.  From being one of the movers and shakers to barely scraping by, Soichiro’s new reality is  going to test him in ways he can’t even imagine.  When is he going to start resenting Sumi for his reduced circumstances?  When will he begin to blame her for everything that’s happened?  I so want to hope that his feelings for Sumi are real and that he’s grown up and is willing to take responsibility for his new life, but I’m also afraid that he won’t. Argh!  Good thing I have volume 8 so I can get another fix soon!

Grade:  A