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Title: Stepping on Roses V 8
Author: Ueda Rinko
May Contain Spoilers
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…
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!
Review copy provided by publisher