Title: Ciao Ciao Bambino
Author: Momoko Tenzen
May Contain Spoilers
When Kaname starts his new part-time job, he doesn’t expect to fall in love. He is thrown in to confusion when he meets Yuuta, and soon he can’t stop the pounding of his heart or the butterflies in his stomach. Will he be able to keep his cool, or will Kaname fall head over heels for his student?
Most of the stories in Ciao Ciao Bambino feature student/teacher relationships, which is usually not a favorite of mine. I really enjoyed these sweet, discreet romances, though, because they focused on romance and not on physical relationships. It’s rated 16+, so the material is very tame, and I liked it better because of that. The book celebrates the shyer, giddier side of love, and the relationships are very uplifting.
Yuuta looks like a girl, and when Kaname saves him from a thug, he thinks he just rescued a girl. Yuuta doesn’t take offense at his mistake, and instead he develops a crush on the awkward Kaname. This story was fun because it takes place over a period of several years, starting when Yuuta is in middle school, and following their blossoming relationship as Yuuta matures. I have to admit that I was a little put off by the age difference, but the relationship is presented in such sugary confines that I quickly got over my objections. In addition, Yuuta grew up to be one hawt number, so there is no possible way that Kaname could have resisted his determined pursuit.
The next chapter explores the growing feelings between Yuuta’s friends, Kei and Mako. This one is cute because neither boy is really interested in each other, but once someone suggests that they do have a thing for one another, they realize that they want to be more than friends. Both boys are pretty clueless, and so they were a good match for each other.
The book finishes up with Kana, a high school student who harbors a forbidden crush on his tutor, Nakahara. The usual angst ensues, including jealousy and self-doubt, and the characters are likeable enough that you get caught up in their confusion and uncertainty. Nothing is too deep or too over the top on an emotional level; instead you have a solid romance with two attractive guys who don’t quite know how to express their feelings.
I haven’t cared for Momoko Tenzen’s art in the past, but I must be getting used to it because I liked it here. All of those impossibly pointy chins still give me pause, but the characters are good-looking, the emphasis is on facial expresses, and you never have to guess how anyone is feeling. It’s all evident, through every bashful blush or shy curve of the lips.
Readers looking for a steamy romp won’t find it here, but Ciao Ciao Bambino piles on the romance instead. This would be a good introduction for someone just venturing into the BL genre; it’s a solid read with likeable characters and engaging situations.
Review copy provided by June