Title: Pilgrim’s Castle by Violet Winspear & Misuzu Sasaki
Publisher: Harlequin K.K./SOFTBANK Creative Corp.
Available at eManga
Pilgrim’s Castle is an old-school Harlequin, written by one of the launch authors for the Harlequin Presents line. This manga title brought back memories of my school days, when I gobbled up as many category romances as I could get my hands on. I’ll admit that Violet Winspear was never a favorite, but I did read quite a few of her books, usually titles with exotic settings. Those are still my favorite, because I still don’t have the budget for travel to foreign locales.
This title felt dated to me. Written in 1987, it features a demure heroine and an extreme alpha male. Yvain is the survivor of a shipwreck, and when she washes ashore on wealthy Juan’s beach, he promptly takes her home and nurses her back to health. Yvain is British, and she was employed as a maid for a rich couple when the ship sank. Juan invites her to stay at his spacious villa as long as likes. Yvain is a bit afraid of the gruff Sicilian, and the mean housekeeper doesn’t make her feel very welcome.
As Yvain settles into life on the island, she is confused by the mixed signals she gets from almost every character in the book. The housekeeper meddles into her business and warns her away from Juan, a friendly young singer isn’t as nice as he seems, and Juan is distant and aloof. All of the drama is enough to give a girl a complex, and since Yvain doesn’t have a healthy self-image to begin with, she is understandably distressed.
One of the aspects of Violet Winspear’s writing that I have never liked is how distant her heroes are. They rarely speak, making meaningful conversations both sparse and difficult, and they are detached from their surroundings. While this leads to a lot of anxiety on the part of the protagonist, it does not equate to romantic behavior in my mind, and that is what is lacking in this title. There is hardly any romance leading up to the Big Declaration and the Happily Ever After.
What did I like about Pilgrim’s Castle? The same thing I usually like in a Winspear story – the setting is gorgeous, Yvain’s new surroundings are to die for, and even if he doesn’t know how to gently woo a young, impressionable young woman, Juan certainly can afford to buy her beautiful things. So, sadly, I only found Juan appealing because of the size of his bank account.
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