It’s interesting how different a manga adaptation can be from a book. In Christine Merrill’s original version, we have a much kinkier, more amusing, and much darker Regency Romance. Mangaka Sachimi, however, makes everything lighter and fluffier, a carefree and sanitized version of a more robust novel.
Story: As long as she lives under his roof, heiress Penny Winthrope’s brother has forbidden her from reading her beloved books. In desperation, she sets out to find a husband willing to leave her to her studies in exchange for part of her inheritance. Adam Selkirk, meanwhile, has lost everything in a desperate gamble and decided to end his life so his brother can take over the title of Duke and hopefully do a better job. When they meet after a carriage accident, Adam and Penny come to an understanding – the commoner heiress will get a title and privacy while Adam will get his debts paid off. But Adam has a dark past and Penny her own secrets standing in the way to happiness.
The story is a redemptive arc: Adam regretting his past philandering and Penny hiding from a society that shunned her for being plain and intelligent. The story should be a slow burn as they come to know each other better but Sachimi keeps the book light and fluffy. No sex, just a chaste kiss, and a Duke who seems both clueless and hapless at the same time. The alpha male with a heart of gold is somehow transformed from book into a brainless manga handsome guy who is led along by our heroine. As such, it was a bit hard to really like him or get into him – we never got a chance to see what Penny might have seen in him.
The illustration work is, as always, quite lovely. It’s the older, 1970s “Rose of Versailles” type of drawing that, while incredibly historically inaccurate and muddled, is still lovely to look at (though I like the female character designs much more than the male). In all, a lot of the heart (and heat) of the original book are gone and so characters appear much more vapid and honestly kind of silly. Reviewed from an advance reader copy provided by the publisher.