I'm a librarian who loves anime, manga, and reading a wide variety of genres.
The first two thirds of this were better than I expected. The writing wasn't great, and details about English culture tended to be clumsily inserted, but the translation was fairly smooth and easy to follow. There were only a couple instances of misused commas and confusing pronoun usage. The premise was silly, but I was fine with that. Then one particular scene happened, and it ruined everything.
Edward, an English nobleman, is in a bind. If he doesn't get married before he turns 26, he'll lose control of the family estate and fortune. He doesn't actually mind this, because he figures his cousin Gordon (who'll get control of everything) will take care of him. However, others are planning on forcing him to get married, so he concocts a plan. He'll find the woman to whom he gave the family ring, pay her to marry him just long enough for him to secure his inheritance, and then pay her to divorce him. The situation becomes more complicated when he learns that the woman has already died and left the ring in the hands of Satsuki, a Japanese theater student. Eventually, Edward convinces Satsuki to dress as a woman and pretend to be his fiancee, in exchange for the equivalent of $600 a day.
Edward spent the first 40 or so pages of this book drunk – I kept picturing him with bloodshot eyes, which made it hard to think of him as “noble” and “gorgeous.” His alcoholism was explained as being a result of his boredom and bitterness. Growing up, his parents rarely showed him affection, and money could buy him everything he wanted but not what he really needed. Basically, sad little rich kid.
Satsuki wasn't all that much better. In high school, he had a supposed friend named Yohei. He talked to Yohei about theater, but only because Yohei was there and willing to listen. Then Yohei got accepted to Satsuki's dream acting school, while Satsuki was rejected. Satsuki could have applied again later, but his pride wouldn't let him accept the possibility of being Yohei's junior when he believed he was better at acting than Yohei. He cut all ties with Yohei, left his family behind, and went to London to study theater instead. This was not the best plan ever, and Satsuki soon found himself desperately in need of money.
The setup was kind of silly, and it was never satisfactorily explained why Edward couldn't just find another woman for the role of his fake fiancee. Something about “a woman might not be willing to go through with the divorce in the end”? Only Satsuki's cross-dressing could save the day! What luck that he'd had some practice with it, since, in Japan, the other theater students had always made him play the girl parts.
There were a few nice scenes. I enjoyed it when Satsuki passive aggressively struck back at Edward by telling him his full name, in Japanese order, rather than making it easy for him and telling him to call him “May,” the nickname he'd been going by since coming to England (although Akitsu went a little overboard with the whole “Japanese names are hard for English people to pronounce” bit). Edward and Satsuki had a few nice dates, and there was one reasonably sexy scene in which Edward and Satsuki practiced kissing so that they could look natural together.
This would probably have been a “meh, it was okay” read, except for one particular scene. It's a spoiler, but I feel I need to talk about it in more detail in order to explain why this story soured for me.
I don't know why Akitsu did things this way. It would have been an okay romance with a stupid ending, otherwise. Instead, it was a badly fumbled romance with a stupid ending.
One color illustration and six black-and-white illustrations. None of them feature explicit sex. There is also an afterword, in which the author writes about visiting London.
(Original review, with read-alikes and watch-alikes, posted on A Library Girl's Familiar Diversions.)