Ryu’s Musings – The Stanbury Crown Affair Vol 1-4

Posted on April 11th, 2011 by Ryu Sheng |

Notice: All Harlequin titles are only available as Kindle Books from Amazon, or on the eManga website. There are to date no printed page versions, and no plans for printed versions either.

01-9784596951441 ISBN-13: 9784596951441
Language: English
Direction: Right to Left
Pages: 128
by: Rin Ogata (Art), Stella Bagwell (Original Story)
Publisher: Harlequin K.K
Type: Mini-series
Genre: Josei, Drama, Romance

Synopsis:

The happiness of the royal family of Edenbourg, waiting for a baptismal ceremony of the king’s first grandchild, is broken by bad news – the king has been in a traffic accident. Princess Dominique runs to the site in search of her father, accompanied by the family’s High Counsel, Marcus Kent, who offers to escort her. Her heart races, as she has admired Marcus since childhood, but he abuses her respect with harsh words. This is the first of a four-story miniseries, The Stanbury Crown: Royally Wed!

02 - 9784596951458 ISBN-13: 9784596951458
Language: English
Direction: Right to Left
Pages: 128
by: Miho Tomoi (Art), Martha Shields (Original Story)
Publisher: Harlequin K.K
Type: Mini-Series
Genre: Josei, Drama, Romance

Synopsis:

King Edenbourg’s traffic accident turns out to be an abduction. Under orders from Princess Isabel, lady-in-waiting Rowena investigates the king’s disappearance by playing nanny to a son of the primary suspect, Jake Stanbury. While living with Jake, Rowena finds out he is a man of faith. She begins to be attracted to him as she becomes convinced of his innocence. However… This is the second of a four-story miniseries, The Stanbury Crown: Royally Wed!

03 - 9784596951557 ISBN-13: 9784596951557
Language: English
Direction: Right to Left
Pages: 128
by: Masami Hoshino (Art), Valerie Cassidy (Original Story) Publisher: Harlequin K.K
Type: Mini-Series  
Genre: Josei, Drama, Romance

Synopsis:

Was I kidnapped by an angel? While Edinburg kingdom is rocked by the disappearance of the king, Ben, a marine acting as a double for his cousin, Prince Nicholas, is kidnapped. As he lies strapped to a bed, he is met by a beautiful woman smelling of roses. Seeing guilt in her eyes, Ben is sure she’s taking part in this kidnapping against her will. Whatever her circumstances, Ben vows to protect her! Part 3 of the "Wedding of the Century Kingdom of Edinburg" 4-part miniseries!

04 - 9784596951632 ISBN-13: 9784596951632
Language: English
Direction: Right to Left
Pages: 128
by: Megumi Toda (Art), Carla Cassidy (Original Story)
Publisher: Harlequin K.K
Type: Mini-Series 
Genre: Josei, Drama, Romance

Synopsis:

The Kingdom of Edenbourg is shaken with the king’s disappearance. Princess Isabel decides to rescue her abducted father on her own. She plans to slip into a pub to find clues, posing as a married couple with Lieutenant Adam. "I will count on you when I get into trouble," the princess says to Adam, who tries to stop her because it is too dangerous. Adam prepares himself for the mission instead. On the day of the investigation, at the pub, Adam finds Isabel dressed so luscious that she looks like a loose woman! This is the final tale of a four-story miniseries, The Stanbury Crown: Royally Wed!

My second attempt at writing this, my computer crashed just as I was about to post it, and for some reason none of my drafts saved. Oh well, starting over from scratch again.

These four volumes form a mini-series revolving around the kidnapping of a King, and the trials and adventures of the various people looking to find him. This series is rather different as far as manga goes, in that the original stories, and the manga versions were all done by different people. The original series of novels were all written by different novelists, and the manga were all done by different manga-ka.

Right lets get stuck in then. The first of the series is called The Expectant Princess and is a good start for the series, though I have to admit to disliking the male lead, Marcus.

Dominique is an great leading lady she’s got a lot of personality. While trying to hide her own secrets she tries to find out the truth surrounding her fathers disappearance. I like the way her romance unfolds and plays out, her past coming to the fore, and the resolution was great, though expected. I liked her character design for the most part, though i do think she was a bit to childish in her design, given her past.

Marcus however for some reason never really sat right with me. Everything about him from his character design to the way he handles Dominique throughout the volume really just irritated me.

Rin does have a deft hand at the art though, and while I wasn’t totally happy with the character designs, you can not say she isn’t an excellent artist. The settings are all extremely well drawn with a lot of attention to detail, especially in the clothing’s and buildings.

This is a good start to the series and also works well as a stand alone volume.

The second in series, The Blacksheep Princes’ Bride, is i think, my favourite of the series, for several reasons. Character wise we have two lead characters that i really liked, Rowena our leading lady, and Jake or lead man.

Rowena is a great lead character, asked by her best friend to spy on the prime suspect in the king’s kidnapping, she reluctantly agrees. She goes in as the nanny to Jake’s child, Sammy. However Jake isn’t an idiot, and suspects that she was sent in to spy on him, and is fully aware of the fact that he’s the prime suspect.

Both have haunted pasts, and both distrust the other. This makes for an interesting relationship, and the way they develop over the course of the volume is really enjoyable to watch.  Sammy, Jake’s child is what becomes the glue for them, he becomes the bond that helps them over come their mutual distrust, and dark pasts. However this is short lived as Jake finds out that Rowena lied to him, and things look all set to fall apart.

The way the relationship plays out over the course of the volume is really well scripted, and I loved the way it was resolved. The ending was really powerful, not so much of the content, which in and of itself was awesome, but rather the way Rowena and Jake acted. It was so perfect for them.

Of the four volumes this was by far my favourite, and probably the only one I’d keep.

The third volume by contrary is the one i hated the most. Code Name: Prince, has got to be one of the worst titles I’ve read from Harlequin. However while i hated everything about it, it dose play a vital part in the story as it sets up everything for the final volume.

The female lead, Meagan, is just so damned irritating. Her personality is so damned wishy washy it’s hard not to want to slap some sense into her. I get that Masami was trying to get the characters personality across, but I think she failed big time.

Though i do think the character design was pretty good, though i do wonder if the design was really the right one for this character. Since it’s revealed not long after we first meet her she’s a mother, I feel that the design was to childish, a lot of the time she comes off as being a teenager more than anything.

Ben, the lead this time, was equally irritating. He’s supposed to look like Nicholas, but he doesn’t, which is a huge flaw in the setting. The way he acts with Meagan also just doesn’t sit right for me, he’s to willing and accepting help her. It really just didn’t feel or flow right for me.

The love aspect falls by the wayside for me in this volume, and instead i look at the facts that are revealed about the King’s kidnapping and the way those events unfold. While they’re far from being great, they are a good set of events which lead well into the next volume.

The final volume, An Officer and a Princess, was again a bit weak with the romance side of things. Though the story side of things was a bit better this time around.

After sifting through the list of names given by Meagan from the previous volume Princess Isabella decides to investigate on her own, with a little help from her bodyguard.

Isabella is a typical princess, and even when she’s slumming it it came out, resulting in a none to believable character. Her personality was a bit better defined this volume, though i found her advances on Adam to be a bit pathetic.

Over the course of the volume i kept wondering how she was never discovered, given the way she acts.

Adam, a man trying to prove that his father wasn’t a traitor, seems to be more focused on doing his job than on relationships. As a result i found his personality to be a bit flat. The way the main story progressed was rather well done, especially the red herrings and stuff. I loved how the series came to a conclusion, though I’d already figured out the bad guy way back in volume three. But that was because he just radiates evil in that volume.

The ending of the series was well done, and there’s nothing like the dramatic (if cliché) ending to get the blood pumping.

The big question however is, is this series worth getting? Personally I think that’s a yes. Despite my issues with the individual volumes, if you read them as a whole story they’re actually pretty decent, you get love, mystery, thrills all in one. You also need to remember that given the page counts, four volumes isn’t really all that much, works out around two normal volumes.

Harlequin did a really good job putting this series together, good choice of fonts, and no empty boxes this time. However i did notice a few spelling mistakes crept in, in one volume a prince was referred to as a princess, in another a child that in one page was called “he” was called “she” on the next. These are minor mistakes that should have been picked up on in the Quality Checking phase.

Having said that though, Harlequin have come along in leaps and bounds considering their first few releases. I am really looking forward to seeing how they grow, and am still hoping we get a few collected omnibus paper book versions.

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