Thursday, December 24, 2020

REVIEW: Eternal Love (book) written by Mizumi Takaoka, illustrated by Yukariko Jissohji, translated by Translation By Design

Eternal Love is contemporary m/m romance published under Digital Manga Publishing's Juné imprint. I bought my copy used. I think it might be out of print in physical form, but copies are still available for relatively cheap, and the e-book is available for purchase. 


Tomoyuki works for the planning department of a Japanese trading company. When he's told that his company requires someone proficient in English and Arabic to travel to England for an emergency business trip, he thinks nothing of it. However, it turns out the trip is a sham arranged by Tomoyuki's ex-lover, Aswil al-Murshid. Six years ago, Tomoyuki had fallen in love with Aswil, only to have his heart broken at the revelation that Aswil was next in line for the throne of the country of Madina. 

There's no way Tomoyuki could ever have a future with a man like that, so he's confused and upset when Aswil suddenly shows up and has him kidnapped. The two of them can't marry, and Aswil will soon be marrying someone else, so does Aswil mean to keep him like some sort of mistress? As much as Tomoyuki still loves the man, he doesn't think he can live that kind of life. But will it be possible for him to escape?

I don't know why I have so many Juné novels - most of them are terrible and rapey, and this one is no exception. In the first half of the book, Aswil has Tomoyuki drugged, forcibly kisses him, and has sex with him despite his protests. He refuses to tell Tomoyuki his plans, if he even has any, and at least one instance of rape appears to be inspired by jealousy - apparently he found out that a guy had occasionally been staying at Tomoyuki's place and assumed they were lovers (they weren't, but that didn't matter either way).

Tomoyuki still loves and is attracted to Aswil, but that doesn't mean he's happy with the idea of being kept cooped up for Aswil to have sex with and then toss aside as he wishes, so he spends much of the book trying to get away. I actually thought his interactions with Zafar, Aswil's cousin, were overall more pleasant than his interactions with Aswil, unfortunately.

The sex scenes finally became less repugnant a little over halfway through, and a solution to Tomoyuki and Aswil's romantic plight popped up almost out of nowhere - I expected some of what happened, but one character relationship revelation seemed to come out of the blue, especially considering how one of the characters had previously behaved.

This could easily have been written without any rape - some early scenes in which Aswil tried to convince Tomoyuki that he really did intend to find a way for them to stay together this time would have been nice, and would have made the book overall so much better. Unfortunately, that's not how things went.

The writing/translation was a bit clumsy and repetitive, but it was overall a quick read. Although it was pretty bad, it somehow still managed to be better than The Aristocrat and the Desert Prince, the one other Juné "sheikh romance" I've read - less internalized homophobia, and Tomoyuki was an okay main character, just stuck in a difficult situation.


Several black-and-white illustrations throughout, one-full color illustration, and a short afterword by the author.

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