Pick a song that you really like and share it on Monday.
Hajime no Koi – Nishimoto Rou
Hajime Mamiya decides to quit the yakuza business after the death of his boss. When riding on a bus, he meets Sho Kosaka, a college student who is close to his boyfriend. One day when Mamiya couldn’t forget Kosaka’s longing face towards his boyfriend, he reunites with him, who apparently works part-time at ‘Deriheru’. Mamiya doesn’t know how it feels to love someone, but he learns of Kosaka’s devotion to selling his body, and decides to buy all his time so that he doesn’t have to take other customers. A pure story of a slowly falling in love with a former yakuza who doesn’t know love and a college student who wants to love and be loved!
Yakuza BL is my jam, and here we have one bad boy turned first time gay with THE MOST GORGEOUS TATTOOS!!! Superbly rendered by the mangaka and showcased to fabulous effect!
Hajime no Koi is a play on the MC’s name, and falling in love for the first time. Hajime Mamiya started his life as a normal citizen when his boss died. On the bus, he contemplates love and what people sacrifice for it while staring at a lovesick young man, Sho Kosaka. Later, he meets him again and learns he’s a college student. Then much later, while looking at a sex working site he saw the familiar form and hired him.
The plot runs on the interplay of pure and criminal, starting with Hajime’s sincere attempts to live a normal life vs. how regular people see him. There’s his kind treatment of the naive sex worker Kosaka vs. how bad Kosaka’s supposed boyfriend treated him. There’s also focus on how pure and sweet Kosaka is, which leads me to my main gripe about this manga.
The characterization of Kosaka wasn’t done convincingly. The boy should have been adorable with his pretty face, blushy gazes and fluffy smiles. Instead, he pinged my yandere radar. And here I was expecting him to drop the sweet act any second and come at Hajime with an axe.
Things got a little better by Chapter 3, when Kosaka stopped peddling himself and became roommates with Hajime. And they adopted a cat. At this point, things were still very much platonic between the two, which is very endearing because they were rooting hard for each other to succeed. Kosaka is a vet student, and Hajime just landed his first legit job. It also helped we get glimpses of Kosaka’s thoughts, and ok, so he’s as sweet as he looks. Still, I didn’t warm up to him much.
Then, more complications arrived that only made me wish Hajime was paired with a different character, like his hella attractive former yakuza boss who’s now a law-abiding single dad or his food truck boss, which would make for an intriguing older men romance. My interest petered out, and I ended up skimming.
Tsk! I’m not having much luck with my BL manga lately.
Roaring Twenties Magic: Proper Scoundrels – Allie Therin
Don’t miss this standalone spin-off in Allie Therin’s acclaimed Magic in Manhattan universe!
Their scandalous pasts have left them wounded and unworthy—and hopelessly perfect together.
Sebastian de Leon is adjusting to life after three years spent enthralled by blood magic. The atrocities he committed under its control still weigh heavily on his conscience, but when he’s asked to investigate a series of mysterious murders, it feels like an opportunity to make amends. Until he realizes the killer’s next likely target is a man who witnessed Sebastian at his worst—the Viscount Fine.
Lord Fine—known as Wesley to his friends, if he had any—is haunted by ghosts of his own after serving as a British army captain during the Great War. Jaded and untrusting, he’s tempted to turn Sebastian in, but there’s something undeniably captivating about the reformed paranormal, and after Sebastian risks his own life to save Wesley’s, they find common ground.
Seeking sanctuary together at Wesley’s country estate in Yorkshire, the unlikely pair begins to unravel a mystery steeped in legend and folklore, the close quarters emboldening them to see past the other’s trauma to the person worth loving beneath. But with growing targets on their backs, they’ll have to move quickly if they want to catch a killer—and discover whether two wounded souls can help each other heal.
Proper Scoundrel is the first book of Roaring Twenties Magic, Allie Therin‘s latest paranormal historical romance series. It’s set in the same world as her acclaimed Magic in Manhattan series, also narrated by the always fantastic Joel Froomkin, a.k.a. Joel Leslie. The author excels at creating fade-to-black squee-tastic romances, like my favorite, Liar City.
I came into Proper Scoundrels blind, knowing only that this is a historical romance, so I was pleasantly surprise to learn magic is involved here. I highly recommend reading Magic in Manhattan first because the events in that series are heavily referenced here. I was scrambling a bit to piece together the events because early on, the names, concepts, and happenings were mentioned as if the reader is already familiar. Also, it might be spoilerish.
Sebastian de Leon, of the renowned magical de Leon clan, is searching for a killer. The de Leons are guardians of magical artifacts, one of which was stolen and reportedly in the hands of the person committing the murders. The next person on the killer’s list is Lord Fine, who was friends with benefits with the MC of Magic in Manhattan.
As far as the murder mystery goes, the mastermind is practically a given because you can suss out right away the moment they appear on page and very early in the story too. It was a matter of watching things unfold and come together in the action-packed climax. The fun is in watching Sebastian and his friends use their specialized magical skills during the investigation.
While I live for spectacular magical displays, I also love that the magic isn’t always bombastic explosions. There’s the bad guy Jack Mercier and his pyrokinesis, and there’s also Sebastian’s cousin, Isabelle, with her magical paintings and tattoos. They’re the kind that stays hidden or unnoticed unless you know where to look.
There’s ex-spy Jade and her telekinesis, very handy in a many situations, and her scholarly boyfriend, Zhang Wei’s astral projection, very useful in spying. I love worlds like these because they always make me imagine what kind of magic I’ll have if I am a character in the story.
Sebastian’s magic is considered one of the most dangerous among paranormals. He can cancel any magic, and he can also affect normal people by absorbing their auras. Of course, this adorable man has to be a fluffy sunshiny marshmallow who beats himself up for crimes he’s forced to commit under the control of the blood magic.
Lord Fine is a grumpy, cynical bastard who hates the world and loves only the fluffy marshmallow, Sebby. This trope is one of the swooniest tropes in Romancelandia, and while Wesley and Sebastian weren’t the most squee-tastic couple, their chemistry was sparks and fireworks!
Watching Wesley’s character grow was a joy to witness! My favorite Wesley moments are him with absolutely no magic in his blood cockily taking on the high-level paranormals with just his wits and a gun. Peak Wesley moment is threatening to shoot Powder Puff, his 70-year-old neighbor’s dog, to make marshmallow Sebby spill his guts. This was when they were still enemies. Cold. Stone cold.
Proper Scoundrels is an enchanting historical paranormal murder mystery centering around an international group of friends who keeps the world safe. It’s also a cute grumpy+sunshine romance between a sharp-shooting viscount and the cinnamon roll scion of an old magical family. All in all, thoroughly spellbinding, swoony, and fun!
4.5 Stars – perfection is only half a step away
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Before You Came by Autoheart for a book about two wounded disparate souls who discover they can help each other heal.
A white light continues
To shine bright within you
If I could, then I would
Do anything to make good
On the day before you came
Every view I ever saw was never good enough
There was little in my life that I was proud of
Did you know before you came?
I was selfish, I was horrible most of the time
I was thinking of myself, ignoring all the signs
On the day before you came
My priorities were muddled and I didn’t care
I didn’t care