I received this book for free from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
In the last volume, everything seemed to be working against Tomoyuki and Akihito. Akihito was making arrangements for marriage, though never exactly willingly. The head of the Ishizaki family requested Tomoyuki’s service in exchange for help with the marriage arrangements. It seems a lot went on behind the scenes between that volume and this one. Volume 4 opens with Akihito shopping at the market (which would have been unheard of for someone of his rank). He’s moved to a small apartment, and is trying out life without titles or society. When Tomoyuki finds out about this, he’s furious. He’s been working for the Ishizaki family, but hasn’t been able to get Akihito out of his head. Akihito has called off the wedding and is planning to abandon his title in hopes that Tomoyuki can take his place.
This one was a slight backtrack from the engaging third volume. I’ll admit to part of my difficulties owing to the fact that Tomoyuki and Akihito spent so much of this volume apart. Their stories were connected, but they weren’t together, and they spent most of the volume working against each other. I found Akihito’s attempts to make Tomoyuki’s ambitions come true to be romantic, in a dramatic sort of way. He was willing to give up everything just so Tomoyuki could have all the things he ever wanted. Tomoyuki, on the other hand, is finally willing to admit that he cares enough for Akihito to stop him from ruining himself.
One character who’s been a little flat for me throughout this series was Ishizaki, Akihito’s best friend. In the last volume, he gained a little more depth when Akihito and Tomoyuki found out about his relationship with a courtesan. In this volume, Tomoyuki is constantly telling him that if he cares for her, he shouldn’t worry so much about his place; he should be with her if he wants. Ishizaki is quick to point out the hypocrisy in Tomoyuki’s words. I think watching Akihito and Tomoyuki swing back and forth between love and duty has made Ishizaki a little nauseated.
I’ll admit that some of the dealing with social ranks in this one confused me. I’m not completely sure how Akihito was accomplishing his task to give Tomoyuki his title. In the end, I think things were turning out more in their favor. I guess we’ll see for sure in the next volume.