Here’s the recipe for Ichijinsha’s Iris Bunko Yuri Light Novels:
Take a princess, (must have blonde hair and be 16) and have her told about 80 times that being married is a woman’s greatest happiness, then make her marry someone icky.
Add a savior whose hair, eyes and clothes are all the same color, (she must be female and 17 years old).
Spice it up with sexually suggestive older woman who makes everyone uncomfortable. Fold in horse, carriage, bath scene and at least one kidnapping/arrest.
Soak overnight and cover with a light frosting of being on the run. Read at room temperature.
Double Engage: Itsuwaru no Hime ha Kishi to Odoru (偽りの姫は騎士と踊る―ダブル・エンゲージ) best exemplifies, in my opinion, the word “mediocre.” There was nothing wrong with it, although Princess Diana is a tad more clueless than I enjoy in my lead characters. And there was nothing stellar about it, although Diana and her female knight Effie kiss, several times, in a real kiss-like manner, not just chastely pressing their lips dryly onto the other’s.
And, despite the possible threat of men who don’t really care about Effie’s or Diana’s happiness, there’s really only one actually semi-threatening scene and that comes from the female brothel owner who puts Diana on the auction block (where she is, of course, rescued by a disguised Effie.)
There’s even a vaguely sort of semi-realistic conversation about what the two of them will do, since they can’t get married, really, that is thrown in just before they ride off together into the sunset without resolving the issue at all.
Nonetheless, there was no doubt as I read this book that we were just going through the motions.
Which kind of leads me to wonder – why is “entertainment for women” so gosh-darn dull? In “entertainment for men,” women wear very little, but they *do* alot. It seems to me in these Iris imprint novels, the women wear great big fluffy dresses covered in flowers and they get dressed and undressed a lot (something that to me always implies that, regardless of who the imprint *says* it’s for, they expect that audience to be at least in part male) they don’t *do* much. There’s a lot of talk of love and stuff, but what’s the point of a story about a knight and her princess in which the only fight the knight has is with a combat-knife wielding maid? (Well, actually, there is a point. That maid will show up in the other novel in the series, but you know what I mean.)
It’s not like there wasn’t a great set-up, Some years ago, Diana’s throne was taken over and she wants to regain it. Threatened with marriage to someone she does not love in the country to which she has been exiled, she runs away, accompanied only by her beloved Knight, Effie. The king that has taken Diana’s throne is none other than Effie’s father! Effie, renouncing her existence as Princess Euphemia to be Diana’s Knight Effie, swears to kill her father and her two brothers, if she has to, to regain Diana’s throne.
The king dies when they get there and they decide to just, you know, leave. The end.
Really, this was not *bad* it just wasn’t *good.* Dear Ichijinsha. Please, no more princess stories. You just don’t know how to write them.
Overall – 5
It turns out that there’s a second Double Engage story, about Effie’s brother Arwain and the combat knife-wielding maid, written by the same author. My wife asked, “Would you read it?” and without hesitation I said, “No way.”