I picked up this series because it looked like it might be a bit more ecchi than it turned out to be ^_^; Alas, no smut here, but the story is cute, and, at 2-volumes long, it’s a fast read. I don’t know much about this author. I’ve seen a few of their short stories in some anthology volumes, but I think this might be their first stand-alone story. I really like the covers on both volumes — very eye-catching! This was somewhat difficult to get through, as many of the characters have accents.
The story begins with a flashback. As a child, our heroine, Akane, had a very traumatic experience. You see, one day when her family was visiting a kimono shop, Akane tried on a kimono, but a boy a little over than Akane taunted her. He laughed, saying she looked like a Kokeshi doll. He was so mean that Akane cried all day, and ever since that time, she hated that boy, YANAGI Rita, and hated all kimono.
Flash forward 10 years, and Akane finds herself once again back at that kimono shop. This time she is coming to live there as a free-loader. Akane is not looking forward to meeting Rita again, and sure enough, he hasn’t changed much in 10 years. Sure, he’s totally hot, but he is also still a jerk who, even after all these years, calls her Kokeshi-chan. Akane wants nothing to do with Rita, but it turns out that he is the heir to the kimono shop, and will eventually take over running it once he finishes university. Because Rita has such a mischievous personality (even his family admits this), they have a favor to ask of Akane — can she look after Rita and try to keep him out of trouble? Naturally, this does not sound like a great idea to Akane, but after being reminded that she’s being allowed to live there as a free-loader, she really has no choice to but to do as she’s asked.
Her task proves is a challenging one, as Rita is very handsome and charismatic. He is also extremely talented when it comes to selecting kimonos for customers and dressing the women. His good looks and suave public personality (not to mention his status as heir to the shop) make him quite a good catch, so of course women flock around him. In particular, there is a beautiful daughter from a local wealthy family that may or may not be engaged to Rita.
Even though Akane still feels the trauma from her childhood encounter with Rita, now she finds herself drawn to him. She even allows him to dress her in a kimono. After gaining some new perspective to his behavior when they were kids, she begins to see him in a new light. Could she be falling for him? But he is still so flirty and mischievous! How does he feel about her? Akane is a several years younger than Rita, and he treats her like a child. Or, even worse — as a doll to dress up. And what about the girl he might be engaged to? She is much prettier than Akane.
Rita is a very difficult-to-handle kind of guy. His behavior bounces from hot to cold, romantic to brotherly. Sometimes he seems to see Akane as a girl, and other times he seems to see her as a plaything. It’s hard to tell how he really feels!
This series is a decent read. Both Akane and Rita are annoying at times- she bursts into tears a bit too easily, and he keeps sending mixed signals, but I still enjoyed this story. It spans 2 volumes, with the main story filling 2/3 of each book. Each volume has an unrelated side story at the end, and I has happily surprised to see that the random story in volume 2 is a boys love story. You don’t see that very often in books that aren’t specifically BL-themed. The art in this series alternates between clean/detailed, and messy/cluttered. I will say that all the kimono are pretty, and I love the scenes that show Rita dressing people in kimono. He looks very sexy there 🙂