Romance Roundtable #10: Lord Calthorpe’s Promise

Welcome to Romance Roundtable: a feature where all four editorial POME Crones gather together to discuss a Harlequin romance manga. Today we’re discussing Lord Calthorpe’s Promise by Rin Ogata (original novel by Sylvia Andrew). Get ready for old-timey sexist inheritance laws, men who have never heard of emotional labor, ABBA, and at least one single woman doing it for herself!

Ashley: I’m excited to talk about this one because

Romance Roundtable #10: Lord Calthorpe's Promise

Ashely: Called out af
I think we can have a good time guessing these folks’ signs

Rachel: ok so! let’s start with a summary

Ashley: To me this was sort of sense and sensibility crossed with pride and prejudice

CC: my summary would be:

Romance Roundtable #10: Lord Calthorpe's Promise
[my english degree dot jpg]

Jenny: back-talking shrew escapes abusive relatives, who are scheming for her money, by sort of fake dating her dead brother’s boss

Rachel: handsome man dies at waterloo, but not before making his commanding officer promise to take care of his pretty sister. Rich relatives swoop in and treat her like shit, but eventually handsome commanding officer comes in and saves the day
BUT it turns out that there’s some HISTORY with another laddyyyyy

Jenny: well, commanding officer’s mother saves the day

Rachel: oh good point

Ashley: TRUE
I love Mrs. Calthorpe

CC: bc like every trash boy in history, he’s still hung up on some girl he sorta dated before he even DATED U like come on lord calthorpe

Ashley: Yeah, and he has a crush on Katherine’s evil relative, also Katherine, who looks like the ex.

Rachel: too many Katherine’s, I feel like they could have at least varied up the spelling to help us out here
2/5 british ladies from waterloo days are named Katherine

CC: and the ex is also maybe evil???

Ashley: She’s certainly a gold digger
Married a rich dude 20 years older than her

CC: get ????  that  ???? paper  ????  julia  ????
let me be honest with y’all from the start: lord calthorpe is at the bottom of my list of harlequin manga hunks
the minute he started trying to order me to drink hot milk i’d be donzo

Ashley: LOLLL

CC: he was weirdly really into hot milk
he brings it up like three times!!!

Ashley: He sure calls Katherine a shrew a lot for wanting to do normal things like live with her bestie in lesbian bliss


CC: he’s mad at her because she’s not super polite literally one minute after she literally fights off her creeper cousin???

Ashley: Lol yeah she totally slapped him
He’s very victim blaming when she gets sexually assaulted TWICE

CC: like, she’s mad but at least could she be, like, nicer about it lolololol

Romance Roundtable #10: Lord Calthorpe's Promise

Relatable content

Rachel: really the gold start panel of this whole book

Jenny: gotta be my new phone background

Ashley: Katherine might, in contrast to Lord Calthorpe, be the most relatable harlequin manga heroine yet
It only takes her like a day to decide she’s not taking shit from her evil relatives or ANYBODY

Romance Roundtable #10: Lord Calthorpe's Promise

CC: even the dippy love interest

And then she’s like, slapping dudes and telling them off and shacking up with her lesbian homeowner bestie

Romance Roundtable #10: Lord Calthorpe's Promise

Jenny: YOOOO
that best friend

Ashley: She rules


CC: yeah like on a governess salary???
bless her
charlotte bronte had a hard enough time doing that and she was a best selling author

Ashley: Lol for real
One thing I liked about this book for real was women helping each other

Jenny: YES

Ashley: Like, the relationship between Katherine and her friend is genuinely super supportive
Mrs. Calthorpe is basically a shockingly competent DV advocate

Jenny: i’d also like to point out that the friend and mrs. calthorpe are both the ones advocating hardest for this ship

Ashley: Haha, true

CC: i liked that even though her son is the ~ hero of waterloo ~, she doesn’t take him seriously at all


CC: she’s always calling him out for not knowing what the hell he’s talking about

Ashley: She’s like, stop ordering people around you dimwit

Romance Roundtable #10: Lord Calthorpe's Promise

Romance Roundtable #10: Lord Calthorpe's Promise

CC: she does all the emotional labor in this book

Ashley: Omg cc that scene with the first screen cap was SO GOOD
she spent like two whole pages telling him off for being a fuckboy

Rachel: such a classic
I mean, also, 4 months????
it took him 4 months to check up on this girl???
you promised a dead man, and you let 4 months go by
so disappointed in you, Lord Calthorpe  

CC: what else is he even doing???

Ashley: Okay that was a little confusing
Because the shitty rapey cousin clearly intercepted one letter
Sounds like it was the second one but, the pacing made it very unclear

Jenny: yeah that tripped me up too
i think the first letter was just one she sent thanking him for being good to her brother

Ashley: Ah!! I see

Jenny: and that was BEFORE she met her shitty relatives?

Ashley: That makes sense
I think you’re right
The second one was asking for help and he didn’t get that one, okay

Jenny: right
but she also didn’t get any of his
it was v The Notebook

CC: I’m also guessing the cousins threw those out???

Romance Roundtable #10: Lord Calthorpe's Promise

Ashley: Yeah, definitely
Omg that reminds me
This had to be the most obscene butchering of lettering we’ve seen yet

Romance Roundtable #10: Lord Calthorpe's Promise

Ashley: Like, Harlequin, what is your workflow???
Hiring an intern to use MS PAINT or??

Jenny: from the FIRST PANEL
it was so bad

Rachel: OMG YES

Romance Roundtable #10: Lord Calthorpe's Promise

Rachel: but also just, the placement
I do not know which direction to read these things in

Ashley: Yep, omg factual

CC: so much text and it’s all so hard to follow

Rachel: it was also an interesting aesthetic choice to use a sans serif font for Thoughts and a serif for Spoken Words

Romance Roundtable #10: Lord Calthorpe's Promise


Rachel: this drove me absolutely bonkers

Ashley: Same

CC: what we are saying is, hire us, harlequin

Rachel: seriously!!! we know how to use photoshop!!

Ashley: LOL YES

CC: we can promise u a 200% improvement in lettering quality

Ashley: this is also factual

CC: so, this is a divergence but
as a big fan of the book Vanity Fair, I was really excited about some Waterloo drama
& I feel like aside from one tragic Waterloo death at the beginning, I did not get what I was hoping for
just regular victorian novel inheritance law drama
but at least i got to feel like I sort of used my degree for something
and that was cool

Ashley: Yeah!! I bet some war stuff comes up in part 2 tho

Jenny: yeah, it’s worth mentioning, if we haven’t already — this is a two-parter

Ashley: Like just imagine Calthorpe galloping off for war the night after they kiss or something

Jenny: !!!

CC: calthorpe’s gotta deliver a good rant about getting crushed by mammon’s wheel in part 2 to make it all up to me

Jenny: lol

Ashley: I don’t even know what that is but he needs a good crushing
I feel like, they were definitely going for Darcy vibes but he’s too mouthy to be a Darcy
Like, you’re more attractive when you STFU guy

Rachel: “too mouthy to be a Darcy”
I love that

Jenny: i will say in his defense:

Romance Roundtable #10: Lord Calthorpe's Promise

Ashley: HAHA
Big chest is good

Rachel: and warm so we know he’s not a vampire

Jenny: love me some big chest energy
(did i use that meme right?)

i have no idea
i am over 30 now and don’t know how memes work

Ashley: Bahaha big chest energy, I’ll never get over it

Jenny: just warm and soft and big
just wants to hug
that’s the peak Big Chest Energy

CC: as much as i wanna believe this dude has big chest energy, he is also like
the lord of negs

Ashley: REAL

Jenny: that’s true — his personality is kind of shitty
not as shitty as the literal rapist cousin, but def not great

Romance Roundtable #10: Lord Calthorpe's Promise

this book is full of big smirk energy tho ngl

Ashley: OH ALSO
I was wishing he was in love with the dead brother, Tom!!!


Romance Roundtable #10: Lord Calthorpe's Promise


Ashley: Especially when he was like, low key hoping she’d look like him

CC: that’s probably what sparked this whole thing off!


CC: that good old romance manga trope, “i am in love with my best friend but this girl who looks like him is okay too”

Jenny: i have officially headcannoned that this is just a CLAMP-verse everyone-is-bi situation
like, the protag and her friend are in love
the love-interest and the dead brother are in love
but they have to move on because of death or class/capitalism
for the endgame back-talking shrew/king of the negs OTP

Ashley: I approve !!!!!

CC: 1812 high english society wasn’t ready for their love
also, you know, his untimely death at waterloo

Ashley: That’s so sad Alexa play The Soldiering Life by the Decemberists

But…this book had a lot of
grand proclamations about women
more than usual, even

Romance Roundtable #10: Lord Calthorpe's Promise

Ashley: omg I wanted to stab him lmao

Romance Roundtable #10: Lord Calthorpe's Promise

CC: but in a WOMAN????

Ashley: Okay that panel was low key my fave tho
Because he recognizes he’s being a dick and steers it back around

Jenny: i mean — he came to an alright conclusion here, but also
i’ll grant that it was a point in his favor, ultimately
but also i don’t want to know this guy

Ashley: Lol fair

Jenny: i will say, going back the unreasonable woman panel
like, she was reacting to a whole lot of change v quickly

Romance Roundtable #10: Lord Calthorpe's Promise

Jenny: like, these assholes just showed up and started making fun of her and her shit
then said they owned it all
and the whole time she was just like – can we chill for a minute so i can process?
but no one likes an unreasonable woman, so…

Ashley: Yeah 🙁

CC: unreasonable = all feelings

Ashley: Poor Katherine, honestly ahead of her shitty time

Jenny: she’s an inspiration

Romance Roundtable #10: Lord Calthorpe's Promise

Ashley: Lol goals

CC: I LOVED (and by loved I mean also HATED) how her shitty extended family turned on a dime when they realized she controlled all the money

Ashley: Ugggggggh they became even MORE manipulative!!

CC: she’s a better woman than I, bc I would have slid straight into Unreasonable Shrew territory and lorded it over them as much as possible

Ashley: Lolllll

CC: which is why i could never be the protag of a regency inheritance plot story :disappointed:

Ashley: Or perhaps why you SHOULD
Kate & Leopold, but Kate actually just back talks everyone even at the end

Jenny: i would love to see that
mouthy meg ryan

CC: now go churn me some creamery fresh butter or ur ass is out of the will

Ashley: YES

Rachel: man i hope so much that that’s what happens in part 2

Ashley: yeaaaaaaaa
I will say I am looking forward to part 2
The pacing was improved by having more room to work in

Jenny: yeah — i think we should talk about what exactly has happened to lead up to pt2

Ashley: the last part they show up to a Christmas party to sort of test the waters for Katherine’s upcoming spring debut
Hosted by Calthorpe’s ex
Which means they have to literally FAKE DATE!!!! THE BEST ROMANCE TROPE!

Jenny: YES

CC: bless mrs. calthorpe so much for pushing this event into a real fake date
she knows how awkward her dumb son is


CC: maybe mrs. calthorpe just gets bored at these parties LOL

Ashley: she did not want to go at first, lbr

Rachel: or bored over her upper crust life probably
that’s why she’s so keen to take in Katherine

Jenny: i mean there was no TV back then

Ashley: LOL TRUE

Jenny: no harlequin manga either
what’s an old lady to do

Rachel: this is the closest to The Bachelorette that she’s gonna get

Jenny: lol yes

Ashley: hahahaha
That’s all the non-crone ladies had back then

CC: a similar thing happens in emma (by kaoru mori, not the jane austen novel); so, it must be historically accurate

Jenny: must be

CC: there is something important we haven’t discussed yet tho
this girl isn’t blond but
via the cover, she does have lovely auburn hair
was that a ?? thing??? to have a complex about back in 1812 england????

Ashley: … no clue tbh

Rachel: (shrug)

CC: everybody keeps bringing up the fact that she could really MAKE something of herself if she had been blonde

Ashley: HAHAHA

CC: even her dead grandpa!

Ashley: I mean… I don’t think much has changed in that respect lol

Jenny: yeah — brown hair, “amber” eyes — too plain; not like this blonde hair blue, blue eyes business  

CC: i guess i feel like light auburn to blond is like, splitting hairs
: )
if u will
:     )

Jenny: lol

Ashley: Well Auburn is sort of reddish which I think might be seen as kind of poor-looking
And the *whispers* Irish…

Rachel: the hair of the proletariat

brown hair energy

Ashley: Hahaha
My last thought is…………
I’m glad I don’t live in Napoleonic england
Sorry that’s weak but that’s it

Jenny: i mean, i’m right there w you bud

CC: i think that is a legit take tho

Jenny: it seems shitty
like a shitty place

CC: also i got one i think you will all appreciate
my final thought is
-the real inspiration for this book????

Jenny: bless

Ashley: Lolll

Jenny: the untold story of lord calthorpe and the dead brother

CC: omg sob

Jenny: (Tom/Fernando?)
or FernADAM
bc adam calthorpe


Jenny: my final thought is more of a kind of gross and hopefully unintentional observation
I don’t like or trust the brother
i get that he’s dead and probably this won’t come up
but our first introduction to him is p gross, i think

Romance Roundtable #10: Lord Calthorpe's Promise

Rachel: YEAH

Jenny: what is this artist doing??

CC: y i k e s
also i bet his ass isn’t even dead
he probably has amnesia in france RIGHT TF NOW

Jenny: YES
what a TWIST

CC: creepy ass bro is gonna come back and sweep up the whole inheritance
and spend it on baguettes
and rowboats to spring napoleon out of elba

Jenny: lol i would too though (baguettes, not napoleon)

Rachel & CC: lol

CC: yet another case we have totally nailed

Jenny: hire us, harlequin!  

CC: we’d write the best juicy romance comics AND we’d even letter them properly
all the amnesia would be semi probable

Rachel: here for this
Also! i’m out of things to say
i mostly wanted to yell about fonts

CC: every time I saw an out of center piece of text, i imagined it stabbing u through the heart, rachel

Rachel: lol yes
ok my actual final thought is more of a prediction

CC & Jenny: oooh

Rachel: here is what I predict for part 2

Jenny: YES
lay it on me

Rachel: ok Calthorpe’s ex is gonna try to get on that D, and Calthorpe is gonna get weak but not give in
but Katherine’s def gonna stumble in on them in a compromising position

Jenny: oooh

Rachel: she runs out, because she DOESN’T love him (she swears) but also she doesn’t know why she CARES so much

CC: rachel you are so good at this
[kisses fingers like a chef]

Jenny: harlequin: HIRE RACHEL

CC: +1

Rachel: THEN there’s going to be an epic resolution, potentially involving Calthorpe going to battle against the French
he gets wounded
Katherine comes to his aid

Jenny: yes yes yes yes yes

Rachel: they reconcile and make out hardcore
that’s the end

Jenny: BLESS

Rachel: if there was a part 3, then i predict that he actually gets amnesia because of the battle

Jenny: YES

Rachel: and resolving that is the plot of the final part of the trilogy

Jenny: fuck harlequin — the hallmark channel needs you

CC: I have a small addition to your prediction: we gotta see a wedding dress

Rachel: oh hell yeah!

CC: and i predict it’ll be, typically, an empire waist dress pretty close to the one kate wore to the party but with a veil and tiara

Romance Roundtable #10: Lord Calthorpe's Promise

Rachel: and he’ll look into her eyes and say
“i love you even if you have poor-colored hair”


Rachel: and she’ll say “great ok thanks”
“you may kiss the bride”

CC: “here is some hot milk”

Jenny: hot milk~~
like semen

Rachel & CC: LOL

Rachel: that’s when we get the steamy epilogue you can only download as a 12 page ebook

CC: damn

Join us for our next Romance Roundtable, where we’ll recap Lord Calthorpe’s Promise VOLUME 2!! That’s right: two whole Romance Roundtables about the sexy, sexy undertones of 19th century inheritance laws and spirited women who just say whatever’s on their minds, like “please stop trying to steal my mansion” or “do not throw me down a well, please.” Get hype! 

All images within this article are sourced from Lord Calthorpe’s Promise by Rin Ogata (original novel by Sylvia Andrew) unless otherwise noted.

Jenny Mott

Jenny Mott

Jenny is just a Silly Nerd with a lot of Feelings about Comic Books and Friendship and also This Capitalist Yoke We All Share; she enjoys Dogs and Sleeping and Cartoons. Her three favorite words are: Breakfast All Day.
CC Calanthe

CC Calanthe

If you prick your finger and write “Cat Fancy” on your mirror during a harvest moon, CC will appear behind you and make you put human clothes on your pets. CC is Head Crone in Charge at POMEgranate Magazine, as well as the co-host of Moon Podcast Power MAKE UP!!
Ashley Gallagher

Ashley Gallagher

Ashley writes comics and emails from zir burrow in the Pacific Northwest. Ze is a sentient subtropical swamp fern whose favorite food is old words.
Rachel Weiss

Rachel Weiss

Rachel is a designer and artist from Texas. She is pro-feminism, pro-crones, and pro-dogs. She's also Boss Crone at POMEgranate Magazine, and one day hopes to be able to drink her tea without so much milk and sugar.
A collage featuring the top 10 crones of the year for 2023.

Crones of the Year 2023

As we spiral ever further towards certain catastrophe on this interminable mortal coil, there are some lights of hope that pass fleetingly by. Most often: the crones or otherwise eternal baddies found in all of our favorite escapist media. And so we present our top ten 2023 Crones of the Year.

read more »
POMEgranate Magazine