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 PART 2!! by Rin Ogata (original novel by Sylvia Andrew). Join us for a riveting conclusion full of Regency mullets, terrifying horses, and queer undertones so lacking in subtlety that they’re pretty much just regular tones at this point.
Ashley: Okay – can anyone recap the first one quickly and explain where part 1 left off?
For the readers
CC: Well, in part 1, we met Katherine, a tall, headstrong, slightly less blond young noblewoman who was living with a hot officer and his mom following her brother’s death / her opportunistic, money-grubbing extended family mistreating her
yadda yadda they argue, they fight, they begrudgingly fall in love; then they’re at a ball and his hot married ex decides to Start Some Shit
[vol 2 begins]
Jenny: right — she escaped money-grubbing, abusive relatives by agreeing to be the ward of a hot military man and his mom
they live together
the mom asks her to fake-date her son so that she can make the slutty neighbor jealous
they’re collectively training her to be a ~lady~
Jenny: and vol 2 picks up w her lady training and the hot military man still a little bit into the slutty (and married) neighbor
i think in vol 2 katherine continues to be a super #relatable heroine
CC: i just realized that basically this book is pride and prejudice and rosamond vincy
Jenny: the manga mashup
so I guess to start off the discussion
even though I’m glad the creepy terrible cousin died, HORSES ARE TERRIBLE and I don’t know why we as a society pretend they’re not
Jenny: horses cannot be trusted this is true
Rachel: I did not see that hot take coming but I respect it
CC: I meant to say TERRIFYING but also, terrible
Ashley: I do not wish to offend the horse girls
Also as you know CC ebooks horse is my patron
CC: they are so big and scary and the only thing that saves us from being obliterated by horses is that they no longer have carnivorous teeth
Rachel: Omg that is such a good point
CC: horses get even a little spooked and kick your whole goddamned face right off
Ashley: Oh geez. They’re so dangerous I love them even more
Jenny: i loved this villain death though, tbh
the extended panel
Jenny: bc it was really a combination of horse and branch death
a v disney death
nobody’s fault death
Ashley: That was a GOOD PAGE
Rachel: This death was so brutal!! More than I expected!
Jenny: this whole book has been more than i expected tbh
Ashley: Agree Jenny
A lot of unexpected plot twists
There is one I’m glad never happens: Calthorpe never gives a second thought to the 17 year old
CC: i mean omg same
Jenny: yeah i was glad about that
CC: i feel bad laughing at this but I was grateful for this bitchy friend tho
Jenny: HELL YES
she was great and also a huge dick
CC: behind every bitchy friend is a bitchier friend
Ashley: LOL I loved her
I liked when this artist got real cartoony with the side characters and long shots
CC: there was a lot of fun goofy stuff in this one
i feel like this one was overall better than vol 1
but still the lettering was awful
Rachel: Lol yes the lettering is consistently terrible
Ashley: Omg the lettering ENRAGES me
CC: loved the extreme onomatopoeia sound effects with literally no lettering changes
arial pt 12 font: “crash”
feel like i was there
Rachel: My favorite onomonomedia was “FRUMP”
CC: oh man my favorite lettering/sound effect was:
CC: def gotta use that thick ass default font to make the cartoon yelling sound effect more emotionally impactful
Ashley: HAHA yeah that one was good
Would AIIEEE again
Jenny: lol bc they know so much about thoughtful font choices
ok i kind of want to talk about the slutty neighbor
i was really pleased w how much of this was about the slutty neighbor
Jenny: i def thought this was going in a different direction
CC: lol omg
Ashley: God, alas, we wish
CC: new romance comic idea
an imprint of seemingly straightforward romance manga
except they slide right into queer romance like 2/3 of the way in
instead of reading something with strong queer undertones that veers straight right at the end
Jenny: def, and it’s all about that lizzie bennet/caroline bingley energy
Ashley: Oh my God
Just a hard left into gay
CC: you just keep expecting that JK LOL I AM ONLY INTO THIS DUDE WE HAVE ONLY SPENT 9 PANELS ON moment and it
Jenny: the dream
CC: just putting that out there; harlequin manga, call me
Jenny: hire CC!
Jenny: but! sticking on this slutty neighbor thing
i think this book did some interesting stuff w POV!
Jenny: like, you get a lot from her perspective and from the rape-y cousin’s perspective
about like the pressures their parents have put on them
and why the make the decisions they make
it was interesting
they were really good foils
Ashley: aka, rich people are psychotic
But yeah, I agree, there was an unusual amount of complexity to the side characters
i think that really contributed to my enjoyment of it
and it’s not something we saw as much in vol 1
i think expanding gave this writer a lot more space to figure that stuff out!
Ashley: True!! Also, the one common thread is that Calthorpe ALWAYS comes off looking like the asshole
Even when interacting with the ex who should be the villain
CC: lol he’s so dumb
i did like that he is dumb + neurotic, which, weirdly, I found v relatable
CC: I WORRIED ALL NIGHT
Jenny: oh buddy yeah
He needs to relax
CC: all of his emotional responses need some recalibration
and I think he knows it lol
Ashley: Unfortunately in a Lord, that anxiety also gets expressed as like! Grabbing and mean-kissing
I LOVED when Katherine told him off and compared him to the evil cousin though
Jenny: oh! i want to interject real quick here: i think we did a good job summarizing what happened up to vol 2, but idk if we really got into vol 2
Ashley: Because TRUE!!! And she’s never really like, forced to go back on it
CC: Oh ya that’s a good point
Ashley: So, Katherine starts out really committed to her lady training because she wants to reel in that Calthorpe
But he totally bungles it when he first sees her after months of hard work
CC: then they go to a ball, have a fight, the mean girl gets some comeuppance, some other things??? happen?? and then the skeezy cousin throws Katherine down a well and gets kicked in the head by a horse as comeuppance from the universe and also nature
then Lord Calthorpe & some neighbors find Katherine in the well, they discuss true feelings, and then they get married
Rachel: Lol what he didn’t get kicked in the head
CC: oh W H O O P S i totally thought the horse got him
Rachel: Technically he got hit by a branch cause he was a dummy and he wasn’t paying attention, due to celebrating his evilness
CC: i do not retract my comment on horses tho
horses still scary as hell
Rachel: Lol fair!
CC: but! that lady training montage was fun and I enjoyed it
Jenny: a great montage frankly
love the face mask
CC: were regency face masks a Thing????????
i don’t think so??
but look at how serious and determined she is about that face mask
the most focused relaxation
CC: i thought regency skincare was just soap and facial serum made from the finest mercury / lead / elephant testicles
Ashley: Oh hey, can we talk about how in this weird pseudo-Napoleonic timeline there’s an award??? For like, hottest eligible maiden??
Jenny: oh jeez
what was it — like, star of the season or something?
Rachel: Debutante of the year!
That was nuts
Jenny: p gross!
ranking women by hotness
CC: to be fair, she got extra points for being “”””easy to talk to”””” ????
Jenny: and for being forthright w her opinions, which was cool i guess
Ashley: I found it perplexing and nice that everyone liked her for being honest
Jenny: yeah usually people don’t love that
Ashley: Like, yeah actually it would be nice if my Moods were attractive because they’re not going anywhere
CC: maybe she’s just chuckling and saying something like “Oh lord so-and-so, you DO go ON”
and they’re like By Jove, What An Opinion
bc that’s about as much of an opinion as you could have in public as a woman in 1810-ish
Ashley: Haha that’s true, she was trained
Oh gosh speaking of
I loved the scene where she ran off in the night to tend to her sick working class girlfriend!!
I was like, now this is romance
Rachel: Yes!!! That’s how it should have ended!!!
CC: riding into the country in the dead of night to nurse her back to health
Ashley: This story was a weird vehicle for other nice side stories
Jenny: i mean
this was great
and tilly was great
i also loved that the brother made another appearance, albeit in flashback
Jenny: (as long as we’re on the gay lover alternatives)
this was v “marry my sister and we could be together forever”
Ashley: Omg ????????????
CC: there’s def something there
Rachel: He’s very Heart of Thomas here :sob:
Ashley: Oh, shit, real
CC: omg yeah totally
can’t unsee it
Ashley: So. How’d y’all feel about the ending?
Jenny: oh before we get there
can we talk about the scene where calthorpe teaches katherine to dance
bc i loved that scene
Jenny: like the shitty dance teacher
was so good
and such a dick
and she just told him right off
Jenny: in the best way
CC: also wtf is this even
Jenny: yeah man idk idk
CC: even i know that kissing as a compliment is not and has never been a thing
me, who only knows 5 things
Jenny: bc when calthorpe sees what a dick this dance teacher is, he steps in to ~~ teach her to dance himself ~~ and then they HAVE THEIR FIRST KISS!!!
CC: the kiss in question:
Jenny: WHAT EVEN IS ‘a kiss of praise to a child or a sibling”????
WHO DOES THAT???
Ashley: Lol yeah wtf
Esp not open mouthed
Jenny: this was a fucked up time!
CC: the open mouthed kiss of praise
like u do
Hoo I’m tired
CC: katherine is great at calling this dude out and i loved it every time
she is v tough and brave and climbs out of a well because she doesn’t want to die in a hole in the ground
i liked her a lot
Ashley: So good ❤️❤️
I liked that even when they dumped her in a well she was like I AM STRONG
Rachel: I refuse to die in this dumb well!!
CC: I refuse to die!
213 years and still going strong!!!
Ashley: Hell yea
CC: I like that she was still pissed off at lord calthorp after he mean-kissed her
and that she wasn’t just like “oh cool ur mean-kissing has satiated my justifiable anger
a low bar but she vaulted right over it
climbed over it with painstaking effort
Ashley: Relatable yet again
Rachel: Finally! It took so long to find a heroine to get there
Ashley: That’s so sad and true
CC: i have ze headache
CC: ok but before we wrap up
i just want to salute my favorite side character of all
CC: I, MRS KENDRICK,
mrs kendrick tell me how 2 live
Jenny: she was GREAT
Ashley: MRS KENDRICKKK
I thought she was gonna like, cane her but she just ran her nice baths
Jenny: the best
the hero we need
Rachel: What do you think her LinkedIn page looks like
CC: omg rachel i bet it’s so scary
Rachel: What kind of recommendations have people written
CC: “mrs kendrick is a great teacher who i would never say anything bad about, especially if she was looking at me, also she is great; please stop looking at me like that; i’m sorry; i’m so very sorry”
200 linkedin endorsements for “scowling”
I’m gonna endorse the Pome crone in scowls right after this!!
CC: please do~~
Ashley: Life can be sweet
Jenny: link to our patreon special reward of “get a crone to endorse you on linkedin”
Also I liked how even at the end Calthorpe couldn’t be smooth lol
He insisted on being as awkward as possible
And also… Since there was no wedding scene… Do you think they briefly lived in sin?
Jenny: weren’t they always?
Rachel: I hope so!!! She’s gotta test the goods before buying
CC: i mean but also
Ashley: Omg he’s a total Mamoru Chiba virgin
CC: THAT’S WHAT IT IS
THAT’S WHY HE SEEMED SO FAMILIAR
Ashley: Lol we cracked the case yet again
As the official DAs of Harlequin Manga
CC: we need an official badge or something
Ashley: Nice nice nice
CC: mine is: this is a Good Dress
I loved the draping on the stairs, nice details
CC: what a neg
Jenny: the king of negs
Jenny: but yeah she looks great
fuck this guy
Rachel: My final thought is that I want to know what happened with Ivo! I thought he would be a real playboy but he ended up helping out!
Ashley: I knew he was good all along!!
CC: yeah what a lot of foreshadowing for v little payoff
ivo was hot and i was Into Him
Ashley: He’s like the brunette Channing Tatum of Regency manga
He should be bad but he’s actually good!
Jenny: i mean he did have a mullet though
that’s at least a little bad
Ashley: Lol that’s the Florida in me jumping out like “cute mullet”
Ashley: I wish I could think of a ridiculous British noun
Like a tiddlefrump
Ashley: LOL we both chose tiddle words
Jenny: tiddlefrump needs to be added to the OED stat
tiddlefrump sounds like a word for when you were expecting to see boobs but don’t
Jenny: ok my final thought
is that i’m still all in on this mom
i love moms and this is a great one
Ashley: She tells it like it is!!!!!!
So cunning yet sweet
Jenny: she knows how to rile him up!
CUNNING YET SWEET
Rachel: I love how she calls Calthorpe out
Jenny: that’s exactly it
CC: every time he’s being a tiddlefrump
she’s there to call him out
Jenny: LOL YES
CC: i’m just running with it now
Jenny: no it’s great
Ashley: it’s okay, we’re gonna make tiddlefrump happen
My final thought is
I want to be a rapist-murdering tree when I grow up 😥
I think if I wander around in some highlands and make a deal with a being of some sort it can still happen
Jenny: i believe in you
Rachel: Yes!!! Best possible reincarnation option
Ashley: Thanks y’all, I knew I could count on you
CC: it’s like a variation on the giving tree
and what it is giving
Jenny: now THAT’S a book to give to children
Join us for our next Romance Roundtable, where we’ll recap Seize The Wind: a Harlequin manga that may or may not be a vehicle for fart jokes — or, at the very least, sexy bandits.