Welcome to Romance Roundtable: a feature where all four editorial POME Crones gather together to discuss a Harlequin romance manga. Today we’re discussing Amber by Night by Mayu Takayama (original novel by Sharon Sala). Get ready for spinsters who don’t need men, men who respect women, and the Not Insignificantly Problematic, inexplicably Southern backdrop that underlays it all.
Jenny: this book!
i WAS NOT ready for this book!
Ashley: Omg same
CC: let’s summarize the plot real quick before we get into it!
because boy did I have some real whiplash while reading this one!!!!!
it was the best of times; it was the worst of times; crone aunts; extremely unfortunate decisions for some of the side characters
Ashley: Young Southern librarian secretly works as a hot bartender to save up for a car to drive her elderly aunts around, becomes love interest of wealthy farmer???
Jenny: it was very Emma, but also not Emma at all
Ashley: The lovers must overcome her devotion to her aunts and her shame of…… Sluttily bartending
Jenny: i mean? must they overcome her devotion to her aunts?
CC: and then the farmer falls in love with her hot bartender self and spinster in training self. when he realizes how important her aunties are to her, he basically just decides to join their coven and they get married. protag wears a tacky wedding dress, the end!
Jenny: it was more like by the end they were some kind of sisterwives thing?
it’s kind of like You’ve Got Mail, except the hot farmer is Meg Ryan
Rachel: bonus though: there was a very good dog
Jenny: A VERY GOOD DOG
Also, so much #cronetent
Jenny: MS ROSEMARY is my hero
Ashley: I love Auntie Rosie
CC: lol can we change our “sheroes” tag to #cronetent
CC: i feel like we’re all approaching the #cronetent singularity here in 2018
Ashley: Even the protags were crone-ish by harlequin manga standards: 29 and 30
Like oh, wow ACTUAL ADULTS
CC: omg i know
so one thing i was not prepared for was
how southern this book was
CC: why name ur bar THE OLD SOUTH, what the FUCK
although admittedly I’d bet there’s like 100 bars in rural georgia called “””””the old south””””” sooooo
Ashley: matched the highly distasteful minstrel-ish character designs, very unfortunately
Rachel: yeah yiiikkkeeesss
CC: this feels like one of those times that a problematic element in some manga hit a problematic element in some romance novels
and they just absorbed each other in one big recurring series of yikes moments
in the background of a story about this aspiring crone falling in love with a for the most part sweet boy
Ashley: Ooof yeah real
I would actually highly recommend this book if it weren’t for that, I think it had the most original and surprising plot
a sweet romance! both parties were decent people!
being nice to each other!
he even said the words I like to read the most in all romance content:
Jenny: I RESPECT YOU
CC: WITH ALL MY HEART
Ashley: THAT WAS SO GOOD
Rachel: *clapping at the back of the theatre*
Ashley: Makes up for the fact that she is wearing, apparently, a monocle in that scene
CC: she was in a hurry; she could only take one lens to the hospital
we’ve all been there
so one weird thing that kept tripping me up: beauchamp is my grandma’s maiden name
so internally I just kept thinking about my own great aunts and uncles ha ha ha
none of my relatives are as intense as willy tho
Ashley: Haha that’s cute
Jenny: BEAUCHAMP WOMEN DON’T NEED A MAN
CC: (look i’d bet you $20 bucks my grandma would 100% agree w that statement)
Rachel: Willy is the one I want a whole other story about!!
I want to know about her in her YOUTH
as a HEARTBREAKER
Ashley: FOR REAL RACHEL
Clearly something HAPPENED
Jenny: it was all v granny weatherwax
CC: omg i knowwwww
Jenny: love that dude in the bottom right corner though
Ashley: Haha that dude is me
CC: this spread is a historic high point in comics paneling imo
Ashley: EPIC WILLY FACE
CC: crone of the decade, willy
ngl, most of my screenshots are of willy
Jenny: gotta remember her come Crone of the Year time
Ashley: Okay but low-key my fave crone was the meddling Mrs. Effie
CC: chaotic evil meddling neighbor
a messy bitch who lives for drama (and gardening, I guess)
Ashley: I loved how you had to work really hard to decipher she was talking to her cat
The cat was always like 80% obscured
CC: OMFG i didn’t even notice the cat
Ashley: Haha, point proven!!
Rachel: I am very curious how young Mrs. Effie and young Aunt Willy interacted
I’m just really stuck in this AU
where they…. lovers?????
Jenny: the boys pine over them, but little do they know
they are unattainable
Rachel: alternate suggestion: is Aunt Rosie Wilhelmina’s sister orrrrrr
Ashley: I’M SO GLAD YOU BROUGHT THAT UP
because come on
CC: wait ok
oh phew I thought for a sec that somehow I mixed them up and the other auntie was Effie
Effie was the rude neighbor right??
CC: ok cool!! phew!
wouldn’t want to insult miss rosie’s honorable character
yeah that’s what I think
i believe in this ship and will continue doing so until I get concrete proof I’m wrong!!
Jenny: beauchamp women don’t need a man
Okay you know what I do need tho
An explanation for why a river in Georgia… Has… Dolphins………..
Rachel: apparently it is a thing!! I had to google it!!
Ashley: Wait really??
I thought river dolphins were only in like, the Amazon
Rachel: Savannah is pretty close to the coast apparently
CC: whoa, the more you know
dolphins: closer than you think
Ashley: Wild, good job Harlequin fact checkers
Rachel: I mean, I had no idea
Harlequin romance has really taught me something here
not just about the power of love, or the power of large glasses to completely disguise a human woman
but also, aquatic mammals
CC: cokebottle glasses really are the ultimate disguise
Rachel: if it’s good enough for Clark Kent, I guess
Ashley: Listen. The glasses disguise doesn’t work if you have Ready Player One legs tho
Tyler was able to recognize Those Gams
Rachel: that’s TRUE
Jenny: she IS a superbabe
CC: i made the same face as his bud when i read that line tho
Ashley: I formally request a side by side comparison of Amelia’s legs and the Ready Player One poster
CC: so, speaking of tyler tho
i was so surprised he turned out to be a genuinely pretty good dude
I was SO EXPECTING that he was going to lose his shit when he found out about her double life
because as he so clearly states, he HATES L I A R S
but it wasn’t even A Scene!!!
I’m so impressed!
Ashley: Yeah! He got it
I genuinely loved the scene at the end where he’s like, I fixed your window and sawed this tree and oh, took care of the insurance adjustment
CC: [kisses fingers like a chef]
Jenny: that was nice. but also, i mean, he DID call in the middle of dinner, kind of forcing her into a) a date with him and b) a conflict with her aunts that he didn’t have to take any part in
Ashley: But Highly Enjoyable
CC: he did so much emotional labor!!!
and also actual labor!
two kinds of labor!
but also, fair point, jenny
Jenny: kind of threw her under the bus and sped things along fully w/o her consent
but i guess that’s what happens when her best friend mocks you for giving her space when she asks for it
that scene made me so mad
Ashley: Oh my God for real
Real men don’t take no for an answer HUSH LAYLEEN
L A Y L E E N
Jenny: all “she asked me to stop, so i did” and then the friend all “you did? you stopped? what a dummy? don’t you know mr collins was right?? don’t you know you’re supposed to give girls at least 3 opportunities to turn you down
before they can allow themselves to agree to a date??
CC: i had a friend in high school named Gayleen so I think that is at least adjacent to an actual name people have???
Ashley: Amelia did call herself a hussy for… Agreeing to a date lol
like, only hussies go on dates?
only hussies, what — leave the house after sundown??
there was another part where aunt wil is like — she’s a good girl so have her back before sundown?
what kind of haunted southern town
Ashley: Maybe her lesbian aunties told her only hussies go on dates *with men*
Jenny: ghost sluts
i hope that’s the next one we read
Ashley: We do know that ghosts are horny and immoral
CC: 100% would give up my turn to pick a book if harlequin manga publishes something called “ghost sluts”
Ashley: Ghosts Gone Wild
CC: but jenny i think you made a really good point about this haunted southern ghost town!
who!! lives here!
how is the bar full enough for amelia/amber to get tips every night???
WHO??? LIVES??? HERE???
Jenny: like i think technically this is a small town outside of savannah, ga
like something out of pokemon
that’s why her aunts don’t want her out
too many wild pokemons around
Jenny: it can be dangerous
wouldn’t it be great though if like, a jinx was the bartender
this is the AU i’m caught up in
that farmer’s dog is actually the dog from sun/moon
the one that you can ride on?
CC: oh that big doggo?
a++ 10/10 dog you can ride on
Rachel: but yeah I think the most attractive part of dear tyler is him taking care of the insurance
what an Adult thing to do
Jenny: honestly a Great Move
way 2 go
welcome to my bedroom, man who does paperwork
Ashley: Take notes, men of the world
CC: if a dude helped me save $1800 when buying a car I’d marry him on the spot
Jenny: she was really likable here!
Jenny: i had a kind of hard time w her throughout bc of how “i can never reveal my secret” she was the whole time
but she’s actually pretty funny!
p fun to be around
Rachel: and she bakes!!
teach me how to make buttermilk pie!!!
just like this sweet lady
Jenny: a good and underrated kind of pie!!!
CC: ok but
on the flip side
not of the pie, but of the lady
this is a terrible wedding dress
Ashley: Omg thank you for saying what needed to be said
Jenny: true — none of her outfits were great, i felt
CC: i feel that my main job around here is to be overly critical of every harlequin wedding dress
in that, I care about it, and I want this job, I submit my resume for the position
also I think I had a shirt with that kind of weird drapey thing in the front back in 2008
that I bought at ross
Ashley: I can attest to the fact that I have seen every single one of the outfits she wore in Florida in the 00s so
This artist did their research
CC: the Josie and the Pussycats (circa 2001) shirt dress L O L
Rachel: and man, her tiny, tiny arms
Ashley: Omg yes
Rachel: as a librarian, she should be more buff
picking up books all day
books are heavy!!!
Ashley: As a librarian and a bartender! Kegs are even heavier!!
Rachel: yeah jeez!!
Ashley: Final thoughts time??
CC: ya i am running low on content bc we really covered all the #cronetent
which admittedly was like 80% of my notes
writing down critical thoughts like
WHOA WHAT A CRONE
CRONE TOWN, POPULATION: ~3~ 4
well if y’all are ready for final thoughts I have mine!
Jenny: go for it
CC: amelia is Princess D from the D Kingdom
Rachel: THE ULTIMATE FINAL THOUGHT
CC: bless u, bless u
Jenny: my final thought draws on a line we haven’t talked about yet
but when Tyler or Travis or whatever his name is, is brooding about Amber, he goes to church and starts checking out Amelia
“maybe i shouldn’t be checking out women during church”
as if that’s not exactly what church was made for
forcing young people to mingle
sweaty hands clasping during the our father; as if that’s not what made church bearable as a youth
Ashley: so true
CC: jenny you gotta write the Sexy Church AU
Jenny: this book has lent itself really well to all kinds of AUs
the Sexy Church Young Will/Effie Pokemon AU
all about the summer at church camp when they began their pokemon journey and also fell in love
Ashley: Incredible, must have
CC: wow i wonder what church camp is like in pokemon
probably p wild
Ashley: Haha Rachel I snorted
My final thought is
Who the fuck is this
Rachel: YEAH WHAT THE FUCK
WHAT IS THE BACKSTORY HERE
I TOTALLY FORGOT
Ashley: Is that a ghost??? Who won’t go to sleep???
Evidence of town hauntings by horny randos??
Jenny: no it’s a flashback to when she was sneaking out for this date
like she’s talking about how she would never betray the people she loves
but all the ellipses are bc she actually just did do that
Rachel: OH she’s talking about her aunts falling asleep!
Rachel: I thought it was like, a flashback!!!
to like, something tragic!
Ashley: That’s very good reading
I could not figure it out, especially with the random floating eye
CC: yeah the eye was a weird touch
Rachel: ok, here’s my final thought
Rachel: u r welcome
Ashley: RACHEL THANK YOUUUU
CC: lol omg
Ashley: Her legs are somehow LONGER, I’m dying, I’m officially dead
If you want even MORE jokes about spinsters and nice men, head over to our Patreon for an even deeper cut of our Amber by Night takeaways!
Join us for our next Romance Roundtable, where we’ll recap Lord Calthorpe’s Promise and get you that classic, vaguely historical fiction-adjacent romance content we know you crave. Estates! Fancy British names!! Waterloo!!! We’ll see y’all there.