To most young women, the prospect of marrying Sebastien Fiorukis, handsome Green businessman, ruthless millionaire and womanizer, would be an intoxicating dream come true. But to Alesia Philipos, it is a nightmare come true, as she finds herself being used as a pawn by her grandfather – the same man whom she has not seen in fifteen years – to exact revenge on the Fiorukis family for an avowed slight, no matter how attractive the package this deal comes wrapped in. The only reason that she agrees is so that she will have the money to see that her mother gets a much needed operation, the result of a terrible accident fifteen years before….. Grandfather flies her to the private island of the Fiorukis family, schooling her in her part – she is an emptyheaded heiress who likes nice things – and he dresses her very scantily, knowing it will catch her fiance's attention. Which it does, as she accidentally falls into his arms, and sees that he is indeed truly handsome. And which is also the opening gambit in Sale or Return Bride, a Harlequin e-romance by Kazuko Fujita/Sarah Morgan.
What Fiorukis doesn't know, and what is the means he is using to exact his revenge by using his granddaughter, is that Alesia cannot bear children, which means the end of the Fiorukis bloodline, as he has mandated a clause in the wedding agreement that they will stay wed until there is a child – which, of course, will not happen! The second condition is that Sebastien's bride will receive an agreed-upon stipend each month, which is how Alesia will pay for her mother's operation. Her grandfather truly is a very evil, conniving man indeed, and has expressed no interest in her for fifteen years, ever since the accident which took his son's life. The wedding duly takes place, and a tipsy Alesia almost spills the beans, including the secret that no one knows – that her mother is alive and a wheelchair-bound invalid.
The bride and groom dance the traditional first dance together, although they more closely resembly sparring partners than newlyweds, as he declares that he can do with her as he likes, he bought her in a contract. How can she possibly tell him that she has never been with a man before, that she is a virgin? He'd never believe it. For his part, he thinks she is simply putting on an act to seduce him, so he grabs her and kisses her for all he is worth, there on the dance floor….. and wowwwww!
Sebastien carries his bride from the reception, angry that he has allowed himself to feel anything for her, determined to impregnate her and be done with her, while a flustered Alesia wonders what lies beneath this hard facade he presents to the rest of the world? She tries to tell him that he is free to be with any of his mistresses, but of course he cannot beget an heir with any of them, so the wedding night commences…..
I still do not care for the reader which this emanga uses. If it is meant to give the illusion that one is reading an actual book, it fails. And much as I liked the premise of Sale or Return Bride, and tried to get into the story and the characters, the execution of the premise left something to be desired. It's pretty predictable. You have to know from the beginning that he will learn that she is not an airheaded rich bitch, and she will discover that he isn't the hard unfeeling unscrupulous businessman – that they will find something in one another to love, and they will discover other truths as well. And that all will work out in the end. And seriously, when a woman in a movie or book, be it manga or romance novel or what, professes a mysterious illness, can a pregnancy be far behind? The artwork is disappointing – even the drawing of Sebastien, while a very lovely man, is uneven. And sometimes Alesia looks downright creepy. It's a quick read, not an unpleasant one, but in the world of literary meals, it just barely qualifies as an appetizer. Frankly, you can do better, but if you are determined, then go ahead, and just accept it for what it is – a sip of second rate champagne, which falls across the palate and then is gone forever.
Comicsonline gives Sale or Return Bride 3 out of 5 hot Greek millionaires.