She really knows how to kill me. I’ve been waiting to read this for almost two years! Even though there was a big “1” on the cover the first time I ran across this title, I didn’t realize there was more than one volume. Nabeshima is jobless and loveless when a friendly and apologetic gesture brings his attention to Takeda Kazumi, a woman who has just returned to Japan from America with her husband, Tsuyoshi. Nabeshima develops an interest in her and plans to steal her away from Tsuyoshi, but, much to his surprise, ends up falling for Tsuyoshi instead. Kazumi and Tsuyoshi’s marriage has been on the rocks, but they have a friendship beyond that, so their interactions don’t immediately appear strained, but they are.
Nishida is really good at painting a full picture of someone unraveling–really good. Sometimes the character will go with the flow and sometimes they do all that they can to fight it, but it’s more of a continuum than polar extremes. Tsuyoshi already has a superiority complex, but when it’s compounded by what he sees as threats to his manhood, he falls apart and it’s painful to watch. For his part, Nabeshima backs Tsuyoshi in a corner both emotionally and physically while he himself feels trapped by his feelings for a guy who’s manipulative, insecure, and at a complete loss in regards to who he really is or who he’s supposed to be. They both have their guards up, but they are constantly putting themselves at the mercy of each other. There is a rape scene and it’s not glossed over. How things play out after that makes complete sense with the characters in question–especially Tsuyoshi–and things don’t necessarily get fixed and explode into a happily ever after–not that anyone should ever expect that kind of thing from Nishida. This was a very good read.