Can Someone Please Explain What’s Going On?! ~The Contract Couple’s Happily Ever After~, Vol. 8

By Tsuredurebana and Rin Hagiwara. Released in Japan as “Dareka Kono Joukyou wo Setsumei Shite Kudasai! ~Keiyaku Kara Hajimaru Wedding~” by ArianRose. Released in North America by J-Novel Club. Translated by Tara Quinn.

At long last, one volume until its finale, I think this series has finally learned what is fun to read and what is not fun. This feels like a normal romance novel, and does not contain any of the numerous red flags that previous volumes were infamous for containing. The downside of this is that… well, the book’s a bit boring? That’s to be expected, honestly. The main story has wrapped up. There aren’t many side couples to pair up either, though we do see that Rohtas has, in fact, been in a relationship for some time… but it hasn’t gone further because Cersis keeps him so busy. In fact, the story itself is a flashback of sorts, as Cercis and Viola’s adorable daughter is asking how she was born. Readers may be wondering that as well, given that Viola frequently seems to think of Cercis as an afterthought, and I’m still rather surprised the marriage has even been consummated. Oh well.

Viola’s pregnancy is not the main thrust of this book, which instead deals with what happened just before. She and Cercis are going to a party held by her friend Verbana’s family, which turns out to be another in a string of “please marry my grumpy and willful daughter” parties. It goes about as well as the previous ones have – Verbana doesn’t want to be married right now, especially since her one true love is, in fact, married to Viola, and radiates this from her entire body. But still, they get to see her family’s new estate, have a lot of tea parties, and go to a lot of evening ballroom dances. Unfortunately, this leads to the back half of the plot – at some point between arriving at the estate and that evening’s dance, Viola’s huge sapphire has been swapped out for a fake! Now she and Cercis have to play detective to catch the criminal.

I am pleased that this volume is back to being entirely narrated by Viola’s so we get her amusing and skewed observations about everyone else. Sadly, this also includes her poor self-image, which really takes a starring role here. No matter what, no one can seem to convince Viola that she has the looks of a tall runway model – she’s always going to be the plain stringbean in her own mind. (The funniest part of the book is towards the end, when Viola is about six months pregnant, and she cheers about having “bazongas” at last.) She also does not seem to understand why all the other women of the kingdom flock to her and hang on her every word. Oh well, better that than the alternative. The mystery itself is basically a string of “which family desperately in need of cash would do this?”, but I am quite grateful that for once all the potential bad guys are in fact rich nobles. This is a rarity in a series that tends to praise rich nobility.

The next volume is the last, and will no doubt have Viola giving birth. Till then, it’s nice to see a volume of the series that does what I hoped it would and does not feature evil foreigners or “LOL GAY” jokes.

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