Grade : C+

With art by Nikki Smith & Sarah Winifred Serle

It’s not every day that I get to review a romance-related manga at AAR, so I was delighted to read the spicy Ruined, the story of a woman whose social status has been ruined by rumors – and a man who needs someone with cash enough to help him restore the family seat.

Catherine Benson is entering into a loveless marriage to improve her reputation. It’s been rumored that she was despoiled by her former crush, though the details surrounding the incident are very fuzzy. The man she loved is engaged to another, and now no man of honor will touch her.

Andrew Davener is marrying Catherine for her inheritance. His estate is crumbling down about his ankles and he hopes to use her dowry to restore it. He – embittered by his family’s past – is determined to live for his business and plans on keeping a separate residence after their wedding night.

Catherine and Andrew are total strangers on their wedding day; they vow not to let something like love interfere with their hopes and plans, though they will try to get along. Unfortunately – no matter how hard they fight, and how much Catherine pines for her first love – affection seems determined to pull them closer. But can true love really blossom between them? Or are they destined for more pain?

The art is cherubic; while sometimes this is cute, it often comes off as undetailed and overly indistinct, especially during the sex scenes.  The end result is something weaker than it could have been. Very muted colors, however, help to build a very lush and delicate feeling. So while the art is a mixed bag, and the plotline does drag a bit, Ruined is still a warm-hearted and provocative read. There are a lot of classic romance tropes on display here; even ghosts. And we get a secondary romance between Catherine’s worried sister and her closest friend.

But those tropes do run a little thick. Hero-with-a-tragic-past meets heroine-who-is-hung-up-on-someone-else, until she realizes she wants a real marriage, which disarms him and makes him do something hurtful. Love ought not to blossom but oh, does it. All of this makes for a fast-paced read.

Just a warning for those who might not be expecting it: this one definitely has some nudity and on-page sex going on. So if you’re sensitive to seeing on-page genitals this isn’t the book for you. But if you’ve never read a manga-based romance novel, Ruined is a perfectly decent place to start.

Reviewed by Lisa Fernandes
Grade : C+

Sensuality: Warm

Review Date : December 2, 2023

Publication Date: 11/2023

Review Tags: graphic novel

Recent Comments …

  1. “What follows next is the Forced Seduction scene. Sigh! I had heard these were popular in romance novels written in…

Lisa Fernandes

Lisa Fernandes is a writer, reviewer and recapper who lives somewhere on the East Coast. Formerly employed by and Next Projection, she also currently contributes to Women Write About Comics. Read her blog at, follow her on Twitter at or contribute to her Patreon at or her Ko-Fi at
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