Love for Dessert by Hana Aoi: C+

Published under Aurora’s LuvLuv imprint, Love for Dessert is a compilation of six stories, each of which culminates in a steamy situation. The stories range widely in terms of quality, though nearly all start out decently enough. Some even try to incorporate plot elements other than sex, like parental relationship problems or learning not to change oneself just to suit a guy. The problem usually occurs in the transition to a physical relationship; in some of the stories, it’s just completely out of the blue.

For example, in the story called “Bubblegum Princess,” the heroine has chopped off one of her ponytails after a jealous rival got vengeful with some gum. The hero, himself a stylist, has given her a haircut to even things out. On one page, the heroine is admiring her new ’do, and seven panels later, they’re suddenly going at it! Something similar happens in the title story, too, prompting the protagonist there to actually wonder, “How did this happen?”

More affecting are the stories where the love scenes actually grow out of what has happened between the couple. My favorite story in the volume, “Puppy Chow,” is about a college student who breaks up with her quirky boyfriend because he always asks her what she wants instead of taking the lead. After a brief reunion with a controlling ex, she realizes the good thing she had, and returns to the considerate guy. When they later sleep together, it’s sweet and also meaningful because she’s chosen a healthy relationship.

I’m not one for smut for its own sake, so several of these stories were simply too shallow for me. Several did offer more depth, however, so this collection isn’t wholly without merit.

Review copy provided by the publisher. Review originally published at Manga Recon.

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