This two-volume yaoi manga, Gerard & Jacques, came highly recommended through Jason Thompson's Manga: The Complete Guide (a very useful tool for the manga fan). The story follows a young son of an aristocrat who's sold to a brothel to pay off bad debt. The young inexperienced Jacques throws all sorts of filthy homophobic names at Gerard, his first customer, before he is taken, and consequently released from the brothel, as Gerard pays for his freedom, and offers him the challenge of a life of hard work. Jacques accepts the challenge and inadvertently ends up working for Gerard himself, where he ends up seeing his employer in a new light. This period drama contains explicit sex scenes and plenty of them. But it also has some confusing flashbacks that are so jumbled that it made me wonder if the pages were included incorrectly, and at the end of the day, despite the racy sex, I wasn't compelled to pick up the second volume. There just wasn't enough substance or emotion to hold my interest.
Nana (Volume 9)
This extra-thick volume of the shojo manga Nana contains a fifty-page bonus story featuring a secondary character who has had little face time throughout the overarching drama, and unfortunately pales in comparison to the dramatic tension Yazawa has weaved throughout the rest of the book. Osaki and Hachi have yet to have a real confrontation in wake of the shocking events from the previous volume, and the tension that builds before that heart-to-heart is palpable. Emotions are high and conflicting as the characters of bands Trapnest and Blast drift in and out of each other's lives, leaving devastation and confusion in their wake.