“And then you didn’t bring me my tea! Do you know how disappointing that was?”
Usually I cringe when I see a character in drag on the front cover of a BL book. All too often it means the character’s going to be humiliated by being forced to wear drag (as if dressing like a woman were an inherently shameful thing), or that he’s going to be “feminised” in a way that has more to do with stereotypes of femininity than actual female traits. So I was pleasantly surprised to open up Maid in Heaven and find that main character Midori wears a maid’s outfit because… he’s a maid, and the outfit’s a practical one to wear while he’s working. It isn’t treated in a fetishistic way at all… at least, not at first.
But I’m getting ahead of myself. The story: Midori is the grandson of Akane, an experienced maid to the rich Kosaka family. Akane falls ill, and Midori takes her place in the household, only to find that Asagi, the master of the house, is not only cold and bossy, but is only 18 — the same age as Midori. Midori is clumsy and inexperienced, but he is determined to work hard (even skipping school) so as to gain Asagi’s respect. One thing leads to another, and the two grow very close — only to find that people keep interrupting them before they can get as close as they want: Asagi’s brother, the head maid, the butler, Asagi’s uncle…
Maid in Heaven is funny and charming; a sprightly romp that doesn’t take itself too seriously but isn’t so light as to be entirely without substance. Midori is an endearing main character, and Asagi has that cool seme appeal without being the kind of ridiculously competent all-knowing badass that stretches credulity; he has his moments of confusion and misunderstanding that make him vulnerable, and that makes him all the more likeable, and makes his relationship with Midori easy to root for.
The story is opened up further by the secondary characters: Asagi’s younger brother, his uncle, his butler; Midori’s grandmother; Wakatake, the head maid. Their well-meaning interference frequently gets in the way of Asagi and Midori’s relationship — there’s a running gag about the two of them being interrupted during sex — but it’s all in good fun and makes sense for the characters.
All in all, Maid in Heaven is light, fluffy, comedic fun — a very pleasant read.