A review of the first volume & first impressions
(NOTE: 18+ 🔞 NSFW review ahead!)
I'll Never Be Your Crown Princess! (Outaishihi ni Nante Naritakunai!!) is a manga based on the novel series of the same name by Saki Tsukugami with character designs by Enn Tsutamori. The 12-volume novel series ran in Melissa magazine from 2015 to 2018, and as of this post remains unlicensed. However, we do get some snippets of the novel in the manga. The manga is drawn by Natsu Kuroki. Serialized on Zero-Sum Online since 2019, I'll Never Be Your Crown Princess! is an ongoing fantasy, smut romance. This is the second title under the Seven Seas Steamship imprint, and it's my favorite release thus far.
Seven Seas describes the story:
Liddy, who was Japanese in her previous life, is now the daughter of a duke and engaged to marry the gorgeous Crown Prince Friedrich. Sounds like a dream come true—except this is a world that practices polygamy, and Liddy refuses to marry a man with multiple wives. To sabotage the engagement, she loses her virginity to a stranger, but that plan is thwarted by a surprising revelation. What will happen to Liddy next in this hot fantasy romance?
Crown Princess! is a fast-paced fantasy romance set in a European ambient world. The world has royalty, witches, magic and sorcery (not synonyms, and yes, there is a difference), and...interestingly enough no easily accessible birth control for women. (Hold that thought. Keep that in mind as I'll circle back later.) In this world, we follow two people Lydiana "Liddy" Von Vivoir and Friedrich "Freed" Von de la Wilhelm. Seven Seas' description of the story basically covers two chapters of the first volume. The story opens with Liddy's engagement and Liddy attending the party to lose her virginity to an infamous party boy at a masquerade party. She quickly discovers the infamous party boy is really the crown prince Freed in disguise.
Ch. 3 switches perspectives and tells how and why Freed was at that fateful party. Turns out Freed frequents these parties because he is "blessed" (cursed) with a high sex drive, and he can't obtain the medicine to control it so he disguises himself and frequents parties instead. In a funny twist of fate, the last party he decides to attend is how he inadvertently meets his betrothed Liddy. Freed fell in love with Liddy at "first sight" and decides to give her the "Royal Flower." While the sex between our leads was consensual, the "Royal Flower" is not.
If you're thinking the "Royal Flower" is a euphemism for pregnancy, fear not. Liddy prepared for the night by finding Derris, the only witch who can concoct birth control for women, and Liddy paid a lot of money for it. In this world, men are in charge of taking pills to control pregnancy, and Freed did not take any that night because he intended to impregnate Liddy and give her the "Royal Flower." While Liddy escaped being impregnated, she did not account for other ancient powerful magic that would tie her to Freed.
The manga doesn't really linger or explain this birth control plot point. There's no social commentary. It happened, and the story moves on. Overall, this plot point just feels like a "reverse Uno" moment for Liddy as she triumphantly tells Freed how she planned ahead followed by the irony that Liddy is tied to Freed anyway. I wonder if the novel expands on this birth control detail or just kind of lets it hang there too. Maybe there will be more to this particular detail down the line. In any case, Liddy learns in the 5th and last chapter of vol. 1 that she's bound to Freed through the "Royal Flower." She must be his crown princess!
Volume 2 opens with Liddy accepting her fate. The volume introduces a few new characters such as Derris the witch, Liddy's friend and confidante, and her childhood friend William Von Pelligrini. Additionally, Liddy and Freed start the royal engagement process in anticipation of their wedding. Freed wants to be married in 6 months, which is unheard of for a royal. The volume ends with some ~sexy times.~
Crown Princess! isn't the smuttiest offering under Steamship, but I think you'll be satisfied with what we're given. Storywise, volume 2 hints at a few plot points that could be explored later such as Liddy having magical abilities, Freed's hang-ups about lying and being lied to, and William's unrequited feelings for Liddy. (Yep, he's the childhood friend who's shy about love and confessed way too late, and by way too late, I really mean not at all.) Of course, we can expect Freed and Liddy's relationship to grow. Additionally, we can look forward to the royal customs, magic, sorcery, and other world-building elements yet to be revealed.
Finally, let's talk about the characters. Liddy is a strong-willed, resourceful, and sensible heroine, but she's dense when it comes to love (poor William!). Her past (and the isekai part of the story) factors in her blasé attitudes about sex. Liddy remembers her past as an adult Japanese woman, and she has experienced sex before. However, in the new world, her body is inexperienced as a newly christened 18-year-old adult, but her mind isn't. It's unclear as to whether the future volumes will build upon Liddy's past life or not. (I'm guessing the past life won't be a factor going forward.) So, if you're weary of trying Crown Princess! due to the "isekai" tag, don't be. While Liddy is a little cold and stoic, Freed is a lot more open with his emotions. Freed is a teasing, flirty male lead. He's also 21 years old, so 3 years older than Liddy. He's also the guy who acts first and asks for forgiveness later. Despite his teasing nature, Freed is serious about his duties as crown prince, and he's serious about Liddy. Lastly, and most importantly, they are both open to sex and sexual desire, and they have no qualms about it.
In summary, if you're looking for a fantasy, smut romance about royalty and fate with a flirty and head-over-heels-in-love male lead and a stoic and sensible heroine, you may enjoy I'll Never Be Your Crown Princess! If you can stomach the non-consenting "Royal Flower" and other #problematic themes, you may enjoy I'll Never Be Your Crown Princess! Finally, if you're looking for a dual POV romance with adults (18 and 21) who enjoy sex, you may enjoy I'll Never Be Your Crown Princess! However, if you're looking for a story where isekai plays a large role, you might want to look elsewhere. Also, if you're looking for a story with a heavy amount of smut and/or stories with consensual sex or stories where the relationship starts on even footing, you may also want to look elsewhere. (Note, the smut is front-loaded in volume 1, and it's in the final chapter of volume 2.)
Overall, I'm really enjoying I'll Never Be Your Crown Princess!. It's a decent story with characters I can root for and some smut, and I'm looking forward to more volumes. Note, that the English release has caught up with Japan so we're not going to see new volumes for a while. As of this post, only two volumes are available. In the meantime, you can check out Seven Seas' other Steamship offerings. If you don't like problematic fantasy romance stories, stay FAR away from Outbride: Beauty and the Beasts and the yet-to-be-released manga The Villainess and the Demon Knight. As of this review, I'll Never Be Your Crown Princess! is the least problematic fantasy romance in the Steamship catalog. If you need more royal romance stories, head over to WEBTOON, Tapas, or Tappytoon.
Check out I'll Never Be Your Crown Princess! via Seven Seas' website here.