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Visual Novel / Rose in the Embers

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Can true love overcome social classes?

Rose in the Embers is a Romance Game Visual Novel by Love 365 for iOS and Android devices.

The protagonist is a young woman born and raised in the farming village of Nagano during the Taisho period (circa 1912). After her father falls ill and her family is unable to afford treatment, she sells herself as an indentured servant to the strict owner of the Koibaroh Inn, located in the Capital. However, the protagonist soon realizes exactly what sort of inn she works at, when a 'noble' guest tries to force himself on her and the madam of the Inn makes it clear that she is fully expected to comply. The protagonist fights off the lecherous guest and causes a commotion in the Inn. It is when the madam is about to throw her out that the capricious Lord Kyosuke Takatsukasa offers to pay the madam double the protagonist's price.


With cash flying everywhere around her and guests scrambling to pick up the pieces, the protagonist finds herself being owned by this earl's son, to be his possession or be given to one of his friends: Takahisa Togo, the cold and aloof Imperial army captain; Misao Higuchi, the lascivious dilettante painter who lives in Koibaroh Inn; Tsukumo Kobayakawa, the snarky mystery author; or Atsuro Shibusawa, the kindly owner of the local Omurice Cafe.

As the protagonist finds her feet in the Capital and learns more about her employer, she soon discovers herself falling in love with whoever she ends up serving. But with the strict social classes of the time period in place, can this unlikely Cinderella and her chosen prince find happiness?


The game contains examples of the following tropes:

  • A Father to His Men: The soldiers under Takahisa's command adore and respect him, so much so that once a month, all of them descend on the Togo estate to give the place a thorough tidying up. It's the unconditional love they have for Takahisa that makes the protagonist see past his gruff and aloof exterior.
  • Affectionate Nickname: Higuchi likes to call the protagonist 'little princess' or 'kitten,' while Atsuro gently refers to her as 'little dove.' Kyosuke also compares the protagonist to Cinderella.
  • All of the Other Reindeer:
    • The protagonist doesn't have an easy time of it in either Kyosuke or Higuchi's routes, as the maids working in Kyosuke's estate or Koibaroh Inn shun her due to the perceived favoritism from either men.
    • Tsukumo faced scorn and ridicule growing up because of his Russian heritage.
  • Always Save the Girl: Atsuro will do anything to save Yae from the unhappy marriage she'd been forced into after he failed to elope with her. Even if it means committing treason against the government.
  • Arranged Marriage: As the only male heirs of their Houses, Takahisa and Kyosuke are expected to make a good match to carry on their line.
    • This seems to be the norm for the time period. The protagonist notes that even in her tiny village, love matches are discouraged, especially for women.
  • Attempted Rape: Happens to the protagonist in the prologue. The nobleman who attacks her returns in Misao's route to finish the job, but is thankfully thrashed by Misao.
  • Berserk Button: Lady Takatsukasa hates the camellias that the protagonist tends to on Kyosuke's manor, and orders them destroyed when she visits. That is because camellias were Kyosuke's real mother's favorite flowers.
  • Big Brother Instinct: Takahisa is completely devoted to his little sister Suzuko.
  • Blue Blood: Kyosuke's family is stated to be distantly related to Japanese royalty, and one of the matches Lady Takatsukasa tries to make is between him and a princess.
  • But Not Too Foreign: Tsukumo, whose mother was Russian.
  • Commitment Issues: Higuchi refuses to be tied down in anyway, from fleeing the demands of his noble family to refusing the affections of any woman who inevitably falls in love with him.
  • Dark Secret: A few of the love interests have one that the protagonist discovers in the course of their respective stories:
    • Takahisa's secret is ultimately subverted. The rumor the protagonist hears is that he murdered one of his soldiers to be promoted to Captain. The truth is that he had to leave the man behind in enemy territory during a mission gone wrong, and the decision continues to haunt him.
    • Atsuro tried to elope with a baron's daughter, which ended in disaster and ultimately led to her being married off to a boorish philanderer. He was cast out of the merchant class and had to give up his identity.
    • Kyosuke is the bastard son of Lord Takatsukasa and a maid, who died giving birth to him. His stepmother was unable to conceive, so the decision was made to pass off Kyosuke as her son and legitimate heir to their House.
    • Tsukumo is half-Russian on his mother's side. And considering the time period and hatred most Japanese have for Russia, he's gone to great lengths to hide any sign of his foreign heritage.
  • Death by Childbirth: Kyosuke's real mother, who was a maid and the mistress of his father.
  • Declaration of Protection: At the end of season one, each love interest makes the same vow to protect the protagonist from whatever fallout comes from their forbidden romance.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: When the gossip columns publish stories of Kyosuke sharing a secret dance with the protagonist, his stepmother gets the police involved to make the protagonist 'disappear.'
  • Everyone Can See It: In all routes, several characters comment on the protagonist's tendency to wear her heart on her sleeve. Thus, when the protagonist falls for a love interest, the main cast sees it immediately and tease her for it. In Togo's route for example:
    Kyosuke: I'm sure that Togo is aware of your feelings.
    Protagonist: W-What feelings?
    Kyosuke: Oh, that you love him.
    Protagonist: WHAT? How did you know?!
    Hishikawa: Because we have eyes?
  • Evil Stepmother: Lady Takatsukasa to Kyosuke.
  • Flower Motif: Fittingly, the mention of flowers runs through each of the routes, whether it's roses or lilacs or saffron. Most notably, the bloom and scent of flowers grows with the protagonist's feelings for her love interest.
  • Frame-Up: Tsukumo is falsely accused by a neighbor of being a serial killer that has been prowling the Capital, solely because he is part Russian and fits the physical description of the real killer.
  • Freudian Excuse: Lady Takatsukasa is a spiteful, vicious and vindictive woman who barely tolerates her own son Kyosuke and is especially cruel to the protagonist in Kyosuke's route. That said, she was humiliated by her husband, who got a maid pregnant and moved her into their manor. And when she couldn't conceive, she was made to pass off Kyosuke as her own son to protect the image of House Takatsukasa.
  • The Gadfly: Kyosuke comes across as this initially. He buys the protagonist on a whim, and can give her to one of his friends on another whim. In Atsuro's route, he has her placed in Atsuro's cafe to work for him, in exchange for Atsuro supplying him one month of free curry rice.
    • At the end of Takahisa's route, Kyosuke tricks Takahisa into thinking that he plans to seduce the protagonist, just to see what Takahisa (who has fallen for the protagonist but Cannot Spit It Out) will do. Cue Takahisa storming into Kyosuke's manor with demonic fury, to Kyosuke's smug amusement.
  • Gilded Cage: How Kyosuke views the life he's had. It's why he ventures into business deals despite it being unheard of for nobility, so he can feel like he's made his mark on the world as 'Kyosuke Takatsukasa', rather than the son of an earl.
  • Heroic Bastard: Kyosuke, whose biological mother was a maid to his father.
  • Indentured Servitude: The reason why the protagonist is in the Capital to begin with. She had to sell herself to the madam of Koibaroh Inn to pay for her father's medical bills.
  • Inter-Class Romance: The main obstacle to any romance in this novel. The protagonist is a maid and a poor country girl, while her potential suitors occupy the higher echelons of society due to being nobility.
    • Averted with Atsuro, who isn't of noble birth and was cast out of the merchant class for trying to elope with a baron's daughter.
    • Also averted with Tsukumo. His family wasn't nobility, but they were wealthy enough to give him a first-class education.
  • I Want My Beloved to Be Happy: Throughout Atsuro's route, the protagonist is in agony over her feelings for him while he continues to pine for Yae. Nevertheless, she resolves to support him in his scheme to free Yae, despite her heartbreak over the situation.
  • Love Hurts: Kyosuke thinks that love ultimately leads to tragedy, and scoffs at the idea that it can lead to any happiness. Considering the circumstances of his birth, it's not surprising he feels this way.
  • Love Triangle: In Atsuro's route. The protagonist falls in love with him, while he is carrying a torch for Yae, a noblewoman he'd tried to elope with. Thankfullly, Atsuro falls for the protagonist and is able to move on by the end of his route.
  • Multiple Endings: Par the course for the more recent Love 365 novels. There are two endings in each route: 'Fortune's Fool' and 'Favored Bold'. Getting the two endings unlocks the last CGI.
  • My Brother Is Off Limits!:
    • Takahisa's little sister Suzuko, who points a kitchen knife at the protagonist and warns her not to fall in love with her big brother, or else.
    • The same thing applies to Takahisa. When Tsukumo teasingly suggests that Suzuko's life might have 'a naughty male figure or two,' Takahisa's response is to flatly say that he will kill any man who comes near his little sister.
  • Nice Guy: Atsuro stands out because he's the only love interest who initially treats the protagonist with any sort of kindness, no strings attached.
  • Officer and a Gentleman: Takahisa.
  • Old Retainer: Miss Kiyo, the no-nonsense elderly housekeeper who runs Kyosuke's vast manor.
  • Precocious Crush: Suzuko has a not-so-subtle crush on Yamahisa, one of the soldiers under Takahisa's command. His response to her is...less than enthusiastic. The crush evaporates once Yamahisa turns himself in for attempting to murder Takahisa.
  • Promotion to Parent: Takahisa. At ten years old.
  • Royals Who Actually Do Something: Kyosuke, who goes into business ventures instead of living a life of idle luxury that is expected from someone of his station.
  • Shipper on Deck: Old Mrs. Fumidai in Tsukumo's route enjoys watching the protagonist's interactions with Tsukumo, and not-so-subtly hints that they should get together soon.
  • Shoo the Dog: After surviving an assassination attempt from one of his soldiers, Takahisa decides the best course of action is to send Suzuko off to live with a noble family - and the protagonist to work as Kyosuke's maid - with no warning and in his brusque manner, to protect them. Unfortunately, Tamahisa finds the protagonist before she arrives at Kyosuke's manor...
    • Tsukumo does this repeatedly to the protagonist during his route, so she doesn't find out that he's part Russian and a 'foreigner.' He is pleasantly surprised when she sticks around.
  • Sugar-and-Ice Personality: Takahisa.
  • The Tease: Misao. He lives in the Koibaroh Inn despite its reputation, is flirtatious at best, and his art consists of sensual paintings of women with their kimonos half-undone.
  • Trademark Favorite Food: Tsukumo loves pickled vegetables.
  • True Companions: The five love interests, who all come from different walks of life but are steadfast friends.
  • Used to Be a Sweet Kid: Takahisa, until the death of his parents at age ten. Having to raise his then two-year old sister by himself, and assume responsibility of their House for fear that distant relatives would take advantage of them - plus joining the Imperial army - , turned him into the aloof and cold man he is.
  • What Is This Thing You Call "Love"?: The protagonist has no experience when it comes to romance, lust and relationships. It takes her a while to realize that she's fallen in love.
    • In Misao's route, he initially rejects the protagonist as a muse because she lacks the sensuality of 'a woman touched by love.' As the route progresses and she falls for him, Misao decides to paint her portrait once he notices the changes in her demeanour.
  • When He Smiles: Takahisa, once he grows comfortable enough around the protagonist. It's his rare smile that makes her start to fall for him in his route.