The story, which takes place in the fictional medieval empire of Saiunkoku, follows the adventures of Shuurei Kou, a descendant of a noble family that has fallen on hard times. Her father serves as librarian in the Imperial palace, a post which offers prestige and respect but little compensation. Shuurei teaches in the temple school and works odd jobs to make ends meet, but her dream is to pass the imperial examinations and take a post in government, a path forbidden to women. Shuurei's plans come to an abrupt halt when the Emperor's Grand Advisor makes a startling offer: join the imperial household for six months as the young Emperor's consort, and teach the Emperor to be a responsible ruler. If she succeeds, the financial reward will be great. The story details Shuurei's growing relationships with the Emperor and other members of the court, the intrigues that surround imperial politics, and Shuurei's commitment to better herself and her country.
It surprises me that this manga isn't more popular! (warning - some spoilers)
-Story: Starts out a bit cliched (attractive young girl roped into being a mock concubine/wife for attractive young royalty) but it develops a lot more after that point. I appreciated that the female MC (Shuurei) didn't fall in love with the king at that point, and actually removed herself from that situation once she had accomplished what she set out to do. There is a good balance in the story between action, politics, Shuurei's personal ambitions, and her relationship with the characters around her. I also felt like the pacing of the show
-Art: While the art didn't blow me away, it was definitely better than average, with good attention to detail and nicely drawn out backgrounds, which contributed a lot to the overall feel of the manga.
-Characters: I LOVE a strong-willed female character who has an agenda of her own, and Shuurei fit that bill nicely. She has a vision for her future, and although she does receive a lot of help along the way, she is also an instrumental part of making that dream happen for herself. Additionally, she is not a character to put aside her personal goals because of discrimination, hardship, or the romantic desires of the men around her. If you like this kind of character, I would definitely recommend that you read this manga simply because of her character. The story does eventually develop into a reverse harem, which I don't love, but the male characters who are involved are not too silly or over-the-top about it, and they still have a purpose in the story aside from just being a love interest for the female MC.
-Enjoyment: This was a fun story to read; serious at times, but overall light-hearted, without being silly. It had a good balance of plot development and character development. If you enjoy reading manga such as Akagame no Shirayukihime or Akatsuki no Yona, I would definitely recommend that you read this story as well.