Welcome to Romance Roundtable: a feature where all four editorial POME Crones gather together to discuss a Harlequin romance manga. Today we’re discussing No Ordinary Man by Kayono Saeki (original novel by Suzanne Brockmann). Get ready for Serial Killers, Terrible Men, Terrible Men who are also Serial Killers, and a whole lot a Florida.
Jenny: this was so much
so much more than i expected
Rachel: ok full disclosure — i read this like 2 months ago when we first got it so i am going to be partially rediscovering this book as we talk through it
i will be the Jim for this group
and experience this book through our readers eyes
CC: before we get any farther, wanna start off with a summary?
Jenny: serial killer romance
lounge singer is a profession that still exists, i guess
CC: men: the worst — a summary
Rachel: UGH NASTY
CC: how are these TWO DIFFERENT CREEPS
Rachel: same creep, different wig
i mean, not really but
CC: same dude, same fivehead
Ashley: They both look like serial killer Jim Careys
i loved this lady’s look though
that heart of thomas big head aesthetic
CC: big head of thomas
Jenny: she was serving the whole time tbh
like this was the opening
Ashley: she was definitely the most striking of our heroines so far in terms of the originality of her look
Jenny: STRONGK Decisions
Ashley: that’s a big Step On Me mood right there
Jenny: lol v true
Rachel: i was honestly a little thrown off by this opening!
i was like OH NO
this is going to be some gross predatory stuff
and we haven’t had enough martial arts heroines like our last one
Jenny: i mean you weren’t too off-base
def it was some gross predatory stuff
Jenny: yikes on bikes — a parade of yikes
Ashley: Yeah it was wild… Honestly felt way more like a horror manga than romance
a lot of the romance stuff felt kind of tacked on
Ashley: The love interest managed to be both extremely bland and a potential murderer at the same time
Jenny: a fine line to tread
CC: love that she definitely cared but like…..did she???
(that he may or may not be a murderer???)
Rachel: she had a Thirst
Jenny: LOL dick too bomb
Ashley: hahaha yeah okay so
there was a scene where she’s trying to get him to divulge his secret, and she says she won’t be scared by the answer
And I thought that maybe she was working with the FBI to get a confession
Jenny: god i wish
Ashley: But it SEEMS like she was actually like, “yeah I’m fine to smash with a serial killer as long as you’re honest about it”
Rachel: transparency is important
in a relationship
CC: gotta lay those ground rules
Ashley: boundaries: don’t lie to me!!!!! murder, eh, let’s talk
Jenny: see: everyone who talked about the ted bundy netflix doc on twitter
CC: if I’ve learned anything from /r/relationships, it’s that you’re literally not allowed to be mad about anything you didn’t specifically ask your partner about beforehand
any of it
Ashley: AHHHHH CC god
Okay in defense of r/relationships the top comments are usually good and it’s usually the posted-about man who Bad
CC: that’s fair
Ashley: this is truly like a “I don’t know where to start” book
CC: but speaking of men who Bad tho: literally every dude in this book except for “Rob”????? like: the whole entire men????
Jenny: god for real
I do want it on record
that i called it
re: at least one of these assholes is a cop
Ashley: like 1. This takes place in Sarasota, which is exclusively a town for a) old people and b) middle class hippies at the no-grades liberal arts state college
Stanford is DEF a new college alum
Jenny: good info — bless your florida knowledge
CC: what is going on with those rings
and this “live long and prosper”
spock would be ashamed of u
Jenny: and the bangles!! a choice for sure
Ashley: He got them at the free store on the quad or whatever
Jenny: also, re: florida
Jenny: what incredible world-building
Ashley: Lol she has one million sweetheart neckline ball gowns and a spare apartment to rent but no central AC? NAH
Jenny: this is the life of a lounge singer trying to make ends meet
CC: maybe she can comp those gowns
Rachel: tax writeoffs
Ashley: Not after this tax cut
Speaking of which
Who all in this book voted for Trump (and/or Reagan I guess since no one has a cell phone)?
Jenny: who was fred?
one of the many shit men?
CC: they all just kinda meld together in my mind
Ashley: Fred is the good ol boy who is actually the killer
Jenny: ok ok yes — he def voted for reagan
Rachel: and probably like knew young Trump
Jenny: probably also the creepy neighbor’s parents
i know we don’t meet them in-text, but i felt it
Ashley: For sure
CC: can we talk about how Fred creeps on Jess like, immediately
she apologizes for typing him up?????
Jenny: oh girl
CC: idk y’all
Rachel: dang but look at that crosshatching
Ashley: okay that scene where the killer had her tied up and was torturing her was absolutely the most sexualized violence in any harlequin manga so far
And we’ve had our fair share of sexualized violence
Rachel: IT WAS SO MUCH
i really didn’t expect this manga to get so intense
Rachel: she’s literally naked and covered in blood
there’s a NIPPLE
I didn’t catch the nip lol
Jenny: the naked and covered in blood part — was A LOT
Ashley: I was definitely expecting a little more of a murder she wrote vibe than an R-rated Lifetime movie vibe
Jenny: but also love that she just killed a man but is still on plan for her future romantic security
Rachel: i wonder if that was in the book or if the artist was taking some liberties lol
her end of book post-credits scene makes me think the artist was having a little bit too much fun
Ashley: I really want the artist to do horror manga now lol
She really has the gory Naoko Takeuchi touch
Jenny: a gift in this life
CC: what’s scarier: uzumaki, or the horrors of being a woman on this cursed hell of an earth????
Ashley: Lol sadly the choice is all too clear
Jenny: LOLOLOLOLOL (but crying)
Rachel: i wish that was the commentary this lady was going for but
i think she just really liked sexy ladies covered in blood lol
“i’m pretty into it” — look at that face!!!
but also can we say again literally all of the men in this are absolute garbage
Jenny: except the love interest who is literally the most boring
CC: i’m just upset that literally every man jess talks to but Rob tries to assault her and she just has to casually sidestep each one before the “actual” horror of torture and near murder
Rachel: maybe the most boring love interest we’ve had so far??
CC: lol look at him dunking on folk music
Ashley: HAHAHA OMG I forgot that he cops to being milquetoast personified
Jenny: agree though — the everyday horrors of womanhood are on full display
Jenny: like, it’s been A YEAR??!?!?
sue his ass
Ashley: not on lounge singer money
Jenny: god burn this world
Ashley: She gets tipped in negs and the occasional jello shot
too real too real
Ashley: SORRY SOME FLORIDA REALNESS RIGHT THERE
Ashley: I grew up in those kinds of bars lmao
Ian, the horrible abusive ex-husband, voted for Jimmy Carter and uses it as proof that he’s a sensitive but misunderstood good guy
apparently this book got me deep in my feelings
Jenny: v real tbh
but also wasn’t he, like, a retired drug dealer?
what was his job? something sketch
Ashley: Ian is a concert master
Rob is an unwitting drug carrier
Jenny: you’re right you’re right
CC: why are the ones about our homes also about murder?????
see also: the one about the texas hill country
CC: what an aside btw
Jenny: oh god
thrown in right at the end
Ashley: Like here’s a little afterthought fridging
To follow up on the light suggestion of child murder
Jenny: yes great it’s just what this was missing
CC: ….i…..forgot…..about the……..child……murder….
Jenny: actual summary though: a lounge singer rents her accessory dwelling unit to a man she’s known for 6 months; maybe he’s a serial killer?? or maybe one of the other handful of horrible men in her life are the serial killer?
they fall in love though
and she has a daughter
important point ^^
CC: like: all of these dudes could and might actually be serial killers
Jenny: it’s true
Ashley: I really thought it would end up to be an I Am Spartacus serial killer moment
INCLUDING the creepy undercover FBI agent
god yeah what was up w these FBI agents though
Ashley: Clearly a red herring but also like, a Universal classic monster lookin ass creep!!!
Jenny: so unprofessional
(not looking like nosferatu, but failing basic protocol)
CC: one question in hindsight tho: was Fred Rob’s friend??????
(for the folks at home, Fred = the actual killer)
Ashley: I was SO unclear and confused about that
Rob lent him his car multiple times but that appears to be the extent of their relationship?
CC: oh but ashley those are just
Jenny: i’m p sure that Fred (the killer) was Rob’s friend
from work maybe?
lol @ CC
Ashley: Wasn’t Rob’s job fake tho???
Jenny: oh god
i didn’t think so but it could’ve been
Ashley: The text is extremely not helpful
CC: i don’t even know y’all
HOW did Fred get here
how long has he been out here murdering
why did this FBI agent leave sensitive info on a voicemail
i have a lot of questions here!!! i demand answers!!!!
Ashley: OMG I HAD THE SAME THOUGHT!!!
like even my doctor won’t leave a voicemail to tell me I had a normal pap lmao
Rachel: leave stuff in plain sight, somethingsomething
Jenny: all i know is that you shouldn’t leave important and/or pertinent info on a voicemail, even/especially when the mailbox is at a cabin where you think the victim is WITH the killer!!!
CC: stay sexy; don’t get other people murdered!!!
Ashley: omg we need the MFM babes on the case for this manga
CC: yeah these two detectives really aren’t cutting it
Jenny: time to call in the professionals
Ashley: for REAL
CC: they could have warned her!!!
Ashley: WHAT REASON THO???
He likes Simon Garfunkel???
CC: he SAYS he does but does he even
he hates loving folk music, is what i know about him
Rachel: yeah name even ONE simon and garfunkel song ROB
Ashley: “and it can’t be Call Me Al”
CC: “the one with uh
Rachel: fake simon and garfunkel men
CC: “the chorus is just like ‘ la la la la la” right???”
there’s humming in it
Jenny: LAUGH MY ASS
CC: LAUGH MY ASSSSSS
Ashley: I can’t breathe oh my god
Rachel: i’m crying
y’all we are so funny
Jenny: it’s so true
Ashley: When will Harlequin come knocking to enlist our obvious skills for their TV line
Please @ me Harlequin!!!!
Jenny: hire us, harlequin
Rachel: u know where to find us harlequin
Ashley: There wasn’t even a single marine mammal in this book for crying out loud
CC: lot of lizards tho
Ashley: LIZARD MENNNN
Jenny: yeah so maybe their florida setting work wasn’t great after all
CC: as a non floridian, this is what i imagine whenever i imagine florida tho:
CC: ashley is this not the real #florida #experience???????
this plus like, lines?????
Ashley: Hmmm that robe better be linen
Jenny: need something breathable
another florida question
how sustainable is this opinion, truly:
CC: look at this multimodal man
he’s a trailblazer
Jenny: is it not a driving state? i had thought?
Ashley: HAHAHAHAHAHA OH GIRL
public transportation?? walking in PANTS????? I don’t motherfuckin think so
Jenny: LOLOLOLOL good to see my suspicions confirmed
Ashley: I don’t think there’s a WORD for train in florida
CC: in 30 years he’ll invent limebikes
Ashley: Omg noooooo that’s so real
Rachel: also what is the likelihood of attaining any of these perfect coiffures
in that florida humidity
i couldn’t do that shit in Austin
CC: I WAS GONNA SAY
it’s not toronto
Jenny: oh god good point
Ashley: LIKELIHOOD ZERO
unless they hairspray the shit out of it
Rachel: i do love these regional harlequin deepcuts
Jenny: i like that they make an effort
Rachel: where will they transport us to next??
CC: wish i knew more about any other region of the US for our next one
wanna know how manga artists interpret lincoln, nebraska
gimme those great lakes!!!
Ashley: Uh yeah I extremely want that
Listen, if they’ve got Ann Arbor, MI I spent two weeks there so I’m literally an expert
Rachel: that seems like such a GOOD setting for a harlequin romance!!
oh wait speaking of romance
we talked about this a bit before but
do y’all think this comic was more horror and less romance due to the original text?? or did it manifest in this way because of the comic artist’s predilection?
i’m v curious how much the tone of it changed
Jenny: ooooh a good question
CC: i mean honestly I’ve been surprised at the lack of murder in all of these so far
bc aren’t harlequin romances usually full of sexy murder?
Ashley: I think the former because the note at the back said the artist has never drawn so much blood???
Rachel: that’s true!
it seems like drawing this helped her discover a new thing about herself lol
Ashley: HAHA yes
That alone may be the best thing about it
Jenny: i think the text COULD have been interpreted into like a murder version of the dating game
like which of our eligible bachelors is The Killer
Ashley: Ewwwwwwwww omg can you imagine
Rachel: which five-head wig man is the serial killer????
CC: surprise!!! all of them have killed before!! all will kill again!!!!!
Ashley: AAAAAHHHHH HAHAHAHA
why aren’t we rolling in money I swear to god
Rachel: capitalism can’t handle us
Ashley: Where’s the romance roundtable Netflix special
CC: let’s meet our contestants!!!
Rachel: oh god i just vomited a little
CAROLYNN DON’T DO IT
Ashley: I yelled that out loud instinctively!!!
Jenny: GOD +1 +1
Jenny: GET OUT OF HERE GHOST
CC: (I WASN’T GOING TO!!! YOU FORCED MY HAND!!!!)
Ashley: NOOOOOO I feel like a vampire walking into sunlight
i hate all of these bachelor options!!!
i throw myself into the sea!!!
marry a hot mermaid!
CC: there’s murderers down there too!!!!
Jenny: now that’s a harlequin romance i’d like to see!!
Ashley: Surprise ocean contestant:
Rachel: LOL FUCK
THE ULTIMATE FUCKBOI SLEEZE
CC: GOODBYE EARTH
Rachel: well, it’s time for final thoughts?
Jenny: yes so my final thought is that i think it’s time humanity was eliminated from this hell earth
but actually it’s that i think these FBI agents are psychic
Jenny: like, our girl JUST told the reader about this, how had she already told you???
Jenny: LOLOL yes
it’s a secret government project
they only employ psychics
Rachel: esper agents are highly sought after, i imagine
Jenny: that’s how we get the edge over the soviets, rachel
CC: my final thought is just: DON’T LOAN YOUR CAR TO STRANGERS
what is ACTUALLY WRONG WITH YOU
have you EVER WATCHED UNSOLVED MYSTERIES
it’s 1986!! OF COURSE YOU HAVE
CC: It’s ALL THAT’S ON
Ashley: hahahaha omg so true
CC: there weren’t even ghosts yet
just actual murders!!!
don’t loan out your car
Ashley: My final thought is: every Florida Man is bad but I’m the only one who gets to say that and everyone else must defeat me in hand-to-gator combat
Jenny: lolol that feels right
CC: very fair and earned
Rachel: that’s one thing that was missing from this — not enough gators
Rachel: the one thing that would have sealed the florida vibe
like how all stories based in texas are legally required to feature at least one armadillo
CC: and 1 v big hat
Rachel: or a gun
Ashley: CC catch up on Jane the Virgin!!!!
CC: SO OMINOUS
Rachel: ok so my final thought is — can’t wait to see what kind of harlequin story Jess’s daughter grows up to feature in
generational harlequin romance
Rachel: omg she could do one as an adult and it would be RIGHT NOW
Ashley: YES YES YESSS
Rachel: would read that 100%
well that’s all we got I think — stay tuned till next time to see if we get more romance or more horror in our next harlequin choice
who’s to even say????
Jenny: probably horrible romance
(better than romantic horror)
Ashley: Jenny, let’s not get our hopes up
CC: only time will tell
Join us for our next Romance Roundtable, where we’ll be recapping the first volume of Raintree: Inferno — a series that includes literally everything you could possible ask for in a Harlequin manga adaptation. We’re talkin’ casinos. We’re talkin’ hunks. Spies. Evil twins??? Sorcery???????? Look. Get hyped, is all we’re saying.
In the meantime, join us over on Patreon for some extra goofs & Jokes we couldn’t quite fit into this piece.