Romance Roundtable #14: No Ordinary Man

There are commuter trains in Florida now!

June 19, 2019 at 9:05 am

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
imo

Jenny: lma

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

Jenny: LOL

Rachel: LOL
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

Rachel: barf

Jenny: yikes on bikes — a parade of yikes

Ashley: Yeah it was wild… Honestly felt way more like a horror manga than romance

Rachel: definitely!!

Jenny: agree
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
exclusivity
murder
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

CC: #priorities

Jenny: this is the life of a lounge singer trying to make ends meet

CC: maybe she can comp those gowns
work expenses

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)?
Definitely Fred

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: SPOILERS

Ashley: HAHA

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
yeah

CC: idk y’all
i
d
K

CC: YIKES

Jenny: horibible

Rachel: dang but look at that crosshatching

Jenny: respect

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

Jenny: truly

Rachel: she’s literally naked and covered in blood
there’s a NIPPLE

Ashley: HWAT
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

Rachel: LOL

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!!!

Jenny: lolololololol
but also can we say again literally all of the men in this are absolute garbage

Ashley: YES

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

Jenny: oof
too real too real

Ashley: SORRY SOME FLORIDA REALNESS RIGHT THERE

CC: LOL

Ashley: I grew up in those kinds of bars lmao
Oh also
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

CC: oof

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
that
thrown in right at the end
so much

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
GOD
that part

CC: ….i…..forgot…..about the……..child……murder….

Ashley: BOOOOOOOOOO
just… why

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

Jenny: LOLOLOLOLOL
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?

Jenny: YES

CC: oh but ashley those are just
material things

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
maybe???
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: HAHAHAHA

Jenny: 🙌

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???

Rachel: LOL

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
the
acoustic guitar???”

Rachel: fake simon and garfunkel men

Jenny: LOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOL

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

Rachel: LMAAA

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

CC: seriously

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
LOLOLOL

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?????
gater meat????

Ashley: Hmmm that robe better be linen

Jenny: need something breathable
ALSO
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

Jenny: LOL

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
how
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
deluth
madison
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?
(“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!!!!!

Jenny: LOLOLOLOLOL

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!!!
steve

Ashley: NOOOO

CC: jeremy

Rachel: oh god i just vomited a little
fuck
FUCK
CAROLYNN DON’T DO IT

Ashley: I yelled that out loud instinctively!!!

CC: rob

Jenny: GOD +1 +1

CC: jason!!!!

Rachel: CAROLYNNNN
GOD

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

Rachel: AHHHHHHHH
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:

Jenny: UGHUGHUGHUGH

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

Ashley: HA

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

Jenny: lololololol

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

Rachel: LOL

Jenny: lolol that feels right
feels fair

CC: very fair and earned

Rachel: that’s one thing that was missing from this — not enough gators

Ashley: REAL

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

Ashley: Correct

CC: and 1 v big hat

Ashley: LOL

Rachel: or a gun
dealer’s choice

CC: hatgun

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

CC: GOD

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.

Jenny Mott

Jenny is just a Silly Nerd with a lot of Feelings about Comic Books and Friendship and also This Capitalist Yoke We All Share; she enjoys Dogs and Sleeping and Cartoons. Her three favorite words are: Breakfast All Day.

Carolynn Calabrese

If you prick your finger and write “Cat Fancy” on your mirror during a harvest moon, CC will appear behind you and make you put human clothes on your pets. CC is Head Crone in Charge at POMEgranate Magazine, as well as the co-host of Moon Podcast Power MAKE UP!!

Rachel Weiss

Rachel is a designer and artist from Texas. She is pro-feminism, pro-crones, and pro-dogs. She's also Boss Crone at POMEgranate Magazine, and one day hopes to be able to drink her tea without so much milk and sugar.