My Clerical Romance (Exposition)
Checking In at the Library of Love

Love is in the air! And it smells like disinfectant. Would you be my Valentine? Here’s my latest blood test. Happy Valentine’s Day, everyone!

Ah, grumble. Pfft.

I feel you. Especially you single ones who consider yourselves ‘true romantics’. To hell with Valentine’s Day… just count yourselves lucky that you won’t have to deal with the ridiculous traffic, at least. That alone makes your relatives’ condescending remarks worth it – wait, how old are you this year?! Nooo…

For some of you, you might as well face it that today is your once-in-a-year opportunity to get lucky. You therefore want to go about it proper-like. For maximum effect, you will want to avail of all the modern conveniences by which you are allowed to express a thing called love. After all, if it’s worthy to be Instagrammed, then surely it’s impressive.

Someone told me once that the overall air of crazy – the rabble, the traffic, the extortion – was precisely what made Valentine’s special. In short, one has to suffer to make things meaningful. We make our actions mean more, apparently, by mobilizing as a throng, doing the same things collectively, and bringing about mutually assured misery via overload – because nothing says ‘sincerity’ better.

Sad, isn’t it? For all that we know of it, romance is dead. And it’s not only merely dead, it’s really most sincerely D-E-A-D. Today, after all, is that one day of the year in which we convey romantic feelings through prettily ribboned shorthand – prickly flowers, shiny shades of red, and three-hour queues for a garage room. What better way is there to say “I Love You XOXO” but through that which is inclusive of VAT? We don’t murder romance so much as outsource it to professionals.

If you, like this bloggist, find yourself lamenting the travesty that is Valentine’s Day, then you need only read on. When everything in the world stops making sense, please realize happy endings still do happen – and this is true whether you’re single or taken. Romance thrives, of all things, through the written word (also inclusive of VAT).

Thankfully, Valentine’s comes but once a year. Romance novels, on the other hand, are forever. How do we love these? Let us count the ways…



Tanggapin Mo Ang Pag-ibig Ko by Lira Bellafuentes

This is just in time for the season – My Special Valentine, under its ‘Desire’ imprint (although a reprint of a 1998 title, hence ‘Classics’).

According to the synopsis, Armand finds a certain strangeness in Lorraine, the newest counselor for his whiz-kid study camp. He discovers himself falling for her because of her natural knack for kids. Lorraine, he realizes, has allowed him to take life less seriously, until… until… do any among you care? I don’t know. We really only buy romance novels for the sexy parts, don’t we? Thank me later, because I did the job for you:

Pakiwari ng dalaga ay pabilis nang pabilis ang pag-inog ng mundo. Naipulupot niya ang mga braso sa leeg ng lalaki at nangunyapit doon upang hindi siya matangay ng nakakahibang na sensasyong dumadaloy sa kanyang mga kalamnan…

This is as sexy as it gets, I’m sorry. As your beloved bloggist, I know that I have to sometimes take a bullet for you, dear readers. Nonetheless, this is a very good illustration at how romance books convey love in a fashion that overpriced baubles never can – and all in a hundred pages or less.

The My Special Valentine series has been around since 1992. Bookware Publishing clearly knows its demographic, as MSV is the preferred romance paperback of Filipino women (but what about Filipino men?). Even better, MSV also dabbles in food porn


Isaw At Long Neck by Sefah Mil

OK, this isn’t food porn so much as food corn. And the cover held so much promise, too… isn’t that Edward Cullen and Shannyn Sossamon?

Edward is actually Rafael, while Shannyn is Jannina (double N and don’t you forget). Rafael’s dad died, leaving behind a will with a provision that Rafael is to marry Jannina, the adopted daughter of his mistress. This is for them to gain the ownership of their dad’s real estate business. Wait, aren’t they both legal heirs, anyway? Even without marrying each other? Never mind that! It just means that these folks are so filthy rich that they cannot afford to choose whom to marry.

The two enter into a marriage of convenience, of course, except with the express intention of annulling it as soon as the company’s ownership has been transferred, because screw your inheritance laws, Philippines! And before you complain about the immorality of the situation, please know that it’s not wrong to marry your dad’s adopted daughter when she’s illegitimate to begin with. Besides, it’s not like you intend to consummate the marriage anyway – and by consummate, we mean sexing each other with sexy bits. Oh, wait…

Scratch that… Because life is much more complicated on newsprint, Rafael and Jannina do eventually consummate their prefab marriage. Dammit! How does this happen? Well, like the rich folks that they are, the two celebrate their successful contract by going to 7-Eleven to buy Coke and two long-necked Tanduays. They also stop by their subdivision’s isaw vendor, because there’s no way for civilized persons to take Tanduay-Coke without grilled isaw. Hmm. This isn’t good… just wait for the morning after…

Tiningnan niya ang katawan sa ilalim ng kumot. Wala siyang saplot! Ipinikit niya ang mga mata at pinakiramdaman ang nasa gitna ng kanyang dalawang binti. Masakit… “Mama,” iyak niya, “ang virginity ko!”

It goes without saying that she soon becomes pregnant – oooh SNAP! Hold on. I can hear you moralists complaining again. Let me be clear: it’s not wrong to sleep with your dad’s illegitimate daughter when she’s adopted to begin with. And besides, you already married her!

At any rate, this teaches us that we shouldn’t marry our dad’s illegitimate-but-adopted daughter out of convenience, let alone partake of Tanduay and isaw with her. Nevertheless, we learn that Rafael and Jannina (NN and don’t forget) are both keepers. The fact that they like Tanduay and isaw means that they’re not snobs despite being rich. As a reader, you’ll definitely want to root for them. You’ll be glad to know that there is a happy ending for them by the last page (sniffle). Still, the book doesn’t feel satisfying enough because the sex took place OFF the page. MSV, you need to up your game… I’ll scour your shelves for the most promising sexy covers even if I end up covered head to toe in papercuts!

 


I present herewith MSV’s most promising sexy covers, papercuts be damned! These are all under the imprint ‘The Man I Desire’. First off, there’s no way at all that these cannot be gay. I’m glad that Bookware Publishing is tweaking its marketing thrust to appeal to the neglected male romance demographic. It’s been far too long, so kudos to them.


Guns and Caprices by Jade Anne Franco

Guns and Caprices is Book 1 of 6 in the ‘Elites’ series. As evident in the title, there are guns and – err – caprices. Readers should therefore expect lots of gun action and capricious “action”. Jake is a former Navy SEAL who likes to show off his abs by lifting his sando. Upon coming back to Manila, he finds a former flame, Agatha, about to get married. Despite her impending nuptials, she knowingly cheats on her fiancée with the irresistibly rugged Jake. This happens:

She felt his manhood on her tummy and she gasped. Lalo na nang maramdaman ang mainit na gumapang sa kanyang kaibuturan. “Do you feel that, Agatha?” Jake groaned at lalo pa siyang idinikit dito. “It’s aching for you. I am aching for you.”

And then they engage in lots of hot… hot… ellipses… and hard! exclamation! points! Ladies, let this serve as a lesson: when someone engages in some achingly vigorous frottage against your stomach, this means that he wants to do the dirty. That said, never allow contact between your stomach and anyone’s turgid manhood unless you want to watch someone get shot to death. Oh, you don’t believe me? This is exactly what happens to Agatha not ten pages after she ‘trembled and tensed’ and got ‘driven over the edge of ecstasy’… a terrorist ambushes Jake in a parking lot (no doubt because of his past as a Seal Team 6 operative, not kidding). Jake kills the terrorist and the two hie off to her dad’s Tagaytay rest house to hide. While nursing a gunshot wound in the shoulder, Jake even mutters “F*ck!”, censoring h*mself despite having grunted a few pages ago, “Jesus, Baby! Stop that… or I won’t last long!” That, dear friends, is resolve.

As a story, Guns and Caprices is pretty engrossing… so much that I won’t ruin the ending. Nonetheless, please know that Agatha is a slut. Jake, on the other hand, is a dick – what decent person would abandon someone for nearly a decade to then dry hump her tummy upon returning? And fully knowing that he is exposing her to terrorists? Not to mention messing up her current engagement? D! I! C! K! Dickery will never pay! Obviously, these two deserve each other! If we consider these facts, however, along with the decent action sequences and detailed back-stories, I wouldn’t be surprised if the author was a dude. Good on him, I say, because this title is highly recommended. We can also expect books 2 to 6 to be just as good if only for the fact that this one had a worthy sex sequence. Finally, success!


Heart Stealer by Charlotte Dianco

On the other hand, Heart Stealer tells the story of Liberty and Jonnie, two childhood friends from Roxas, Oriental Mindoro. This setting allows for the excellent use of local color, providing a fresh feel of provincial life. On the cover, Jonnie has his arms crossed to prevent his heart from being stolen.

Liberty – Libby – is now based in Hong Kong, where she met her fiancée. Jonnie, on the other hand, is a popular town councilor being groomed as a mayoral candidate (talk about timeliness). From a timid boy, Jonnie has become ‘über-hot’ – something that does not escape Libby. The two, unfortunately, have grown apart. This is probably due to an incident that took place eight years ago in Manila. Together with two accomplices, Libby got Jonnie über-drunk/disoriented so that she could have her way with him:

Nang gabing maiwan sila ni Jonnie sa Great Eastern Hotel ay buong tapang niyang ibinigay ang sarili sa binata. Kahit wala pa siyang karanasan ay pinaghandaan niya ang oras na iyon…

This is surrender of the purest kind, where virginities are discarded through inebriation and the collision of inexperienced genitals (i.e. the best kind of surrender). Libby resorted to this dastardly act, by the way, to lead Jonnie away from priesthood. Excuse me, but what a slag! She’s not a heart stealer, she’s a RAPER! How is this acceptable? Isn’t this just another double standard disguised as women’s empowerment? Have women been empowered to rape? We should be disturbed, except I’m pretty sure that this is just a dude writing out his fantasies. Seriously, if this were a dude, he’s just saying, “Please rape me with my consent.”

Man-rape aside, I am amazed at the novel’s geographical accuracy. Great Eastern Hotel? Really? That used to be known as Aberdeen Court, if I’m not mistaken, and it was a preferred venue for wedding receptions in the 80s. Another fine example of local color – my hometown finally gets some respect. QC represent!

Libby comes home to visit and – of course – manages to again hook up with an emotionally scarred Jonnie when they visit an old childhood haunt in Mindoro. Of all the nerve! They immediately have animal sex that ‘felt like the first time’ (how?). Wait. Between this book and the previous one, I am starting to sense a pattern. Is cheating on fiancées a must-do for independent women? Oh, Libby, you tramp! Does unfaithfulness in Mindoro not count because Hong Kong shares a time zone with Russia? Or does doing it with a childhood friend supersede all commitments? Oh, shush! Let’s not be judgmental. Jonnie is a nice guy – he even wanted to be a priest once. Sexing nice guys like Jonnie can never be wrong… if only according to, well, nice guys. I suspect the writer is one such nice guy doing propaganda. I really wish this were a dude writing, because if not, someone should alert the police to a possible sociopath.

The novel ends with a blissful epilogue. There are no villains here, after all (even fiancées-in-the-right know to be noble). Jonnie does end up with Libby, although one cannot help but feel slightly troubled. Does Jonnie deserve better than the love of his life? We cannot say. We know, however, that Libby is probably short for ‘libidinous witch’. She’s named after a brand of canned meat, which is only appropriate because the girl is a meatpacker. Oh, I didn’t just say that!


Take a Chance On Me by Erynn Anne

Lastly, Take a Chance On Me looks at the eventful life of April, whose ex knocks her up. Said ex then refuses to take responsibility for the pregnancy that she suffers a miscarriage not long after. She then abandons all of her duties and moves from Manila to Pangasinan, where she meets Dante, someone who likes to wear white unbuttoned shirts.

The author invests in plenty of character descriptions. April ‘stuck out like a sore thumb in that rural place’: Noon pa man ay kapansin-pansin na talaga ang kutis niya. At dahil karamihan sa mga residente ng bayang iyon ay babad sa araw, para tuloy siyang labanos sa kaputian kung ihambing sa karaniwan. Dante, on the other hand, had skin ‘made bronze by the sun; the muscles in his biceps strong and tempting’. We are, in short, witnessing a classic love story between an insulares and an indio.

The book explores the gradual blossoming of their relationship, as they slowly reveal layers of complexities – even damaged goods deserve to find happiness, after all. What the hell? I really didn’t expect this degree of seriousness… I only decided on this book because of the title, sorry. This is an Abba song – shouldn’t this be gayer somehow?

Be that as it may, the book is a welcome one in that no engaged party does any cheating for a change. The asshole ex also gets his comeuppance, although the book does end in one of the most confusing rush endings since Tom Sawyer. Oh wait a sec – I almost forgot – here are the sexy parts:

“Ang ganda mo talaga, alam mo ba ‘yun? You’re so beautiful that I just ache all over.” There was nothing soft or tender in his kiss. She groaned when his tongue made a swift assault on her mouth. His hand slid down the other strap of her dress, while the other crept inside to cup her…

Here’s a YouTube video of Abba performing “Take a Chance on Me”:

She traced every outline of muscle on his arms and his chest, her fingers lightly running down his muscular stomach. She felt his muscles grow tense at her touch as she tentatively touched his manhood still enclosed in his underwear. She let it loose from its confines and took a firm hold of…

Wait, I think Abba is better live:


Dear readers, I hope you are enjoying yourselves. It is apparent that this series, ‘The Man I Desire’ has more rewarding sex scenes involving aching and muscular leading men. If you prefer your romance novels to feature bespectacled marrying types instead, you want the series ‘The Man I Love. You may notice the difference in colors between the two series. This is because love is golden, and desire should always be red hot. Fans would note that the ‘Desire’ covers are sensual enough to be described as ‘yummy’ or ‘to die for’. They just invite licking. I wouldn’t be surprised, in fact, if these books have been printed with Red #3 to make them food-grade. Please know, however, that licking Red #3 dye off images of topless men may give ovarian cancer to female lab mice, not to mention ovaries to male ones. For this reason, some would recommend Red #40, only it has been known to cause hyperactivity in young children (especially those in exclusive schools who like licking cover boys).

By the way, I want you all to understand that I REALLY took a bullet for you when I purchased these titles. While I was paying for these at National, one of these ‘Man I Desire’ books wouldn’t scan properly. The cashier tried manually checking the database, except the title wasn’t there either. Because of this, I held up the line for several minutes, to the consternation of some colegialas behind me with their Hello Kitty stationery (or whatever it is colegialas buy). The cashier, exasperated, asked for help, which she did by holding the book up high and shouting to her colleague across the room, “Wala nitong ‘Man I Desire’ ni sir!” I smiled sheepishly at the colegialas and said, “Valentine’s, haha!”

I certainly hope it was worth it for you.

It continues here. Please click for more LOVE!

 


Thanks to Roget and the team for the photo assist.

Verb.Anything.ph is not associated with Bookware Publishing (but is now a fan). Follow them on Facebook.

Categories: [books], [dickery], [pornography]

[3] Comments

3 Comments »

  • JoQ says:
    February 14, 2013 A.D. at 3:54 PM

    Happy Thursday!

    [Reply]
  • Sefah Mil says:
    November 20, 2015 A.D. at 11:55 AM

    Hi! I’d read your blog about my novel Isaw at Long Neck. I wanna thank you for reading…:) But I wanna clarify something. Jannina and Rafael are not siblings through adoption. First, they don’t have the same surname. And second, I’m not sure of this but often in adoption processes here in the Philippines, for you to legally adopt, you need to be married. Rafael’s dad is just a de facto dad to Jannina, but NOT an adoptive dad because she was not legally adopted. Thank you again..:)

    [Reply]
    • Ronan says:
      November 20, 2015 A.D. at 7:33 PM

      thanks for visiting, however late!

      [Reply]

 

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