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Literature / Hotel Oriente

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Hotel Oriente is a 2016 novella, by American romance author Jennifer Hallock, and designated by her as the sort-of gateway book to her Sugar Sun series, set mostly in the Philippines around the time of the Philippine-American War proper, covering roughly the period 1899-1902.

The novel is named for its principal setting: the titular hotel (in Real Life the Hotel de Oriente), a prominent and elegantly-designed hotel which in that era stood in the Binondo district of greater Manila. But the Hotel's new manager, Moss North, inherits it at a time of general wartime scarcity and finds himself struggling to keep it afloat, scrambling to find fresh provisions and serve them up before they melt or spoil in the hot, humid, tropical climate, and hosting parties and dinners mostly for his biggest new clients: the American army, who need food and a place to rest upon disembarking from their mainland across the Pacific, and before (and in between) engaging the Filipino rebels out in the provinces.


Into his hectic new career sweeps Della Berget, a pretty and aspiring Intrepid Reporter brought along as the granddaughter of the pompous Congressman Holt. She's spunky, independent, deaf, outspoken, and … wait a second, deaf? Oh right. But that's never stopped her, whether in pursuing her dream career by reading all the loose lips all over Manila, or in pursuing her new Love Interest, none other, of course, than the new manager of that Orient Hotel, Moss North himself.



  • Aerith and Bob: Anglo-American names mingle with some Filipino (i.e. Hispanic) ones, of course.
  • Camp Follower: Many of the girls the American soldiers and officers attempt to sneak into their rooms at the Oriente. In those days the term didn't necessarily refer only to prostitutes but also constituted the soldiers' actual mistresses or wives.
  • Disabled Hottie: Della Berget, who's deaf, but soldiers on like it's nothing.
  • During the War: The Philippine-American War is going on in the provinces amidst all this, hence all the American soldiers and officers billeted at the Oriente (many of whom, of course, manage to sneak their women in too).
  • Historical Fiction: Historical romance, naturally.
  • Intrepid Reporter: Della. Not being able to hear her subjects is at best a minor inconvenience for her now that she's adept at Reading Lips.
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  • The Immodest Orgasm: When the inevitable happens and Moss and Della start having sex, Moss pulls down the blinds in their room, concerned she'll start moaning without any way of knowing how loud she can get.
  • Latin Land: Manila (and the whole Philippines in general) just wrestled itself out of 300+ years of Spanish colonial rule. Of course it would count as Latin Land.
  • Mills and Boon Prose: There's only one explicitly steamy sex scene in the novella, but it does deliver.
  • The Place: Where the novel's set, the titular Hotel Oriente. (The Real Life Hotel de Oriente was destroyed in World War II, and was rebuilt with some small changes in a historical, Spanish-colonial theme-park seaside town in Bataan province, across Manila Bay.)
  • Reading Lips: A necessity for Della to understand most people.
  • Romance Novel: Technically a novella given its brevity but still.
  • Shown Their Work: Hallock's research into the setting of "inter-colonial" and turn-of-the-century Manila is notably thorough, incorporating other Real Life places like Clarke's, a Manila-based drugstore and ice-cream parlour, popular with colonials and expatriates.
  • Their First Time: For both of them.
  • Windbag Politician: The big, pompous, forceful Congressman Holt, Della's grandpa.


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