About the Podcast
Shelf Love is a weekly podcast that uses romance novels as the text to explore identity, relationships, and the society that we live in. Each episode, my guest and I discuss a different romance novel, and also share crowdsourced contributions from other romance readers.
You can listen on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Play, or via the web player.
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I’d love to hear from you! Email me at: Andrea@shelflovepodcast.com
Romancelandia Request episode: Recorded in Hyderabad, India! This episode includes a meaty debate with myself about mass market paperbacks, my favorite Darcy, holiday romances, a taste of India, and answers to some questions about my own romance reading history and preferences, including my problematic faves: makeover romances.
Decameron Quarantine Romance Book Club: part 2 of a 10-episode mini-series of short, casual conversations with romance experts, who are here to spread the joy of romance novels so that we can all stay home and NOT spread the Coronavirus.
Tonight’s theme is ANGST
Charish Reid (author: Hearts on Hold: A Librarian Romance) is my guest, and we talk about why we should stop shitting on majoring in English and ah-ha! moments in teaching. The Romance Worth Reading (™) that we discuss is White Whiskey Bargain by Jodie Slaughter.
Discussed: Low-angst romance, marriages of convenience, just once bed, owning land as the American dream. Plus: female leadership in a male-dominated field, people of color in Appalachia, and mutual self love.
029. A Seditious Affair by KJ Charles with Emma Barry: Cross-Class Romance, and Andrea’s HEA Existential Crisis
Romance novelist Emma Barry is my guest, and we read A Seditious Affair by KJ Charles. This male/male Regency romance features a cross-class romance that gets us discussing if there is an element of coercion in most cross-class romances.
Plus, does this book end with a happily ever after, or just a happily for now? What is “ever after” anyway? What is permanence? It’s possible I had an existential crisis in the middle of recording this one, but thank goodness I had Professor Emma Barry to guide me through this discussion.
We talk about how academics are intellectual colonizers, plus how one of the best oral sex scenes saved Emma from the trauma of the ‘90s, and I ask the question: Is it bad to read escapist trash?
Decameron Quarantine Romance Book Club: part 1 of a 10-episode mini-series of short, casual conversations with romance experts, who are here to spread the joy of romance novels so that we can all stay home and NOT spread the Coronavirus.
Tonight’s theme is KINK and my guests are Katrina Jackson, Katee Robert, and Karelia Stetz-Waters.
Stay safe, stay calm, and keep reading romance.
028. Emergency Contact by Mary HK Choi with guest Kennedy Ryan: Longing, Connection, and Friendship as Foundational to Romance
Kennedy Ryan is back to discuss Emergency Contact by Mary HK Choi, a book that LJ Shen (lovingly) forced Kennedy to read. It’s the story of two lonely protagonists who become obsessed with contact and their love story is about friendship, trust, and understanding as the foundation for a relationship.
We also talk about meeting your writing heroes, Kennedy’s influences and her nomination for the romance canon, and why love is a hazard to your health. Plus, a cameo from Penny Reid.
Also, did you know that tonight on March 9, 2020 it is the beginning of Purim? Whether you celebrate this holiday or not, you’re going to love this enemies to lovers rom-com Write This Book from Hannah Hearts Romance at the end of this episode.
Talia Hibbert, best-selling author of romance novels like Get a Life, Chloe Brown, and Work For It, joins me to talk about how Disney’s 1998 film Mulan explores genderqueer themes, Talia shares her nomination for the romance canon, and we discuss how Therese Beharrie is a master of the condensed timeline, as explored in her sweet Harlequin romance: Island Fling with the Tycoon.
Also, if you enjoy Derek Craven, puns and romance novels, you’re going to love a special surprise at the end of this episode involving my favorite Tweet Artist, Ash Dylan.
Is power a pie that once eaten, disappears? What’s the opposite of toxic masculinity? And, most importantly, what is a cinnamon roll hero and why are they all the rage right now in romantic fiction?
Denise Williams (How to Fail at Flirting) is back to discuss Teach Me by Olivia Dade, which is about two very passionate, mature, and respectful high school history teachers. It's a super hot romance between an emotionally-distant ice queen heroine and a cinnamon roll hero.
Also: Preview of the April 2020 NECRWA Conference with Sionna Fox, and what options local RWA chapters are considering in the wake of the national chapter's massive failure to address racism and lack of diversity.
025. Tamara Lush on Wattpad, Serialized Fiction, International Narratives - PLUS The Love Riots by Noora Zaroon
Tamara Lush (romance writer and AP journalist) and I discuss Wattpad and Radish, where you can find serialized fiction by writers and for readers that are international, young, and diverse. We also talk about pacing yourself as a writer and what’s troubling Tamara about indie publishing.
The text we discuss today is a Wattpad story called The Love Riots by Delhi Belly, aka Noora Zaroon. This cross-genre story reminds us of the bonkbusters novels by Sidney Sheldon or Danielle Steel, and tells a gritty and sometimes uncomfortable story about a toxic inter-religious Romeo + Juliet relationship between a Hindu woman and a Muslim man in India. While this story explores a relationship, it is NOT a romance novel, and the ending is definitely not emotionally satisfying. We also discuss issues of dubious consent within the story.
An exploration of weight loss and body image themes in romance novels. First, I talk to Kennedy Ryan, RITA-award winning author of Long Shot, as well as Block Shot, which we talk about in this episode. Then, I share a related clip from a previous episode with Esme Brett when we discussed plus-size representation in Brazen and the Beast by Sarah MacLean, plus some ways in which fat women are treated differently in the world.
Katrina Jackson, erotic romance author by night, historian by day, joins the podcast once again to talk about polyamory in romance novels, how these relationships challenge genre conventions, and how communication is key in ALL relationships. We also discuss how happily for now is more like real life, and about why combining or discussing finances as a couple can be full of conflict - and how we’d like to see more romances that explore these issues.
You can also hear Katrina on episode 17 in which we discuss An Unconditional Freedom by Alyssa Cole, about reluctant spy partners working to bring down the Confederacy in the Civil War.
Tif Marcelo (romance & women’s fiction author writing joyful stories of Filipino relationships without the oppression) and I read Thirsty by Mia Hopkins. This sexy contemporary explores outcasts, anti heroes, and forgiveness. We also discuss communities, how communities aren’t always what they seem to outsiders, and the personal calculus one makes about wanting to continue belonging to a community - when do you stay, and when is it time to go?
This Episode is sponsored by Owner of a Broken Heart by Cheris Hodges (Kensington Books).
Minisode! Kini Allen and I talk about the secret baby trope in romance novels, I share all the ones I forgot I had read, and then she shares some favorites. Then, listeners weigh in on the trope and I make the case for representing other reproductive choices in romance.
This episode may not be for everyone.
Content Warning: We talk about unintended pregnancy in the course of this episode, and in the outro I talk about contraception, abortion, and miscarriage in romance novels.
Denise Williams (Golden Heart Finalist, author of forthcoming How to Fail at Flirting) and I discuss the class she’s co-teaching called “Moving Past Bodice Ripping Toward Shredding the Patriarchy: Romance Novels as Tools for Justice.”
We discuss her work in student affairs and diversity training, how to fail at naming your debut novel, and how to silence your inner critic. Also: are the kids these days less snobby about romance novels than previous generations? Is romance an inherently feminist genre? Denise will be back in a future episode to discuss Teach Me by Olivia Dade and Cinnamon Roll heroes.
Penny Reid (Knitting in the City Series, Winston Brothers) and I discuss A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas. It’s a dark fairy tale that blends Beauty and the Beast, the Hades/Persephone myth, and the Hunger Games.
In addition to asking the deep existential questions - At what cost freedom? Freedom at what cost?! - we talk about how your first love isn’t always your last love, YA, and how there’s strength in being a marshmallow.
Penny will be back in a future episode to discuss her new publishing venture, Smarty Pants Romance.
Kennedy Ryan, best-selling romance author, responds to this listener question: "How do you feel about the recent troubles at the RWA in light of being a RITA award winner and a woman of color?" (Question via Karelia Stetz-Waters on Twitter)
017. An Unconditional Freedom by Alyssa Cole with Katrina Jackson, Erotic Romance Author and Historian
Katrina Jackson, erotic romance author by night, historian by day, joins the podcast. We read An Unconditional Freedom by Alyssa Cole, about reluctant spy partners working to bring down the Confederacy in the Civil War. Katrina shares her thoughts from her own research into love as an integral part of radical Black politics, the definition of “diaspora” and “interwar,” as well as all sorts of things you probably didn’t learn in history class.
CW: We talk about the treatment of enslaved people in the Civil War, including a character’s PTSD as a result of being enslaved. This character has suicidal ideation.
Norma Perez-Hernandez, an assistant editor at romance publisher Kensington, warms my heart as we talk about working in publishing, how rom coms are returning to the city, and how people of color pursuing a career in publishing experience systemic inequality.
Our Romance Worth Reading is Sanctuary by Rebekah Weatherspoon, which is part of the Beards and Bondage series. We discuss recovery, hating your job, sweet dogs, delicious romance tropes, and how this book is both like and very much NOT like a Hallmark movie.
015. The Year of the Ginger Beard. Listener Superlatives: Favorites Romance Reads From 2019 with B. And Her Books
2019 is the Year of the Ginger Beard!
“Best Of” lists are extremely subjective, so leaning into the idea that “best” is really a personal measure, I proudly present the Superlatives Episode. My guest, Romancelandia Librarian B., joins me to share listener’s favorite romances and their very personal reasons for why these books were the best reads of the year. The only requirement was that they READ the book in 2019.
Games. New Exciting Sound Effects. A Printable Reading List you can download if you sign up for the newsletter list. We are ending 2019 with a bang.
Funmi (romance reader, reviewer, aspiring writer), a fierce and passionate advocate for Black romance, shares her own story of becoming a romance reader, and we discuss who is worthy of a Happily Ever After.
This week’s romance worth reading is Equivalent Exchange by Christina C. Jones. We discuss themes of therapy, health literacy, and what Black contemporary authors are doing to destigmatize mental health in their communities. We also talk about how books might not be for you...but why you should still read them.
Guest Steve Ammidown (BGSU Browne Popular Culture Library Archivist) joins the podcast to discuss The Bromance Book Club by Lyssa Kay Adams. Topics:
- Romancelandia’s history
- Warm blanket reads
- Men’s friendships
- Men reading romance
- Emotional idiots
- What we give of ourselves in marriage
- Why The Bromance Book Club is a book worth reading.
012. Lucy Score - True Crime, Dogs in Pants, Living the Indie Pub Life - The Obsession by Nora Roberts
Lucy Score, indie publishing extraordinaire, pulls back the curtain on how she’s innovating and thriving as a romance novelist and we discuss The Obsession by Nora Roberts (queen of romance). The Obsession is a romantic suspense novel, and we discuss being a survivor and not a victim, the true crime craze (murderinos unite!), home renovations, and the family you choose.
011. So long and thanks for all the work: Kate Clayborn and The Midnight Feast by Emma Barry/Genevieve Turner
This week, romance novelist Kate Clayborn (Love Lettering) and I talk a lot about work! We read A Midnight Feast, a marriage in trouble novella by Emma Barry and Genevieve Turner. A Midnight Feast begins on Thanksgiving day 1965 - a day of second chances! We discuss how it’s a subversive act to respectfully represent domestic labor on the page, why work is so often shorthand for identity and why that’s problematic, as well as why women’s work in particular is undervalued. Bonus clip at the end of the episode featuring another special person!
010. The Case of the Missing O: Wallbanger by Alice Clayton with Kelly Reynolds from Boobies & Noobies
Kelly Reynolds (Boobies & Noobies Podcast) joins me to discuss Wallbanger by Alice Clayton, a rom-com that took Romancelandia by storm in 2014. This book features a missing Orgasm, neighbors to lovers, and a modern rake archetype. We also dive into generational crushes, why some books seem to age really fast, and what makes a book worth reading.
Romance novelist Alyssa Cole joins the podcast to discuss Wolf Rain by Nalini Singh, which features emotional badasses. Also discussed: Using your Power. Systemic Oppression. Growing Your Circle. Sign up for the email newsletter for bonus episode content!
007. Power, Patriarchy, Pretending - The Heiress Effect by Courtney Milan - with Erin Leafe (Learning the Tropes)
Erin Leafe (Learning the Tropes Podcast) and I get deep into a discussion of power, privilege, the patriarchy, and pretending to be someone you’re not after reading The Heiress Effect by Courtney Milan. Also discussed: Podcasting. Inspirational Westerns rife with sexual tension.
Andrea and her non-romance-reading friend Becky read Halloween Boo by Sarah Spade and it does not go according to plan. In this sometimes frightening, but ultimately uplifting holiday episode, Andrea digs deep into Becky’s unromantic psyche, and also into the lore of Salem, MA where Becky lived for 10 years. Does fate exist? Can ghosts get boners? Do you believe a self-professed cold New Englander can learn to love Romance Novels? Listen to find out.
Cameo appearance: Esme Brett
Kini Allen (Smexy Books) and Andrea discuss Time Served, a steamy second chance contemporary by Julianna Keyes: a lawyer who made it out of her rough neighborhood reconnects with her ex-con ex. We cover “unlikeable” heroines, social class/Otherness, steamy revenge sex, and why it’s ok to like books in which characters do problematic things.
CW: Boundary-pushing, consensual intimate encounters are discussed.
Esme Brett (Feminist Romance) and Andrea discuss Brazen and the Beast by Sarah MacLean, plus-size representation in romance novels, ladies with skillz, and introduce a new game to Romancelandia: Hot Damn/No Ma’am.
CW: Discussion of body size from 31:30 - 43:45.
Bree Hill (Falling For Romance) and Andrea discuss Rebel by Beverly Jenkins.
We chat about inspiring teachers, Pizza Hut’s link to many millennial’s love of reading, and heroes who give and give, and ask nothing in return.
We also learn how Bree is a recent romance novel convert (it’s never too late!) and how Hallmark holiday movies and Debbie Macomber were her gateway to the genre.
The book discussion covers historically-accurate female agency, emotionally intelligent heroes, and the gift that keeps on giving (Thanks for the pleasure, Drake!).
Stick around until the end to learn about upcoming guests and book picks, as well as this week’s featured in-person romance novel book club.
Amanda Diehl (Smart Bitches, Trashy Books; NPR Books) and Andrea discuss their favorite Jennifer Crusie novels and other reader favorites.
We discuss the rampant anti-butter bias in Crusie's maternal archetypes, cute and fuzzy hitmen, the dangers of frying pans, and secretary Inception! We also learn how Andrea once trapped Amanda in her car and forced her to start reading Jennifer Crusie novels.
Is it a bingo? Is it a drinking game? Andrea shares the recurring themes she's noticed in Jennifer Crusie's oeuvre.
In Trope Town, Amanda recommends con artist and pet-centric romance novels. Andrea hopes someone writes a book full of carpenter puns.
Amanda Diehl (Smart Bitches, Trashy Books; NPR Books) and Andrea duke it out to select their favorite Wallflower from Lisa Kleypas’s memorable Wallflower quartet series.
During the Wallflower Rumble, we share crowdsourced contributions from readers about their favorite characters and books.
In Trope Town, we recommend Girl Squad romance novels. (Mostly Amanda recommends, since she is the queen of book recs.) Amanda also shares the premise for a sexy spy heroine in Write This Book.
In the course of casting each book we talk about, Andrea discovers a surprising connection to her favorite GLOW actor. We also discuss the meaning of “maladjusted narcissist” and Lisa Kleypas’s amazing, long-lived career as a romance novelist.