Episodes

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.


Body Image, Weight Loss, and Invisible Women in Romance Novels: Kennedy Ryan and Esme Brett

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 Mini: Communication is Key - Polyamory + Financial Conversations

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: Community, Outcasts, and Thirsty by Mia Hopkins

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).


Secret Baby Romance Novel Minisode: Kini Delivers a Bundle of Joy

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.


Moving Past Bodice Ripping: Denise Williams on Teaching 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 On The Hades/Persephone Myth and A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas

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 Minisode: The RITAs and Breaking Through

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)


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.


Romance Editor Norma Perez-Hernandez Must Love Dogs (and Sanctuary by Rebekah Weatherspoon)

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.


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.


Black Romance Matters with Funmi B.: Equivalent Exchange by Christina C. Jones

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.


The History of Bromance Novels and Emotional Idiots with Pop Culture Archivist Steve Ammidown

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.

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.


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!


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.


Alyssa Cole Wants You to Use Your Power, Be An Emotional Badass - Wolf Rain by Nalini Singh

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!


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. The Gorilla Twins.


6. Halloween Boo? by Sarah Spade - with my BFF Becky

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


5. Time Served by Julianna Keyes - guest Kini Allen

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.


004: Brazen and the Beast by Sarah MacLean - guest Esme Brett

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.


003: Rebel by Beverly Jenkins - guest Bree Hill

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.


002: Jennifer Crusie, The Drinking Game - guest Amanda Diehl

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.


001: Lisa Kleypas Wallflowers Throwdown - with guest Amanda Diehl

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.