Shelf Love

Dreaming of You: Justice for Joyce

Short Description

Let’s talk about Joyce Ashby from Lisa Kleypas's novel Dreaming of You. We delve into the dichotomous portrayal of Joyce as an irredeemable villainess alongside her foil, the redeemable “hero” Derek Craven. We explore the parallel themes of violence, possessiveness, and animalistic sexuality resulting in problematically differing fates and treatment by the text. Belched from the underworld, Defender of Bisexual Villainesses Dame Jodie Slaughter joins Shelf Love in this special cross-over project with Whoa!mance - watch for the next episode, in which Morgan and Isabeau share their conversation about Dreaming of You.


romance novel discussion, historical romance

Show Notes

Let’s talk about Joyce Ashby from Lisa Kleypas's novel Dreaming of You. We delve into the dichotomous portrayal of Joyce as an irredeemable villainess alongside her foil, the redeemable “hero” Derek Craven. We explore the parallel themes of violence, possessiveness, and animalistic sexuality resulting in problematically differing fates and treatment by the text. Belched from the underworld, Defender of Bisexual Villainesses Dame Jodie Slaughter joins Shelf Love in this special cross-over project with Whoa!mance - watch for the next episode, in which Morgan and Isabeau share their conversation about Dreaming of You.

Shelf Love:

Discussed: Dreaming of You by Lisa Kleypas

Guest: Dame Jodie Slaughter, Shelf Love’s Expert on Bisexual Villainesses

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Andrea Martucci: when I say Derek, you say, you you say Craven. Derek.

Jodie Slaughter: Craven.

Andrea Martucci: Derek

Jodie Slaughter: Craven.

Andrea Martucci: When I say Sara, you say Fielding. Sara.

Jodie Slaughter: Fielding

Andrea Martucci: Sara.

Jodie Slaughter: Fielding.

Andrea Martucci: When I say Joyce, you say Ashby. Joyce

Jodie Slaughter: Ashby.

Andrea Martucci: Joyce

Jodie Slaughter: Ashby.

Andrea Martucci: When I say Perry, you say

Jodie Slaughter: Kingswood

Andrea Martucci: Perry.

Jodie Slaughter: Kingswood

Andrea Martucci: Perry.

Jodie Slaughter: Kingswood.

Andrea Martucci: Hello, and welcome to Shelf Love, a podcast about romance, novels, and how they reflect, explore, challenge, and shape desire. I'm your host, Andrea Martucci. And on this episode, we will discuss Dreaming of You by Lisa Kleypas.

But more specifically, we will discuss the most influential and misunderstood character from this much discussed romance text: Lady Joyce Ashby.

Here to discuss this important topic I am joined by Dame, Jodie Slaughter, defender of bi-sexual villainesses. Jodie , how did you develop your expertise in this area?

Jodie Slaughter: I was belched from the underworld. And became something of a bisexual villainous myself. And so I feel like I know lady Joyce Ashby, like the back of my hand.

Andrea Martucci: I think we all know lady Joyce Ashby liked the back of our hand because

Jodie Slaughter: we do.

Andrea Martucci: We're all a little bit lady Joyce Ashby.

Jodie Slaughter: We are. Derek Craven is especially lady Joyce Ashby.

Andrea Martucci: Even Derek. Yes. And so the reason we're talking about Dreaming of You is because this is a book that is obviously discussed a lot.

And I think it's also brought up a lot because it has quote unquote problematic elements. But I think there's an opportunity to dive into some of those problematic elements a little bit more.

And we're also doing a project with Whoamance podcast where we're both reading this and having our own discussions. And then we're going to check in and see

Jodie Slaughter: Where our opinions converge. We, what we all decided was like the most important thing to hone in on and talk about in an episode and see how those come together, if they come together. Yeah.

Andrea Martucci: Yeah. And what I always find interesting about Whoamance, because I've had the privilege of speaking with Morgan and Isabeau several times, and I've always enjoyed those conversations. And also I listen to their podcast.

And I always find it fascinating what they focus on in books, because their approach in some ways is complementary to mine. And in some ways I'm like, I would never think about that. That's just not how I would come with the text. But it's always so interesting to hear what things people pick up on and what their thoughts are. I always find that fascinating.

Jodie Slaughter: Yeah. I think that's especially the case for a book, like Dreaming of You where there's a lot.

Andrea Martucci: There's a lot.

Jodie Slaughter: Here. And so we definitely had to pare down and get to the nitty gritty and figure out what it was we were most interested in. What was like the most like prescient thing for us, what did we. I keep coming back to every time we talked about this book and for some context we [00:03:00] did, we are like actively together.

Andrea Martucci: We're physically together in bed and

Jodie Slaughter: yeah. We are literally in bed. And we also last night had finished it and had a hours long tandem read session and we've talked about it a lot and we just kept coming back to Joyce like the Joyce of it all Joyce anyways.

Andrea Martucci: Yeah. Yeah. And we're going to get into a little bit more about. Justice for Joyce, so before we start getting into our discussion, let's very quickly hit on what this book is actually about. We'll just give you enough to anchor this conversation. So Jodie is going to read the back of the book.

Jodie Slaughter: Yes. All right. She stood at dangerous threshold then love beckoned her in, which I think is probably the tagline.

In the shelter of her country cottage, Sara Fielding puts pen to paper to create dreams, but curiosity has enticed the prim well-bred gentle woman out of her safe haven and into Derek Craven's dangerous world.

Handsome, tough and tenacious Cockney. He rose from poverty to become Lord of London's most exclusive gaming house a struggle that has left Derek Craven. Fabulously wealthy, but hardened and suspicious. And now duty demands he allows Sara Fielding into his world with her impeccable manners and her infuriating innocence. But here in a perilous shadow realm of ever shifting fortunes, even a proper mouse can be transformed into a breathtaking enchantress and a world weary gambler can be shaken to his cynical core by the power of passion and the promise of love.

Andrea Martucci: Okay, so this is a historical romance novel.

Jodie Slaughter: It is.

Andrea Martucci: It does not anchor it specifically, but through a few context clues, I believe Regency era,

Jodie Slaughter: which I appreciate as someone who famously, I have a difficult time with historical romance generally, especially of this time period.

Andrea Martucci: Yes. And I think what's interesting about this text is while there are gentry in this story. Sara and Derek are not gentry. They interact with people of the gentry, but Sara is like middle-class ish. Like country,

Jodie Slaughter: she comes from like a village. That's yeah. Very, just like

Andrea Martucci: not serving class.

Jodie Slaughter: In class, but they're definitely not part of society. Part of society at all. They're the people who like. Get the, the rumors, the gossip of the society, people from up on the hill. But they're not necessarily like down in the trenches.

Andrea Martucci: Yes. Not like Derek Craven who was born in the gutter,

Jodie Slaughter: in the literal

Andrea Martucci: gutter,

in the literal gutter. He was abandoned by his mother who was a sex worker, was raised by other sex workers.

Jodie Slaughter: Yes.

Andrea Martucci: And had a very rough childhood, but has somehow risen to become the owner of this very fabulous gaming hell and [00:06:00] he's apparently the richest man in England at this point.

Jodie Slaughter: Is he the richest man in the world?

Andrea Martucci: That's what it sounds like. Yeah. But then again, you have to just take that within the realm of this historical romance universe where the heroes have to be this absolutely extreme version of the best at everything.

Jodie Slaughter: Absolutely.

Andrea Martucci: So what's very interesting about this description is there is zero mention of lady Joyce Ashby. No, but this story would literally not happen without lady Joyce Ashby.

Jodie Slaughter: Lady Joyce Ashby has her hand in Sara and Derek's romance from the very first page.

Andrea Martucci: A much discussing from this book is the first main scene where Sara is hanging out outside of the gaming hell area, district of.

Jodie Slaughter: Yeah, she's just skulking around alleys

Andrea Martucci: taking notes because she's novelist and she's doing research for her next novel about this world. Yeah.

And Derek passes by and is like, she's going to get raped soon. But I don't care. I'm just going to keep passing by. Yeah. And then Derek gets attacked. Sara notices, pulls a gun from her reticule and shoots one of his attackers.

Jodie Slaughter: Dead.

Andrea Martucci: She kills a man.

Jodie Slaughter: She does kill a man and it doesn't ever really, she's never ho she never has to like, think about, live with, or is at all troubled by.

Andrea Martucci: No, she does say just before she shoots him, she's like, I could never kill a man. I don't think I could live with myself. And so she aims to the right, but then actually. It kills him, but yeah. Anyways.

It is a very interesting beginning scene. She saves him, but the reason he was attacked was because he had recently ended his affair with lady Joyce Ashby who in this novel is portrayed as an absolutely insane.

Jodie Slaughter: Yes.

Andrea Martucci: Like Fatal Attraction.

Jodie Slaughter: Yes.

Andrea Martucci: Type evil, other woman,

Jodie Slaughter: like a true awful villainous with zero endearing qualities. There's no interest in humanizing her, even the things that we learn about Joyce that I feel like in ways, humanized her to Andrea and I, you can tell that within the narrative are not supposed to humanize her to anyone else. And don't.

Andrea Martucci: So Derek and Sara would not have met if Sara did not need to rescue him from this situation where his face was slashed because she doesn't really want to kill him. She just wants to like, make him unattractive to other women, hurt him in some way.

There is a long, introspective moment by Derek when he realizes Joyce was behind this in the first or second chapter. Joyce is ever present through this novel. And people spend a lot of time talking about her, thinking about her. She's on the page quite a bit. She's in scenes quite a bit. And she drives a lot of the action in this book.

Now this is your first Lisa Kleypas right?

Jodie Slaughter: It is.

Andrea Martucci: When I suggested we read this, I was like, look. I know [00:09:00] there's a lot of really interesting things to talk about in here. I also hope you will actually enjoy the reading process because I think the craft is really well done. But I was also a little bit worried because sometimes I'm like, oh, I think this is interesting and fun. And you haven't

Jodie Slaughter: always agreed on that.

Andrea Martucci: Yeah.

Jodie Slaughter: Oh, this one, 100%. I felt like Lisa Kleypas writes a tight story. She keeps it going. Her characterization is very interesting. I think that the romantic payoff is big. Like it's very satisfying. It's a satisfying romance from a craft perspective and even from the, from just a reading for enjoyment perspective. Yeah.

Andrea Martucci: And she swings hard for the fences here.

Jodie Slaughter: Yeah.

Andrea Martucci: And she hits home runs.

Jodie Slaughter: Yeah, 100%.

Andrea Martucci: And I think that there's a reason that A. Lisa Kleypas has had such a long enduring career and has been very popular and bestselling even from early on in her career, which was, her career started in I believe the mid to late eighties. And this book is about 10 years into her career and she's still publishing. Today.

Jodie Slaughter: I actually. And he told me that she was, and I was like, it makes sense.

Andrea Martucci: Yeah. And sh, and it's interesting because she's actually building on top of this world that she first started writing about like 30 years ago. But I think there's a reason Lisa Kleypas is a popular author. And I think there's a reason this book is talked about a lot. Not only because it is a transporting read. But there's so much to talk about. It is just one of those books where

Jodie Slaughter: It's a rich text.

Andrea Martucci: It's a rich text.

Jodie Slaughter: Yeah.

Andrea Martucci: A hundred percent.

But I think that what I've noticed is that if you bring this book up, there are some people who are kind of like, I love this book. Don't talk to me at all about the problems where they want to excuse away things.

Jodie Slaughter: Sure.

Andrea Martucci: And then there are some people who only want to talk about the problematics and I feel like what makes this book interesting? Is the problematics.

Jodie Slaughter: I agree. 100%. I think with this one you can't have one without the other. Yeah, like This sort of like romantic payoff, it's very much bolstered by, as I'm going to keep saying, cause this is going to be my tagline, the Joyce Ashby of it all. It's very much bolstered by Kleypas's views around sex and sexuality and the way that all of that is gendered.

Andrea Martucci: She's been processing a lot of cultural baggage and personal baggage here.

Jodie Slaughter: Here and there are, I think earlier when we were discussing, I described it as Kleypas wanting to have her cake and eat it too. And I don't know that's necessarily accurate. There are a lot of things here that are wouldn't necessarily say progressive, but you understand what I mean when I use that word. And then obviously there are a lot of things here that are very blatantly regressive and I think she's like, attempting to I don't know, come [00:12:00] to, try to,

Andrea Martucci: she's trying to crack this nut wide open.

Jodie Slaughter: She's trying to crack the nut open. And I don't necessarily think that she does, but I think that like her exploration of it is fascinating.

Andrea Martucci: And I think that as consumers of the text, that it gave us an opportunity to have discussions about these things, but I don't think you can crack this net wide open.

Jodie Slaughter: I was going to say, I don't, I think this is like one of those nuts. That's it's the patriarchy. So it is uncrackable.

Andrea Martucci: Yeah.

Jodie Slaughter: In its entirety. Lisa Kleypas was going to like completely solve, you know what I mean?

Andrea Martucci: Yeah, she's going to solve it this text about the world in 1814 or whatever.

If you are familiar with Jane Eyre and the Wide Sargasso Sea. Jane Eyre was written by Charlotte Bronte, right?

Jodie Slaughter: It was.

Andrea Martucci: And it's this love story of the governess and the rich Lord of the manor and it's a Gothic. And the big secret is that Rochester is hiding his quote unquote crazy wife in the attic where she literally in text is mentally ill in some way, undefined.

But also that there's like some hereditary mental illness in her family as well. But the story leads you to believe that he is justified for treating her in this way.

And by the end of the story Bertha, the wife has jumped from a building and died. And lit fire to the estate and they're washed clean and they're finally able to start anew and have a real relationship.

Now in 1966, there was a novel called Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys. And it was a "postcolonial and feminist prequel to Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre, describing the background to Mr. Rochester's marriage from the point of view of his wife Antoinette Cosway, a Creole heiress.

I think that what we are humbly trying to accomplish today is a Wide Sargasso Sea type exploration of Joyce in Dreaming of You.

And the only reason we can do that, I think, is because Kleypas gave us enough clues to understand what is actually going on from Joyce's perspective. And as you mentioned earlier, I don't think Kleypas necessarily wants us to, or gives us anything in the text to make us feel sympathetic towards her.

Jodie Slaughter: Yeah.

Andrea Martucci: Because while there are lots of parallels between Derek Craven and Joyce Ashby. Derek Craven is redeemable and Joyce is not, and there's a hundred percent a gendered aspect to that.

Jodie Slaughter: Yeah.

Andrea Martucci: But I think that there are definitely enough breadcrumbs where you can piece together why Joyce is the way she is and what she's dealing with and why, and ask the question, why isn't she redeemable the way Derek is

Jodie Slaughter: 100%. I also think that I wouldn't say cares about Joyce. That's not what I would say.

Andrea Martucci: Correct.

Jodie Slaughter: I do think Kleypas put a lot of thought into Joyce in really specific ways that aren't like, great, but I do think she did. I think there [00:15:00] was the opportunity here for us to get nothing of Joyce.

Andrea Martucci: She could have basically been mostly off page, just evil, bad, and we could have just not found out anything really about her trauma motivation,

Jodie Slaughter: exactly. I'm like, there must've been reasons for that.

Andrea Martucci: Yeah. So I think that like in many ways, Joyce is the foil for the good innocent heroine. Yes. And that archetype of the evil other woman is definitely an archetype in historical romance and many other romance genres, and many other genres outside of romance.

In fact, I've been talking about Somebody is Trying to Kill Me and I Think It's My Husband, which was an essay by Joanna Russ published in 1973, about the modern Gothic. So it's not quite about romance, but it's basically about romance. I've been unpacking that in a Substack series. So if you want more information about that, go read on shelflovepodcast.substack.Com, subscribe, like, and review.

She talks in there about how the good woman is always in contrast with the evil other woman. And it's like asexual versus extremely sexual, childlike versus jaded and experienced.

Jodie Slaughter: Yeah. And that's one of the things that I'm like. Damn, Kleypas she is trying to explore because Sara isn't asexual. Sara isn't childlike? Like she is obviously being positioned as good woman.

Andrea Martucci: Yeah.

Jodie Slaughter: Which means a very specific thing. But like we see multiple top. She like multiple times we know that she like throws herself at her betrothed or pre-betrothed whatever, in search of passion. She does the same with Derek.

Like she is not de-sexed. Especially when she finally does have sex, she's like, oh, I know, nothing to Derek.

Andrea Martucci: Which is incredibly thrilling to Derek. Scary, but also he's like, oh my God, I have to make this good for her. And I can't scare her.

Jodie Slaughter: Yes. And she says specifically, she says I know too little and you knew, too much.

Andrea Martucci: Yes.

And I think that what Kleypas is exploring is definitely where Sara doesn't want to live and exist in this binary, where to be a good woman she has to fit into this very specific role

Jodie Slaughter: where she's got to be a little mouse.

Andrea Martucci: She has to be a little mouse, right? That's the only role she's allowed to inhabit. And she at various points is basically like, I want to be someone else. I want to try this just for one night. I want to be a different person.

Jodie Slaughter: Yeah.

Andrea Martucci: And it's very much, I think about the integration of like, how do we take these binary ideas around good woman, bad woman, and break them down. And that's what Kleypas is playing with a hundred percent, even with men. Yeah. Derek has a foil Perry Kingswood, who is, Sara's almost betrothed. They've been like courting for four years.

And Perry is the like anti masculine man, right? He is effeminate in [00:18:00] how he's characterized and it's supposed to stand in contrast to Derek,

Jodie Slaughter: Over mothered, being too mothered versus no mothering at all.

Andrea Martucci: but then it's also like Derek's arc is that he needs to also move towards that middle

Jodie Slaughter: he's like overly masculine.

Andrea Martucci: Yes. So like Derek's journey is to integrate A. Seeing women as either nurturers, mothers and wives or sexual being, sexual objects.

Jodie Slaughter: Yeah.

Andrea Martucci: And so he needs to change how he views women. And then he also needs to switch from this sort of like emotionless, masculine sexual man to become the kind of man who can have some emotions and still be masculine. Can be a father who cares about his child and also a wealthy masculine man.

Jodie Slaughter: Yeah.

Andrea Martucci: But. Joyce in the book does not have the opportunity to be more than how she's presented.

So let's talk about what we know about Joyce.

The first introduction we have to Joyce is when Derek is thinking about first of all, why his face got slashed. Yeah. But then he's thinking back to why he even began his affair with her.

Jodie, would you like to read this quote.

Jodie Slaughter: Sure.

"Mild though the feeling was, it had been enough to make him pursue her. He couldn't deny there had been many entertaining nights filled with sophisticated games and sensual depravity, and it took a hell of a lot to make him feel depraved. Derek finally had ended the liaison disgusted with himself as well as her, the memory rolled over him and he relived it in a drug stupor.

Andrea Martucci: Yeah. This was one of the things when we were together, we were both just like sophisticated games.

Jodie Slaughter: instances where Joyce's like sexual prowess is described as being these like, these perversions, these tricks and I'm like, what is it?

Andrea Martucci: What is she doing?

Jodie Slaughter: Is she doing?

Andrea Martucci: What do you think she was doing?

Jodie Slaughter: I told you, I've got my theory that she liked, wanted to put a thumb in Derek's ass

Andrea Martucci: maybe

Jodie Slaughter: or something. And then obviously there's a part that we'll get to. I don't know. I'm going to joke around and call Joyce bisexual villainess. But there's no, like and she was queer and you know what I mean?

Andrea Martucci: I think the queerness was only brought in as a shorthand for depravity.

Jodie Slaughter: That's exactly right. Yeah. It couldn't ever be brought in any other way. But I'm like, what else could it possibly be?

Andrea Martucci: I think that there's like a kink element.

Jodie Slaughter: I'm sure. She is interested in. She sure seemed to be interested in like pain.

Andrea Martucci: Yeah. And powerplay.

Jodie Slaughter: Yeah. Oh, power dynamics are very big to her. She wants power. But it seems like during sex, there's something in there to being rendered powerless by the power of Derek,

Andrea Martucci: which she still ultimately controls.

Jodie Slaughter: Yes. Oh yes. [00:21:00] She always like, ultimately wants to be. in control. Oh, she's just a bratty sub.

Andrea Martucci: The central depravity in many ways, to me feels like non procreative sex.

Jodie Slaughter: Yes.

Andrea Martucci: Do you know what I mean? Where, because she enjoys the sex and she's interested in acts that don't read as like vanilla, straight heterosexual type sex. And I mean that not just in the genders of the people in the relationship, but just like this heteronormative idea of what sexual relationships between men and women should be.

There is mention that she has had abortions. And that, she ended pregnancies because she didn't need to have children to fulfill her duties as a wife, because her elderly husband already had children from his previous marriage. So she didn't need to create an heir. And I think that kind of underscores this kind of like she's not having sex to become a mother, which as we've discussed previously, in relationship to Jodi McAllister's book about The consummate Virgin, that that is deviant woman, femininity.

Jodie Slaughter: Yeah. Yeah. The acceptable, the only acceptable way a woman should enjoy sex is in the marital bed. Whether they're engaging in, like I'm going to breed you, but it's they both know that this could result to the child, but that's also.

When you think about the sex workers here and how there's a certain like infantilization of them, where they're not portrayed as being as awful and evil as Joyce because of course they don't enjoy the sex they're having explicitly.

If they're

Andrea Martucci: All the men that pay for sex are basically just like

Jodie Slaughter: rutting beasts.

Andrea Martucci: Exactly they're terrible.

Jodie Slaughter: Yeah. And Joyce does enjoy it.

Andrea Martucci: Yes, there's a contrast with survival sex workers who have no choice,

but to do this.

Jodie Slaughter: Which are the only type of sex workers in this.. There is some mention of like courtesans.

Andrea Martucci: So let's talk about sex workers for a second. Because I think actually this book is rife with sex work and sometimes it's called sex work and sometimes it's not. And of course, because this was written in 1994 sex workers are often known by other terms.

Jodie Slaughter: Yes.

Andrea Martucci: In the book specifically the word prostitute is used many times. Whores usually were used by characters who were being derogatory. Derek's club has sex workers who work onsite. He is not their pimp, very importantly.

Jodie Slaughter: He very much is like, I don't take any money from them.

Andrea Martucci: Yes. Which I think is a very interesting distinction in here and then the fact that his club has sex workers on site is ameliorated at the end, or that the conflict is resolved at the end because Sara has ideas about the sex workers, where she understands that these women often are in dire straits and are have no other choice here. But the issue is dissolved when his club burns down at the end and he decides not to rebuild.

So now we don't have to deal [00:24:00] with the fact that

Jodie Slaughter: they all just went somewhere else.

Andrea Martucci: Where did they go? We don't know. We don't know. Yeah. So there's the sex workers who Sara develops relationships with, who work at Derek's club. You were alluding to this before, around the areas that feel a little progressive is that Sara is fairly open-minded.

Jodie Slaughter: Yes, she is. So Sara, as an author, her most famous work is a book called Matilda, which follows the life and times of a I guess a sex worker in London in Matilda. And Matilda possibly meets a very devastating end possibly not that's a little open or whatever, but, but people are obsessed with this book and Sara finds an in with the sex workers at Cravens because they're all like, oh, we love Matilda.

Andrea Martucci: They're like, do you know, Matilda, can you introduce us to her. They think she's real.

Jodie Slaughter: And so we know that Sara has spent time around working girls before. And so she views their lot in life with there's a little bit of paternalism. There's definitely some like sympathy, but she does grow a bit. Her growth it's very internal because Sara is never walking around like, You're disgusting. Like we're not getting from that type of starting point.

Andrea Martucci: She's always curious and empathetic towards them. And I think she starts by just basically viewing them purely as victims. Yes. And I think maybe she evolves to understand that in some cases it's just like any other type of work. Yes.

Jodie Slaughter: And that's somewhere towards the middle, she and Derek are having like a very passionate conversation where Derek is basically like, I come from nothing. I'm nothing.

I'm not good enough for you. And she's like, if I had been born in a rookery, I would be a prostitute. And I'm using the word cause that's what she is.

Andrea Martucci: Okay. So I actually have the quote. Derek is again he's self-flagellating. She goes, "I do understand. You have the will to survive Mr. Craven. How could I blame you for that? I don't like the things you've done, but I'm not a hypocrite. If I'd been born in the recovery, I probably would have become a prostitute. I know enough to understand that there were few choices for you in that place. In fact, I... I admire you for lifting yourself out of such depths. Few men would have had the will and the strength to do it."

And so interestingly, Derek was also a sex worker

Jodie Slaughter: Derek was a sex worker. He started off as like a chimney. Like doing odd jobs and stuff. And then he started making actual money. By largely sleeping with his clientele was like upper-crust blue blooded women, wives who would pay him well for his services. And then he would blackmail them. And their husbands. He's like, I cuckolded you.

Andrea Martucci: Yeah. Now pay me. So I don't tell anybody. And also [00:27:00] he's like, and sometimes they got off on that and they still wanted to have sex with me.

Jodie Slaughter: Yeah.

Andrea Martucci: So there's also then the people who paid him for sex, they're cast with a bit of this, like depravity as well,

yes, this is weird and gross that they're into this, but I can profit from it. That is the attitude around it.

Derek of course, has a lot of complicated feelings about this and feels like he is like soiled as a person because of all of these things that he's done.

And but Sara's like, I forgive you. Like I understand that was, like what choices did you have, like I can understand how that happened. I think that there's also a discussion in this book around the things that like people who become wives and mothers, that is a type of maybe not sex work, but it is a survival mechanism for women where women do not have economic choices in this world to really have a job,

Jodie Slaughter: yeah. So you've got to secure your place by other means, right? And securing your place means being married to, and then having the child of a wealthy man so that he has no choice then, but to make sure. You're I guess, taking care of.

Cast you out. But to be fair, even at the end Joyce's husband who does cast her out is still she'll live in luxury.

Andrea Martucci: And I think that's, what's interesting about this is first of all isn't marriage and having children with a man, basically a type of sex work. You're selling your body. It's a longer term commitment than a few minutes or an hour, as like a transactional sex worker. But it is a way that one can survive. Yeah, it's not limited to just poor women. What is explored a lot throughout this book is how upper class women basically are in the same.

In fact, they only have the choice to marry and, produce an heir. Yeah. But then they can have these other sexual relationships which is discussed.

And Joyce is one such person who was put in this situation.

So what we eventually learned around Joyce's backstory, in one of the interactions with Derek. Joyce is, as she often is in these scenes, just like monologuing and going on like a bit of an unhinged tirade.

Jodie Slaughter: Yeah.

Andrea Martucci: And she goes, "I can't let you leave me.' Joyce said steadily. 'I won't, I've been manipulated and abandoned by every man I've ever depended on. The first time was my father-' 'I don't care,' Derek interrupted, but she continued insistently, ignoring the pain of his grip in her hair. 'I want you to understand. I was forced to marry at the age of 15. The bridegroom was as old as my grandfather. I despised Lord Ashby at first sight, the lecherous old goat. Can you imagine what it was like climbing into bed with that?'"

Okay. So Joyce was raped at 15

Jodie Slaughter: child bride

Andrea Martucci: by an old man

Jodie Slaughter: sold off like abandoned, betrayed by her father.

Left from whatever [00:30:00] protection she might've had in her childhood home. Protection quote-unquote and thrown into, chrome into the bed. With this old man, who had children who were what? Probably older than her.

Andrea Martucci: So she was completely vulnerable. Unprotected.

Jodie Slaughter: Yeah. Unfulfilled.

Unfulfilled sexually. And also there is an element here that I'm just thinking about where it's like her being released from the burden of having to bear heirs for her husband. Not, is that actually a part of what would, but is that a part of what Kleypas is trying to convey?

Has driven her crazy, like she has no purpose as a woman.

Andrea Martucci: I think that the way Kleypas writes her she didn't want children.


It wasn't just that she didn't need to have an air. or he didn't want her to

Jodie Slaughter: she didn't want children.

Andrea Martucci: She's also a quote unquote bad woman, because she could have had children. She could have been fulfilled in that way, but she didn't want she to, she was hedonistic and only seeking her own pleasure.

Jodie Slaughter: Yes.

Andrea Martucci: Which, like people who are child-free by choice often are portrayed as selfish in our society. Yeah. Because the idea is, particularly if you're partnered in a long-term relationship, the idea is that people especially cis het

Jodie Slaughter: womenn should

have a responsibility.

Andrea Martucci: Like what is wrong with you if you don't want children. Yeah. You must be missing your nurturing gene or whatever. And I don't, that's not a real thing. That's the idea that people have. And so it is one more way to villainize Joyce in the story. Like she doesn't even want children what's wrong with her.

She only is selfishly seeking her own pleasure.

But like Joyce's backstory is extremely traumatic and it's like, it's. It's not hilarious, but the first time was my like, she is ready to enter a therapy session and Derek is literally violently gripping her hair. Yeah. And it's like shut up.

Jodie Slaughter: Derek is very physically violent with Joyce.

Andrea Martucci: But she's not a good woman, so he doesn't have to be gentle with her.

He was

Jodie Slaughter: allowed to be. Yeah. Yeah. Derek, I don't care. I don't care.

Andrea Martucci: Okay. But could you imagine if Derek's like I was born in the gutter? Okay, hold on. I'll be Derek. You be Sara.

Derek: I was born in the gutter

Sara: shut up. Shut up. Fuck your drain pipe.

Derek: I had to climb chimneys,

Sara: they should have lit that fire under you.

Andrea Martucci: Could you imagine?

Jodie Slaughter: Derek cries. Just cried. He cried tears of gin.

Andrea Martucci: It's mother's milk. And some others. Could you imagine?

Jodie Slaughter: Oh, Sara would be, everyone thinks she's a piece of shit. She didn't care about him, and his trauma.

Andrea Martucci: Everybody has to listen to Derek's trauma over and over.

Jodie Slaughter: Everyone is always like, his factotum. Everyone is always Mr. Craven was, he was born in the gutter.

Andrea Martucci: Like he gets so much grace for the way he behaves as a result of his trauma. Do you know what I mean?

Jodie Slaughter: Like he's allowed to be cruel mean [00:33:00] surly violent. Hedonistic in his own right.

Andrea Martucci: Yeah, but he's processing trauma. So why shouldn't he? Yeah, But Joyce

Jodie Slaughter: child bride. No.

Andrea Martucci: Yeah, literally in this two short paragraph monologue. Or whatever. With the exception of Derek interrupting to say I don't care. She is expressing feelings of abandonment and the desire for control. I can't let you leave me.

Derek leaving her is another abandonment. And the way she is attempting to assert any control over her life. Yeah. Is by saying you can't leave me. I dictate how this relationship works.

Jodie Slaughter: Yes.

Andrea Martucci: And I think that after understanding this, there's a way to understand the sexual tricks and depravities as another way to control the men in her life because she can't choose to not have sex with men. She's basically forced into doing that.

Jodie Slaughter: Yeah,

Andrea Martucci: She can't understand a relationship with a man that is not based on sex, and she understands that she can maintain the upper hand if she's surprising and more adventurous than other women they've encountered and interested in sex and it's kind of like, oh, Joyce is getting off on all of this. I'm like, is Joyce getting off? Is she finding pleasure in the sex? Or is she finding pleasure in having any control and power?

Jodie Slaughter: Yeah. That's exactly. I'm like, I don't think it's like the sex itself. At all I think it's like a power game. She's in

Andrea Martucci: a lot of sex is power anyway.

Jodie Slaughter: But yeah of course, she's been manipulated and abandoned and abused by every man she's ever come across. Every man she's ever had an affair with has probably approached her with the say, oh, you know, you're a tigress. Yeah. You know what I mean? Like a young and everyone is always like, well, she's so beautiful, which is another element of this, like far, be it. For me to be like, I feel so hard when you're beautiful. For a woman. But there is something to everyone is like that

Andrea Martucci: That made her more desirable as a child bride.

Jodie Slaughter: Yeah, 100% and and also she's like blonde. And like she'd probably be like angelic if it weren't for the hard flint in her house.

Andrea Martucci: Yeah, jaded, flinty look in her eyes

Jodie Slaughter: Joyce was probably like deeply, I think Joyce was probably as if she was real, but

Andrea Martucci: She is real to us..

Jodie Slaughter: Every woman here deeply sexualized as a young age, because every woman here is trying to find some type of empowerment and control in a life that they know ultimately whatever man is in their life is going to have the final say in whatever happens to them.

Andrea Martucci: Absolutely women especially in this time, have very few options and Sara is not like other girls because rather than choosing to go the route of marrying to be supported,

Jodie Slaughter: she says, she'll be a spinster.

Andrea Martucci: She'll be a spinster, but she's a novelist. So she's. She is earning money in a [00:36:00] way outside of how women are supposed to earn their keep. In those days, yes. And she and she's using her brain and her intellect to survive.

And so she is escaping that dichotomy

Jodie Slaughter: The trap.

Andrea Martucci: The trap of okay, you can either be a mother or you can be a sex worker explicitly. And this is of course, like part of why things don't work out with Perry because he explicitly wants her to give up her career and just move into that role of being a wife and mother, and basically being his mother as well.

But then when it comes to Derek and Joyce and the similarities between them, there's a lot of similarities. We actually made a list and one, one of them is the animalism of them right .

Derek has compared to an animal several times in this text. Other people observed there's something positively animal about him.

He's a brute wickedly unprincipled et cetera. They're dreamily thinking about his scar, his black hair, like he's so beautiful. Now let's go to a scene where Spoiler alert, Joyce arranges for one of her admirers to rape Sara.

Jodie Slaughter: Yeah.

Andrea Martucci: Because if Derek admires Sara's innocence, then she has to take that away.

And by the way she thinks she's going to get away with this and that everybody's going to get away with this is because Joyce is well aware that people don't believe women and people don't care about this. She says, "she won't tell him" talking about Derek. "She won't tell anyone. She'll be too ashamed." I wonder why Joyce thinks that people will not care.

Jodie Slaughter: Does she know explicitly.

Andrea Martucci: From experience. I wonder. And then the guy admires her, the guy who is just agreed to rape another woman so that he can have sex with joyous goes what an extraordinary creature you are, a tigress.

Jodie Slaughter: Yeah. Also, I do want to point out this is the second time in I think what is ultimately a matter of six months, six months to a year, that Sara has an attempted - she is assaulted. But like the gang of guys who likes surrounded her, whatever, when Derek's saved her and sprinted away, we're also going to rape her no?

Andrea Martucci: Yeah. Yeah. There's a lot of threat of rape against Sara because innocence is the only thing of value that a woman has. That is her currency. And the thing that men in this world. That's the only thing they can think to get from a woman. Yeah. Unless they become self-actualized men and there's a few examples. They're all like former heroes from other Lisa Kleypas books.

Who have integrated that like woman as both like partner, emotions,

Jodie Slaughter: Alex

Andrea Martucci: mother, wife, and sex, right? Yes. But every other man in this entire story, just sees women essentially as like sexual objects and every opportunity they have if they think they can get away with rape, they will.

Jodie Slaughter: Oh 100.

Andrea Martucci: If they view someone as a woman who It's not a quote unquote good woman. Oh, they find you on the street at night. They assume you're a sex worker. [00:39:00] Yes. And. You cannot be raped because you're a sex worker.

Jodie Slaughter: Yeah, 100%. You're unrapeable.

But there's also if they view as a woman who does have the innocence

Andrea Martucci: they want it right. They want to be the ones to despoil it. Yeah. Yeah. Okay. So here's a list that we made about things that could apply to both Joyce and Derek. Would you like to?

Jodie Slaughter: Yeah, so violent, they're both very violent.

Andrea Martucci: Especially with each other.

Jodie Slaughter: Especially with each other. There's explicitly in the text, talked with both of them being violent, not even in present day, but like in the past they're violent with other people. They're very violent with each other. They're both violent with Sara, even.

Possessive. Derek is very possessive of Sara. Joyce is very possessive of Derek.

They're both sexual.

We know that the, in the text we're supposed to find Joyce to be more deviant than Derek is, but I called full bullshit. Like we know off the bat that Derek enjoyed the depravities until he didn't enjoy them anymore.

Andrea Martucci: Until he was sickened by it, which is too many sweets, where it's like, you're enjoying something, but too much of a good thing.

You know what I mean?

Jodie Slaughter: But it was still a good thing to him for some time.

Animalistic, which we've just talked about. They're both very heavily desired. Every woman wants. Derek and every man, even if he is following it up with she's evil or calling her a bitch or whatever, acknowledges that Joyce is incredibly beautiful and desirable. They're both jaded.

Andrea Martucci: They'd tap that.

Jodie Slaughter: Yeah. Oh 100%. Yeah, 100%.

Andrea Martucci: They don't want to have a conversation with her.

Jodie Slaughter: No, but they fuck.

Andrea Martucci: Yeah. And they don't want to have a conversation with Derek, but they'd fuck.

Jodie Slaughter: Yeah. Yeah, they fuck. They're both jaded. Their traumatized, horrible childhood whether, born in the drain pipe.

Andrea Martucci: or born to privilege, but traded away like an object.

Jodie Slaughter: Sold. Yep. And they're both emotionless. But only Derek is the one that we get to see, transformed by love, by the love of a good woman.

But he's given a chance by Sara. Sara gives him the B O T D and allows him to open up uh, no body gives that to Joyce.

Andrea Martucci: (singing Nobody by Mitski) Nobody, nobody, nobody.

Jodie Slaughter: Like Mitski said nobody yeah.

Andrea Martucci: Yeah. I think that is the wide Sargasso sea of it all, where it's like, hold on a second.

Yeah. Let's just think about this from Joyce's perspective for a moment.

Why does Joyce not get the chance.

Interesting. Later in her career, Lisa Kleypas writes Sebastian St. Vincent. Who famously at the end of It Happened One Autumn threatened to rape the heroine.

And then in the very next book Devil in Winter redeems Sebastian St. Vincent. [00:42:00] And gives his perspective. We understand much more about what is going on with him. We understand oh, he wasn't really going to rape her. He wouldn't have really followed through on it. Blah, blah, blah, and completely redeemed his character. If you want more on this conversation, I covered this with Amanda Diehl in literally episode one of Shelf Love.

It's been 140 episodes since I've talked about Kleypas in detail.

Jodie Slaughter: It's a long time.

Andrea Martucci: But so here's the thing is, I think that there very much is this understanding of there's two sides to every story. Yeah. And even Derek Craven was first a character in The Gambler series, the first book before Dreaming of You,

Jodie Slaughter: is it Then Came You,

Andrea Martucci: is it Then Came You? The characters from that book are covered in this one.

Jodie Slaughter: Yeah. Lily and Alex.

Andrea Martucci: Yeah. I think it is Then Came You, But in that book, Derek is like much less refined than he is in this book. And my understanding is that Lisa Kleypas had no intention of writing a book about him. And people were so intrigued by him as a character that she was like, okay, I guess I'll turn this into a book. And it's very interesting how between the first introduction of him in one book where he wasn't intentionally built as a romance hero, like he becomes much more refined. He. Has certain types of character growth and then not other types. Yeah. I have to happen in this book. But it's always the men who get a chance to be redeemed.

Jodie Slaughter: That's what I was going to say. Part of me wants to write to Kleypas and entreat her to give me what I really want, but it's not even a question necessarily of is Kleypas - in this fictional scenario where I'm having a conversation with this woman,

Andrea Martucci: Lisa - call us.

Jodie Slaughter: Hey Babe. Hit a line. Where she's, where she'd be willing to write the story. I have very serious doubts that

Andrea Martucci: Readers

Jodie Slaughter: readers. Would not view Joyce as ruined as everyone in this book views her.

Andrea Martucci: Oh yeah,

Jodie Slaughter: I have no faith that readers would not be like she's ruined, she's a ruined woman. She's had too much sex to be a heroine. She's done too many bad things. And we've read about these men who like, do the most heinous shit.

Andrea Martucci: They've had disposable sexual relationships with like how many, hundreds of women. They've been cruel. They've been emotionally manipulative.

Jodie Slaughter: Joyce is like 22 or something.

Andrea Martucci: She maybe a little bit older than that, but she's still in her twenties. For sure. Yeah. She's like your age Jodie

Jodie Slaughter: She's had like six lovers. Like

Andrea Martucci: literally, even if she had a hundred,

Jodie Slaughter: it doesn't. Yeah.

Andrea Martucci: We have certainly read historical romances in particular, or even look, even contemporary romances where the male main character

Jodie Slaughter: are just going through them.

Andrea Martucci: Yeah, I just read one where the guy basically had a rule where he never has sex with the same woman twice. He never sees the same moment twice.

Jodie Slaughter: Sure.

Andrea Martucci: I've read so many books like that.

Jodie Slaughter: 100%.

Andrea Martucci: Yes. I've read books where that is not the case. And increasingly we will find books where men are given full [00:45:00] emotional depth and range and are not treating women as disposable and are not misogynists like Derek Craven because Derek Craven is a hundred percent a misogynist.

Jodie Slaughter: Yeah, he's a misogynist and he hates women

Andrea Martucci: and you. I don't think that changes when he married Sara, Sara is the exception because she's not like other girls.

Jodie Slaughter: Oh 100%. Sara is not like other girls, NLOG.

Andrea Martucci: So he's not even a redeemed misogynist.

Jodie Slaughter: No, He's just a misogynist who got married,

Andrea Martucci: and likes his wife and likes his daughter. Yeah. Because his daughter is.

Jodie Slaughter: It's still a surprise to his wife.

Andrea Martucci: Yep.

Jodie Slaughter: That he likes his daughter.

Andrea Martucci: Yeah. Because he's because of these stereotypical understandings of masculinity

Jodie Slaughter: and fatherhood where really what type of emotions you're allowed to, like he's allowed to have lust. He's allowed to brood. He's allowed to have anger and he's allowed to have a certain level of passion. His, I love you is strangled out of him.

Andrea Martucci: It was only after he thought she died. Yeah. And he was like, oh, after I thought you died, all of a sudden, I was like, why didn't I tell you I loved you?

It's like jesus.

Jodie Slaughter: Fuckin'.... Yeah, I don't come away from this, like I, I do genuinely think that the romantic payoff was like very satisfying and I enjoyed this read. I have not come away from this as a Derek Craven fan girl. Not even just because he's so problematic, just because I'm like, he ain't, that's worthy.

Andrea Martucci: No. I think that what is interesting about this book is yes, there are like quote unquote romantic elements. But like, when I think about the romance between Sara and Derek, there are these moments that really just do a great job of tugging on the heartstrings.

Yeah. But if I actually take a moment to think about their relationship, I'm like, what is this relationship built on? He basically just recognizes her as not like other girls, becomes obsessed with her, but in a very sexual way. And then eventually opens up to her emotionally to say, I love you, but like they don't -

and I think Kleypas evolved on this as her career progressed, where she created relationships between her main characters that were a bit more fleshed out in terms of what they have in common, what they talked about and

Jodie Slaughter: yeah.

Andrea Martucci: You know that, but this book relies on these moments and grovels. Yeah. That, they get boiled down to oh, he puts her glasses in his pocket. It's an incredibly affecting moment, it says a lot about like how special she is to him, but it doesn't actually tell us anything about their relationship.

Jodie Slaughter: Yeah. I don't necessarily know why she's special to him.

Andrea Martucci: he's fascinated and obsessed with her. Yeah but like why?

Jodie Slaughter: I don't know. And especially, cause it's not like she's the, like he does mention, he's oh, I've met, spinsters and whatever.

Andrea Martucci: No interest in them.

Jodie Slaughter: I don't know what it is about. Say I.

Because she's not. Just the one and that she's just the one. That's the, that's just what we [00:48:00] have to take from it. She's just the one.

Andrea Martucci: Yeah. But I think that if you took. All of the stuff with Joyce out. I think this book would be much less interesting. Not just because Joyce drives the action.

Jodie Slaughter: After they get married there are a few chapters where it really. It fell apart for me hard.

The domesticity... I was so uninterested because I was like, they're not like sitting a bed, having interesting thought provoking, whatever conversations. They're like, she'll want to bring up something about the future, about the practicalities of should we live here or. And then he's like, I'm trying to fuck. Yeah. Yeah. And then they fuck.

Andrea Martucci: She's like, why do you always try to have sex with me when I try to talk about things. He goes, why you trying to talk about things I tried to have sex with you.

And then they have sex. And then he buys her jewels and whatever. Yeah. And one of his comments is, wow. My friends who were married really undersold how convenient this is.

Jodie Slaughter: Yes. Oh, to just have a wife next to you all the time.

Andrea Martucci: She's just always here for sex.

Jodie Slaughter: It's just so wild.

Andrea Martucci: She's always here to have me talk about my day to

Jodie Slaughter: yeah. And it fell apart for me until Joyce came back.

And Joyce came back and I was like, all right, I'm ready to go again.

Andrea Martucci: Joyce comes back. And it's come. She comes back and she kidnaps Sara at gunpoint. Burns Cravens down

Jodie Slaughter: burns it, which I'm like. Sara, should we not? All right. I'm just going to lean fully full into. Sara should be fucking thankful that Cravens burns yes. They should both be thankful because now they don't have to actually have the, that they totally couldn't have the hard conversation of what are going to work.

We're not going to live above this gambling house with our children. They did. They did. They. And then yeah.

They weren't ever going to, I don't want to reference one of my own books.

Andrea Martucci: Just do it.

Jodie Slaughter: Okay. So in All Things Burn, I wrote a book All Things Burn. It's a woman who falls in love with the hitman, but it's less about his evolution from killer to. Redeemable non killer and more about like justice and her, at first, I called it like a de-evolution from like whatever, to somebody who understands that justice does need to often be sought how it needs to be sought or whatever. So she becomes the killer. He, doesn't not like. Yeah.

Andrea Martucci: Like how you're a, somebody with tattoos guiding me, somebody without tattoos. He's a killer. He remains a killer. And just guide.

Jodie Slaughter: Like straight up at the end. Like the epilogue is like he comes home from killing somebody. Yeah, basically. And so I had hoped that Derek Craven could stay Derek Craven.

Andrea Martucci: No, he had to be neutered.

Jodie Slaughter: He had to neutered. And,

Andrea Martucci: but in a way where he.

Jodie Slaughter: He becomes a benefactor and he's still incredibly wealthy and whatever, but I was like. [00:51:00] I don't want that Derek Craven, though. Do you know what I mean?

Andrea Martucci: You want a Derek Craven who continued to be like the king of gaming hell.

Jodie Slaughter: They don't have to live there in order for him to have that.

Andrea Martucci: I think that the reason that it's super convenient that Joyce burns it down because when I'm taking.

Convenient, but also Derek can't continue to do that because I think that we imagine that it would have to end at some point and as romance readers who are seeking this, like riding off into the sunset thing, We don't ever want to watch anything decay.

We don't want to ever understand that, like this was a high point. I think that like burning the gaming hell down, allows him to go off on the highest note possible and maintain that notoriety without ever having to deal with the fact that like times would change and this was like the Halcyon days of yore. And so now he can ride off into the sunset as a benefactor,

Jodie Slaughter: as boring. As just boring now.

Andrea Martucci: Okay. So anyways, so Joyce comes back. Yeah, sure. I don't like deep thoughts on that,

Jodie Slaughter: Joyce comes back. Kidnaps Sara. And is not like I'm going to kill you. She's like, I'm going to take you up to this like tower,

Andrea Martucci: just like remote castle.

Jodie Slaughter: And I'm going to keep you locked in there forever and I'll come back and visit you and tell you about how good your husband fucks me.

Andrea Martucci: Yeah, because he's going to give up, he's going to stop missing you after like a day, and he'll come back to me.

Which again feels very much if she literally just wanted Sara out of the way she would've killed her. She wanted the control and the power.

Jodie Slaughter: Torture her. Yes, she wants the power. She wants Sara to know.

Andrea Martucci: She wants to gloat.

Jodie Slaughter: She wants to gloat. And then there is a line where she goes. "'Perhaps I'll even show you ways to pleasure me and you'll show me exactly what your husband finds so compelling about you.' 'You're disgusting,' Sara said an outrage. 'You might say that now, but after a few days, you'll do whatever I want in return for food or water.'"

Andrea Martucci: and I'm pretty sure after that Sara's like stomach, roils. She's disgusted by the idea that the bisexuality of it all. She's just like,

oh, like eat pussy. Sara barely knows what that is even, and I'm sure she could not imagine that two women could do it together.

Jodie Slaughter: Not at all. Yeah, because she has she learned nothing writing Matilda?

Andrea Martucci: Nothing, but she was just writing down phrases. What's super interesting about that is. Like we talked about earlier, it feels thrown in there as like a, oh, I'm so depraved.

Jodie Slaughter: I was so surprised when I read it because my first instinct was not oh she's so depraved. My first instinct was like, wait bitch.

Andrea Martucci: Oh, can we have that scene?

Jodie Slaughter: Right, Exactly.

Andrea Martucci: Maybe you should show her ways.

Jodie Slaughter: Like maybe they should maybe hook up and see what happens. I don't know. That can be a throuple.

Andrea Martucci: I feel like by the way, the depraved games. I wouldn't be surprised if like multiple partners and voyeurs. [00:54:00] Like whatever,

Jodie Slaughter: like bringing other people in like group sex. Yeah.

Andrea Martucci: Yeah. Tame

Jodie Slaughter: shit, to be honest.

Andrea Martucci: But Again, it's all very performative.

Jodie Slaughter: Yes.

Andrea Martucci: Do you think, for example, "I'll show you ways to pleasure me. And you'll show me exactly what your husband finds so compelling about you." It's all about. I have to know what is so interesting about you.

And I have to soil you. Yes. In this depraved manner. It's not about I really want somebody to lick my pussy.

Jodie Slaughter: Oh, yeah. At first, she thinks like when she. Convinces not convinces, but like whatever signs this dude up to assault, Sara, she's got it in her head the thing that is most interesting about Sara to Derek is her innocence. And now they're married. And so she knows that Sara is not innocent anymore because he has taken her.

And so now her, in her mind, she's what is it. What is it about you? We don't either, but


Andrea Martucci: No. I mean,

Jodie Slaughter: I love Sara. I like her quite a lot. I think she is

Andrea Martucci: she actually has a spine.

Jodie Slaughter: Yeah, she has a spine, but doesn't fall into the trap of like the Aarya stark of it all, I'm a strong woman and I'm a sword fighter. Not that's a bad thing, but I do think there's some,

Andrea Martucci: she's not trying to completely throw away gender roles. She's trying to subvert them a little bit in an acceptable way.

Jodie Slaughter: Yes. Yes. She has a little bit of agency of, I want to try to make the best life for myself. While also recognizing that like when Derek is meeting her parents and he's like, Oh, isn't there tea in there to be made, she still goes and makes the tea yeah, you. You know what I mean?

Andrea Martucci: There, there's still very much this understanding of gender roles and separation between what men do and what women do very much. Yeah.

Jodie Slaughter: Yeah. So I don't think, yeah, I don't, I definitely don't think Joyce is like, Hey girl.

Andrea Martucci: Joyce isn't like, you know what? Men suck. Let's have a deep, emotional relationship. No. I mean we'll obviously because Derek is allowed to be redeemed as somebody who is capable of emotions. But Joyce is not capable.

Jodie Slaughter: Yeah. If Derek had said something like this, at any point. To a man or if Derek had even had a Jamie Fraser moment. Oh, where he'd been like assaulted.

Andrea Martucci: Yes. As a sex worker, it is very clear

Jodie Slaughter: that it was women, only women.

Andrea Martucci: He wasn't being hired by the Dukes.

Jodie Slaughter: Yes,

Andrea Martucci: it was the Duchess.

Jodie Slaughter: It was the duchesses

Andrea Martucci: right. Yup.

Jodie Slaughter: So that's also a. That's like a very specific she's we're going to, let's be clear about that.

Andrea Martucci: Because his sex worker status was almost about just how desirable he is as a heterosexual man. Yes. It wasn't shaded with needing to question how much control he had. And I think the fact that he like.

Had complete control over the situation like, oh, they wanted to fuck me. So I made [00:57:00] them pay me. Then I blackmailed them. He always has the upper hand

Jodie Slaughter: I love that being Derek Craven's voice. And

Andrea Martucci: No, hold on. If I was actually going to do Derek Craven's voice. I can't do a Cockney man. And for that, I apologize.

Okay. So how does Joyce get locked in the attic of an old moldering estate in the country?

I'm so glad you asked. How do you solve a problem? Like Joyce? Okay. So Sara, when Joyce has tried to take her up to the tower, there is a tussle over the gun. And Sara, once again, shoots somebody.

Jodie Slaughter: Like noted gunman.

Andrea Martucci: Noted murderer.

Noted in competent gun person. In the tussle, like Joyce gets shot in the shoulder and it's not fatal. It's just she's able to get control.

Jodie Slaughter: She's like a whimpering.

Andrea Martucci: And Sara's like, you want me to feel sorry for you, you stupid bitch ?

Jodie Slaughter: Yeah. Sara actually does call her a bitch. I think it's the first time Sara curses, the entire book,

Andrea Martucci: which, look, I don't know if somebody has just been, you. Tell them. It's fine. It's fine. But So Sara, then her plan is I'm going to bring Joyce to her husband, who we understand is Joyce's abuser.

Jodie Slaughter: Yes.

Andrea Martucci: Okay. And rapist. So here we go.

"'What will you do with her?' Sara said," And he says hurt her lecherous old husband who's also very powerful. "'I will keep her at a remote location in Scotland,' Lord Ashby answered Sara, 'away from all society. Clearly she presents a danger to all those she associates with. I would isolate her in relative comfort rather than confine her to a lunatic hospital where she might be subjected to cruel treatment and also prove an embarrassment to the family,'" perhaps more importantly, prove an embarrassment to the family.

'"No!' Joyce erupted in an inhuman howl. 'I won't be sent away. I won't be caged like an animal!' Sara kept her attention on Lord Ashby. 'I only wonder why you haven't done it before, my Lord.'"

Jodie Slaughter: Oh, fuck.

Andrea Martucci: So by the end, Joyce is literally like, she howls an inhuman howl, I won't be caged, like an animal, which we knew she was an animal all along.

Literally Sara hands her over to her abuser.

Jodie Slaughter: Put your bitch on a leash, Lord Ashby.

Andrea Martucci: Yeah. And Sara is colluding with him to imprison Joyce, take away all of her autonomy.

And is literally like, yeah. Why didn't you do it sooner? Why didn't you control your beast sooner. It is honestly breathtaking.

Jodie Slaughter: It's also super breathtaking because. I was very surprised that it was Sara, who was like doing the dirty work with Lord Ashby. And not

Andrea Martucci: because Derek would have just killed Joyce.

Jodie Slaughter: Yes.

Andrea Martucci: And Sara, I think explicitly says, I don't want him to go to jail for killing Joyce.

Jodie Slaughter: Sure. Sure. Yeah. I, yeah, I was like very surprised,

Andrea Martucci: they literally, Joyce has no voice.

Jodie Slaughter: Oh no.

Andrea Martucci: Now that she has been chained and [01:00:00] controlled, Joyce doesn't get a voice. She is just once more being sent to an even.

Whatever, it's an abusive situation all the way down.

Jodie Slaughter: It's like away from society. Literally. She's a danger to society. Yeah.

Andrea Martucci: She's not going to get any help.

Jodie Slaughter: No.

Andrea Martucci: Like I'm not that there's like therapy and these days. And I'm not saying like a quote unquote lunatic asylum would have been positive for her.

But I'm just saying this is not an empathetic way to help Joyce.

Jodie Slaughter: No. Nobody's interested in helping Joyce. She deserves to be punished.

Andrea Martucci: From this text.

Jodie Slaughter: Yeah. In the text said, yeah, she's lucky she didn't get killed. She deserves the suffering.

Andrea Martucci: She deserves to live and suffer and be punished for her actions for eternity. Forever. There's no let me get her some help. And like maybe after a few years, she'll.

Jodie Slaughter: Let's put her on parole.

Andrea Martucci: It's literally can you just imagine

Jodie Slaughter: she's a young woman,

Andrea Martucci: she's a young woman. And there's, there is no redemption arc where we get another book where Joyce deals with her trauma because of the love of. The stable hand who

Jodie Slaughter: would be fantastic

Andrea Martucci: or whatever. Where she's like, yeah, I I was born in a gutter and like sold to

Jodie Slaughter: lakes. Exactly,

Andrea Martucci: and she doesn't get that chance.

Jodie Slaughter: She's not worthy of it.

Andrea Martucci: She's just been discarded and thrown away because

Jodie Slaughter: like she has her whole life.

Andrea Martucci: Yeah. Yup. Yup. And until one day, Lord Ashby's son is in the estate with Joyce, locked in the attic and brings his new wife there and doesn't say that Joyce is there locked in the attic.

And then Joyce is like, Please pay attention to me!

Jodie Slaughter: Is haunting the house she's in the walls.

Andrea Martucci: Cause, just like this is so cruel. It is devastating.

Jodie Slaughter: It's very devastating and they don't ever think about it again?

Andrea Martucci: No, they live happily ever after. And Sara fulfills her role as wife and mother by producing a child who Derek loves and then Derek licks her tits and sucks her breast milk. Yeah.

In the epilogue.

Jodie Slaughter: He does. He does.

Andrea Martucci: "The lustily maternal sight sent a wave of aching excitement through him." This is the most saying the quiet part out loud about integrating the maternal with the sexual I have ever read.

Jodie Slaughter: Yeah.

Andrea Martucci: Nice. Lustily maternal.

Jodie Slaughter: Yeah.

Andrea Martucci: But like a hundred percent not kink shaming and a hundred percent like, I breastfed a child. This is just like a fact of like you, if you.

Jodie Slaughter: Hot, so I'm not, yeah.

Andrea Martucci: A hundred percent. It can be hot but like in this particular text, when there was such a dichotomy between sex and mothers, this is just saying the quiet part out loud.

Jodie Slaughter: Yeah. What is this? He's ultimately overcome.

Andrea Martucci: The need to separate those roles.

Jodie Slaughter: Yeah. His Madonna whore complex

Andrea Martucci: and the fact that he never had a [01:03:00] mother and then basically Sara just becomes. His mother.

Jodie Slaughter: Yeah. Like he never fed from a breast until now. Well,

Andrea Martucci: He sucked on the teat of a gin bottle.

Jodie Slaughter: He was on mother's day,

Andrea Martucci: by the way. Sorry. The reason we keep saying this is because at one point he's like just completely wasted on gin. And his factotum is like, oh, I think you've had enough gin. And Derek's. It's mother's milk.

Jodie Slaughter: Which is like such a dramatic. A little dramatic.

Andrea Martucci: It's dude. Come on. Brother

Jodie Slaughter: Greenwood Corners is three miles up the road. Yeah, Just go and get her. Stop doing he's like throwing half drunk bottles of gin at the wall destroyed. Drapes on fire. Yeah.

Yeah, this is your king? This is your case,

Andrea Martucci: is your king.

Look at your king. This is your king.

Jodie Slaughter: Derek Craven is not my king.

Andrea Martucci: Oh boy. All right. Did we crack this nut wide open?

Jodie Slaughter: Yeah, I think we crack that nut open, but I think that what we have found inside of the shell. Is like

Andrea Martucci: more nuts or yeah,

Jodie Slaughter: a lot more nuts with a lot more shells.

Andrea Martucci: Yeah. It's like it's nuts to crack all the way down.

Jodie Slaughter: That's all the way down.

Andrea Martucci: It's a Russian nesting doll of nuts to crack open

Jodie Slaughter: a little babushka nut.

Andrea Martucci: Yeah, I just, oh boy. I mean, I kind of want to come back to.

The richness of this text.

Jodie Slaughter: Yeah.

Andrea Martucci: Where we purposefully were like, let's choose something that obviously we definitely want to talk about. And we talked a little bit about sex work, but like we could have had a much longer conversation about sex work.

We could have talked about the foil of Perry Kingswood a lot more. What were the other things we thought we might want to discuss?

Jodie Slaughter: We did talk about this briefly, but we could have discussed. I think at length like Sara having a career. What it means for her to have a career. And like Perry and Derek's differing opinions on what that means and how that turns out, because that's a big part of it. Like at the end, she's like giving lectures and yeah. And it's never

Andrea Martucci: social justice aspects.

Jodie Slaughter: Yeah. Yeah, 100%.

Andrea Martucci: Because cause Derek also is I was a chimney boy and trying to pass legislation.

But shouldn't be boys. I think there's also a conversation to be had like this meta conversation around like fiction where everybody believes that Matilda is real. And I think that is a meta conversation around romance novels.

Jodie Slaughter: Oh, sure.

Andrea Martucci: And does fiction impact us? And if fiction feels as real to us as reality.

It becomes kind of this useless distinction to be like it's fiction. It's real to me,

Jodie Slaughter: that's a nut that

Andrea Martucci: Joyce is real.

Jodie Slaughter: That's a thing that you are very interested in.

Andrea Martucci: It is.

Jodie Slaughter: Yeah. You know what I mean? It's just yeah. It's I think it's always a question that you, yourself, on yourself coming back to.

The idea of the people, being like, it's fiction. We can tell the [01:06:00] difference between.

Andrea Martucci: And I'm like, can we? our brains can't,

Jodie Slaughter: yeah. Yeah. It's becoming increasingly clear that fiction very much. They both inform each other to the point that they're indistinguishable

Andrea Martucci: well and that's actually, I think maybe a great point to bring up, as a conclusion where the problems with this text are not of Lisa Kleypas's imagination.

Jodie Slaughter: Oh no.

Andrea Martucci: These are the problems of the society that we live in. Yeah. And they're manifesting in very interesting ways.

Jodie Slaughter: What's interesting is both within the time period of this book is set in.

Within the time period Kleypas was writing it in and within the time period, we were talking about it in which is some hundred plus years. Apart from the start. Yeah. Oh, it's a 200 timeless, but

Andrea Martucci: Yeah, right there, look, there could be a whole other conversation around what is actually historically accurate in 1820, what is actually historically accurate in 1994. And we probably have a sort of good idea of what's going on now, but I think that even then we are relying on our cultural beliefs of how things were 200 years ago and how different they were. And those are not accurate. A hundred percent informed by things I've read in romance novels. At the very least, but,

Jodie Slaughter: yeah, we have a tendency to flatten. Yeah, very much flattened, the issue

Andrea Martucci: and one example of this is selling your daughter off at 15 to marriage, to an old like rich guy. I think that we're like, oh wow, they were so backwards and things to do. I don't think that was very common,

Jodie Slaughter: it wasn't that common.

Andrea Martucci: Definitely different cultural understandings of the age of maturity.

Jodie Slaughter: Yes.

Andrea Martucci: But I think that there's a fairly cross-cultural idea that you don't fuck kids.

Jodie Slaughter: Yes. That's exactly it. And that.

Andrea Martucci: How you define kid is a little bit different.

Jodie Slaughter: You do find kid is definitely a little bit different, but yet it was not commonplace for 15 year old girls to be getting married in Regency, England. Yeah. And especially not if they were not blue blood, like upper class. Non aristocracy.

Andrea Martucci: Like seriously. I truly think that would be considered a bit weird and deviant. Yeah. To be like,

Jodie Slaughter: wait, I'm sorry. especially to some old man.

Andrea Martucci: So would we feel differently about it if she was 15 and he was 20 or 18?

Jodie Slaughter: I think Joyce would have felt different about it,

Andrea Martucci: but if he'd been quote unquote desirable,

Jodie Slaughter: If he'd been quote unquote desirable. Yeah. It probably would have been a little different, but yeah, I think 15. Yeah, it was probably like at the time, universally.

Andrea Martucci: A little weird. Weird. Yeah,

Jodie Slaughter: but people probably looked at her father was like,

Andrea Martucci: Okay. I'm trying to remember in pride and prejudice. Is it Lydia who gets married to Wickham? And she's quite young. She might be like 16. Yeah, I think, yeah, but I think everybody's like, Ooh. Yikes. Yeah. Yeah. Everyone's a little yikesy

So Jodie. Thanks for literally physically being here.

Jodie Slaughter: Thank you for literally physically having me.

Andrea Martucci: Yeah, you're welcome. This was a pleasure. When we were doing a little sound check here, we purposefully yelled into the microphone a [01:09:00] little bit, which I think was important because we got heated. This is

Jodie Slaughter: heated, like Beyonce said.

Andrea Martucci: Yeah. But isn't it super fun to read a book that like, these fictional characters inspires such passionate emotions?

Jodie Slaughter: Yeah, it does it 100%. I told you I've been in a big reading slump. Yeah.

I don't know that Kleypas is like opening the book and like ending that, but.

Andrea Martucci: But you read a book,

Jodie Slaughter: I read this book start to finish. Yeah. And I was prepared to, if I had DNF'd that would have been the conversation that we would have had. Yeah.

Andrea Martucci: We've had conversations where you were like, oh, I

Jodie Slaughter: but I enjoyed this.

Andrea Martucci: So the other thing you've been doing since you've been at my house is you finished a book.

Jodie Slaughter: I did finish a book.

Andrea Martucci: Finished writing a book, to be clear

Jodie Slaughter: I finished. Yeah, I finished writing a book. Yeah, that book is it's my first F/F romance.

Andrea Martucci: F F

Jodie Slaughter: F f!

Andrea Martucci: Are they bisexual f's or

Jodie Slaughter: one of them is bisexual. The other one is a lesbian.

Andrea Martucci: I see. Sapphic. Yeah. Yeah. So you finished that book just in time for, to get into the mood, to promo your second trad pub book that's coming out soon.

Jodie Slaughter: My second trad pub book that is coming out is called Play to Win. It's out July 11 20 23. That's incredibly soon. You can Pre-order it now, wherever you buy books, but that book it's a marriage in trouble slash long lost childhood loves. There's a lot of groveling. A lot of learning to come together. A lottery winning. Yeah, the premise is that The female main character. Wins the lottery. And has her entire life completely upended by it.

And then must reconnect with her long lost husband. So that he doesn't steal her shit.

Andrea Martucci: Yeah.

Jodie Slaughter: But he doesn't want to steal her shit.

Andrea Martucci: Of course not.

Jodie Slaughter: He just wants to steal her heart.

Andrea Martucci: Oh, yeah. Yeah. So that's exciting news and I hope everybody runs out immediately to pre-order Play to Win ,

Jodie Slaughter: Play to Win.

Andrea Martucci: Buy Bet On It. Your first book in that series

Jodie Slaughter: Always buy Bet on It. Bet on it is also available wherever you get books, Bingo based sex pact. It's what the streets are talking about.

Andrea Martucci: I thought you said mango base sex backed.

Jodie Slaughter: Yes, it's a mango base sex backed. Sex backed by mangoes. They have sex on a crater. They don't, that would have been really cute.

Bingo Based Sex Pact. Yes.

Andrea Martucci: Yes. Jodie as always, pleasure to have you here in bed and I love you.

Jodie Slaughter: I love you too.

Andrea Martucci: Hey, thanks for spending time with me today. If you enjoyed this episode, please subscribe, rate or review on your favorite podcast app or tell a friend. Check out for transcripts and other resources. If you want regular written [01:12:00] updates from Shelf Love, you can increasingly find me over at Substack

Read occasional updates and short essays about romance at Thank you to Shelf Love's $20 a month Patreon supporters: Gail, Copper Dog Books, and Frederick Smith. I have a great day. Bye!