Erotic Romance: A Gentleman in the Streets by Alisha Rai
The difference between erotic romance and romance is all about feelings, in particular, where you feel them. Shelf Love’s Kink Correspondent, Dame Jodie Slaughter, joins the podcast to discuss A Gentleman in the Streets by Alisha Rai. Only enter if you consensually dare.
The difference between erotic romance and romance is all about feelings, in particular, where you feel them. Shelf Love’s Kink Correspondent, Dame Jodie Slaughter, joins the podcast to discuss A Gentleman in the Streets by Alisha Rai. Only enter if you consensually dare.
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Guest: Dame Jodie Slaughter, Shelf Love’s Kink Correspondent
Andrea Martucci: [00:00:00] 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, I am joined by Dame Jodie Slaughter, Shelf Love's kink correspondent. Today, we have a special dispatch, a step sibling in the streets, a pervert in the sheets.
We'll also discuss Alicia Rai's 2014 erotic romance, A Gentleman in the Streets.
Jodie, thank you for joining me. Before we get going, what is our safe word and do you have any hard limits in this conversation?
Jodie Slaughter: I think our safe word has to be bequest. And our hard limit is wearing a thong.
Andrea Martucci: Yeah, I respect your hard limit. And with your permission, can we consensually begin this conversation?
Jodie Slaughter: We can.
Andrea Martucci: Jodie, what is this book about?
Jodie Slaughter: This book is about two former step siblings one of which is a party girl, businesswoman, billionaire and the other of which is a, an almost hermit archetype of an oldest sibling Raising their younger who are forced to come together after like years apart in order to solve a family mystery.
But in between all of that, there's like meditations on sexual shame and guilt and depravity and just pure unabashed step sibling lust.
Andrea Martucci: I feel like we end up talking about depravity every single time you come here.
Jodie Slaughter: I think so too. I think that's because I'm a depraved person,
Andrea Martucci: That makes, That checks out. It feels like Alicia Rai is playing on some popular figures and wants us to get the references there. I started calling the main character Akira in texts to you Paris Kardashian
Jodie Slaughter: Yes.
Andrea Martucci: her father was the heir to a hotel fortune like paris Hilton also she is a famous party girl, although she is much deeper and much more successful as a businesswoman than I believe real life Paris Hilton is. But, maybe then we can call upon the Kardashian references, right? Because they have very successfully segued their infamy and whatnot into businesses.
And then also her father is basically starring in a Kardashian like show.
Jodie Slaughter: Yes. Yes.
Andrea Martucci: Did you mention that she is like a self-made billionaire who got, I mean self-made in the sense that it got started with money that. was bequeathed to [00:03:00] her?
Jodie Slaughter: Yeah. I did not mention that. No.
Andrea Martucci: Wait, if I say bequeath, is that okay?
Jodie Slaughter: I don't know. It's really close. If I was doing a scene, I would probably still stop
Andrea Martucci: we have to stop
Hey, I just want to check in, do we need a different safe word?
Jodie Slaughter: I think maybe we should come up with a different safe word. If we find that we are using it very often in places where we do not mean to be stopping.
Andrea Martucci: What's a word that we will not use during this conversation organically?
Jodie Slaughter: Raid.
Andrea Martucci: Raid. Like the insect repellent?
Jodie Slaughter: Correct. Correct.
Andrea Martucci: Alright. Alright. Write that down. Raid. Okay.
Jodie Slaughter: Correct. Yeah.
Andrea Martucci: Jodie, did you like this book?
Jodie Slaughter: I did like this book. I think it really surprised me, which I liked. Like I went into it with deep, deep reservations. I famously do not enjoy billionaire romances of any kind and it does not matter to me if the gender is flipped. You know what I mean? That means nothing. I still did not enjoy that element of the book
Andrea Martucci: Wait, pause for a second? Are you saying that when women do things that we criticize men for, that it's still bad and we should still criticize the women for that thing instead of celebrate them?
Jodie Slaughter: yeah, I can definitively say that being a class traitor is also bad if you are a woman.
Andrea Martucci: Okay. All right. Great. Carry on. So billionaire aside.
Jodie Slaughter: Yeah, billionaire aside I did enjoy it. Like I said, I think it really surprised me. There was a lot in the erotic elements of this book that were really, really awesome, sexy, and fun, but also like really made me think about the boundaries and limitations that we often place on romance, sex wise, especially honestly, when it comes to our, if we're talking about like Cishet Romances.
But we often think about romance, obviously, as being between like two people only, and this was that but within thinking about the romance being only between two people, I think we often have a very like narrow view, like we don't like to hear about either of the main characters having sex with other people at any point during the journey or ever having desired really having sex with other people.
We often, and I have even done this downplay the sex that they have had with other people in the past as being lesser than the sex that they are having with their love interest.
And this book like doesn't do that, or at least that's not entirely true. It does do that for the male mc to a certain degree, but there is actually a reason we get as to [00:06:00] why.
His sex life has been not fully explored that is, it's not just like, I met this magical woman and she transformed the whole journey for me. It's more of a, like a self explorative thing for him, but we get to see our heroine do a lot and do a lot of people. And that is really fun.
Andrea Martucci: Yeah. There are three different men's penises that are inside her.
Jodie Slaughter: Yeah. Three different men's penises. and, one other vagina, which she is inside of at one point. Yeah.
Andrea Martucci: yes. I was trying to remember the specifics of that, but yes, she does sexually engage with a woman as well. I've read this book a long time ago and suggested we read it because I thought you would find it interesting.
And so then I reread it and I was like, I can't remember if Jacob is canonically queer, and I had some questions for you because I was very curious how this book was going to deal with some of these scenes.
There's no scene in which Akira specifically names her sexuality, however she does describe her sexual desires as insatiable, and she doesn't limit herself to, just men, or to just anything at all. She's very sexually adventurous. It's pretty easy to understand Akira as, bisexual or pansexual.
And, Jacob... The reason this comes up, in one of their early sex scenes, Akira beckons him into a closet, and she is there with her very handsome date to this charity ball, and they're engaged sexually in a scene, and consensually, they engage in some voyeurism, Jacob does start to interact with them while they are having penis in vagina sexual intercourse,.
Obviously his focus is on her as the romantic interest, but I was like, ooh, I'm very interested how he's going to engage with the other man in this situation. And there are moments where he seems to be titillated a little bit about the taboo ness of watching another man's penis enter the vagina of the woman that he is obsessed with. I was like, I can't tell if he's, actually interested in this guy sexually at all, or if it's only just, spillover from the situation.
Jodie Slaughter: So I reread that part a couple of times. The first time I read it, I did not see it and then you brought it up. And so I went back and read it again and I ultimately came away as not seeing it.
So I think there are two parts to it. I think there is like the writer part. In which the scene is being had from Jacob's point of view, and as a writer you do still need to be quite descriptive about, the other man's name is Remy, what Remy [00:09:00] looks like.
And if you're doing erotica and you're wanting to do like genital descriptions and like descriptions of how this other person might be feeling, I think that plays a big part in it.
I think that this is largely like a, part of me wants to say taboo, but there are ways in which Jacob views almost all sex as it relates to Akira as a taboo.
And then also if I'm going to like dig deep into my kink bag, I'm not going to get into the true details of things like swapping. Well, I guess maybe we will at some point, but like the difference between partner swapping and just like wanting to watch your partner. Even if we're talking about through the lens of a cishet man wanting to watch his cishet female partner be like fucked by another dude.
Andrea Martucci: But it's a queer romance because the kink makes it queer period.
Jodie Slaughter: Yeah, the kink is queering the romance.
Andrea Martucci: It's queering the romance. It's queering sex between people of different genders, and then also there is sexual interactions between, people of the same gender, right?
Jodie Slaughter: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. It's queering on like multiple different levels for sure. Yeah, I, could agree with you that this romance is queer romance.
Andrea Martucci: So much of marketing categories around romance boils down to the relationship or the identity,
Jodie Slaughter: Yeah, I think that's exactly where I keep getting stuck
Andrea Martucci: because it's like, so we describe MM romance, right? As oh, that is queer romance, and the reason we wouldn't necessarily say, like, MM is gay, is because well, it could be a gay man and a bisexual man, So you don't want to say, oh, this is like a gay romance or like a lesbian romance or whatever, but I think that kind of description where we just focus on like, okay, well, it's two men or it's like a Black romance because it's two Black characters that doesn't actually tell you that much about the perspective and outlook of the book,
Jodie Slaughter: yeah, sure. yeah, 100 percent
Andrea Martucci: This is like an mF romance and there's like some scenes between more than an M and an F, but I think the perspective of this book is very queer.
Jodie Slaughter: I think there are two elements to this. We were talking about this the other day. And I've been thinking about it ever since, and I definitely do not disagree. What I will say is that the one critique that I come away with, and even that is like a very small thing because Akira who I think we could read as pretty explicitly queer. And my knee jerk reaction is to be like, the sex and then the other parts of queerness are like, often two different things for a lot of people. I don't necessarily agree that if someone says I'm bisexual, but my same gendered detraction is only sexual and not [00:12:00] romantic, that makes that person not queer. I definitely don't agree with that. But I think that was my immediate knee jerk reaction was to be like, is she queer or is this being used as a device to like bolster her like
Andrea Martucci: depravity?
Jodie Slaughter: As a reader to bolster her. Yeah, not depravity like I think that we do
Andrea Martucci: There's lots of other things to bolster her depravity. And I mean depravity with the utmost respect.
Jodie Slaughter: So do I. But then I I'm like taking a step back and I'm like well, because she isn't like Lamenting about past relationships with women doesn't mean anything. 'Cause she isn't really lamenting about past relationships with men
Andrea Martucci: I don't think she has any past relationships, emotional relationships.
Jodie Slaughter: at all. Yeah, so I think that's like definitely a part of it.
But I agree as someone who's been confronting this recently, 'cause I released a romance with two queer characters and I keep. In my head being like, this isn't a queer romance because it's MF. And people around me are like, I read it as explicitly queer, certainly. So I definitely. Yes, I think this is a queer romance, and I also think that would be helpful to provide a little bit of a definition for people as to what queering means and what like queer maybe means in context because I think maybe that is a thing that gets lost.
I think maybe sometimes people don't know or understand that queer, to queer, queering, it's like a
Andrea Martucci: it's a verb.
Jodie Slaughter: yeah, well, yeah, like it's a framework for often discussing or like understanding things if they are not through a lens of a very specific cis hetero normative lane.
Andrea Martucci: Mm hmm.
Jodie Slaughter: And so I think maybe that gets people a bit caught up. That's why they balk immediately if someone were to say, this thing is queer or this is queering. And people get okay, if we're, if we'll talk about, I'm all over the place,
Andrea Martucci: That's what the editing is for.
Jodie Slaughter: You and Joe are gonna have a great job editing this.
Okay since we're gonna get into kink a little bit here, and we'll talk about kink, and by kink I largely mean like BDSM, there is a lot of intercommunity discourse around whether or not BDSM is queer in its existence. Whether or not
Andrea Martucci: It is intrinsically queer as opposed to incidentally.
Jodie Slaughter: Yes, exactly. To my understanding and in my experience, kink, BDSM, kind of skews queer. Kink and BDSM, to some degree, is quite a large part of queer culture, you think about the leather daddies, you think about lesbian queer spaces, like, kink spaces. [00:15:00] This is like quite a big part of queer culture but, obviously, there are plenty of like cishet people who do BDSM in which, it can, to some extent, mirror the idea of dominant man, submissive woman. And so obviously there's pushback on how can this be queer if we are recreating exactly what society wants for,
Andrea Martucci: right. Just like super off the top when you're saying that though, The kyriarchy or the hegemonic understanding of things is that society and your identity determines who has control in a situation, who is where in a hierarchy and how you're supposed to behave.
And my understanding, which not an expert, of kink is that so much of it becomes explicit and negotiated in terms of power dynamics, and how you're going to do an act, and what feels good, where literally the fact of bringing in the question of how are we supposed to do this, or how do we want to do this, and what makes us feel good, that in and of itself makes everything else that happens queer, because you're not starting from an assumption, that is straightness, right? That assumption of, this is how things are, and this is how you have to act, and whatever.
Jodie Slaughter: Yes. Yeah. And obviously we're not talking about people who like use BDSM to be abusers or to be violent misogynists, et cetera, et cetera, or even violent homophobes. Like we're obviously not, I'm not we're not talking about that.
But yes, and that's almost exactly what this book does in a lot of ways.
So like I said, even off rip, there are multiple scenes in which the heroine is having sex with other people who are not the hero. And it's not, conveyed to us, the reader, that this is a bad or shameful thing. And also the hero coming to terms with his own desire or his own like interest or enjoyment in watching or being a participant in these things happening, but he does not shame her for it. And I don't think that the narrative as a reader shames her for it either. She experiences shame herself, obviously, as, many of us do.
It doesn't matter what type of sex you're having. I think that like sexual shame is a huge part of a culture in which like, everything is built on sexual shame, obviously.
Andrea Martucci: hmm. As a means of control.
Jodie Slaughter: yeah, totally as a means of control and one of their like final really big emotional moments is him being like, if this is what you like, and if this is what makes you feel good, then it makes me feel good too, because you're my kink, but also he has other [00:18:00] kinks too.
He's a voyeur. He's a voyeur. In the book knowing that they're probably going to go to like swingers parties and be in love and beautiful. And we get representation of other couples that we see in the book who are also like engaging in hashtag T hashtag L the lifestyle as being like beautiful, loving couples as well. And I'm like, it's not that we never get this. It's not that this doesn't exist anywhere, because certainly it does, but Alicia Rai is like a pretty mainstream to me,
Andrea Martucci: Now she is
Jodie Slaughter: romance author.
That's true. This book did come out in 2014, which also surprised me. I also don't know that this book was ever traditionally published,
Andrea Martucci: No it wasn't
Jodie Slaughter: that as of right now it is published. Okay yeah, I'm like, do we have, was the landscape?,
Andrea Martucci: There. Oh, Oh, baby child. Let me tell you about 2014 self publishing
Jodie Slaughter: Well, you know, I wasn't, like a romance novel reader in 2014
Andrea Martucci: No. I mean, you were like in 7th grade,
Jodie Slaughter: okay, all right, I was 19 years old, thank you.
Andrea Martucci: Okay, I was reading self pub romance at this time I was actually at the time a member of RWA, I saw some shit, but this book has a full blown orgy in it
Jodie Slaughter: Yes, not just a full blown orgy, not just that, but one one thrown by the heroine and it is she does it regularly.
Andrea Martucci: Yeah, it's, like, she has special stationery she sends out and like a common guest list and her butler has like, orgy rules that he gives to people
Jodie Slaughter: yes, her butler
Andrea Martucci: Yeah okay, so here's the thing, and I think you're asking some good questions. Whenever something new comes out, I feel like there is this really interesting exploration that happens, and this was in the wake of I mean, not immediately after, but in the wake of Fifty Shades of Grey, and there was a lot of self published BDSM adjacent romance, and honestly, I think this is much more adventurous and hot than a lot of other things that came out before then or around this time, but I do think there was this sense of this is like a new place and we're not being held back by gatekeepers in publishing and we can do whatever we want.
And the readers at the time, I think were, I don't want to say it wasn't mainstream, but there's more e readers every year, right? So this is still like in that like early adopter curve where the people who are doing e reading, the people who are reading ebooks they know what they're there for, and I don't know, it's like you're not getting the like, mainstream tradpub readers who then like, start reading ebooks and then, I don't know, are like, shocked by what they're finding there, because it's so different from tradpub, but it was a very interesting time, and it's not like interesting things haven't continued to be published, [00:21:00] Since then, but, I feel like there was a certain lack of,
Jodie Slaughter: Genre expectations. Maybe.
Andrea Martucci: to say something about a lack of need to feel like they need to apologize about things? I don't know.
Jodie Slaughter: Maybe just people weren't really pulling punches
Andrea Martucci: Yeah, and I certainly think she's not pulling punches in this work and, I read several other books. I realized I did not read her entire backlist, but I read I think it's like the Forbidden Heart series. I read most of that series a while ago.
Jodie Slaughter: She was doing a lot of kink stuff, wasn't she,
Andrea Martucci: Yeah, and like I was on her website and I was looking at some of her earliest books and it seems like that's definitely like where she started and so then like where's her career today? She's been coming out with Trad Pub, I don't think they're actually rom coms but I think sometimes they're marketed almost like they are. Yeah. like contemporary romance. And I haven't read all of her recent books because they didn't interest me that much.
Jodie Slaughter: because you like uh, you wanna read depravity.
Andrea Martucci: I want to read depravity first of all because I am depraved and I really enjoyed them. I thought they were doing really interesting things. Look, I haven't read her most recent books, so I don't know if they are or they aren't doing interesting things.
I'm just saying that the premise didn't pull me in the way the premise of these did.
I wanted to talk, no, sorry, you go ahead, then I'll bring up the romance vs. erotic romance,
Jodie Slaughter: no please I've
Andrea Martucci: well,
Jodie Slaughter: had
Andrea Martucci: okay first of all, I feel like we should say that it's like 7. 50 right now, 7. 50pm, and normally when Jodie and I record, we are much fresher like it's earlier in the day
Jodie Slaughter: we haven't normally just both finished like doing a bunch of brain work like aka work
Andrea Martucci: Yeah, I did so much brain work today that my brain is honestly mush. Jodie and I acknowledged coming in that we were trying something new for us, which is just totally free forming it, because normally, we're tight
Jodie Slaughter: yeah normally Andrea is very tight and i am pretty happy to
Andrea Martucci: fall in line
Jodie Slaughter: I don't know. Attempt to ex attempt to exist within the boundaries that she sets.
Andrea Martucci: Well You. just like to make me happy.
Jodie Slaughter: That's true.
Andrea Martucci: So
Jodie Slaughter: that's undeniable. That fucking
Andrea Martucci: okay.
Jodie Slaughter: you. (Andrea giggles, then does an exaggerated rooster-like simulation of a giggle) you should use those as the intro. Oh my god, you sound like a bird in my last one.
Andrea Martucci: this is gold. Okay. So I wanted to talk about the difference between romance and erotic romance because they are different.
Jodie Slaughter: Yeah, they are different.
Andrea Martucci: Yeah, [00:24:00] what, why are they different? How are they different.
Jodie Slaughter: Okay. I think it's easier for me to say why erotic differs from romance. Romance has like multiple ways in which sex can or cannot be on page like closed door wherein there's no sex on page, whether it's no sex even described or hinted at and you ramp it up to like full blown sex to explicit on page sex.
And even if that sex happens you can have like four sex scenes in a romance and it still wouldn't necessarily be an erotic romance because an erotic romance the erotic parts are pretty integral to the narrative of the book.
There is a sexual journey that is happening, in addition to a romantic journey and then personal journeys between the characters.
If there's a romance in which there is explicit on page sex it happens at like beats and it signifies certain things happening in the book. Oh, we just had sex, like the first time we have sex, it's like pivotal, a changing point in the relationship, or it could be like oh the first time we had sex that's when we realized we really need to stay away from each other because it was too good or like that type of thing.
Whereas an erotic romance is like the sexual journey that happens here like in using this one for an example some of the first moments of sex on the page are not, it's not sex between the two main characters, but it is always like involving the two main characters.
And yeah, and also the sexual journey of especially the hero in this book is very integral to like his personal growth and also the growth of their relationship, their like romantic relationship.
Andrea Martucci: Right. Yeah, and I think it's important to be clear that the difference, it's not about heat level, like you were talking about earlier, like you can have romances that are very explicit and erotic, and they're still structurally a romance novel, whereas what distinguishes an erotic romance is yes, it's expected that they're going to be pretty sexually explicit, but then also, structurally, they differ from a very sexy romance.
Jodie Slaughter: Yes. I have never written an erotic romance. Even the romance that I wrote Bet On It in which they have a sex pact is not an erotic romance. So if that gives any context, I have written a book in which the sex is in the description description as an integral part of the story, but it is not an erotic romance.
Andrea Martucci: right and then the difference between erotica and erotic romance is erotica is look maybe there's like a nice little neat and then they got married and lived happily ever after, or whatever, but the emotional relationship is basically unimportant and insignificant to the events of the story. And because of that, usually there's [00:27:00] much more freedom in terms of the people and combinations of people in a book or story of erotica because it's not necessarily invested in an emotional relationship between the people involved.
Yeah, and I do, I do think this is an erotic romance for the reasons you mentioned, where there is an emotional relationship, but the sexual relationship is basically just as important, not just an accompaniment or a signifier of the romantic relationship.
Jodie Slaughter: Yes. Very much so.
Andrea Martucci: and I keep thinking about how this conversation crops up all the time about how oh, in a romance novel, the sex scene has to advance the plot forward. This becomes just like a thing people talk about all the time.
And something I was thinking about was I was like, Part of this is just because it's a fucking book. And if somebody wrote down the story of my life, it would not make narrative sense, right? So when you package a story into a narrative, you choose to put things in and leave other things out.
And I... I feel like, this whole idea about oh, if you're going to have a sex scene, like it has to like move the relationship forward in some way like basically it's if you have a scene in a book, there should be a reason the scene is there. I think that there also can be reasons to have a scene that is like sex that maybe it doesn't do a whole bunch for the emotional relationship, but if you're like, why did I just read that scene? Basically, that's the problem
Jodie Slaughter: Mm hmm.
Andrea Martucci: you should know why the scene is
Jodie Slaughter: yeah. Yeah. Yeah.
Andrea Martucci: a narrative standpoint.
Jodie Slaughter: Yeah, I agree. I think about, I think a lot about but I guess this is, I guess it's the, I don't know. I Nevermind. I'm getting completely off the wall and I was going to talk about like meandering, like insane books, but nevermind.
Cut that out. Cut that out, Joe.
Andrea Martucci: I don't I'm sorry, do you think Joe edits the podcast?
Jodie Slaughter: Yeah?
Andrea Martucci: Are you fucking kidding me?
Jodie Slaughter: Yeah. I, oh, okay. Because I thought you edited the podcast. And then today you said, Joe always thinks that ours are the funniest, which is why I assumed you meant that Joe had been editing the podcast.
Andrea Martucci: This is a one woman show. Joe!
Jodie Slaughter: I Joe did work on it! Oh he's just the
Andrea Martucci: web
Jodie Slaughter: just just the website
Andrea Martucci: He and
Jodie Slaughter: Okay. Okay. Okay. Okay. Okay. Okay. That's what I thought.
He just listens.
Andrea Martucci: supportive husband, he listens to the thing that I put my blood, sweat, and tears and ignore him and our child to produce.
Jodie Slaughter: I can't believe he listens to you talk. Well, sorry, I'm, that was the misogyny showing. He's behind you.
Andrea Martucci: What did you Wait, wait, wait, Wait. What? You have to say it into the microphone!
Joe Martucci: I didn't say anything, I just heard my name, and I was like, what's...
Andrea Martucci: Jodie thought
Jodie Slaughter: I said... at some point, Joe cut this out of the podcast
Andrea Martucci: and I was like, excuse me, do you think Joe edits this
Joe Martucci: Oh god, no.
Andrea Martucci: It's because I told her earlier that you think our podcast episodes are the [00:30:00] best.
Joe Martucci: It's true.
Andrea Martucci: Joe, why do you enjoy listening to Shelf Love Podcast?
Jodie Slaughter: Oh my god. This is brutal
Joe Martucci: As an avid romance reader myself.
Andrea Martucci: I think that's why he enjoys the conversations between us the most, Jodie, is because they're the ones that are like the most tangentially about the books.
Jodie Slaughter: Yeah. Yeah.
Joe Martucci: I just like listening to you.
Andrea Martucci: Oh, why?
Joe Martucci: I'm just to slowly drift out of the room now.
Andrea Martucci: You came into this recording, sir.
Joe Martucci: You called my name! I was confused!
Andrea Martucci: I'm not! good god.
Jodie Slaughter: What a good husband, honestly.
Andrea Martucci: I like him. I'm going to keep him.
I don't know man. Okay what were we even talking about, oh,
Jodie Slaughter: Narrative
Andrea Martucci: narrative,
Jodie Slaughter: how do we even get back there?
Andrea Martucci: Oh I don't even know.
I think that's what's so interesting about talking about romance novels, all the time, back and forth oh of course romance novels aren't real life, but then it's like, who wouldn't want the things we get in romance novels?
It's we go back and forth. Is it real life, is it not real life, whatever. Like first of all, it's a fucking book, okay? It's a packaged story. Okay, first of all, no, it's not real life in the same way that all fiction or media is not real life. Even reality TV or whatever is not real life, right?
Because there's an editor and an assumed viewer and audience, all of that stuff.
Jodie Slaughter: This podcast
Andrea Martucci: this podcast, it's not real life. I fucking edit everything so that I sound much better than I sound in real life. I cut out all the incoherence of Jodie and I.
Jodie Slaughter: Of mostly me,
Andrea Martucci: No, it's both of us.
Okay, so there's that, but then it's, it's like, because it's a book that exists within a genre then you get all these, and you were talking about this earlier, all the signifiers where everything is a reference, right?
It's like pastiche of the world we live in but it's also building on an accumulation of references that we have in our minds as romance readers or as like people who exist in the world where like when somebody gives you a red rose that means something irrespective of the book unless the book makes a point to change the meaning and significance of that thing for you, right?
And there's things that like, of course, you wouldn't want that in real life, but because it's a book, you have to like, make It more exciting, you have to like ramp things up to 11. I don't even know what I'm saying, other than,
Jodie Slaughter: It sounds a lot like Simulacra and Simulations to me.
Andrea Martucci: It does sound like Jean Baudrillard, yes! There is that, right? Where, at a certain point romance novels are just like gesturing at things and they don't even have to do anything anymore, but they still have the meaning. They're creating meaning for us.
Jodie Slaughter: That's what tropes are though.
Andrea Martucci: [00:33:00] Yeah, that's a hundred percent what tropes are.
And this is the thing, I've talked about this like in sub stack, I swear to God, but like, when people say, I love romance for the happily ever after. And I'm like, I think that we love the happily ever after because it is safe and we know that we are going to get the emotional satisfaction but, what we really love about romance novels is the way they feel and the way they make us feel. Right?
Jodie Slaughter: Yes, that's exactly it. As someone who is an avid consumer of, and Andrea hates this about me, but I do love lit fic, and I do love a doomed and devastating love story story and I do make a point when I'm talking to especially romance people, to say... love story and not romance.
But I love those for the way they make me feel too. And a lot of times they do make me feel along the way, the same things that like reading a romance novel makes me feel.
It's just that at the end, there is a different type of thing that I obviously feel because there is like a certain devastation and a loss and sometimes I like to feel those things as well because that is oftentimes for me closer to like my reality than, you know,
Andrea Martucci: Mhm.
Jodie Slaughter: a happily ever after. But I think that's exactly it. I think that for me the happily ever after is like the nice little bow on the gift but it is not the gift itself.
Andrea Martucci: Right. I mean, And like, there's a reason if the happily ever after doesn't feel earned, you don't get the feeling you really want, right?
Jodie Slaughter: Yeah, exactly.
Andrea Martucci: I think there are certain conventions of the genre that, because you are guaranteed a happily ever after, there is a sense of security that no matter what emotional rollercoaster you go on, you know that you are going to be left on the emotional beat you want to be left on, right?
Like, Okay, great, like whatever ups and downs and emotions I'm feeling here. It's going to end this way. That is a very specific emotional feeling that somebody would want.
Jodie Slaughter: I don't always want it, but I want that too. And it's also like why I love and write romance novels. That's a big, that is a big part of it.
Andrea Martucci: Also getting back to what is the difference between a romance novel and an erotic romance, I think it's a difference in kind of the feelings that you're expected to have. The emotional response you're supposed to have where in this book for example you are intended to feel some sexual arousal like it is written in such a way that it encourages the reader to not just imagine what it would feel like but to feel it
Jodie Slaughter: Yes. We can say it. I think that you probably could reasonably masturbate
Andrea Martucci: reasonably
Jodie Slaughter: while reading this book. You know what I mean?
Andrea Martucci: I hope I'm not talking out of turn, but I'm always like, LOLing at, isabeau in Whoa!Mance, where she's talking about a [00:36:00] one handed read, and I'm like, that feels so tame to be a one handed read.
But again, again, it's just cause like, I'm incredibly depraved.
Jodie Slaughter: Yeah literotica. com yeah, same
Andrea Martucci: Yeah, but even for me, a completely depraved person with a much higher threshold that must be crossed than Isabeau from Whoamance, I was like, yeah okay, I can see it,
Jodie Slaughter: Yeah same I think my kinks are like probably a good deal different than these I was still like, oh
Andrea Martucci: Yeah, right, and it's not like I was like completely unaffected by the emotional romance components, but I didn't get a lot of big romancey feelings, which again, given the genre like that's expected, like they were there,
Jodie Slaughter: I think that's par for the course . Yeah, for sure. I agree. I think I definitely did find myself far more satisfied with their sexual journey.
And also moved by, not just in the vein of pure titillation, even emotionally, I found myself like very proud of jacob
I found myself really like proud and happy for him and then I found myself feeling pretty triumphant about Akira's complete unwillingness to have to settle her sexual desires for love as well, than I was about necessarily like the romance beats.
And like you said, not that was like nothing. It's not that I felt nothing there, but I got a really keen sense that their erotic life was just as important to them as their romantic life. And I think I felt pretty seen by that
Andrea Martucci: I was thinking about this theory Jayashree Kamble has about the difference between a romance novel and like a romance adaptation and how a romance novel you show feelings and tell action and an adaptation you show action and tell feelings and I was like, I think an erotic romance shows sexuality and tells romance and a romance shows emotion and tells sex.
Jodie Slaughter: yeah. Oh yeah. Yeah.
Andrea Martucci: Jayashree, I'm building on your theories here.
Jodie Slaughter: Theory. Wow. Look at these I actually fully agree. You should make a note of that
Andrea Martucci: I'm a romance scholar. I don't know if you know this.
Jodie Slaughter: You are a romance scholar.
Andrea Martucci: Yeah.
So, I mean... Think we cracked that nut wide open? I haven't said that in so long
Jodie Slaughter: You haven't said that in a really long time. You said it at almost the exact hour mark. I hope you get at least 15 minutes of usable dialogue
Andrea Martucci: It's 15 minutes.
What was your favorite part of this book?
Jodie Slaughter: Oh, I don't know. My favorite part of this book was... I think It was probably the orgy scene. Just because I think things [00:39:00] culminated very well through that long stretch. We got a lot of sex. Obviously any chance I get to get some femdom stuff, I'm gonna love it. But I also think that pure, like character growth. Jacob fucking came into his own during that.
Andrea Martucci: He sure did come
Jodie Slaughter: He definitely did come into her butt
Andrea Martucci: into her butthole because, we should just be incredibly clear that at some point in this book, in the orgy, Akira wants to be stuffed full and
Jodie Slaughter: She gets stuffed full. She gets stuffed airtight.
Andrea Martucci: And she really likes it.
Jodie Slaughter: She fucking loves it.
Andrea Martucci: It was it was hot.
Jodie Slaughter: It was hot, even just earlier in the scene they are watching a scene take place, which is like in a pretty explicit bDSM scene involving a femme dom who is domming another woman and who is also domming her husband. She's dominating him in a lighter fashion than she is dominating her explicit sub. He is also very submissive to her, which I enjoyed.
So they're watching, and Jacob he's never seen anything like this, and he's taking it all in, and Akira, they're having a little conversation about, she's like, would you like, to see me with someone else did you like to see me with Remy because he'd watched her have sex with another man earlier and she's like, basically if you had a girlfriend or a wife, would you like to see her have sex with other people? Would you allow that to happen? Would you be into that?
And his is I've always dreamed of seeing two women together and Akira balks, rightfully, because she's like, this is such a fucking typical straight dude answer. I'm not asking you if you just want to watch me put on a show with another woman for your pleasure. I'm asking you is it a turn on for you or an interest in you to actually watch me live my full sexual life with whomever I choose?
And she balks and she gets, honestly, pretty turned off and loses faith in him. And he hits her back And my answer to this is I like to watch you get pleasure. That's the thing for me. I'm into it. And then to prove it to her, he calls over two men and, they do a three hole shuffle.
And that is Akira's proof that he's like down to clown but in all honesty, that he's not really just interested in using her to fulfill whatever girl on the fantasies he has. He is willing to accept her in her full sexual glory, her full depravity.
Andrea Martucci: hmm.
Jodie Slaughter: And that is when we know that these two are like, they're getting it.
Andrea Martucci: They are getting it. And [00:42:00] yeah, and I think that scene too, with the woman who is like, domming her husband and the other woman, it shows a model, like the book is showing a model for like, how this can work, where Akira already has people in her inner circle that are like, showing that this can work, and so it's much less about both of the characters, or either of the characters, not believing it's possible per se, and more is it possible with this other person. I also just appreciate this is a world in which both of these characters are not battling just society's oppressive bullshit.
Jodie Slaughter: Absolutely. After realizing that the couple doing the scene with the other woman is married, he is asking questions pretty genuine hearted about whether or not jealousy is a thing, and Akira is like, well, one of them would likely be jealous if one of them went on a date with someone without consulting the other first it's not an idea that jealousy doesn't exist, just that there are, like, rules and boundaries that do and can exist within non monogamous or some version of whatever your version of monogamy might even like, (Andrea: "Consensual non-monogamy?" )
Yeah yeah yeah, consensual and ethical non monogamy what it could look like and basically that looks all different types of ways.
Andrea Martucci: yeah,
Jodie Slaughter: And she shows him that, like you said, that there are like examples that they can have to create their own version of what romance and sex might look and converge to them specifically.
Andrea Martucci: yeah. Would you read another one of Alicia R ai's early works?
Jodie Slaughter: Oh, absolutely. I thought her writing was really lovely. Her characterization was great. 100 percent I probably will.
Andrea Martucci: Cool.
Jodie Slaughter: I almost certainly will, so yeah.
Andrea Martucci: What should we read next?
Jodie Slaughter: I don't know. I want to torture you a little bit. Like I am a little bit torturing my boy toy. I'm gonna make him read something that he probably wouldn't have ever picked up himself. Which is probably gonna be like a really good romance. I kind of want to make you read I don't know, some lit fic or something.
I know, but like a love story, like something that's good. I don't know yet.
Andrea Martucci: I mean like just to be clear, I did used to be the managing editor of one of America's foremost literary magazines.
I've read It before.
Jodie Slaughter: Actually, there
Andrea Martucci: it
Jodie Slaughter: is a book that I have been trying to get my hands on only because I have been not wanting to buy it off Amazon, but it's a book called My Husband by Maude Ventura, and it is not a love story, it is like literary fiction, it's set up in a way, the way like a domestic [00:45:00] thriller might be, but it is not a domestic thriller, and it's a translation of a French novel about a woman who is very obsessed with her husband, like her husband consumes largely all of her waking thoughts. She loves him so much, but also she plays these very intense, and awful games with him.
If he doesn't hold her hand when they see a movie, she will decline his affections for a kiss the next day because in order to keep him obsessed with me, I have to always keep him wanting, always keep him on his toes . It's just supposed to be this deeply bizarre and fascinating thing. And also it's French so it's going to be like really fascinating French sensibilities. And it's not a very long read. I think it's a pretty short book. And I want to read it anyway so I'll maybe send you like a link and see if you're interested. it
Andrea Martucci: haven't read it yet?
Jodie Slaughter: no I have not read it yet.
Andrea Martucci: read it and you tell me how it makes you feel?
Jodie Slaughter: Okay. I will. That's. Okay. I will come up with two options.
Andrea Martucci: look.
Jodie Slaughter: which one you'll choose,
Andrea Martucci: But look, at the end of the day I have made you read some things. If you're like, no, you have to read this because we have to talk about it I'll do it because I will do it for you
Jodie Slaughter: I've made you read some things. I made you read at least one thing, I made you read, Delta of Venus, which is maybe torture and truly torture porn.
Andrea Martucci: Literally, yeah.
Jodie Slaughter: and you made me read Dreaming of You, which actually, to be fair, did not.
Hey, I didn't dislike
Andrea Martucci: yeah, I don't think that was a made you read, but I did make you read
Jodie Slaughter: the Savage and the Swan.
Andrea Martucci: I did make you read that one.
Jodie Slaughter: Yeah, that one was really rough for me. I was like, what is she going through?
This isn't her,
Andrea Martucci: What is she going through?
Jodie Slaughter: I could see what you saw, and it's not that it was like super shittily written. It wasn't like, anything like that. It was just like
Andrea Martucci: It was out of character?
Jodie Slaughter: yeah, very out of character in a way where I was like, What is happening? But okay, baby girl.
Andrea Martucci: Okay, baby girl.
Jodie Slaughter: We support you.
Andrea Martucci: Thank you for supporting me in my time of need. Do you know what I want to read again?
I want to read these books that they haven't been available for a little bit. It's White Whiskey Bargain, All Things Burn. What were the, what's the name of the you know this author, right?
And anyways, her books were not available for some period of time, and thank God she had a friend who bullied her into getting them back up for sale.
Jodie Slaughter: Never heard of them. Yes. It's true. White Whiskey Bargain, All Things Burn, and To Be Alone With You were taken down for a while after I got the rights back from my small indie publisher. And I did very much have to be bullied into putting them back up for sale, but they are currently back up for sale.
On Amazon [00:48:00] You can just look up JodieSlaughter.Com. They are also in KU for a limited time So if you've got that. if you want to read them if you want to buy them
You can find them
Andrea Martucci: Yeah. And if you want a printed copy of White Whiskey Bargain, I have at least 8 copies, and they are signed by Dame Jodie Slaughter, now these are collector's items, so if you do want to pay me an obscene amount of money for them, just let me know.
Dame Jodie Slaughter, In addition to your backlist, which is now available for sale, what else have you been doing in the tradPub world?
Jodie Slaughter: Yeah, so I have Bet On It, and then my newest release, Play to Win, which was released in July of this year is also available for purchase. Please buy my books so that I can write more books
Andrea Martucci: And then you also, finished writing a book.
Jodie Slaughter: Yeah, I turned in a book a little while ago. It is my first sapphic FF novel. It is going to be traditionally published. It will actually be released fall of 2024. We don't have an exact release date yet, so I'll get back to you. But yeah, it's set in the same world as the first two books. And I'm really excited for it to be out. I'm really proud of it.
Andrea Martucci: I'm excited for you to release it. I'm excited for it to come into the world.
Jodie Slaughter: Thank you, Andrea.
Andrea Martucci: Dame Jodie Slaughter, I think we've done it. Thank you for joining us today as Shelf Love's kink correspondent.
Jodie Slaughter: You're so welcome.
Andrea Martucci: Bye, bitch!
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 Shelflovepodcast.com for transcripts and other resources. If you want regular written updates from Shelf Love, you can increasingly find me over at Substack.
Read occasional updates and short essays about romance at shelflovepodcast.Substack.com. Thank you to Shelf Love's $20 a month Patreon supporters: Gail, Copper Dog Books, and Frederick Smith. I have a great day. Bye!
Narrator: Jodie and I were supposed to record this on a Wednesday night but Jodie's internet died catastrophically, which forced us to record a day later. This is a dispatch from Jodie on Wednesday night.
Jodie Slaughter: It is currently 10 14 p. m. We are in the ninth hour of having no wi fi in my home, which means, no television, no nothing, I am two Benadryls deep, basically, staring at the wall. I have my laptop open, um, so that the light from it can comfort me, even though, there's, you know, there's, there's next [00:51:00] to nothing I can do on it, aside from write, which I refuse to do.
You know, send, send help, because we need it.
Alyssa Cole, Amanda Allen, Amanda Cinelli, Amanda Diehl, Andrea Martucci, Andrew Piper, Angela Toscano, Arielle Zibrak, Ash Dylan, Becky, Bree, Bree Hill, Candice Ransom, Carter Sherman, Charish Reid, Christina Fattore, Copper Dog Books, Dani Lacey, Danielle Knafo, Denise Williams, Diana Filar, Dr. Margo Hendricks, EE Ottoman, Emma Barry, Eric Selinger, Erin Leafe, Esme Brett, Fangirl Jeanne, Felicia Grossman, Funmi B., Hannah Hearts Romance, Helena Greer, Hsu Ming Teo, Huike Wen, Jack Harbon, Jayashree Kamble, Jennifer Crusie, Jess, Jessica Lyn Van Slooten, Jhen, Jodi McAlister, Jodie Slaughter, Joe Martucci, John Jacobson, Julie Moody-Freeman, Karelia Stetz-Waters, Kate Clayborn, Katee Robert, Katrina Jackson, Kelly Reynolds, Kennedy Ryan, Kianna Alexander, Kini Allen, Kit Rocha, Leigh Kramer, Lucy Hargrave, Lucy Score, Lynell, Margarita Guillory, Margo Hendricks, Maria DeBlassie, Megan Erickson, Mia Sosa, Nicola Welsh Burke, Nicole Falls, Norma Perez-Hernandez, Penny Reid, Philippa Borland, Rebecca Romney, Rebekah Weatherspoon, Reformed Rakes, Renee Dahlia, Rosie Danan, Ruby Lang, Sandra Kitt, Scarlett Peckham, Sionna Fox, Sri Savita, Steve Ammidown, Suzanne Jefferies, Talia Hibbert, Tamara Lush, Tasha L. Harrison, The Swoonies, Tif Marcelo, Tina Benigno, Whoa!mance, Whoamance, fangirl jeanne
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