Shelf Love

Cold Hearted by Heather Guerre

Short Description

Do you love scent marking, some healthy jealousy, and a beautiful and believable mix of internal and external romance in your paranormal werewolf romance? Get your parka and bundle up for "Cold Hearted" by Heather Guerre, the first book in the Tooth and Claw series, in discussion with foremost vampire defender, Dame Jodie Slaughter. We explore werewolves, vampires, Alaska as a transporting setting, depression, Andrea’s soft vulnerable belly, and found family and community, highlighting the book’s atmospheric setting and rich character development. The conversation delves into the unique elements of limited third-person narrative, the dynamics of jealousy, and the beauty of slow-burn romance.


romance novel discussion, paranormal romance

Show Notes

Do you love scent marking, some healthy jealousy, and a beautiful and believable mix of internal and external romance in your paranormal werewolf romance? Get your parka and bundle up for "Cold Hearted" by Heather Guerre, the first book in the Tooth and Claw series, in discussion with foremost vampire defender, Dame Jodie Slaughter. We explore werewolves, vampires, Alaska as a transporting setting, depression, Andrea’s soft vulnerable belly, and found family and community, highlighting the book’s atmospheric setting and rich character development. The conversation delves into the unique elements of limited third-person narrative, the dynamics of jealousy, and the beauty of slow-burn romance.

Guest: Dame Jodie Slaughter, Shelf Love’s Vampire Defender

Website | Twitter | Instagram

To learn more about Dame Jodie Slaughter, follow her on Instagram @jodie_slaughter and on Twitter @jodieslaughter. Check out her books, including "Play to Win" and "Bet on It," and keep an eye out for her upcoming sapphic romance, "Ready to Score."


Andrea Martucci: [00:00:00] 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 The Dame, Dame Jodie Slaughter, foremost vampire defender, to discuss Cold Hearted by Heather Guerre, the first in the Tooth and Claw series.

Dame Jodie Slaughter, thank you for joining me.

Dame Jodie Slaughter: Thank you for having me, as always I am frazzled. I am panicked, and I am stunned by Heather Guerre.

Andrea Martucci: I love it. Now you are Team Edward and the foremost vampire defender. How do you feel about that position after reading this book?

Dame Jodie Slaughter: So listen I came upon this book after talking to you, and you gave me two options. And one of the options was the werewolf book, and the other option was the vampire book. And for some reason, some type of deep betrayal like, I don't know, I chose the werewolf book. I haven't read the vampire book yet, but I do think I made the right choice starting with the werewolf book.

And that's really difficult for me to say.

Andrea Martucci: But you've said it, and that's very brave.

Dame Jodie Slaughter: Thank you.

Andrea Martucci: You're welcome. , So we're gonna discuss Cold Hearted by Heather Guerre. You've given it away that this is a werewolf book. It's also called the Tooth and Claw series, so maybe this isn't a surprise. Jodie, would you like to share what this book is about?

Dame Jodie Slaughter: Uh, Sure! This book is kind of a lot of things interestingly. So this book it follows a female protagonist as she takes off, she's like on the run from something and she escapes to this remote Alaskan town. As she attempts to like, redefine her life and find herself again, as she's struggling with a clinging sense of gloom, depression etc.

And this town that she's in is full of secrets. People are kind, but not too kind. She attempts to make connections, but also struggles to fully connect because of the secrets of said town and her love interest is a tall, pilot, grumpy, man who seems to hate her and is maybe harboring the biggest secrets of all

Andrea Martucci: Oh my god, the biggest secrets of all.

Dame Jodie Slaughter: Which is his love for her yes

Andrea Martucci: Did you cover, like, how depressed she was? At the beginning,

Dame Jodie Slaughter: That was such a large part of this book that I think was done beautifully. I think this book is like incredibly atmospheric. It is a thing that I love, which is that it is a small town romance that does not do small town romance tropiness really.

And it's incredibly atmospheric, like the literal like landscape in which this book takes place is like cold and a bit [00:03:00] unforgiving to an outsider. You have to learn new things that you have to learn to live with here.

And our main character is also struggling, she's depressed, like she's feeling apathetic, she's feeling like incredibly adrift. She's very much attempting to claw her way back to feeling the way she used to feel. And it clings to her much in the same way that the deep Alaskan cold clings to one's bones.

Andrea Martucci: So true, yeah, and in retrospect, I was like this also addresses something else that Jodi and I were talking about, which is how we feel about romance novels that have a single point of view.

I think you asked me like how I felt about them, and I was like, look, it can be done, but it is so difficult for a book to give enough of the other love interest's perspective that you're not in their point of view to help me understand how they actually feel for the main character whose perspective you do have.

And I had forgotten that this book has a limited third person point of view. But, that does so much work, it's so important in this story, where if you immediately had access to Caleb's perspective and interiority, it truly would make such a difference on the atmosphere, and also like the reader's journey in this story.

Dame Jodie Slaughter: Yeah. Completely. I was also thinking about this in retrospect, I actually think that paranormal romance is a micro genre within romance that I think actually does single POV really well, especially because the stories are often about a human outsider who has to like discover a thing and there is a part of the journey as a reader that you're going on which is also discovering the lore of a thing along with our protagonist.

Of course that's not every paranormal story you know what I mean but that can it can be a large thing and so I think there are parts of genuinely just the way this story plays out where it works beautifully and that I also agree that it couldn't work if we had Caleb's point of view.

And because of that I don't know that I ever felt like it's difficult, right? Because I always am like yeah I would always want his point of view but it's not a thing that I feel took away.

Andrea Martucci: mm

Dame Jodie Slaughter: And in fact added to certain other elements so that while I maybe did miss certain things yeah, it's a craft choice that makes perfect sense for the story and as such like I think it works beautifully.

Andrea Martucci: Yeah, I mean, and I think it's executed really well, which, you know something is executed well when you don't notice it.

Dame Jodie Slaughter: Yeah.

Andrea Martucci: I don't think there was ever a moment while I was reading this the first five times where it occurs to me that it's limited third person point of view, and the only reason I even noticed it at [00:06:00] all was because you and I had this recent conversation, and I was going through my highlights, because I literally have read this book so many times.

It's like a comfort read for me. I truly love it, and every time I start rereading it, I remember again why I love it, and how much of it, and I said something similar to this in the episode on preferential treatment by Heather Guerre with Carter Sherman, where the shit that Heather Guerre is exploring consistently in her books is my shit.

It's like it was written for me, I'm not married to a werewolf, but

Dame Jodie Slaughter: Well,

Andrea Martucci: well, but the emotional journey, particularly of the heroine, so I just maybe in particular, just sank right into this heroine's perspective seamlessly.

But there's this one scene in particular that I had highlighted where our heroine Grace due to exhaustion or whatever, has been asleep, and she wakes up and is aware of a conversation going on around her and they obviously think that she's asleep, and you hear a bit more of what's really going on with her that isn't really being spoken yet to her, that she hasn't experienced firsthand.

And I was like, this is a really interesting way where we're not breaking the perspective that we have, but we're getting a little bit more of our male main character and what his world is like.

The things that she is doing to enable that, again, they feel seamless, it doesn't feel like a ploy, it doesn't feel like a gimmick.

Dame Jodie Slaughter: This book surprised me a lot. don't think anything about this book felt gimmicky. felt, it was like very different from how I expected it to be in a really good way.

Andrea Martucci: So what did you expect it be?

Dame Jodie Slaughter: I I expected it to be lighter than it was. And it wasn't light at all, and that's perfect because that's exactly what I need right now in a romance but it is quite heavy, it is atmospheric. It's also I wouldn't say scary. But I would say actual genuine suspense and also Heather Guerre's, lore and her paranormal world building is really interesting and fun and good.

But I think I expected the tone of this book to be very different from what it ended up being in a way that very pleasantly surprised me. And so nothing here to me felt gimmicky or played You're forced, yeah, none of that. I didn't feel any of that reading this.

Andrea Martucci: Yeah. When I think I keep having these moments -- they're in a cabin at one point, and she goes, there was only one bed, and I feel like Heather Guerre knows what she is gesturing at, and she's not hiding it, but the way it's executed in all of her books that I have read, it's always just fresh and interesting that it never feels like, oh, here we go.

Like, Only one bed. It's just like, along for the ride and it's really pleasurable.

Dame Jodie Slaughter: yeah, I [00:09:00] think that she's also, grain of salt, this is the only Heather Guerre book I've ever read, but she doesn't seem to be a trope first writer.

Andrea Martucci: Mm. Mm

Dame Jodie Slaughter: At all, and whenever there's like a trope there it does feel like it's more fallen into, it's like a very natural progression actual good romance craft, like that's a really large part of why none of it ever feels hackish.

Andrea Martucci: Yeah. It's organic.

Dame Jodie Slaughter: It's organic. Yeah, great word. Great word. Yeah, it's been a while since I have read really any paranormal romance that I had not, that's not like old and that I had not already read before. And so Heather Guerre and her like werekin, like the werewolf lore is really interesting to me because there was a moment here in the beginning when I was reading it.

Andrea Martucci: I'm sorry, Wolf Kin.

Dame Jodie Slaughter: Wolf Kin! What did I say?

Andrea Martucci: No, you said Were kin.

Dame Jodie Slaughter: excuse me. Heather Guerre and her Wolfkin and their like very particular lore is interesting. There's a moment here where I thought we were going to get like a fated mates thing because that's very common and I love a fated mates thing actually.

But we did not get a fated mates thing, and I was actually quite happy about that. I love a paranormal story wherein there is no fated mates, or the fated mates thing is turned on its head.

Cate C. Wells has a wolf shifter series where people do have fated mates, But it's described as sometimes being a curse or like sometimes it's awful. It very often doesn't work out. It doesn't mean you have to be with this person romantically. Here are all of the examples we have of fated mates who like destroyed each other emotionally, physically, like whatever.

And so I enjoy that too, but I enjoyed that our hero was coming off of some relational trauma and was very incredibly distrustful for the heroine for multiple reasons, but he's scorned off romantic love in a way and so when he scents her for the first time, he does not smell her and like immediately have the urge to mate her. He is quite disgusted by her to some extent.

Andrea Martucci: Because when he initially first smells her, she smells not just like her ex, but her ex vampire lover. which in this book are called Strigoi.

Dame Jodie Slaughter: Strigoi. Yeah. Yeah, they're having like a conversation at some point. I think it's after she learns what the deal is. Where she's like and you're a werewolf and he's like Wolf Kin and oh and he's a vampire and he's like we don't call them that they have another name and i was like hell yeah

Andrea Martucci: Hell yeah brother!

Dame Jodie Slaughter: Yeah exactly

Andrea Martucci: Yeah, yeah, to veer into the vampire stuff, I'm sorry, the Strigoi, just [00:12:00] a moment. What I really enjoy about this series is that this first book, you have the Wolfkin and you have the Strigoi, right? And the Wolfkin demonize the Strigoi. And from what we know of the vampires, they are terrible.

Alex Grace's ex, basically messed with her mind, and trapped her, and was, like, very possessive, had no interest in her as an individual, and basically like, sucked her life away. Which is why, at the beginning, she's so depressed.

Dame Jodie Slaughter: yeah she's like in a fog that she cannot shake because a supernatural being has completely fucked with her brain

Andrea Martucci: Yeah, he's messed up her memories, he's just been doing a lot of things. And so our first experience with vampires is like, yeah, they're terrible, and they're evil. And then, I love that you then get into the second book, and you turn that entire idea on its head, where you get a completely different perspective of this community that has been demonized.

And Alex is still terrible. The other vampires are like, fuck that guy. He's the worst. He's dangerous. Somebody should have killed him years ago. So I also like that this is a world in which it acknowledges that there are stereotypes and misunderstandings, even among the supernatural peoples

Dame Jodie Slaughter: the supernatural community

I love this too because this is a .Very common thing in paranormal stuff, paranormal romances especially, like the rivalry between vampire and werewolves is one thing that I was like so fucking delighted that she included because it's a thing that I love, it's like a, I wouldn't call it a trope, I don't know, but it's an element of these books that I really enjoy because I do think it often lends itself to obviously, the writer often outbuilds the world and you have multiple perspectives. And also very often I read the vampires romance book first and so what I'm encountering then is the discrimination against werewolves first, so it's interesting to have the fuck you vampires are bad right off the bat.

Yeah, it was a thing that I was so delighted to see and means that I will absolutely read the second book because now I obviously need that Vamp perspective.

And I need to see what she does with the Strigoli. like, the mind control thing is obviously very bad, but it is also ripe

Andrea Martucci: Mm Mm hmm.

Dame Jodie Slaughter: for [inaudible] plot device.

Andrea Martucci: hmm. Yeah. some possibilities. And I think that Grace at the beginning it's interesting like, I don't remember getting frustrated with her. Her mindfog and, seeming depression. you would think it makes her uninteresting, or like, but it always felt like a mystery that was going to be solved.

I think on the one hand, it was a very interesting portrayal [00:15:00] of depression and I don't have a perspective here or there about oh, no, is the fact that her depression was essentially caused by a vampire bad for representations of depression like, I don't have an impression, I don't have a feeling about that, but I thought it was, on the one hand, a very interesting portrayal of depression that felt very humanizing.

She was on the one hand apathetic, but on the other hand, like, why am I like this? I don't want to be like this. I want to claw my way out of this, but I just can't help it. That was so interesting. But then the way you see her coming out of it in the community I suppose you could say there's like an underlying metaphor that like, her life before, where she never felt like she belonged anywhere even before Alex came into the picture. She's just not close to her family it's not like she doesn't talk to them, they're just not close, and they don't really seem that enga ged or invested with her.

And there's just so many lines in this that are heartwrenching where she's not used to being wanted or not used to being thought of or cared for in any way. And so seeing her come out of this depressive episode at the same time as she's also experiencing community and love and not just romantic love and caretaking, but also like community and found family.

Dame Jodie Slaughter: Yeah, it was an incredibly beautiful element of this book. she is. ingratiating herself in this community in a very real way. She does not move to this place and start superficially interacting with like its people and its customs, she is actively a part of it, and a big part of that is because there are people in the community who are proactive in making her as active a part in it as they can while she's still has to technically be considered an outsider.

Natasha and Margaret. I loathe to say mother figures because I don't think that's necessarily the vibe I'm going for. I would say there are nurturing elements. There is some definite caretaking happening in ways that are incredibly warm and really beautiful. As I said, the book is super atmospheric in a way that it's it's cold. Everything is quite cold, but the people are not cold.

Even fucking Caleb can't quite manage to me, I was always like, ugh, do you know what I mean?

Cause he's so grumpy and shitty and like kind of standoffish,

Andrea Martucci: he's so sexy.

Dame Jodie Slaughter: Yeah, but he help but like be fucking helpful and like

Andrea Martucci: Kind. And caring.

Dame Jodie Slaughter: Yeah. So even when he's like on the very shallow surface, being a shithead, you never like, fuck Caleb. You're always like, Caleb, get it the fuck together. Grace is a good person she hasn't done anything wrong.

Andrea Martucci: Well, and I feel like it's really clear from the beginning that he's into her, even if he's somewhat [00:18:00] reluctant about it. And you find out later that he wasn't just brushing against her in the hallway because he doesn't want to move over, he's been scent marking her. (squees a bit)

Dame Jodie Slaughter: he's been scent marking her the whole time. Is there anything better than scent marking?

Andrea Martucci: No!

Dame Jodie Slaughter: I don't think There is. I wish there was a way people could incorporate that shit into like contemporary romances I like so much.

Andrea Martucci: Oh, I think they could.

Dame Jodie Slaughter: I actually feel like I, as I said that, I just thought of maybe three ways that and I'm going to try at least one of them.

Andrea Martucci: write them all and put them into your next book.

Dame Jodie Slaughter: Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, I have to.

Andrea Martucci: Okay, let's go back to mother figures for a second, because like,

Dame Jodie Slaughter: Yeah,

Andrea Martucci: what actually is a mother


Dame Jodie Slaughter: that is true.

Andrea Martucci: Because you were describing because they're, like, warm and caring, and I feel like our brains are just like older women. So like more responsible, going to take charge and take care of me and take care of the situation and like I need help won't somebody, help me? That's what a mother figure is, is you don't even need to ask for help. They offer help and affection and not just physical caretaking, but emotional caretaking.

Dame Jodie Slaughter: Yeah, very much emotional caretaking. I do make an attempt to be cautious at labeling any caring older woman in fiction, like a mother figure, but I also, I'm like, do I actually need to be that cautious? Cause I don't view mother figure, I certainly don't view it as devoid of interiority or one note, I don't view it as a thing that one should take advantage of, but I think it's like a really important thing.

I also don't actually necessarily think mother figure to me is fully age dependent.

Andrea Martucci: Well, Because it's relational. right? When I'm 20 years old, I could be a mother figure to a six year old, right? Meanwhile, when I'm 20, but I think age wise. difference matters, but it's not like a particular age.

Dame Jodie Slaughter: Yeah. exactly. Yeah, there was a lot of mothering of Grace that happened here in ways that I mean, you and I know. I think made me feel very good for a lot of the same reasons as they probably make you feel very good.

Andrea Martucci: YUP. (laughing)

Dame Jodie Slaughter: So, so, uh, Yeah I, I, uh,

Andrea Martucci: Jodie and I know too much each other's shit that we are not going bring onto this podcast,

Dame Jodie Slaughter: but the laugh, the laughter is real.

Andrea Martucci: Yup.

Dame Jodie Slaughter: To circle back, it's just. I think it's another reason as to why Heather Guerre is packing punches in this fucking book. A lot of punches in this book. And I'm like, to be fair, I want to say, if you're listening to this, and I hope you are, Heather Guerre, I was familiar with your game.

Andrea Martucci: (Andrea cackling with laughter in the background) no, sorry!

You were saying to Heather Guerre, if you're listening. No, I thought you were speaking to like a hypothetical [00:21:00] listener, like, hey listener, if you're listening to this, and I hope you are! Oh my god, okay, yeah, Heather Guerre, if you,

Dame Jodie Slaughter: Heather Guerre specifically, if you are listening to this, and I hope you are, I was not familiar with your game, forgive me. But you packed a lot of fucking punches in this book. And every one of 'em hit.

The like relational aspects. The non-romantic relational aspects of this book were also another surprising element that like hit like a Mack truck obviously specific like personal reasons, I don't want to repeat myself constantly, but the like cold atmosphere of the book, mixed with the absolute warmth of what it means to see Grace finally find a place and people that she feels valued, that she feels like she belongs to, that she feels are a place where she can go for care and comfort , they're just as important as seeing Caleb get his shit together and, for them to hook up.

Yeah, they're, just as integral to this. And I think that's another reason as to why this single POV works well. We get to spend a lot of time with Grace and she's a great character who has a really great hero's journey.

Andrea Martucci: Yeah, and like, everybody knows that I like it when they bang early, and when the sexy times get going, right? Now, I don't think they kiss until, the 60 percent mark, and I don't think they

Dame Jodie Slaughter: I think it's like 75 percent before they have sex for the first time.

Andrea Martucci: Yeah, but I never felt like I wasn't getting what I came for.

Dame Jodie Slaughter: Yeah, no, me either. I also am a large lover of the smut

Andrea Martucci: A deviant smut lover.

Dame Jodie Slaughter: Pure filth I say smut proudly like people shirk away from smut and I'm like no, no No. I also didn't feel like I was missing I also actually feel like If been, it wouldn't have been,

Andrea Martucci: It wouldn't have been this story, and this story is perfect.

Dame Jodie Slaughter: I wouldn't have enjoyed it as much if they were fucking, no, it wouldn't have been this story. This story is great .

It is a real slow burn. I would say the first, at least the first quarter, maybe a little past the first quarter, there's a lot of stuff that we're like wading through in a way that's like to me slow but not at all unenjoyable, because I think Grace is such a good character so you're willing to go into it with her.

I didn't want to back out Immediately once I got a few chapters in and I realized okay, this isn't going to give me my romantic punches early and exactly when I want them, I am going to have to wait for them, which works if the rest of the book is good.

If the rest of the book isn't good and then I'm also getting my romantic punches very late, then obviously that's just, I'm not into it, but the book is good. So

Andrea Martucci: And I think it's because, A, she keeps [00:24:00] Caleb and Grace in contact pretty frequently, and some of it is like, plot. Like, oh, she needs to go to a bookstore, and the only way to get there is to take the plane that he flies.

Dame Jodie Slaughter: Yes. He a pilot.

Andrea Martucci: Like, a day trip. Yes so basically he is the connection to the outside world beyond this small community which is, also symbolic, but there's reasons why they get put together he obviously can't stay away, and she's curious, and also it's just a very small community, so they're always in proximity.

I feel like their relationship continues to evolve and then also Grace's relationships with other people continue to evolve. Her embeddedness in this community continues to shift and evolve, and so I think that that really feels like the key to why it doesn't ever feel like the story is stagnating, and that we need to throw in something else exciting.

There are parts of this book that are pleasurable on this level because it's just like people going about their lives - it's interesting.

Dame Jodie Slaughter: Yeah, there's a simplicity here, I'm not saying their lives are simple, but I am saying that there's like a lot of predictability in the day to day lives of these people because of where they live. But it is incredibly interesting because it's set in Alaska and it's obviously a place that is, if you're in the states, you're like, okay, Alaska. We are in the same country as Alaska, but it is still also very unfamiliar If you're not Alaskan and you don't know anyone who is from Alaska who has ever been, which I don't. There's a completely different landscape, a completely different way of living.

Andrea Martucci: I think that's important in books. As a reader, we want to escape to another world. This book is ostensibly set in our contemporary era. Like, Obviously, there's Wolfkin and Strigoi, but it's like our world, right?

And I think as readers It's important for us to have some novelty or world building, again, obviously there is the paranormal aspect of it, but I feel like even Alaska, as a setting, is serving as that like, the way of life is different here. Literally going outside, you have to prepare differently than if you're in the lower 48.

Dame Jodie Slaughter: yeah,

Andrea Martucci: The way people get around on snowmobiles is interesting. So it just takes literally every mundane activity, like whether it be going to work, or what social events look like, not just in Alaska, but in this very small tight knit community. You're like, I don't mean learning like the way you learn about history, but you're experiencing something else, somebody else's experience.

Dame Jodie Slaughter: very much that is very different from yours do you know what I mean? It's incredibly different.

Andrea Martucci: And we get the fish out of water, right? This is a very common thing, right? Where like the person whose perspective you're in, or primarily in, is the one who is [00:27:00] experiencing this new place or this thing for the first time, and so you get to discover it with them. So I think a large part of the beginning of the story is the newness and the novelty is carried through from the setting, the community. That's all new and interesting.

Also, there's some suspense and mystery. You know, something is going on even if everything hasn't been explained yet. That kind of keeps you propelling. And it's not like, will they, won't they? It's a romance novel. We know they will. I'm still very interested to see them get together, but there's like, so many things going on emotionally from the character, from me as the reader.

I think every time I read a Heather Guerre book, if I sit down and like, read it from cover to cover at some point I will cry.

Dame Jodie Slaughter: Mmm. Interesting. That's awesome. This book did not make me cry, but it made me feel a lot, but yeah, I can see that completely. you.

Andrea Martucci: it just feels, it feels like she's like reaching deep inside me and just poking a very tender little place.

Dame Jodie Slaughter: Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. Oh, that actually makes me feel so warm. I love it when romance novels make me cry, especially. There are all kinds of books that make me cry, because I I read pretty wide, but the cries that I get from romance novels are often so specific and particular. They don't happen as often - whenever I read a romance novel that makes me cry I'm like oh that one that's upper echelon shit right there

Andrea Martucci: that's some top shelf whiskey.

Dame Jodie Slaughter: I think it's clear to me that your favorite parts of this, and it seems like Heather Glaude does this very often, are obviously the like relational aspects community building especially. What was your favorite thing about the romance between Caleb and Grace?

Andrea Martucci: Favorite part about the romance? And I assume you don't just mean like, scenes.

Dame Jodie Slaughter: Yeah, no, of course, if the thing that pops into your head first is a scene, and that's indicative of something else, perfect answer. But I'm mostly meaning whatever elements of their particular dynamic,

Andrea Martucci: Hold on, let me review my highlights real quick.

Dame Jodie Slaughter: okay?

Andrea Martucci: I'm, going to reveal my very soft underbelly here. It is the protectiveness and the caretaking.

Dame Jodie Slaughter: same. Same. Same answer

Andrea Martucci: Yeah, I'm just like, take care of me,

Dame Jodie Slaughter: Trust me, we

Andrea Martucci: turn into a wolf, and get in front of me, between me and the vampire, and fix my car, and,

Dame Jodie Slaughter: you know okay one of my favorite elements of the vampire love story, me revealing my soft white underbelly here. It's the element of like, it's a true forever. And I know as someone who like, obviously is a reader of Anne Rice, and who loves vampire lore, even outside of romance, and it's probably a fucking miserable experience [00:30:00] to live forever.

And it just fills you with agony and anguish. I don't care.

For me, the true love story is the idea that for literally forever, they are like encased in time in the like, you are mine for literally ever. And I think that in reality, that would probably look more like, Nadja and What's His Face from What We Do in the Shadows, Lazlo.

Andrea Martucci: like they're

Dame Jodie Slaughter: yeah,

Andrea Martucci: and they're dedicated to each other, but they're like,

Dame Jodie Slaughter: after how many

yeah, we've been together 500 years. We're still very much in love and married. Yeah, that's probably the reality, me saying the reality of vampire couples,

but like, yeah,

Andrea Martucci: vampires. Yeah.

Dame Jodie Slaughter: but in the romance of vampire couples, that's the thing to me too.

And I think that for me the werewolf aspect, the thing that makes that is the like, deep protectiveness fierce protectiveness that werewolves, wolfkin, whatever have.

And also, there's another element to the story where werewolves, wolfkin or whatever, they don't tend to be able to turn their partners

Andrea Martucci: Oh, It's hereditary, right? It's not a turning situation, and so a Wolfkin and a skinlocked person, this is part of the world building that's great is like, of course, Wolfkin are going to have a name for humans that is relative to their experience, right? The norm is being Wolfkin and being able to turn into a wolf and have fur and not just skin. And so people who can't do that are skin locked. It's great.

So if a Wolf Kin and a skin locked person have a child, it could be wolf kin, it could be skin locked, but basically the only way you make more I don't wanna say bump uglies. the only way to make more wolf kin is to procreate

Dame Jodie Slaughter: Yes.

Andrea Martucci: via sexual reproduction. reproduction

Dame Jodie Slaughter: via sexual reproduction. I think I've read certain things where like the mate of a wolf, even if it is a human, whatever, something just like happens to their genetics and their aging is slowed down completely because they're like the wolf is not immortal in the way that a vampire is immortal, but it does live a much longer life than a human.

And if they choose a human as a mate, something happens so that that human can live as long as it, whatever. But yeah, I think that Heather Guerre's world building here is really interesting. I like her take. Even if, It's not the takes that I normally go for. I'm interested in them. I'm interested in seeing what else she does.

Andrea Martucci: I think you just told me I was gonna ask the same question back what is your favorite part about their relationship, and feel free to answer that question, but also, how do you feel about jealousy?

Dame Jodie Slaughter: Oh, baby. I love jealousy. I think it's an emotion that [00:33:00] we demonize a lot.

Andrea Martucci: Oh, a hundred percent.

Dame Jodie Slaughter: we demonize it and we like, completely provide value judgments based on the jealousy. It's a thing that we all have the ability to experience and it's all about what you're doing with that, right?

But I think it's natural and whatever, which is to say that in a romance, I think it's amped up to being more like, it's not just like a neutral thing. This is like a fun, good, hot frankly thing. Yeah, I want I love the idea of one partner being like, I want you so bad, and it makes me jealous to think that you want someone else and then obviously what is then done with that jealousy is the make of how I am going to interpret it, but I even think a little bit of like natural like (huffs) is okay in a romance novel.

Andrea Martucci: Yeah.

Dame Jodie Slaughter: I'm into it. I love it.

Andrea Martucci: and I think the fun of it being werewolves, I'm sorry, Wolfkin, is that you're expecting there to be a little bit of wolfiness when it comes to the display of jealousy

Dame Jodie Slaughter: Very much so. If you're scent marking someone, you're definitely gonna bark at someone if they're, getting too close.

Andrea Martucci: encroaching on your territory, yeah, look, and as long as he is taking care of her, and he's treating her right, and not taking it out on her. And the reason I asked about jealousy, obviously, is because there is a bit in this book playing with that, right?

Scent marking her to claim her as his, and everybody knows it, and then also he's a little bit jealous when she's dancing with everybody but him, and look, I love that, but it's in a safe place where he's not mad at her for other men being interested in her. If she was displaying interest in another guy, he's still not mad at her, right?

He knows he hasn't expressed his feelings,

Dame Jodie Slaughter: Yes.

Andrea Martucci: and that they're not together.

Dame Jodie Slaughter: Yes. That's such an integral part of it is that Caleb experiences the jealousy and that it makes him feel a particular way, but that he does not make it her fault or her problem, like they are his emotions that he can feel, but they're not ever taken out on Grace.

Andrea Martucci: Yeah, so important. And then when you are in this safe space of the romance novel, and in particular one, that portrays this jealousy in the most healthy way possible. It's so pleasurable.

Jealousy is like an expression of somebody being like, I want you and I want you all to myself.

And I want you to feel about me the way I feel about you. Like, yeah, that's that's

a what we're here for.

Dame Jodie Slaughter: What a surprise. What a brand new undiscovered concept.

Andrea Martucci: Like, reciprocation, and again everything in a romance novel has to be amped up, and so [00:36:00] especially when you're in a single point of view, how do we get a sense of how the other character feels about our main character, when we don't have access to their interiority?

Dame Jodie Slaughter: Yeah, I think that's a great point. It's that like jealousy here is also a plot device of making sure we know that yeah, Caleb is still very much here and he very much still wants what is his.

Andrea Martucci: Mm hmm. Well, And I think also very importantly that particularly as the story goes on and there's more room for him to share his emotions about like, the mystery of the place and all of that. He communicates, right? We're not left hanging about, like, how he feels. He does express things, or he gives the reader enough that we can understand what he means, even if he doesn't say it.

Dame Jodie Slaughter: Yes. Yeah, it's


Andrea Martucci: it's just

Dame Jodie Slaughter: it's a, no, I think that's actually perfect. I think there's like an element of single POV being very difficult when it comes to a lot of romance specific plots and plot devices. And I think that doing like deep miscommunication or deep repression from one of the love interests when we don't have their point of view at all you're not going to buy it.

It's not going to be something that makes you feel good. So the intense external plot and then the intense external reasons that we have for Caleb not immediately being willing to jump on the bandwagon really work.

Andrea Martucci: The Grace wagon.

Dame Jodie Slaughter: Yeah, like really work because their issues as a couple are not just resigned to like, he just is so grumpy and he won't talk to her. Uh, Do you know what I mean? There are other things involved and so that when those things start to break down, he does start to talk and then we can actively start to be like, okay

Andrea Martucci: Mm

Dame Jodie Slaughter: He is a very good romantic interest.

Andrea Martucci: Yeah, and I think, and you just touched on this, but the conflict is both external and internal, right? He has a past relationship that makes him wary of an outsider, of falling in love with an outsider who is not part of the community already because he's worried that she'll leave, which is I just he wants, he doesn't want her to leave. I love that.

And then she obviously has. emotional baggage coming off of a very abusive past relationship. And so those are the internal reasons why they're not immediately jumping all over each other, or they are jumping all over each other, but like not giving in emotionally or physically.

And then you also have the external reasons that because she's an outsider, he literally can't tell her things. And there, are reasons why he is cautious from a community perspective and, can't start spilling secrets immediately.

So, I don't want to turn this into like, a what is better, internal or external conflict, but I think this is a very good example of like, you can [00:39:00] have both, and it can feel very organic, and there was never a point in the book where I was like, oh my god what is wrong with you two? It's just you holding yourselves back, right?

I never felt that frustration at their relationship. Like, I I felt the tension and the suspense, but I never got frustrated with them as characters. Mm

Dame Jodie Slaughter: That's interesting because what that's telling me is from a craft perspective, there are a lot of readers for whom a slow burn in a straight contemporary is far more difficult to accept than a slow burn in a book in which there is some type of greater external plot.

This is an example of things that I've heard people say when they talk about how like, doing a slow burn in a book in which it's, maybe like rival co workers feels like they're less able to buy into it because they're like, the risk to reward is that the risk is not that high and the reward is, it could be, a grand love story, so why not just go all in, these are romance readers, of course that's their perspective and so they, they have a really hard time buying it.

But this was a real slow burn. This was like a true slow burn to me. I agree I there was never a moment when I was like, get the fuck out of your own heads. There was nothing here that made me infuriated about the fact that it was taking so long.

There were things that built a lot of tension and then that tension, I obviously naturally butt against it because I know what I want to happen. But never any frustration, and so that's interesting to me just from a craft perspective.

Andrea Martucci: Yeah I believe that authors, and you are one Jodie, I believe that I believe that it is possible, even in a straight contemporary, to do it, but, probably requires a little bit of deeper character work.

Dame Jodie Slaughter: Yeah I agree wholeheartedly. It requires a lot of having to completely rethink the way you're going about these characters and this story. And I think that sometimes that advice to other people rings as like people thinking that they need to reinvent the wheel when it comes to like the romance and I would just like to say that the basics of romance if you were to use them as like a guiding tool and not view them as like a stopping point you might have an easier time understanding how you can like you know get in between those traffic cones and figure out what you need to do to get your desired result in a way that is like deeply satisfying because there are all reads that we have that are like good reads and there are, reads that are certainly not bad reads, but there are reads that are like deeply satisfying in very specific ways.

And. I think that's quite a specific thing, something that I feel like we're [00:42:00] always looking for. And I think this was one of those.

Andrea Martucci: I think Heather Guerre is perfect, and this book is perfect, and there are times where I'm like, oh, well shouldn't I just keep doing books by the same person. And I say, I can do whatever the fuck I want, and I love this book, and I'm so glad that we talked about it, and I'm so glad that you enjoyed it.

Because sometimes I recommend books to you because I'm like, I think this book is doing something weird and interesting. And, The Savage and the Swan comes to mind.

Dame Jodie Slaughter: Yeah. Oh, Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes.


Andrea Martucci: Yeah, I'm like, okay, look, I want to have a conversation about this, but like, by no means am I endorsing reading this book, though I make you read it.

This one, if you had come back and you were like,

Dame Jodie Slaughter: And I hated it

Andrea Martucci: it just wasn't for me, would have had to re evaluate our friendship.

Dame Jodie Slaughter: I think that's fair. That's fair. I wasn't like, nervous. I don't think that I, like, take your, recs, let's back up. I view the swan and the shield or whatever

Andrea Martucci: Swan and the Shield?

Dame Jodie Slaughter: the sword?


Andrea Martucci: The Savage and the Swan?

Dame Jodie Slaughter: I'm sorry.

The sword.

Andrea Martucci: how I remember it? Is on oh because it has savage in the title which so

Dame Jodie Slaughter: yeah, that's

it. I,

Andrea Martucci: also goes, ARGH! ARGH!

Dame Jodie Slaughter: yeah, I view that as more yeah, swans do make awful noises. I do view that as more of a fluke than

Andrea Martucci: That's it. It's like me being like, a novelty. Like, I just want to pull something out that's like, such a train wreck that I like have to talk about

Dame Jodie Slaughter: I was like, andrea, what is happening here? And I tried so hard. Like I read the whole thing.

So I, but no, this one was great. Heather Guerre was great. I'm gonna read Cold Blooded. I think that's the vampire one. That's what that's called, right?

Andrea Martucci: I thought it was hot.

Dame Jodie Slaughter: Hot blooded, maybe you didn't see.

Andrea Martucci: Hot Blooded. Hot blooded. Once Bitten.

Dame Jodie Slaughter: Oh, so there are two vampire

Andrea Martucci: well, the next one's a vampire book, and then you're gonna have to see when you get to book three.

And again, I'm not saying I won't continue to cover Heather Guerre books because I also really love Demon Lover, which is literally like a, what do you, not a succubus, but like a, what do you call like a, An incubus, I think he's like an incubus.

And oh my god, just like, I have, so I'm not even gonna just like continue listing them all because maybe they'll just be episodes.

Dame Jodie Slaughter: Maybe?

Andrea Martucci: I can do what I want because this is my podcast.

Dame Jodie Slaughter: You can legally do what you want. And I feel like when you look back on your eras, you're gonna be like, this was my Heather Guerre era, obviously.

Andrea Martucci: Yeah. I know you've got to go we're gonna cut this short at an hour.

Dame Jodie Slaughter: What if we've never done that before. I was looking at our record times. We've never done an hour. One time we did almost four.

Andrea Martucci: I think we recorded for four, but we talked for like six?

Dame Jodie Slaughter: yeah, probably something like that.

Andrea Martucci: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. But [00:45:00] okay, so anyways, Dame Jodie Slaughter, thanks for being here what should people check out if they want to know more about the Dame?

Dame Jodie Slaughter: Yeah, so you can find me on Instagram at Jodie, J O D I E, underscore Slaughter, like Slaughterhouse. Where I am, where I'm like attempting to be a social media maven. I'm on Twitter at Jodie Slaughter, where I talk far less because no one is over there saying much of anything anymore.

I have a book called Play to Win that is out. I have a book called Bet on It. Of course, the White Whiskeys, the All Things Burn, those are up and available for purchase. I do have a sapphic romance coming out next summer called Ready to Score

Andrea Martucci: Does it have internal, external, or both conflict?

Dame Jodie Slaughter: Both, baby. Plenty of Nice.

And, yeah, you can just look me up.

Andrea Martucci: But you should also listen to the entire series of delightful episodes that Jodie and I have done together. I don't know what number we're up to. We might be close to ten at this point. We've done movies. We did Normal People. We did Swan Song, speaking of swans.

Dame Jodie Slaughter: Swan Song. We did, dreaming of You, which was great.

Andrea Martucci: Dreaming of You was great. We did Alpha Holes. We did a two part series on Twilight, basically, and Bridgerton. We did a two part series on safe sex in romance.

Dame Jodie Slaughter: Yeah, we did. We've done a lot of stuff.

Andrea Martucci: I'm probably forgetting. Oh, we did Anais Nin,

Delta and Venus. Nin! Yeah, we did Delta Venus. Damn, we're prolific

Dame Jodie Slaughter: This just reminds me that never let me forget, and I won't forget. The next time we do something, I'm going to make you read some kind of literary fiction again. And you're going to hate it. It's going to be so funny for me.

Andrea Martucci: But it has to if we're gonna read it on this podcast, there has to be something to say about romance.

Dame Jodie Slaughter: of course,

Andrea Martucci: yeah, it has to be like, wow, look how bad the sex is in this literary novel.

Dame Jodie Slaughter: So I don't read,

Andrea Martucci: this is okay.

Dame Jodie Slaughter: don't read a bunch of Litfic written by like cis het men. So I would say if anything, the sex in those books is just brief and like you wouldn't really want to talk about it because it's not like offensive. It's just nothing.

Andrea Martucci: Who is it that wrote Run, Rabbit, Run?

Dame Jodie Slaughter: John Updike?

Andrea Martucci: Anytime I think of really bad literary sex, I think of is it Run, Rabbit, Run? Or whatever, Updike. And it's all just, the penises are just like, fleshy, and gross, and flaccid, and just like, eugh like, eugh, eugh just,

Dame Jodie Slaughter: Yeah, that sounds vomitous. That sounds

Andrea Martucci: gross,

Dame Jodie Slaughter: We will not be doing any of that. No.

Andrea Martucci: Thank you.

Alright thanks for being here I'll let you scurry along to your swingin single life and, next time we talk, you're gonna live in London.

Dame Jodie Slaughter: Yeah, that's true. That's very true. Well Next time we talk on the pod.

Andrea Martucci: Next podcast episode,

Jodie is going to be joining us from London, at which point she will become our London [00:48:00] correspondent,

Dame Jodie Slaughter: From the London Bridge. I'll be from the Tower Bridge,

Andrea Martucci: So this is the last time we're ever going to get Jodie Slaughter from Louisville, Kentucky.

Dame Jodie Slaughter: I don't like the way you say

Andrea Martucci: Louisville!

Dame Jodie Slaughter: my hometown name. Andrea is such a New Englander that I actually don't think they should be legally allowed to say small southern city names. That New England tongue couldn't possibly

Andrea Martucci: do you know what, episode I forgot about? When we did the live from Copper Dog Books.

Dame Jodie Slaughter: Oh, yeah,

Andrea Martucci: and we talked about vampires and werewolves and Louisville Louisville (each time this is getting progressively less intelligible),

Dame Jodie Slaughter: Louisville. That's,

That's better, but I still don't like it. I don't love how I have to learn how to say Swamp Crotch or whatever it's called.

Andrea Martucci: swamp crutch. Oh my god. Oh my god. All right. We're gonna, we're gonna track the evolution of your ability to say small villages in England right here on the podcast..

All right, Jodie, any last thoughts? Anything you want to say? Sign off?

Dame Jodie Slaughter: No just like, everyone have a good time. Have a great summer.

Andrea Martucci: Mm, hmm. Stay sexy y and don't get strigoid.

Dame Jodie Slaughter: Don't get strigoi'd! Or do.

Dame Jodie Slaughter: Okay. Bye.


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 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 Thank you to Shelf Love's $20 a month Patreon supporters, Gail Copper Dog Books and Frederick Smith great day.​