Shelf Love

042. The Kingmaker by Kennedy Ryan

Short Description

The Kingmaker Duet by Kennedy Ryan!


contemporary romance, romance novel discussion

Show Notes

The Kingmaker Duet by Kennedy Ryan!

Show Notes:

Shelf Love:

Guest: Adriana Herrera

We Read:

The Kingmaker Duet by Kennedy Ryan (also includes The Rebel King)

Kennedy Ryan joined Shelf Love on the following episodes:

Myth: Feminists don’t read romance

Rhoda Baxter provided thoughts on this myth.

Awesome intersectional feminists you should read:

Modern Romance Canon Nominations


Dear Prudie Column that inspired Adriana’s latest story in He’s Come Undone!


Andrea Martucci: Hello and thanks for listening to episode 42 of Shelf Love. Every week we lovingly dig beneath the surface of the romance genre into the id, ego, and super ego of romance readers and writers. I'm Andrea Martucci, host of the Shelf Love podcast, and I'm joined in this episode by romance novelist, Adriana Herrera.

We recorded this episode on March 1st, 2020 which I feel is important to say as it is now May 19th, 2020 and we are in lockdown here in the U S due to the Coronavirus pandemic.  In this episode, Adriana shares a wealth of information on intersectionality, the waves of feminism, and pining. You know, it's my favorite topic.

The romance worth reading that we discuss is The Kingmaker duet by Kennedy Ryan. Kennedy has been a guest on multiple episodes of Shelf Love, so I won't even pretend to be unbiased. This duology is so good and I can't wait for you to hear our discussion.

Speaking of Kennedy Ryan, if you have read The Kingmaker and were eagerly awaiting Kimba's story, don't forget to go grab Queen Move, which is out May 26th, 2020. This is not an ad, by the way.  I also want to mention at the top that the anthology that was basically a glimmer in Adriana's eye when we recorded is now available. So you can go get it now. The name of the anthology is He's Come Undone and it also has novellas by Emma Barry, Ruby Lang, cat, Sebastian, and Olivia Dade, and all of these names should sound very familiar if you listen to Shelf Love.

As always, you can check the show notes for all the details about my guest and get more information about the topics we discuss.

You can always find show notes at and something super exciting is that there is a transcript available for this episode. You can find that on on this episode's page. Search for episode 42.

  I am sponsoring a giveaway right now to support my local indie bookstore that carries romance. All you have to do to enter is join the Shelf Love email newsletter list. So get on the list if you like free books. My Shelf Lovelies always get first dibs on giveaways so even if you are listening to this far in the future, and this giveaway is closed, sign up. You can always do so on and if you are able, please support your local indie bookstore. And that's all for now. I hope you enjoy this fascinating discussion.

Marker [00:02:14]

Adriana Herrera: I am Adriana Herrera and I write romance, mostly contemporary for now. My tagline is I write romance full of people who look and sound like my people. And I'm a  Latina. I'm an immigrant, I'm bisexual. So all of those elements come together in my books. not necessarily in that order, but yes.

Marker [00:02:34]

Andrea Martucci: okay,  there are a lot of myths and misconceptions about romance novels, and one of them is that, feminists don't read them or they're not for feminists. so Rhoda Baxter wrote on Twitter that one of the things that people say to her is, how can you be a feminist and read and write romance?

So what is your response to that?

Adriana Herrera: well,  I think that's like an ignorant comment. or it's something that comes from a place of a sense of what feminism is. So probably second wave feminists don't read romance. I would say someone like, you know, someone that's a TERF, for example, someone that's like transphobic might not read modern romance, but you know, there's a hell of a lot of feminists who are of all genders were writing,  romance from a feminist lens. I think the key to it is the intersectional part. So for me, for example, so I. Personally like my value system, like the things that  I consider important to my life and how I see the world are intrinsically tied to black feminist theory.

Audre Lorde, Patricia Hill Collins, Gloria Anzaldua, Angela Davis, bell hooks, like all those voices and those thinkers are who have shaped my understanding of myself, and that gets poured like undistilled into my writing. Like everything that I write is completely steeped in my views of how the world works. And all of those views are about feminism and not just like gender equality, but intersections of identities and like undoing systems of oppression. And  the book we'll discuss today, Kennedy Ryan, and so many other authors. Alyssa Cole, Alisha Rai. Sarah McLean. Helen Hoang, Ruby Lang, like there's just like scores of women who are writing, not just feminist romance, but intersectional feminist romance where they're grappling with like dismantling patriarchy and dismantling racism and all the isms in their stories.

So, I mean, there might be some feminists out there that don't read romance, but there are a lot of them writing them  writing it and reading it.

Andrea Martucci: And so I always get my waves of feminism mixed up. How would you characterize second wave feminism in the context of  what we're talking about?

Where do the differences lie, do you think?

Adriana Herrera: Well, I mean, first wave feminism is what, like the suffragettes right? So that first wave of women who were doing the groundwork to do  women's liberation and like basic women's rights, like voting. And then we have the second wave feminists who came in the sixties and seventies and that was the movement that was like more tied to like sexual liberation to like gender equality, to  having more women in the workplace. So like  the work of domestic violence, of sexual assault. And that was a wave of feminism that was very tied to the equality of women to men. So I think about second wave feminist as women, are thinking of that glass ceiling and as a movement it's very white. So it's not thinking about intersections of identities and how class, race, social class, immigration status cuts across the lives of people and how that impacts their ability to find equity. So that's where people like Audre Lorde, and you know Patricia Hill Collins, Kimberle Crenshaw came in Gloria Anzaldua, who came in and said, I'm a woman. Yes, but I'm also black. I'm also queer. I'm also, you know, come from a poor family and those things cut across my life in different ways where I'm trans, cut across my life in different ways than they are to a white woman was cis who is straight, is much more closer to the core of power than a woman who's black and trans, for example.

And if you don't have an understanding of how that impacts your lens, then you're not fighting for all of us. And that to me is, the difference between a second wave feminist to a feminist today who understands herself to be someone that is, thinking about intersections and positionality.

Andrea Martucci: Yeah.

Adriana Herrera: In real ways.

Andrea Martucci: And do you think it also, I mean, specifically as it relates to romance novels, I think second wave, there's also more of a rejection of celebrating things that let's say women traditionally liked, like in, in an effort to get that equality with men. There's this like we are, we're, no, we're just like men.

And, and then there's a putting down of things that are feminized or associated with women. So emotions, sexuality that's expressed differently than a masculine expression of sexuality, et cetera.

Adriana Herrera: Yes, absolutely. And that's like why I feel like women like, Sheryl Sandberg for example, I think about her a lot, who was the CEO or CFO of Facebook. She wrote Leaning In and she to me is like a real good example of like, what I think is like the second wave feminist. So it's a woman who has, you know. the pressures of, of when she was coming up were such that she equates success as like, I'm just going to be like a handmaiden to the patriarchy, but like, I'm going to be a woman. And that's like, like that makes it, makes the difference. So even though you're late harnessing and perpetuating and like serving the patriarchy, you still find it's like worth it because you're a woman and you're in that space where women couldn't be before. And so that's, I think the piece of like second wave feminism sometimes like really - exactly like minimizes or dismisses,  the spectrum of what it means to be a woman,

where there's trans women, like women don't have a uterus necessarily. those of us who have moved past second wave feminism are looking at all those things and like finding ways to be joyful and like body positivity and sex positivity. And yes, I like facts and all these things that don't make me weak.

Like the fact that I want to be in a relationship where I'm like, valued and shares doesn't make me a weak person.

Andrea Martucci: And I think in romance where we see that is , if you're reading a romance and you know, you have these characters who they always are  they're very white, even if they have been written as black people, but like, like I feel like that's something that comes in with like editing where, I think the way some authors, some marginalized authors have been able to succeed prior to fairly recently was like, okay, well, if I just write these characters in a way that is acceptable to, white, patriarchal understanding of romance and relationships and how people are, then, then I can be a successful romance novelist. And, and now I think with, I think with indie especially, I mean, I think there's been a lot of discussion, particularly among black indie authors around how they didn't feel like there was a space for them to succeed and write the stories they wanted to write i n the very white world of publishing

Adriana Herrera: a hundred percent real. Like, I mean, I was lucky  in a way because my, my debut novel was acquired by a traditional publishing. It's Carina, so it's digital first. So it means I got no advance. I was acquired by traditional publisher and that has given me a lot of opportunities.

My, my editor, for example, is wonderful and has been so great about not in, not even in the most. Like tiny ways, like diluting the cultural pieces of my stories and I'm grateful for that. But like for me to move up to a print deal, for example, like where I'm given an advance and my books are going to be in bookstores.

Like, there's no way I can write the same books that I wrote in the Dreamer series and get that deal still now, even after the series did well, it got a ton of critical acclaim. It's a popular series, and I still can make that jump up. And, so I've been thinking about this seriously, and I think like, financially, right?

So I want to make money from my books And I want to tell the stories that I want to tell. I can't do both of those things and stay in traditional publishing. So I have to go to indi if I want to continue writing books about queer  black and Brown people, like I just have to, and so those are real things that are still happening now.

And like it's, it's the gaze, right? It's the lens of publishing, which hasn't caught up. To the world and what readers want because. You can't argue against the fact that like there are black authors writing romance in indie who are doing very well who are selling well, you can't argue that, but yet, there is a lens problem.

It's like what happened with American Dirt? You know, like the publishing industry is not built as it is right now to understand their lack of insight around what is authentic, what is not problematic. And so they are very cautious. They're very careful, and they're very attentive to a specific type of reader that they perceive as who reads romance.

And I think this person is someone that they perceive can't tolerate to see a black gay couple on a book cover next to like their historical about a Regency Duke.

Andrea Martucci: Yeah. And I mean, the sad part is, is that it's a, reinforcing cycle of the less readers and the public. See. you know, books like that out in the world, pictures like that out in the media, the more it is othered and, the less it is normalized as it should be, as just a different, and just as, I'm looking for the right word here. I don't want to say viable, just as -

Adriana Herrera: yeah, a —

Andrea Martucci: acceptable way of living.

Adriana Herrera: Yeah, it's completely, I mean, it's a, it's a consciousness thing, right? So like if the American romance reader doesn't grow accustomed, and it's not like just part of their consciousness that like romance is the love story and it's not who gets to say it or who gets to experience it  or who gets to be at the center of the story, but the human story there. If we don't put books on the shelf so that they can begin to shift that way of thinking, then then we'll, we're going to be exactly stuck in the cycle where like, well, they don't sell because, you know, because we don't want them, but people can't get used to reading these stories if you don't put them out there. So it's like a cyclical, it's like a circular, a circular thing.

Andrea Martucci: Right. And then it, and then it becomes tokenism when one book does break through, then it's all riding on the success of this one book. And if it fails, well, it just goes to show that we can't,

Adriana Herrera: Right.

Andrea Martucci: Nope. Nope. It doesn't work. Like, and I think we saw this with, you know, like female-focused films. You know, if you have one female-focused films, like the, the main characters, women and, or, there's a whole cast of women and that gets held up as well. If this is not a big success, it proves that female-focused films cannot work. And it's like, well, it's just one, you know, you wouldn't base the success of all films based off of one film. So, you know, so anyway, it's just with books I think it puts undue pressure then on the writers who do make it through then they feel the pressure to prove that such a book can succeed.

And it's, it's so totally unfair.

Adriana Herrera: Yeah. Yeah. And it's also like, like I had to really think about that, even a couple months ago cause I have all these projects that I want to do and I found myself wanting to compromise like, well maybe if I make, cause I like to write series that are mixed like. A gay couple, a lesbian couple, a het couple, or at least like a man and a woman, not necessarily het and I, and I found myself compromising. Well, if I do like all het, then maybe you know, I can get a deal. And I was like, no, I have to not do that because that's not what I set up to do. And I have to do it because it comes organically. Like if I do want to write a series, which is all M/F, like it has to be organic and not me, you know, changing what I've already conceived as an idea and a project.

Because I feel like it would be more palatable to traditional publishers.

Andrea Martucci: Yeah.

Adriana Herrera: Cause my mandate as an author was to come in to the romance space and write the stories of my people. And so if I changed that to accommodate to a traditional publishing industry that's not like moved to the, to where the times are now, then I'm like defeating my own purpose as an author and that's going to impact my ability to create the stories that I want to write.

Andrea Martucci: Yeah. Well, and it's a, it's a tough place to be in because I think I can also understand authors who understand the way things are and do change. You know, they, they may, philosophically want to write one thing, but then for very practical reasons, write another thing because of, you know, their economic realities, and I don't know if I can, I can't blame them for doing that either.

Adriana Herrera: No, I mean it's, you have to do what you have to do.  I go back to like my own mandate. Like I came into the romance space for a specific reason and I have the privilege that like writing romance is not like the only thing I'm passionate about.

Like my day job is like my life's passion and like Roman, like it feeds into my ability to write romance and I have the ability to say like. I can write the romance that I want because I also have this like incredibly  rewarding and satisfying job that it's purposeful and I feel that.

It really feeds the things that are important to me, like social justice and all these things. So I have that ability, right? I have the ability to look up the things that I do and say I can kind of stick to my guns in terms of my writing and also financially I can afford to do that.

Andrea Martucci: Right.

Adriana Herrera: And that's my privilege. But there are a lot of people that don't have that privilege. and the market is what it is. Especially if you're wanting to do traditional publishing. Like if you want to do indie, you have a lot more room to play with in terms of like what you want to write.

Marker [00:17:30]  Andrea Martucci: so which romance novel would you nominate to be part of the modern romance cannon?

Adriana Herrera: So, I have three, so it was really hard for me to pick one. so I have Forbidden by Beverly Jenkins. There are many Beverly Jenkins stories. I mean, her entire body of work should just be in canon.

But, that book, particularly to me, that's my favorite book of hers, and I love Indigo, but this is my favorite.  The hero is white passing. And so she has a really interesting conversation about what it meant to cross the color line and, how it  impacted his life to hide behind the color line and all of this.

So I love that book because it's a really good conversation that she's having as all, her books are really great.

I have The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang. Just because I think that book really brought the conversation of like neurodiverse main characters to a different level. And it's also like a really, really great romance and its own voices and like the cultural piece of her Vietnamese, background is like front and center. So it has like a lot of reasons to be. And it was also super popular.

And I have A Seditious Affair by KJ Charles. Because KJ, again, she's in my top five favorite  romance authors, and everything I've read from her is amazing.

This book, I think, well, that whole series I love, but this book and this last one, A Gentleman's Position, she had a really amazing conversation about class  in those books, and I just think it's just stuff that's not discuss that well in romance and so. Those are my three picks.

Andrea Martucci: I love it. I just discussed A Seditious Affair with Emma Barry a couple of weeks ago.

And yeah, we definitely talked a lot about class.

Adriana Herrera: It's a great book. She's brilliant. Yeah.

Marker [00:19:31]

Andrea Martucci: To pause on pining for a second. I love pining and, I now, whenever anybody expresses interest in pining, I have to ask, what is it that you think is so fantastic about pining?

Adriana Herrera: So I just wrote a novella for this anthology that I'm in with Emma Barry is one of the people in the anthology, and I, I liked pining because it's so introspective, right? Like we get to be in the head of these people for so long and like they have to deeply, deeply unpack what are the things that make that other person worth the agony.

Like, have you read Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe?

Andrea Martucci: I have not. No.

Adriana Herrera: And so YA M/M it's by Benjamin Alire Sáenz. It's an own voices.  It's two Mexican-American teens in the eighties.  I mean, it's a teen story, so it's all angst, right?

But it's the the layered levels of uncovering everything that makes that person amazing. And it's all in there. So by the time the love story begins to really kind of like get momentum, you're so in it with them because they are so attuned to all the things that make this other person amazing.

Andrea Martucci: Yeah. I love that way of thinking about it.  So you said it's introspective and unpacks what makes the other person so fantastic. That's, that's so true. I love it.


Adriana Herrera: I'm a therapist, so I think a lot about people's thinking.

Andrea Martucci: I will link to that. and what's the name of the anthology and when is it coming?

Adriana Herrera: So the anthology is, He's Come Undone. And it's kind of like uptight starchy heroes being unraveled by their various love interests.

And it's  coming out May 12. It's me, Emma Barry, Olivia Dade, Ruby Lang, Cat Sebastian,

Andrea Martucci: Great lineup. I'm really excited about it.

Marker [00:21:37]

So are you ready to talk about The Kingmaker duology?

Adriana Herrera: I am. I am very ready

Andrea Martucci: Now I assume you've read them both too.

Adriana Herrera: Yes, I just re-read The Kingmaker for this. But, I read The Rebel King when it came out, in like October. Yeah.

Andrea Martucci: Yeah. for some reason I thought that they were just like two books in a series, like  different couples. And so I started reading The Kingmaker and I was like, Oh, that's a cliffhanger.

And, and so, I mean, I immediately read The Rebel King. but, but yeah, so it's. Basically two books and one, one story.

you're not going to get your HEA until the second one.

Adriana Herrera: Right. Not even, I mean, you're, you're kind of getting there, but you really need to read the whole,

Andrea Martucci: it's not even a happily for now at the end of the first book, it's a very unhappy, you know, you're not, you're not going to be happy with that at the end of the first one.

Adriana Herrera: That's when she led one until like full bananas, bonkers mode. And I was like, yes. Yeah, it was. She had it. She just gave us a little bit of everything in that book I thought.

Andrea Martucci: I agree. And so before we talk specifically about what happens in the book, why do you think that The Kingmaker duology or duet or whatever we're calling it, is a romance novel slash two romance novels worth reading?

Adriana Herrera: I think Kennedy, Ryan is like a fantastic author,  I'll just say that like she is -- just in terms of her prose, like she writes a beautiful sentence, and so it's just like, she's a really good romance author.

But I think two things that, I like about this book. One is that Kennedy does something here with Lennox that, it's something that I think in romance is becoming more and more important to do and thoughtfully, and it's the rendition of cultural pieces of underrepresented main characters in ways that really honors those practices.

And it's like right off the bat, Lennox, the heroine is, doing, I think it's the Sun Dance, I can't remember exactly the name. but it's like, kind of like coming of age Rite of passage that, Lennox's tribe does and she does such a beautiful job of highlighting that ritual and like the sanctity of that in the culture.

And I think that for marginalized people in the media, in movies, in books, because of white supremacy, like what is sacred to us has been for so long, specifically for Native Americans, for the indigenous people of this country has been rendered as spectacles. And so I have a bell hooks quote but I kind of picked up to just discuss this a little bit. I'm going to read it as she says, "ritual is that ceremonial act that carries with it meaning beyond what appears while spectacle functions primarily as entertaining, dramatic display. Those elements of a given ritual that are empowering and subversive may not be readily visible to an outsider looking in. Hence, it is easy for white observers to depict -" she says black, but any marginalized person's "rituals as a spectacle." And I think that like that really speaks to what Kennedy does from the get-go with Lennox, is that she presents her culture as rich, layered, ancient and sacred to her and her people.

And that's something that in media and especially in Romance in renditions of Native Americans has been done so poorly. And so just from that, there's a value in that story of this woman that I think is like, is vital to like romance today.

Andrea Martucci: Yeah. Yeah. I mean, just speaking of romance as a genre's horrible history with indigenous people, you know, particularly America's indigenous people.

I mean, I'm just thinking back to all of the sort of Western ish historical romance is where, you know, it was usually, a man who, who one of his parents was an indigenous

Adriana Herrera: A biracial person.

Andrea Martucci: And it was like, but it was like, this is like, okay, we can have the heroine fall in love with somebody who is "a little bit other," but he's gotta be a little bit white too.

Adriana Herrera: Right.

Andrea Martucci: It's terrible, right.

Adriana Herrera: And for Lennox, Lennox is also half white, but the culture that she's steeped in, the culture that she identifies with and leans to is her Native American ancestry and that's who she works for.

Like her life's purpose, what drives Lennox is her, her love and her need to lift up her people. And so yeah. Like, that's just, it's, she just does it really beautifully and it's so centered in the story throughout and she just, from the moment we meet her, we deeply understand that this is a woman who knows who she is and her who she is as sacred to her.

Andrea Martucci: Yeah, it is really beautiful. And, and as you said, it starts with, you know, she's 14 and she's just gone through the Sunrise ceremony or the sunrise dance. She's a member of the Yavapai - Apache nation. And, you know, Kennedy has this author's note at the beginning that talks about how the, the government, the United States government basically outlawed ceremonies like this, as well as, you know, indigenous people speaking their various languages, or practicing their rituals or customs or lifestyle in any way.

And I think that this book does a fantastic job of exploring how damaging that is and how violent that is to people and, and how intentional it is. It's not an accident that the government did this.

Adriana Herrera: I mean, it was ethnic cleansing, right? And then you have a romance that not only is looking to that, but it's, aired out again and again and again.

And it's aired out as this is Lennox's story, and this is Lennox's like North star is like repairing what she can of that. And it's more important to her than anything. I mean, Kennedy's my friend, and I respect her for what she does. A, because it's very aligned to how I write my stories and what I say my story is about my own, you know, people, the people who come from the places I come from. But it's the understanding that the there is no future for Romance if that can't be said, and if those people, people like Lennox can't have an unapologetic happy ending without compromising her values and the things that mattered to her.

And so to me, that's why Kennedy's books, all of them are important. But I think this book in particular, she's just, she just, it's just talking about climate justice. She's talking about racial justice. She's talking about the criminal justice system. She's got. Kimba, whose the best friend who is from a family of civil rights activists.

She's got Lennox, who is a native American activist who's constantly working around the missing and murdered indigenous women. She's got like an entire cast of people and even Maxim who with all his privilege has to separate himself from his family to do what he thinks is right and has worked toward environmental justice.

So like you have an entire book that is centered around the things that matter in our world. And you have like great sex, a great romance like it's just like, to me, it's like we're Romance should be going.

Andrea Martucci: Yeah. Yeah. And it does make me think of the ending, where part of the conflict is, I mean, part of the romantic conflict is Lennox holding herself back from hoping that her relationship with Maxim can work out.

And, that she can have a happily ever after with him because so many things have been taken away from her. Her mother goes missing when she's 14 and is likely murdered, but there's no closure there, and you know, so many things in her life: she's, she's only seen injustice. And so she, she does have a hard time imagining like, how is this going to work out?

And it's probably going to be harder if I fall into this and then it doesn't work out then if I just hold myself back from it. But then, you know, even towards the end of the novel, when it's basically a sure thing that Lennox and Maxim are going to be together then the conflict is can I be with this man in a permanent public way and still do all of the things that I want to do with my life?

And, I think it's interesting how that's resolved where, there's a little compromise on both sides where, Maxim says, look, I'm not expecting you to do this the way everybody else has done it before. I'm not demanding that you change. you know, we can write our own story here.

Lennox I think is a little bit more realistic about like, well, yeah, but there's, there's still gonna be expectations in this role that I'm being deliberately vague about, for people who haven't read the story. But, but I think also accepting, trusting a little bit more that like, you know, what? I Lennox I am passionate about what I'm going to do. And you know, maybe this is an opportunity. Maybe this isn't exactly how I thought I was going to make a difference, but maybe this is actually, this is not compromising my values, you know?

Adriana Herrera: Right, right. Well, and I think that's what I loved about them.  And I think that's what makes any romance work.

Honestly, I think it's like alignment of value systems. So you're going to have two people who are very different from very different worlds, but like they have like a center and a core that aligns properly. And I think both of them, for both of them, I think that's what made them inevitable because they were like so similar in the way, like they really truly believe that their purpose and the things that they were doing were worthy enough of their sacrifice. And they were willing to sacrifice things at different points to get to that place. And I think that's the thing about them, I think, I mean cause Maxim of course is coming from a place of like unlimited privilege where he's like, I say it is so, so it will be so, and Lennox is coming from the place of like, no. My people were literally like, we were like ethnically cleansed, like, we're still here. But like, yeah. It took a lot of resilience. So I am a little bit more jaded. But at the end of the day, they're so similar in like their purpose.

Right. So, yeah, I think she laid that out really nicely because they were Both so ambitious that at some point one of them was going to have to take a step back for it to work.

Andrea Martucci: Yeah. And that's the sad thing about life is that have you ever heard about, there's this saying like a woman can either have a great apartment, a great job, or a great love life, but not all three at once. And I feel like there's, although that's very reductive, I feel like there are aspects of that where, you know.

People in the world we live in are constantly having to make choices about what is the most important thing, because sometimes you just really can't have all of the things at once.

Adriana Herrera: Right, you can't have it all. You cannot have it all. And that's the struggle of adulthood, of being in the world.

And I think that's one of those things that gets like really kinda like diluted a lot in romance sometimes that like you do have to make those hard choices like, no, you can't have like a guy that looks like a model and an amazing job and a fantastic sex life, and you also be super successful at your job.

Like something's gotta give at some point because no one, no one can have it all.

Andrea Martucci: Yeah. And I mean, there's like, there's only so much time in the day, and demanding jobs usually take a lot of time, great relationships: you need to have time to foster them and spend with your partner or partners.

And, a personal life, relaxing. I mean, there is literally not time to do all of those things. And so Lennox is basically like Olivia Pope

sort of, or I mean, she's a, she is called the King Maker. She's the person who gets people elected. And she has chosen to use that power to make sure that, one of the things that she says at one point is that, you know, all she can do is fight for the right that you believe in.

"There aren't enough people fighting for my people's rights. What is right for us in the basic rights, it seems, are so quickly afforded to everyone but us. That's what I plan to spend my life fighting for." And you know, so what she does with that then is get people elected who are going to fight for those things.

but that's a, that's a power position. That's, that's a traveling all over the country, working long hours. Like, you know, you never stop in that job. So I think this, this book really explores the tension in that and how. When you have two people who have different but equally important objectives and they're passionate about those, you know, is it fair to ask one of those people like, okay, well put that on hold so that, the other person can have that, but you can't, you need to be happy without that.

And, and there are certain foils to that, you know, that prove that question. Like, Owen Maxim's brother has a wife who was a lawyer but then very happily, supported her husband's political career. And, and there's other examples of that where it's just like, you know what, no, this is the role I want now, and I'm going to put those other career ambitions, not just on hold, but completely aside.

Adriana Herrera: Right, one of the things that I think it's really important about people who are writing about marginalized people and people who are writing it from a lens that is not white, is that there are, there's a lot of textures to the decisions people can make and like the position of privilege. So in my first book, it's called American Dreamer like the whole conflict is around the hero who's Dominican. like the black moment comes from him not being able to stop working, but he's a workaholic, but he's also an immigrant and he's also, there's a woman that wants to like kind of run him out of town and she's kind of racist.

So there's like a pressure from a person of color or a person in a marginalized position. to like cement their stability in the world and to prove that we've earned our place wherever we are. And there's an implicit, like, you know, if you're a white woman and you're wealthy and you come from like an Ivy league school.

You're implicitly meant to be in the places where there's power and there's affluence. For a woman of color, like you have to prove, you have to come with the receipts that you have earned your place there, and there is a real friction there that I think comes into things like that. You know, like I'm not saying that white women are not driven.

Of course they are, but I think there's like there's a texture to a woman like Lennox for example, of not wanting to give up the position she's earned for herself because she's like, like the safety nets are not there.

There's no like, you know, built wealth or whatever that we can rely on to the degree where I think that the decision making is a little, it's more complicated and so,

Andrea Martucci: Well, it's dependent. I mean, like in those examples, you know, these, these women who are like, Oh, okay, well I got the fancy education to become a lawyer.

And for many people that would be a transportive type job where say you come from a family that is, you know, middle-class or, does not have a lot of wealth. You know, somebody becoming a lawyer from an Ivy league school, I mean, that makes just such a huge difference.

Your income is just astronomical compared to what you know, you could do potentially without that. To then just like set that aside to be dependent upon somebody else is, it works out for a lot of people, but there's a lot of trust in doing such right, like

You trust that if this doesn't work out for some reason, you're still going to be fine despite the fact that you, you know, you can't just jump back into being a lawyer after 20 years of not, you know, since your, your, whatever they call it.

Adriana Herrera: Yup. And, and I mean, I think like, and that's. Like that's like a big piece of it, right? Like you, you have someone who just doesn't have the ability to say yes or no to like giving up on what they've worked towards and like, I dunno, it's, it's, there's just a lot of factors coming in to things like that.

And I think that's why I like what she did with Lennox because I feel like a lot of Lennox's worries were warranted, and we were like really understood why.

Andrea Martucci: Right, right. But as romance readers, I feel like there's also, we trust that Maxim is fantastic and it's going to work out, and they're going to be happily ever after together.

So I think then there's like a tension in like Lennox. No, it's okay. You can let go, but,

Adriana Herrera: Right.

Andrea Martucci: But, but no, I mean, that's not who she is.

Adriana Herrera: Right, right, right, right. And we get why she's, she's like that too. Yeah. Like, it doesn't seem gratuitous. Like, you know, there's trauma there. There's like real loss there.

Andrea Martucci: Right. It's not one of those situations where it, as you said, gratuitous, it's just there to hold the couple back from being together for a couple more pages. it's, it's true to the characters that were built.

Adriana Herrera: Right.

Marker [00:40:55]

Andrea Martucci: So here's something awesome that you can do to support Shelf Love. If you enjoy this podcast, and let's be honest, you probably wouldn't be listening to this if you didn't, I would love it if you took a moment to give Shelf Love five stars in Apple podcasts or iTunes, and better yet, if you took a moment to write a nice review explaining what you enjoy about show. Not only do I like hearing feedback, but it also helps people figure out if it's the right podcast for them.

Or you could also share the love about Shelf Love on social media or tell an awesome romance loving friend about it. Thank you so much for listening. You have no idea how much it means to me to be a part of this community.

Marker [00:41:28]

What's interesting about this book is that despite the fact that it covers all these super heavy topics, I also feel like it's incredibly funny.

There are so many parts. I Here are my two favorite quotes, so "I feel chagrined and incredibly turned on and concerned about the planet, all of a sudden. I want to recycle and dry hump him in the middle of the square."

And then the, "it's creepy that you know, that. And then he says, one man's creepy is another man's determination. And she says, a new business venture for you. Inspirational quotes for stalkers."

(laughs) Adriana Herrera: Yeah, they're both really funny and like also like super into each other and like a funny way, Even those first couple of times they were together. So the book is really long. I guess we should say this for those listening, it's like the book is, it's, it spans like a 10-year period and we mean no longer than

Andrea Martucci: 14 years, something like that.

Adriana Herrera: Yeah. But like the second time they meet, they're like in their early twenties she's in her early twenties he's in his mid twenties and they have like a one week affair and that getting to know you, it felt so like true to that age or like you're just like horny and kind of dumb, but also like trying to act like an adult and I don't know, I thought it was really precious and really funny too, but also really sexy.

Andrea Martucci: Oh yeah. Yeah. they have a really beautiful lack of self consciousness with each other.

Adriana Herrera: Yeah.

Andrea Martucci: Like they're so incredibly natural. And, Lennox is actually a Virgin when they first have sex. And I also thought that her, that, you know, she makes several comments, like when her friends are joking around with her, like, Oh, you're gonna know what to do.

And she's like, just because I haven't done it doesn't mean that I haven't, you know, played around the parts and I, it's not like I, I'm not an innocent, I'm not naive. but the way she thinks about virginity is really interesting and there's no shame attached to it.

Adriana Herrera: No. There's a whole lot of agency to it. There's a lot of agency to why she hasn't had sex.

Andrea Martucci: Right. Yeah. I love what she says.

"I don't think my vagina is a Holy prize. I just felt something in those moments, like felt like my body was part of something great. All my friends talked about losing their virginity. The word lose felt careless to me, and I think that was what I felt that day, not just about sex, but about everything. I felt intentional."

Adriana Herrera: Yeah, I mean, I think that's an important thing to kind of put out there. Even now, I think. Like, thinking about second-wave feminism and thinking about, rape culture and the importance of like, having agency over our body and for some people, like their virginity is just something that's there and for some people has a different value. And I think it's the intentional piece of it. Like learning or like having conversations in intentional ways of like being with people of like being intimate and I dunno. I think it's an important conversation.

There's this book by this woman, Peggy Orenstein called Girls and Sex. I don't know if you've heard of it.

Andrea Martucci: No, I was thinking about a different book, but tell me about this one.

Adriana Herrera: she actually just put out another one called Boys and Sex. I mentioned before, I'm a, I worked with survivors of sexual violence, so a lot of my clients have survived child sexual abuse or have survived sexual assault or rape as adults. And so I think a lot about this stuff, and I think a lot of, a lot about it from my books, but I think part of the conversation to have around bodies is, it's agency, but also like having the mindfulness to think of like, what do I want from my intimate relationships?

And I think that's a conversation that Lennox was having with herself, right? Like I want to have sex and I want it to feel good, but I also want it to be like significant. Not in that. Like I was pure and I need to be like, you know, with a perfect man, but I want it to be in a moment where I feel ready for it and I feel open to it and I feel like I can receive the, the moment in a way that's good for me. In rape culture, right. In the patriarchy that we're in, allowing women the space to like be mindful of how they give access to their bodies is so important because consent, like even in our books, like there's so many alphas and all of this stuff and he's richer, he's bigger, he's more powerful.

He's your boss and all you have is like the ability to say yes or no to him having your body. And in those books that we're writing, we don't air out what that process is like for the women. I think we're doing a disservice and I don't think we're fully fleshing out consent.

Andrea Martucci: Yeah, yeah. That, so the book I was thinking about was Unhooked by Laura Sessions Stepp, which I guess was published in 2007.

And, I remember reading this in college and it basically resonated a lot with me because it was exactly what I was seeing in college at the time. And what it was, is, is, women. Yeah.

Adriana Herrera: So hookup culture was it about hookup culture?

Andrea Martucci: Yes, hookup culture and young women being socialized to believe that expressing their sexuality in these patriarchal-approved ways was agency.

So, okay. Yeah. No, I'm, I'm fun. I'm like a cool Sex in the City, girl. I can go out and have fun. Fun, and I mean, it's very second wavy, right? Like I'm going to enjoy sex and the way men enjoy sex, and that is without emotional attachments and just doing it with anybody and all the time and not really thinking so much about deriving pleasure from it especially because in a lot of these situations because there was no emotional connection with the partner, the partner didn't give a shit about them and there was no attention paid to their pleasure in these situations and they didn't expect it at all. it makes me think so much of early romance novels where it's like, get the P in the V and she's coming all over the place and you're like, no, that's not real. That's, that's like a man's idea. That's patriarchy's idea of how women should enjoy sex.

Adriana Herrera: Right, and I think that's like also it, right, like are we writing books to uphold a patriarchal sense of what sex is for women or are we writing books that honor the female experience, no matter what your biological parts are.

And like honoring the womanhood there for anybody who is a woman.

Andrea Martucci: Right.

Adriana Herrera: And like it has to connect back to that actual body. And so I think that's the Patriarchy has done that, right? Like these social constructs around what it means to be a modern person in the world. There's such a disconnection, I think, to like the core of us, our bodies, what feels good to us, what doesn't, and I don't know.

Yeah. There's like a transactional piece to it that's also kind of interesting and I think like Lennox really thinks about like she has thought about a lot about how she wants to have sex, like how she wants to let go into this new chapter of her life where she's like having sex with people,

Andrea Martucci: Right. Well and, it's interesting because Kimba her, her future business partner. She experienced,

Adriana Herrera: she's hooking up

Andrea Martucci: And she experiences that in a very different way. And we're going to get her story in Queen Move, which is out in may, but. It sounds at least from, Lennox's experience of Kimba's experience that Kimba really is getting what she wants out of those experiences.

Once we get into Kimba's head, We'll know for sure. But, so it's not to say like hooking up can not be pleasurable for women, but I think that the way Kimba is built as a character, she is somebody with a lot of agency who would, I'm sure she would kick some guy out of her bed if she was not having a good time.

Adriana Herrera: Yeah. And I think that's like the piece of it, right? Like intimacy, sex, how you and interpersonal relationships are different for everyone. Everybody's got different things that they want to get out from a relationship or from an interaction with someone else, but it all comes down to agency and your own sense of what worth it has in your life too. Like if you just want to have sex with a guy that's hot and that's hot for you and you just want to go on with your day, that's perfect. As long as like, you know, as long as it is coming from something that's coming from a place of like, this is what works for me right now. As opposed to like to be a modern woman in the world, I have to think about sex, like guys thinks about sex and guys think about sex like it's just something you do and you have to emotionally be disconnected from it or whatever.

Andrea Martucci: Right, I mean, and that's, that's, also stultifying for many men.

you know, that, that sense that that's how they have to experience sex. And so, I mean, just another way that the patriarchy hurts everybody.

Adriana Herrera: Right? So this, that's what this woman, Peggy Orenstein just came out with a book called Boys and Sex, and it's basically all around that, about the expectations that like rape culture and society and patriarchy puts on men even from like boyhood.

Marker [00:51:34]

Andrea Martucci: So I wanted to talk about family because Maxim has a really interesting family situation where he is an environmentalist. And also a capitalist. I mean, he is also trying to make money and he amasses a lot of power. Not building from nothing. Like, even though, even though he, separates himself from his father's money, he has a quote unquote small inheritance from his grandmother that I have a sense was a good chunk of change.

And, you know, I don't, I don't think he pretends like, you know, he was. pulling himself up by his bootstraps. But, but anyways, he is an environmentalist. His father owns an oil company that

Adriana Herrera: like the biggest one in the world or something.

Andrea Martucci: And they keep building pipelines on, you know, sacred indigenous land.

And so there's, there's multiple very problematic things going on, not just on an environmental front, but, other sort of like political and culturally disrespectful moves. But in addition, the other source of, conflict between him and his father is that Lennox has been in direct conflict with his father multiple times because of those pipelines.

And so not only are he and his father philosophically opposed on his life's work, but the woman he loves is directly at odds with his father on things that are incredibly important to her. And, and also you could say incredibly, I guess, personal and part of the identity of his father. but I thought what was interesting: obviously there's parts of this that create a lot of really great conflict in the story. And I think it'd be really easy to paint the father as just, I mean, evil, evil, evil. And there are points where you really kind of think that's where it's going. But by the end, I thought that there was a really interesting discussion of boundaries and like healthy, solid boundaries with your family.

There's this one quote in particular where it's, it's very much towards the end of the novel. And, Maxim has been creating and holding boundaries with his father his entire life and mostly his father is just bouncing off of those and they remain basically at odds, but he comes to the point at the end of the story where he says,

"I want to be able to choose you both, but you can't hurt Nix. You can't threaten or insult her. You accept her or there won't be a place in my life for you at all." And then he's thinking. "I've always believed I was so much like him. I've been afraid of it, but he's not evil. Gregory Keane is evil." Gregory Keane is like the bad baddie bad guy. "My father is privileged and arrogant and sometimes misguided, but he's the only father I have and I want a relationship with him. Sometimes loving your family is awkward and hard, especially when you don't believe the same things and don't choose the same paths."

Adriana Herrera: Yeah. I mean, I think the thing about that, that relationship is like, even from the beginning when dad is just like pretty terrible that he loves his son, Like you can tell he loves his son, but he's also like an incredibly entitled man and his sense of the world his worldview is why would anyone not want to be like the heir to all of this, like clearly being like handed the throne of this empire is the most anyone could aspire and his son turning his back on him.

Like even though Cade is probably like one of the people that I wish like couldn't be possible, I wish people couldn't amass that amount of money, like fucking up the world. Right? Like I wish that was impossible. That's like someone could amass billions by like destroying the environment.

Andrea Martucci: Right.

Adriana Herrera: And also when somebody has that much power and everybody wants what you have, which is like unlimited money, unlimited power, it's gotta be like a real fucking slight to your self esteem for your son, the one that you would envision as like the one that's going to take the helm to be like, Nope, I'm good.

I'm going to go into my own thing, because everything you're doing is terrible.

Andrea Martucci: Yeah. He really rejects him and everything his father -

Adriana Herrera: in like a personal rejection. Like, I don't want any part of anything that you do. Like your entire life's work is shit to me.

Andrea Martucci: Yeah. his father does not seem like the most emotionally in tuned human being.

And I think that he actually grows a little emotionally, there's definitely a part where the pain of having his son holding himself away from him forces him to do the work on this, and it's not like he changes his values so much. It's that he really considers his relationship with his son to be more important than the things that he's been digging his heels in about.

And I think kind of get some perspective where he's like, you know what? Okay, I have enough. You know, I don't need to, you know, one thing in particular is like, okay, I'll build pipelines elsewhere and maybe I'll stop being so directly antagonistic to my son's partner. And maybe I'll see that there's some good things about her that, that I have in common with her and that we are not so opposed

Adriana Herrera: And because in the end, in the end, he does find the one thing that he's not willing to give up. And that's the son. He's not willing to give up his relationship with his son. And so. Even though like he's not really giving up that much.

Andrea Martucci: Yeah.

Adriana Herrera: in concrete terms, but I mean, I assume that for a person of this level of power and money conceding anything feels like a lot because you have everything and you don't ever learn how to tolerate the word no when you have that much power.

Andrea Martucci: Right.

Adriana Herrera: So at every step. Maxim continues to be like, Nope, I'm good. No, thank you. Bye. I'm leaving. No, I don't want it. And so he learns like he will walk out and I don't want to lose him. You know, he does have a little bit of growth. I wouldn't say it's terribly a lot but for him. I'm sure it feels like monumental.

Like he's changing his entire life for him.

Andrea Martucci: It's enough that Maxim can have a relationship with him and Lennox can have a relationship with him. And I, I mean, you're right. Like, he's not gonna start, you know, chaining himself to bulldozers with Lennox.

Adriana Herrera: and he's not made into a meme, right? So she allows us to see humanity in him. She allows us to see that, like he generally loves his kids. well, I'm not going to spoiler, but he, you know, they experienced loss, like real devastating loss. And so, I dunno, it made it, it made it for a more well rounded story then having him just be like the super evil dad.

Andrea Martucci: Yeah, I agree. And I want to come back to the boundaries. Maxim is so consistently creating those boundaries and I mean, and part of it is because he is himself pretty stubborn and has his own ideas about what he wants to do.

But I hate reading stories where characters are bulldozed by their families. They let themselves get bulldozed again and again and again until finally, you know, there's like this black moment towards the end. I thought it was a really healthy way of showing, how you don't have to fall in line with other people's expectations.

And again, I mean, he's coming from an incredible place of privilege, but even with his family, he makes those boundaries and is always very clear, like, Nope, Lennox is the most important thing to me. And you know, if you have a problem with that, I will say goodbye to you.

Adriana Herrera: Yeah. And, and from like them from the beginning, he's like, no, I don't really want to do the oil thing.

I'm just going to go do my own thing. I don't really like that you're destroying the environment. So I'm going to go elsewhere and like, Oh, your opinion really is not needed, but thank you. Like every, at every step of the way, even when the desolate, you're gonna ruin your entire life. So. Sure. Bye.

Andrea Martucci: Cool. Thanks for letting me know.

Okay. yeah, I enjoyed that.

Marker [01:00:03]

The first line you hear Lennox say is, "can you hear me? Can you see me?" And it's proclaimed through a bullhorn at this protest, against drilling on these, like sacred, lands, of, of her tribe.

So this is definitely Lennox's story, but I think there's also a really beautiful story about, being seen and, and her being seen and, and seeing herself as well. But especially seen through Maxim's eyes. And I think something that is explored, a little bit through pining. There's definitely a little bit of pining, which I really enjoy and I mean, if you like pining, this is a good story for that. But the way Maxim thinks about her over the course of like the 14 years of this story evolves so beautifully. Like one of the things I highlighted in the first book one of the things he says to her at one point is, because, you know, basically the reason I want to be with you is because "no one else has done what you did for me.

Not before you and not since. I want to see if what we had, what we should have had is still there." And the note I made at the time was, I wonder how this language will change, because right now it's all about what she's going to do for him and how he wants her, and he gets what he wants.

Legitimately, like, I reread this note after I finished the second book, and I was like, I don't know if it did change. He, he tended to be very much like, I want you, kind of consistently. And he obviously deeply loved her and was willing to, kind of do what he could to keep her safe and secure and all of those things and help her and, and whatever.

I think where he evolved was, I think he always saw her, but I think he realized that in seeing her, that he couldn't, it didn't quite strike him until the end of the story that, she is who she is, and that means that sometimes she's not always going to fall in line and always do what he wants her to do, and it's like he knows that, but I think by the end he knows it.

Adriana Herrera: Yeah. I mean, I think he was like a little bit like tricking himself. Through the book. I mean, there's a moment when he comes back for her after she's learned who he is and she's like, you're a liar. You're a trickster, you're a thief. I think for him, at different given times, I think he really tricked himself into first of all, the idea that I can walk away from her, right?

I can walk away from her. And then he tricked himself into the idea of like. No. If I tell her why we're perfect, then she'll agree with me. And then it was like, no, that's not going to happen. And then like, no, but now that we know that we're perfect for each other, then everything's going to fall into place because his worldview was like that, right?

Like once it's clicked for him, then the rest of the world just needs to like.

Andrea Martucci: Snap into line

Adriana Herrera: going, snap into line. And so he continually tricked himself with that. And she kept setting him straight and she kept telling him, no, that's not really how this works. Like I do what I want and you need to leave.

I don't know if he changed cause he, he's like an alpha and like all that stuff. But like he finally, his ability to like, be attuned to her own boundaries around what he got to say about her life, like shifted. And that's why they ended up being able to work.

Andrea Martucci: Yeah. Right. I mean, he says, I want the girl who chases stars. Well guess what? The girl who chases stars isn't chasing you.

Adriana Herrera: Yeah. And she's out chasing stars. She does not have time for you Maxim.

Andrea Martucci: Yeah.

Adriana Herrera: So that's just how it is.

Andrea Martucci: Yeah. But he does, I mean, as part of, Lennox also becoming more sure of herself and her path forward, at one point she says, "for a moment, I'm stunned by his vision of me, of how he saw me so clearly. There are few things more affirming than someone seeing you exactly as you aspire to be for them to say, I see that in you."

Adriana Herrera: And yes, that's a beautiful, you'll see. This is what I was thinking about Kennedy Ryan can write a sentence like very few people in romance can write a sentence. This is a perfect example of it.

Andrea Martucci: Yeah, I agree. I mean, it's, it's beautiful. And I feel like I've had this conversation with multiple people, but I feel like I also had it with Kennedy, but about the, like the seeing like finding somebody who sees you, I feel like that is just so integral to romance.

Adriana Herrera: And I talk about this, like I work in the trauma field, right? And we talk so much about connection when it comes to like healing from trauma and like in the therapeutic relationship, right? So like in the, in the relationship that I develop with my clients and helping them as they process their trauma and heal, it's like, there needs to be a connection there where they feel known, you know, like, cause that's what we all want, right? To be known, to feel known for who we are. And that's like a. Being seen. And I think that's like when you work in trauma, like such a big part of surviving trauma is that people can see you're in pain.

Like finding someone that can see I'm an agony and then like being the person for my clients who bears witness to what they've been through and their story. Right. And so I think that there's, there's such an important piece to romance cause people come in with their wounds, right?

They come in with their wounds, like Lennox came in with hers. Maxim comes in with his, and then having that other person see it and then know it. And say, I'm signing up for this. I'm good. Like, this is what I want. And then because you've known what that's like because you've known what it's like to be seen, what is to be known and still desired and loved, like the sum of your parts at differently by the end

Andrea Martucci: You said this is your area of expertise and you know what you do professionally.

I mean, my understanding of a lot of, domestic violence situations is, is a lot of times the partner who's being abused, it's not their fault. But one thing that can set off an abuser is the person having any sense of agency that's different from exactly how the abuser imagines the other person. Like as long as the abused party.

doesn't make "a mistake" like by, by showing their true self, the abuser has this vision of what this other person should be and what they are to them.

Adriana Herrera: Right.

Andrea Martucci: And not, not my area of expertise, but, I feel like I've read so many stories where that's the case where it's, it's a "lose yourself because you're, you're not allowed to be separate from me. You, your needs are my needs."

And that's the abuser's point of view.

Adriana Herrera: Yeah, like my needs are the most important. So whatever makes me upset  needs to stop and whatever you want doesn't matter as long as I'm getting what I want. And when you try to get what you want and it doesn't align with what I think you should want, she should want and a have, then I need to assert my control by hurting you.

Andrea Martucci: Right, right. And so, I mean, a healthy relationship is the exact opposite of that.

Adriana Herrera: Right. Yes, exactly.

Marker [01:07:31]

I was going to say something about first person point of view because this is a really hard point of view to write in, first person present point of view.

But, I think it's a vital point of view, like first person for people writing marginalized characters and for people writing own voices because it's the visibility piece again, because there's a, you are, you are getting to experience a story told by the person who is living it, and we just don't have enough yet of marginalized voices and stories of the marginalized in romance for that ability for that, like closeness, not to be a value. I dunno if I'm making sense.

Andrea Martucci: I think that makes complete sense.

Adriana Herrera: So I think that to me is also like a really interesting thing and a really smart choice from Kennedy. She writes a lot of her stuff in first person.

Everything I've read from is in first person, but particularly I think when you're writing own voices or underrepresented characters, that closeness really helps humanize, right. And give like a strong sense of understanding to the reader of this person's experience. And it lends itself to be able to see better, be able to like, feel connected.

Andrea Martucci: And I know you wanted to talk about indie publishing too. So you know, this is, this book was indie published, if I remember correctly, Kennedy started her career with traditionally published work, but has moved exclusively into indie pub or, or a lot of her recent stuff that I've read, everything I read is is indie pub.

Adriana Herrera: Yeah. Yeah. Yup. I mean, her book that won the RITA, Long Shot was an indie series, and I think the series before that was also Indie. So yeah. And she would have never been able to publish this book or, I mean, not that I, I don't know what scenario. I haven't seen a book that speaks to the things that Kennedy spoke to in the King Maker.

The themes. The things she unpacked about the treatment of Native Americans, about systemic oppression, about corruption, in any romance that I've read that's traditionally published.

Andrea Martucci: Yeah. And I wonder -

Adriana Herrera: Other than mine, and mine and mine are digital first. Mine are not like in a bookshelf, you know, at Walmart.

Andrea Martucci: Yeah. I feel like first person is used a lot more in indie than in traditionally published work and I, I feel like that's almost one of those things that, traditional publishing has tried to... I don't know if it was considered more writerly or something to use third person.

I, I don't know if I'm making this up, but I feel like a lot of third person I read is traditional and a lot of first person I read is indie and, and I'd be super curious if there's like data on that. But, I feel like there's sort of these like writing rules, like don't write first person.

Adriana Herrera: yeah. And, and I, it's such a useful tool for an own voices author, but, it'll be interesting to see as more millennial readers and Zennial readers come into romance because YA is so--like so much of YA is written in the first person. And so all of these, you know, kind of like late teens, early twenties people that are coming into adult romance.

I wonder if, if for them it's going to be more of a seamless transition for those stories that are in first person.

Andrea Martucci: Yeah. I mean, and speaking to the conversation we had earlier. It's just, it's been, it's been normalized and now they're just not going to think anything of it, which is, which is great. I mean, just the different ways you tell stories.

I think there's times where it's really effective to be first person. Maybe there's other times where it's really effective to be third person. There's no good or bad way to tell a story. It's like, what is the right way to tell this story? And it's nice to see it normalized cause as you said it, it is a really great tool for that sense of intimacy with the character.

Marker [01:11:53]

  So anything else about this book you want to talk about?

Adriana Herrera: Not, other than people should read it because it's really, really good. And also super sexy.

Andrea Martucci: So Sexy

Adriana Herrera: Like, I want to stress how hot this book is because we talked about a lot of heavy stuff around it and it's like you said, funny and also super hot.

Andrea Martucci: Yeah. The, the sex scenes are they're just so joyful and unrestrained. And creative and

Adriana Herrera: hot, hot, hot, hot,

Andrea Martucci: hot, hot, hot,

hot, hot, hot.

And there's like, there's a little bit of like public sex, like,

Adriana Herrera: you know,

Andrea Martucci: there's, and you mentioned very early on, like there's parts of this story that go bananas bonkers and

Adriana Herrera: yes,

Andrea Martucci: we didn't even talk about that.

Like I feel like we talked about like all the very like realistic parts of this book. This book is like. I mean, I don't actually know what happened in Scandal the TV show. I only know what I kind of know from cultural conversation about it, but I think it's just as bonkers.

Adriana Herrera: Yes, I didn't watch the show scandal.

My partner did, I didn't watch it. I don't watch a lot of shows that would give me stress because my job is so stressful. So like the most I can handle is like the great British Bake Off. But, but he. He watched it and he, he loved it because of the drama. And this book for sure has like, there's like a part on an Antarctica that's like, this is bananas.

And then the second part of the duet starts in like straight up bonkers town.

Andrea Martucci: Oh yeah. it does feel like it hits a certain point where you're like, Oh, this is the kind of story I'm reading.

Okay. Like, and you're along for the ride and it'samazing.

Adriana Herrera: Yeah, it's, it's honestly got everything.

Like she just peppered it with like all kinds of things that like a romance has and can be very delightful.

Marker [01:13:50]

Andrea Martucci: Where can listeners find you and what's coming next from you? Or what do you have out now that readers or listeners should check out?

Adriana Herrera: I have many things.

So, I had an F/F novella that I put out around the holidays. It's called Mangoes and Mistletoe, and this is basically two Dominican women and they can women. And a baking competition and having like really hot sex. It's basically great British Bake Off fanfic and it's pretty delightful. I enjoyed writing it and readers have loved it.

Also, the last book of my Dreamers series came out in March. It's called American Sweethearts, and it's the only M/F in the series, and it's, Juan Pablo, who's the last of the friends to get a book and Priscilla, who is a cop in New York City and also like a sex educator. and then I have the, He's Come Undone anthology, which is coming out May 12th, and that's like starched heroes who get unraveled, I have an m/m story in that  anthology.

Andrea Martucci: And so the, story, and He's Come Undone. Can you give us a little teaser about the premise of that?

Adriana Herrera: Yes. It's called Caught Looking, and it's two best friends. I mean, I don't know if anyone remembers this, but like two or three months ago, maybe four months ago, there was a story going around on Twitter.

It was like a Dear Prudie you know, Dear Prudie like the advice column. So it was a Dear Prudie call where like a guy called, because he was like straightish and had slept with his gay best friend and he was in agony because he was like into it and liked it, but he had to leave the next morning for like a work emergency.

So his friend thought that he like had freaked out. But yeah, so that's basically the story.

Andrea Martucci: Ooh.

Adriana Herrera: So, it's two Dominican best friends. They met in high school in the Dominican Republic and one's now a major league baseball player. The other one's a translator for a major league team.

And they have been best friends since, like they were in high school and one night they sleep together and the baseball player's out, he's gay. He's out. The other ones like straightish. And so the whole thing is the straightish one's, like I'm into it. But because the baseball player has been holding a torch for him for like all this time, he doesn't want to mess up their relationship.

So he's very resistant to getting into relationships cause he thinks they're gonna mess it up and he's going to lose his best friend. So the other one has to convince him by seducing him in multiple locations in Dominican Republic, so that's the book.

Andrea Martucci: Oh, okay. Multiple locations. (giggling)

Adriana Herrera: Many locations,

Andrea Martucci: I love it.

Adriana Herrera: It's like 18,000 words of sexual tension and then like a really long sex scene. That's the story.

Andrea Martucci: I'm just sitting here very excited about it. Cool. I think we did it then.

Adriana Herrera: Well thank you for having me. This was really fun.

Marker [01:16:49]

  Andrea Martucci: Thanks for listening to episode 42 of Shelf Love, a romance novel book club. Show notes with links to find Adriana plus all the details, odds and ends, and ephemera can be found Coming up next. Any Old Diamonds by KJ Charles with guest EE Ottoman. Jess, Shelf Love's first listener ever joins to discuss a few of Rose Lerner's books and Bree from Kit Rocha will be on to discuss A Conspiracy of Whispers by Ada Harper. Thanks for joining me today. If you have any thoughts on the show, I would love for you to reach out to me. You can send an email to [email protected].

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