Episodes

  • We’re thrilled to be joined by the wonderful Priscilla Oliveras to talk about second chance romance and her new book (out next week!), Anchored Hearts. We talk about our favorite second chance romances and dig into the Venn diagram of second chance, marriage in trouble, secret baby, childhood sweethearts, and one night stands. We also talk about the hard truths of face transplants, the way characters in romance have to do their own emotional work, and how we love it when they remember every bit of a kiss from a decade before.

    Preorder the delightful Anchored Hearts at Amazon, B&N, Apple, Kobo or from your local indie.

    Next week, we’re we’re reading a romantic suspense—Whiteout by Adriana Anders. Find it at Amazon (free in KU!), Barnes & Noble, Apple Books, Kobo, or from your local indie. You can also get it along with our other picks for best books of 2020 as part of the Fated Mates pack from Old Town Books in Alexandria, VA!

    Thank you, as always, for listening! Please follow us on your favorite podcasting app, and if you are up for leaving a rating or review there, we would be very grateful!

    Show Notes

    Welcome Priscilla Oliveras! Her next novel, Anchored Hearts comes out next Tuesday, April 27th. You can order signed copies (bookplates) with recipe cards from Love’s Sweet Arrow. The first in the series, Island Affair, has the fake relationship trope. 

    Key West things Priscilla mentioned: the half marathon in January, and the Cuban restaurant El Mason de Pepe.

    This Goodreads list of second chance romance has over a thousand titles! 

    Operation Peter Pan moved over 14,000 unaccompanied minors from Cuba to the US between 1960-1962.

    We think cliff diving might be a bad idea.

    In Wild Card and The Highwayman, the heroine doesn't recognize the hero, but the absolute pinnacle of this is the 1997 movie Face/Off with John Travolta and Nic Cage. You honestly have to see it to believe it. 

    Theodosia is a name we all know from Hamilton. Aaron Burr married Theodosia Bartow Prevost, and it was an age gap romance! she was a decade older than he was. Their daughter Theodosia was their only child to survive to adulthood. 

    Here is a very nice video of NWSL players sliding on their knees after scoring goals. 

    That person you liked in high school? You're the one that got away, not the other way around. 

    Next week, we'll be discussing Whiteout by Adriana Anders.

  • Rounding the corner on Season Three, and we’re missing Kresley Cole! This week, we read a book neither of us have read before — Kresley’s Captain of All Pleasures. A Victorian pirate book about a ship race. We talk about the magic of the debut romance, why pirates are often times icky, and why setting a book on a boat is risky business.

    Next week, we’re back with an interstitial, and in two weeks, we’re reading a romantic suspense—Whiteout by Adriana Anders. Find it at Amazon (free in KU!), Barnes & Noble, Apple Books, Kobo, or from your local indie.

    Thank you, as always, for listening! Please follow us on your favorite podcasting app, and if you are up for leaving a rating or review there, we would be very grateful!

    Show Notes

    The requisite coronavirus chat: Sarah was very sick in 2020 and Kate and Jen did a “sickbed scenes” interstitial without her. Jen said someone is going to make a jingle out of “Fauci Ouchie” and it already happened. 

    Sarah’s upcoming book is available for pre-order. The title is Bombshell and it comes out August 24, 2021. You can read this interview with Sarah when EW did the cover reveal. 

    Check out Season one, which is all about Kresley Cole’s Immortals After Dark series.

    Quite a few of Lisa Kleypas’s earliest novels are out of print and not available as eBooks, but you can probably find them used on eBay or Amazon. 

    Nine Rules to Break When Romancing a Rake is Sarah’s debut, you should read it. 

    Borders was a bookstore that closed in 2011. Goodreads was invented in 2007 but took a few years to become popular, but once it was bought by Amazon, it completely stagnated. 

    Sarah was probably talking about Malcolm Gladwell’s 10,000 hours of practice rule, but how many words would that actually be?

    The Stephanie Plum series is now on book number 27, and all Jen has to say is #TeamRanger forever. Don’t @ her.

    Here’s Kresley’s FictionDB page for a complete list of her books in order. 

    Ships vs. boats, if getting those names is important to you, I guess. 

    The Amazing Race arc of IAD takes place over two books, No Rest for the Wicked and Wicked Deeds on a Winter’s Night. 

    Again the Magic was actually published in 2004, a year after Captain of All Pleasures. 

    The golden age of pirates was between 1650 and the 1730s, and of course our actual knowledge of pirates and piracy is limited. But most recently, of course, there are the Somali pirates. The race in Captain of All Pleasures was probably based on the Great Tea Race of 1866. 

    The history of henna tattoos. 

    A marchioness is a higher rank than an earl. 

    Dr. Gunter has some information for you about the hymen. 

    That’s what she said. 

    Hattie ties Whit to a mast in Brazen and the Beast, in case you want more of that. 

    Next up, Whiteout by Adriana Anders.

    Music

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  • Silver foxes, May/December, older heroines/younger heroes, look, Sarah’s buttons were installed young, ok? We’re talking age gap romances, how they played out in the early days of the genre, how they remain popular today, and what has happen (or not!) in the books to make them viable romance in 2021. We try to keep this one taboo but not dark, sexy but not erotic…but by the end, we’re not making any real promises.

    Check all your Content Warnings before you begin with these books!

    Whether you're new to Fated Mates this month or have been with us for all three seasons, we adore you, and we're so grateful to have you. We hope you’re reading the best books this week.

    Next week, we’re reading Kresley Cole’s debut, The Captain of All Pleasures. Neither of us have read it, so we’re all jumping into the deep end without a mask on this one! Find it at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, or Apple Books. Or find it from your local indie via bookshop.org.

    Show Notes

    You can buy Iris Johansen’s mansion in Cartersville, GA for a cool 8 million. 

    Maybe Chaotic Evil isn’t the best writing plan.

    Here’s some pop psychology about the May December romance. By the way, the phrase May-December romance apparently dates back to Chaucer. In The Merchant’s Tale, a young woman named May marries a much older man and a confusing idiom was born. 

    As it turns out the “half your age plus 7” rule is not something Jen made up, because once you google it, you get charts and graphs and articles and everything. 

    Sarah’s reference to “Every terrifying post on that reddit board” is r/relationships, although r/amitheasshole is always available with some new tale of terrifying bad behavior. 

    This problems presented from lack of sex ed are pervasive though historical romance, but how much better are we doing by our kids? 

    Jen was talking about Marvin Gaye when she mentioned "Everybody wants their own piece of clay" shit.

    Diana Palmer has a long, storied romance career, and none of it involves that kind of DP. The first book in the Long Tall Texans series, Calhoun, was published in 1988, and the latest one is #57 in the series, Texas Proud, and was published in October of 2020. 

    All joking about the Pioneer Woman aside, she does have some great recipes. 

    It turns out that the “boiling frog” analogy is just a myth, so keep on reading! 

    The movie Carol is based on Patricia Highsmith’s The Price of Salt. 

    The Jessa Kane book with the dirty version of the talk is called His Prize Pupil, in case you want to read it yourself. For science. 

    Our next read-along episode will be The Captain of All Pleasures by Kresley Cole. If you want more Kresley, all of Season One is for you. 

    Music

    Pee Wee Crayton - Long Tall Texan, Standard Fare - Older Woman, Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg - Nuthin' But A "G" Thang, Cibo Matto - Know Your Chicken, Dr. Octagon - Waiting List

  • We named Alexis Daria’s You Had Me At Hola one of the best romances of 2020, and for good reason. This week, we’re talking about how great romances can be handbooks for great relationships, about why taking risks in romance writing can pay off big time, about what it’s like to be bilingual in America, about why intimacy coordinators are amazing, and about normalizing lube. Enjoy!

    Next week, we’re back with an interstitial, and in two weeks, we’re reading…honestly, we don’t know. Stay tuned! Thank you, as always, for listening! Please follow us on your favorite podcasting app, and if you are up for leaving a rating or review there, we would be very grateful!

    Show Notes

    If you need to manifest, Sarah's surprise crystal kit came from Crystal Rising. 

    We had a Best of 2020 box available from Old Town Books in Alexandria, and it looks like you can still order it. You can listen to the whole Best of 2020 episode here.

    The Applying to College Reddit is probably not a real healthy place for high school seniors to hang out, so I guess if you must, you can be the person who just says reassuring nice things. But if nothing else, portal astrology shows just how desperate people are to make meaning out of the tiniest of clues.

    Telenovelas vs. soap operas. 

    The bilingual spectrum--from receptive to equilingual--and the ways that this is a particularly American issue. Jasmine in YHMAH is a dominant bilingual (so is Sarah). The ways in which writers put languages on the page has changed a lot in the past decade. Watch this video of author Daniel Jose Older explaining why he doesn’t put Spanish in italics. 

    In the movie Selena, there’s a scene where her father worries about her Spanish skills as she is about to meet Mexican reporters. Although this scene may not be accurate, Selena learned the phonetic Spanish for all her songs since she wasn’t fluent. A more recent series about Selena’s life is on Netflix, check for reviews because neither of us have watched it. 

    Being an Intimacy coordinator is a real job!

    Breaking the 4th Wall is a phrase from TV when the actors directly address the audience. In You Had me at Hola, we see Jasmine or Ashton fall out of character and become themselves during the filming of a scene. 

    The Penn & Teller cup and ball trick, which we also talked about in the Bet Me Episode. 

    Little Red Corvette and Sugar Walls are songs about sex, so don't worry about the pop music your kids are listening to these days. It's all gonna be fine.

  • We’re so thrilled to be talking morality chain romance! We’ve owed this episode to Katee Robert for nearly a year, and we have no excuses for how long this has taken, except that time in 2020 was a flat circle. Here, we get down to business—we tackle the definition of Morality Chain, and how it differs from Dark Romance, how it connects with mafia, criminals, pirates, highwaymen, and the original Alpha.

    Check all your Content Warnings before you begin with these books!

    S03.31: Morality Chain Romance Interstitial

    Whether you're new to Fated Mates this month or have been with us for all three seasons, we adore you, and we're so grateful to have you. We hope you’re reading the best books this week.

    Next week, we’re reading Alexis Daria’s You Had Me At Hola, one of our Best Books of 2020! Find it at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, or Apple Books.

    Show Notes

    One very important note: we highly recommend doing a thorough search for content warnings for all the books and movies we mention this week. 

    We love Katee Robert, who we had on as a guest for the menage interstitial. Katee bid on this item at Kennedy Ryan’s Lift 4 Autism auction. It happens every spring, so keep an eye on this page for the 2021 auction if you’d like to pick the topic for a future interstitial. 

    This week, Katee released Seducing My Guardian, the 4th book in her SUPER HOT Touch of Taboo series. If you'd like to read a morality chain romance written by Katee, we recommend The Bastard's Bargain.

    “In springtime, the only pretty ring time” is from Shakespeare’s As You Like It. It's also possible Sarah knows it from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. She would like you to believe that it's from the former, but we'll leave you to draw your own conclusions. Either way, “If you liked it then you shoulda put a ring on it,” is from Beyonce. 

    As it turns out, Chicago is a great town for beach volleyball.

    It’s hard not to talk about morality chain & dark romance together, but we think they are inverse tropes. The internet definition of Morality Chain is “is a character who is the reason another character is Good.” Jen and Sarah’s current definition is that in morality chain romance, the Love Interest pulls a hero towards humanity and goodness, while in dark romance, the love interest is pulled down into the hero’s lawless world.

    Some examples in pop culture are Spike from Buffy and maybe Barney in How I Met Your Motherr. Also, check out a movie called The Professional, where a child (played by Natalie Portman!) befriends the assassin next door. The Jason Statham one with a kid is called Safe. 

    The Hero’s Journey is very common character archetype in literature and pop culture, but Sarah and Jen are both very taken with Gail Carriger’s description of the alternative archetype, The Heroine’s Journey. 

    If you want more about morality chain, so many of Kresley’s books from The Immortals After Dark series will work, so please listen to season one! Our favorites are Dark Needs at Night’s Edge, Lothaire, and Sweet Ruin. 

    We were divided on whether the character has to be a danger to others in order to qualitfy as morality chain. In the Gamemaker series: The Professional is about an assassin who is a danger to others, while in The Player he’s only a danger to himself. 

    Jen Porter wrote a long thread about what she thinks of as PEA, or problematic ever after, romance.

    Mickey is "kind of a Fagin-y" as a character, but without the antisemitism. In interesting historical facts, Dickens rewrote Oliver Twist later in life to remove all anti-Semitic characteristics from Fagin, after he'd been criticized for the portrayal of the character. Of course, it's not that simple. Read more about it from Deborah Epstein Nord. 

    Scottie is the main character of Managed, and is classified more as grumpy one/sunshine one, which we argue is just morality chain dialed down. 

    More about how most writers have a “core story."

    Next week, we'll be reading You Had me at Hola by Alexis Daria

  • We’re headed back to 2007 this week, to talk about Mary Balogh’s A Matter of Class, which Sarah’s editor gave her as assigned reading when she was writing A Rogue By Any Other Name. We’re leaving plot and character aside here and really digging into structure, so expect conversations about timelines, about language and yes…about tense. Because, Jen.

    Whether you're new to Fated Mates this month or have been with us for all three seasons, we adore you, and we're so grateful to have you. We hope you’re reading the best books this week.

    Next week, it’s a morality chain romance interstitial! After that comes our next read along, which is still in discussion—stay tuned!

    Show Notes

    For what it’s worth, this is our 119th episode, so time to clarify the pronunciation of MacLean. Say it like the last name of famous movie badass, John McClane from Die Hard. Jen is now very mad at herself and thinking of renaming herself Jennifer Diesel in honor of Vin Diesel and the Fast & Furious movie franchise. 

    If you liked A Matter of Class, check out Balogh’s Bedwyn and Westcott series. PS, Jen thinks she deserves a lot of credit for not cracking up at “A quiet, stiff hero.”

    Sarah’s editor at Avon is Carrie Feron. 

    Time slip is a narrative structure where stories are not told in chronological order. Here is an entire website about time. 

    Although Jen couldn’t find the article for “I write what I can’t draw, I draw what I can’t write,” a few people on the internet also give credit to Marjane Satrapi, author of the amazing graphic novel Persepolis.

    Sarah’s friend Carrie Ryan writes YA, and she’s the one who talked about the difficulties of secrets in first person narration. Butterfly in Frost by Sylvia Day is a book in first person that didn’t work for Jen. It seemed like the narrator was dissociating, which is different than keeping a secret. Although she never mentioned Butterfly in Frost in the piece, the book inspired Jen to write about the problems with unreliable narrators in romance for Kirkus.

    The Crown is a Netflix series that is well-regarded, but the difficulties of portraying the modern years of the monarchy has been well-documented. Read this in case you want to know about Princess Margaret's love life. In Oprah’s interview with Meghan Markle and Prince Harry, Meghan talked about the difference between Hollywood and the monarchy. They also routinely referred to “the Institution” and “The Firm” to distinguish the monarchy from individuals. 

    A few weeks ago, Kate Clayborn joined us to talk about retellings. A Matter of Class gave Jen some Romeo & Juliet feelings. 

    Sarah's dual timeline books are The Day of the Duchess and "The Duke of Christmas Present," which is in the How the Dukes Stole Christmas anthology. Sherry Thomas's Private Arrangements is a fabulous example of it, as well.

    Music

    Alice Cooper - School's Out, Nine Inch Nails - I Do Not Want This, Steve Miller Band - Fly Like An Eagle

  • Sarah is *still* on deadline (WE KNOW), but we’re answering your questions about romance novels, publishing, writing and more. In this episode, we’re talking about stand-alone romance series, heroes who do bad stuff, Jane Austen, cover reveals and more.

    Whether you're new to Fated Mates this month or have been with us for all three seasons, we adore you, and we're so grateful to have you. We hope you’re reading the best books this week.

    Next week, it’s Mary Balogh’s A Matter Of Class — this is the truth. Get it for only $2.99 at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Apple Books, Kobo or Google Books.

    Show Notes

    Sarah and Eric, Sara and Derek! 

    Jen recommends Let’s Make Art if you’re looking for something fun to power you through until we’re all vaccinated. Check out Kelly’s Romance Sticker of the Month Club.

    Next week, we’ll be reading A Matter of Class by Mary Balogh. WE PROMISE. 

    Why aren't there more Fantasy Romances? Later this spring, we’re having an episode with Zoraida Cordova about fantasy romance. Until then, maybe you’ll be interested A Court of Silver Flames, the newest release from Sarah J. Mass.

    When did Series becomes so Popular? We talked about this in our episode about romance families, so you might want to check that out for a longer discussion of this topic. 

    Perhaps you are like Jen and want to know more about how to turn off the “popular highlights”series on your Kindle. 

    Oh the 80s and 90s: Lovesepts series with the Delaneys, or Elizabeth Lowell’s series with heroes named after states. 

    What's the State of Publishing? What are the different Trim Sizes? One of the reasons mass market paperbacks (MMPB) are harder to get is because of a merger between printers, which explains the transition to Mass Market Max.

    All about stripped or remaindered books and what happens when a bookstore returns a book to the publisher. 

    How Can You Afford Your Romance Habit? Kindle Unlimited, obviously. 

    You should absolutely get the Libby app (managed by Overdrive) and use it to check books out of your local library. If your library system has Hoopla, you should check it out. Here’s a quick primer on the differences between these apps.

    It’s essential to subscribe to the BookBub daily email, you can choose from a number of categories. Also, you should follow The Book Queen on Twitter, who posts a daily thread of what's on sale. 

    Finally, you should use eReaderIQ to track authors and specific books, and they will email you when the prices drop. 

    Who do we want to write our Life Story? Kleypas and Kresley. 

    What are the Best Romance Craft Books? OH-IO is what all the Ohioans say. And there’s nothing more midwestern than “ope.” It's "Ope There Goes Gravity" and we will not be taking questions at this time. 

    Sarah recommends the following craft books: Romancing the Beat, Save the Cat, and The Heroine’s Journey. (And here’s the Hero’s Journey).

    Can a Hero by a Known Kidnapper? Ask St. Vincent, although he doesn’t kidnap the heroine. It depends on the reason for the kidnapping--for example, his childhood home is part of her dowry, meaning A Rogue by Any Other Name or try Dark Mafia Prince. But these stories are less common in contemporaries, unless it’s “dark romance.”

    Why aren't there more Vibrators? It's such a good question, and we are slowly seeing more of them. Check out Elia Winters' blog where she reviews sex toys. Other books to check out: It Happened One Summer, Happy Endings, and You Had Me at Hola. 

    Why Are there so Many Dukes? Because people buy them.

    Why don't we have better names for different types of Illustrated Covers? Because we're readers and don't know enough art words? The word cartoon has a childish connotation, and so we think that's why we started using illustrated. Sometimes we hear the phrase "photo-realistic" to describe the previous illustrated style. 

    Did Jane Austen write Contemporaries? Yes.

    Historical romance are set in the past, and an example of one set in the recent past is Loud is How I Love You by Mercy Brown.

    Why are Cover Reveals Important? Publicity, and if you want to see a great new cover, check out the new cover for The Kiss Quotient.

    Can You be a Casual Romance Reader? Yes! You can. Please just tell us to calm down, and maybe just start with our best of lists. Have fun! 

    Where are the Curvy Heroes? It's so tricky, but we like Marie Liscomb's Champion's Heart series. There's a few from Jessa Kane. But body image issues are present even in children's toys. 

    What does "Two Ps in V" mean? It's two penises, one vagina. Usually, one P waits its turn, but in The Architect by Nikki Sloan and also Ready and Willing by Cara McKenna, (which is no longer available) it's actually happening simultaneously. Romance really does have everything!

  • Ok, so it’s that time of year and Sarah is on deadline, which means we’re just kicking our next read along episode down the road until she’s done (which she swears will be very soon). So, this week, we’ve got a freewheeling episode that we’ve been thinking about for a while — let’s talk about what makes a romance novel a romance novel (hint, it’s not when the heroine is run over by a train).

    Whether you're new to Fated Mates this month or have been with us for all three seasons, we adore you, and we're so grateful to have you. We hope you’re reading the best books this week.

    Our next read along is Mary Balogh's A Matter of Class, a short historical novel. Get it for only $2.99 at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Apple Books, Kobo or Google Books.

    Show Notes

    We keep putting Mary Balogh in the corner, but swear to God, our next read-along will be A Matter of Class. Also, we've been pronouncing her name wrong -- it's "Bah-log" not "Bay-lo" We'll get it right on the read along we promise.

    A couple of weeks ago, Jen asked about what articles romance readers share with people new to genre, and the results were interesting.

    The Bridgerton effect: Regé-Jean Page on SNL, the Bridgerton musical on TikTok, and the brilliant Patricia A. Matthew in the Los Angeles Review of Books. 

    The Happily Ever After (HEA), or the Happy For Now (HFN), is a requirement if you want to categorize it as romance.

    Nicholas Sparks doesn’t write romance (per the previous item), but this kiss between Rachel McAdams and Ryan Gosling was great on film and great on the MTV Movie Awards. 

    Me Before You has horrible disability rep and shouldn't ever appear on anyone's list of Best Romances. 

    Oubliette is a great word. Surprising no one, Sarah likes it because of Labyrinth, obviously.

    In WandaVivsion, Vision (played by Paul Bettany) asks Wanda, “What is grief if not love persevering?” And it struck a chord with a lot of people. 

    If you're interested in the book about the speed skater and the figure skater, it's Fire on the Ice by Tamsen Parker. It's HOT. 

    In the New York Times, Matthew B. Roberts, a showrunner for Outlander said that one of the difficulties of adapting romance is that "You can’t film a thought."

    Deus ex Machina never works in a romance novel. I said what I said. 

    Speed is a romance and Jeff Daniels does great eye work. 

    Miss Scarlet and the Duke is a TV show that follows a lot of romance conventions, and Sarah says the sexual tension is terrific. Also, this beard.

    Jen used Working Girl as an example of a movie where the woman's journey is more important than the romantic arc. Yes, she's dating herself, but whatever, it's an age-appropriate pop culture reference for her!

  • We are joined by the fabulous Kate Clayborn — the first in the Fated Mates five-timer club! — to talk about about retellings in romance and to celebrate the launch of her new book, Love At First, which you can get wherever books are sold. We talk about the difference between retellings and homages, about Shakespeare and mythology and retellings of classic texts versus modern ones. And of course, we fill your TBR.

    Whether you're new to Fated Mates this month or have been with us for all three seasons, we adore you, and we're so grateful to have you. 

    Next week, we're back with a read along of Mary Balogh's A Matter of Class, a short historical novel. Get it for only $2.99 at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Apple Books, Kobo or Google Books.

    Show Notes

    Welcome Kate Clayborn, our first five-timer. She was with us for the Best Friend’s Sibling Interstitial, Kresley’s The Player, the Sickbed Scenes Interstitial, Derek Craven Day 2021, and today’s interstitial on Romance Retellings. 

    Texas and the rest of America got hit with some espically bad winter weather this February. This is climate change. 

    Kate released Love at First this week, which is an homage to Romeo and Juliet. Kate’s 2020 book, Love Lettering, is an Overdrive read. Get it today with no wait! 

    Dr. Jill Biden loves Valentine’s Day.

    JK Rowling is a problem, and it’s changed the way many Harry Potter fans think about her books. 

    Yes, yes, the English Teacher memes are so funny. Well take that. 

    Tl;dr: archetypes are about character,while retellings are about plot. 

    In Where Dreams Begin, Zachary Bronson is a hero that follows the Beast archetype, and Jen saw it in the scene where Holly first enters his house. 

    Story can be a safe way to explore terrifying ideas about society and people. For example, both La Lloronaand Medea are about mothers who kill their children, but have a kind of distance that the story of Andrea Yates does not.

    Dr. Jennifer Lynn Barnes writes about storytelling and the universal ID. 

    Our next read along episode will be A Matter of Class by Mary Balogh.

  • So you watched the Bridgerton Netflix series and you've torn through the books, and now you're desperate for more historical romance while you wait for Season 2 of Bridgerton? 

    Don't worry, dear readers, these podcasters have you covered. Tuck into our What to Read if You Loved Bridgeron episode for a massive list of historical romance recommendation based on what you might have loved in Bridgerton! Is it boxing? Is it I don't know how sex works? Is it the wigs? Is it the scene with the spoon?! Whatever it is...we've got you covered. And when you're done with this one, go check out our episode on romance series featuring big families!

    Whether you're new to Fated Mates this month or have been with us for all three seasons, we adore you, and we're so grateful to have you. 

    Please join us next week to chat with the fabulous Kate Clayborn about retellings in romance and to celebrate the launch of her new book, Love At First, which you can preorder now or get wherever books are sold (even your local indie!) next Tuesday, February 23, 2021. 

    In two weeks, we're back with a read along of Mary Balogh's A Matter of Class, which is one of Sarah's favorite historicals. We'll talk about why then. Get it for only $2.99 at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Apple Books, Kobo or Google Books.

    Show Notes

    We have some ideas about winter sports, which is that maybe they are best left to other people. But here are some photos of Chicago’s ice skating ribbon and the sledding hill at Soldier Field, which even has its own snowmaking machines! When the Obama Library is built, Michelle Obama requested they include a sledding hill because she remembered wanting to sled closer to home when she was a kid. 

    In the 90s, they really let Hugh Grant do anything. 

    The Luxe is a gilded age YA series, and the original covers were so gorgeous, as compared to the rejacketing. We are not taking questions at this time. We can't find the video Sarah talks about, probably because it was THIRTEEN YEARS AGO (lolsob), but you can watch this fun one about the cover shoot for Splendor, the final book in the series, here! 

    The comedian who did the Bad TV Impression of Bridgerton is Kieran Hodgson. His YouTube channel was recently emptied of content, which makes us think he's got his own TV show coming, but in the meantime, you can watch the Bridgerton hilarity on his Twitter feed. We recommend you do this immediately. 

    Speaking of rakes, Sarah explained them to Oprah Magazine. We aren’t the only ones who thought the Bridgerton brothers were indistinguishable.

    A collective noun is the name for a group of things. A Cache of Jewels is a very charming picture book about collective nouns if you’re into that sort of thing. 

    If you love Queen Charlotte’s wigs, you can read this piece in Glamour about the hidden meanings in Bridgerton hairstyles, or follow the wig-maker on Instagram. 

    Here’s a great timeline of the books in the Beverly Jenkins universe made by Scentsational Rynnie. Jen interviewed Ms. Bev on Wild Rain’s release day for Love’s Sweet Arrow.

    In Heart and Hand, Julie is a member of The Four Hundred, the most exclusive society families. She attended Vassar College, which opened in 1865. To watch Jen’s interview with Rebel Carter, KJ Charles, Caroline Linden, and Amalie Howard, join the Facebook group, The League of Extraordinary Historical Romance Authors.

    Gunter’s Tea Shop is a real place if you liked that scene with the spoon.

    Tell us about your historicals where there are duels: We've already got Nine Rules to Break when Romancing a Rake, The Lady Hellion, and The Serpent Prince on our list.

    Sarah didn’t know Jen was going to bring up Boxing, or she would have been ready to recommend Piper Huguley’s A Champion’s Heart, which is a beautiful inspirational romance. 

    If you want to know more about the connection between writing and boxing, Sarah recommends the Library of America's At the Fights: American Writers on Boxing. Here's more about the fascinating history of boxing gloves.

    Jen enjoyed two movies about women who box: Girlfight with Michelle Rodriguez and Million Dollar Baby with Hillary Swank. 

    Next week, we'll have Kate Clayborn on to talk about retellings and her new book, Love at First. Our next read along book is A Matter of Class by Mary Balogh.

  • We are talking about Naima Simone this week — and honestly, we could have picked any of Naima’s series to read because she’s just. that. good. We chose the whole series so we could talk more about the complexities of category romances, about wild plots, about alpha heroes, and about how Sarah is absolute trash for a rich hero and the working class girl on the other side of the tracks. Don’t @ her.

    Next week, we’re back with an interstitial, and in two weeks, we’ve got Kate Clayborn joining us to talk about her upcoming book, Love at First! After that, we’re back to read alongs, but we’ll announce our next read on next week’s episode…see you then.

    Thank you, as always, for listening! If you are up for leaving a rating or review for the podcast on your podcasting app, we would be very grateful!

    Show Notes

    We had such a great time on Derek Craven Day. Check out our dedicated Derek Craven Day page. On Derek Craven Day, Lisa revealed the cover of her upcoming release, The Devil in Disguise, which comes out summer 2021. 

    The article in the New York Times about three mothers during the Pandemic was a hard, hard read. 

    We are all experiencing the strange time warp of the pandemic, but some of us even lost a hot year. 

    Maybe you would like to watch the Jem and Holograms movie. 

    Here are some fancy places: The Main Line, the Gold Coast, Park Avenue, and Scarsdale. Lake Forest is fancy, but it was also an actual sundown town, so yikes to that. 

    Here’s a quick primer about category romance from Love in Panels. Right now in February of 2021, Harlequin publishes 66 titles every month in 12 different series. 

    We’ve had two previous episodes that were specifically about category romance: a fun one with bananas old school categories, and another with Steve Ammidown about how Vivian Stephens invented the American category. Check out Steve’s new blog about the history of romance.

    Pre-pandemic, Jen interviewed Tony Horvath from Harlequin about Harlequin’s branding and cover art. 

    Light a candle for Harlequin Blaze.

    The Military Industrial Complex is a lot to unpack, but maybe you have the time.

    Jen is not the president and CEO of Great Lakes Cold Storage, but they are hiring. 

    Heterochromia is a thing, but David Bowie just got punched in the face.

    Naima's newest release is Back in the Texan's Bed.

    Movies we mentioned: GI Jane, where Demi Moore becomes the first female Navy SEAL. Mystic Pizza, which is not only about dumping fish into a convertible. Four Weddings and Funeral, which has a woman everyone calls Duckface, which is not great!

    Music: Youngblood by Jem and The Holograms

  • Happy Derek Craven Day!

    We’re wearing our t-shirts and buttons, and spending a whole lot of time talking about what Derek Craven would and wouldn’t do with one of our very favorites — Kate Clayborn. Thanks to everyone who played our silly Derek Craven games this year — don’t forget to visit our Derek Craven Day page for charts, graphs and hilarious memes made from your submissions! Also, if you haven’t read Dreaming of You, now’s your chance to get it at a special Derek Craven Day price — $2.99!

    We love you, and we’re thrilled we can celebrate this, the best of all holidays, with you.

    Next week, we’re back to our regularly scheduled programming with Naima Simone’s Blackout Billionaires series (With a little Derek Craven Day excitement in there, too!) In order, the books are: The Billionaire's Bargain, Black Tie Billionaire, and Blame it on the Billionaire. Find them at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, or Apple Books.

    Show Notes

    Here's the history of Derek Craven Day in tweets, but also our mantra: there are 2 kinds of Lisa Kleypas readers.

    Jen was shitposting about Kleypas heroes. 

    Mary Jane Wells and Rosalyn Landor are great audiobook narrators. 

    It’s not Talk Talk, it’s TikTok. 

    All About fabric and paper scissors.

    No one should test the patience of Nora Roberts, part 231.

    Kate has strong feelings about Irish Spring.

    Don’t ever reply all. 

    In case you need an explainer of what happened with Reddit and the stock market last week. We think Derek Craven would enjoy this story. 

    Why backup cameras were invented. 

    They say you can't buy your way onto the Bestseller lists, but it's been done.

    Kate's question about romance heroes and Halloween.

    Lisa Kleypas revealed the cover for her new book, Devil In Disguise, today. Take a look!

  • This week, we’re releasing a new episode on Thursday with guest Kate Clayborn in honor of Derek Craven day, so today we’re rereleasing our Dreaming of You episode from Season 2 so that people can be all caught up before our extremely niche episode for the holiday itself!

    For full show notes, see:

    S02.3: Lisa Kleypas Does Spectacles Better than F. Scott Fitzgerald: Dreaming of You

    Next week, we’re back to our regularly scheduled programming with Naima Simone’s Blackout Billionaires series (With a little Derek Craven Day excitement in there, too!) In order, the books are: The Billionaire's Bargain, Black Tie Billionaire, and Blame it on the Billionaire. Find them at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, or Apple Books.

  • Back in July we had a very fun crossover episode with Erin and Clayton of Learning the Tropes. It was a delight and you should absolutely listen to it. During the event, we received so many questions from listeners that we didn’t have enough time to answer them all…so here we are, answering them! We talk about the kinds of romances we love, Normal People, morality chain and villains turned heroes, COVID and Romance Novels, Ted Lasso, and romance main character names.

    And, of course, we talk about our mutual adoration for Lisa Kleypas, which is extremely timely, as next week, on February 4th, we will be celebrating Derek Craven Day 2021! So look for a very special episode on Thursday instead of Wednesday next week…and if you want to be a part of it, visit fatedmates.net and take our “Would Derek Craven?” poll (questions change every day until the 4th!).

    After that, we’re back to our regularly scheduled programming with Naima Simone’s Blackout Billionaires series (With a little Derek Craven Day excitement in there, too!) In order, the books are: The Billionaire's Bargain, Black Tie Billionaire, and Blame it on the Billionaire. Find them at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, or Apple Books.

    Show Notes

    Sarah and Jen both adore Blackwing Pencils, but Sarah has really achieved new heights of nerd with her Carl CC-2000 Custom hand crank pencil sharpener.

    Tessa Bailey is a Fated Mates favorite, and has a new, very charming book out this week called The Sweetest Fix. You should read it.

    Stay tuned for more show notes later in the week.

  • Nearly two years since our first Curvy Heroines interstitial, which was short and sweet, we’re back with another that is longer and more meandering, but absolutely chock full of recs! We love a curvy heroine, and so do you all, apparently, as our original Curvy Interstitial is our most popular episode of all time!

    Next week, we’ve got a special crossover episode with Erin and Clayton from Learning the Tropes, and the week after, we’re back to the deep dives with Naima Simone’s Blackout Billionaires series (With a little Derek Craven Day excitement in there, too!) In order, the books are: The Billionaire's Bargain, Black Tie Billionaire, and Blame It on the Billionaire. Find them at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, or Apple Books.

    Show Notes

    This piece in Book Riot by Carole Bell argues that fat representation is different than fat acceptance, which is something we grapple with as we’re talking. She also wrote this list of romances with fat representation.

    If you haven’t read books by Charlotte Stein, you should. Which ones? ALL OF THEM. Fat Monica, if you don’t know, is a reference to the TV show Friends. 

    Watch Olivia Dade talk about where we are now with fat representation in romance. 

    Cult of Glory, a 2020 book about the true history of the Texas Rangers paints a grim picture of the storied law enforcement agents. 

    In case you’re interested, last week Jen was googling “anal hook” and this week she landed on a bunch of Christian websites when she googled the Magi, so she got freaked out and just used a wikipedia link. It's fine. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

    Thea de Salle is one of author Hillary Monahan's pseudonyms. Back in the day, Jen wrote about Catholicism in romance based on a later book in the series, The Lady of Royale Street.

    Luciana Barroso is married to Matt Damon, and she’s a regular person.

    In Get a Life, Chloe Brown, the heroine suffers from fibromyalgia., and so does the author, Talia Hibbert.

    We did a whole episode on Alisha Rai’s Serving Pleasure in season two. 

    Jen recently read The Ravenels series by Lisa Kleypas. She’s obsessed with Rhys Winterborne, and West Ravenel is pretty great, too. Don’t worry, Derek Craven is still her favorite, and if you haven’t ordered yourmerch for our upcoming Derek Craven holiday, what are you waiting for?

    On the show Bridgerton, Penelope Featherington is a curvy girl; however, in the books, she loses weight in the 10 years between when she comes out and when she finally gets her HEA with Colin. 

    Iman is one of the most famously beautiful supermodels in the world, and she married David Bowie in 1992. 

    “That’s what he said” is a long running joke from the sitcom The Office. 

    The Queen’s Gambit is a Netflix show about chess, and Crash Landing on You is a K-Drama about a woman who accidentally paraglides into the DMZ in a tornado.


  • It’s 2021, and we’re back on the reading train with one of Sarah’s favorite erotic romances ever, Alexis Hall’s For Real. We dig into sex on the page, how sex and identity work together to make an erotic romance an erotic romance, power dynamics, and the difference between fear & risk. Enjoy!

    You still have time to buy the Fated Mates Best of 2020 Book Pack from our friends at Old Town Books in Alexandria Virginia, and get the seven traditionally published books on the list, a Fated Mates sticker and a candle from the bookstore! Order here!

    Thank you, as always, for listening! If you are up for leaving a rating or review for the podcast on your podcasting app, we would be very grateful! 

    Next week, we’re returning to Curvy Girls for an interstitial, and then we’re headed on to Naima Simone’s Blackout Billionaires series! In order, the books are: The Billionaire's Bargain, Black Tie Billionaire, and Blame It on the Billionaire. Find them at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, or Apple Books.

    Show Notes

    We won Georgia, but then white supremacist terrorists attacked the Capitol. If you want to talk to your kids, here are some suggestions from Facing History and Ourselves, this is a resource for teachers but I think any parent with tweens and teens will find it helpful. If you have little kids, Jen’s friend Elisa is a children’s librarian and recommend the books When a Bully is President and What We Believe: A Black Lives Matter Principles Activity Book. 

    Answering machines don’t exist anymore. (Well, they probably do, but no one we know uses them.) 

    For Real won the 2016 RITA for Best Erotic romance, and Alexis Hall wrote a blog entry about it. 

    Fear vs. Risk, the short version. Or maybe you want to read whole book about fear, called Nerve by Eva Holland. Jen knows Eva from another online space, but they've never met in person.

    Bluebeard’s attic had some things Jen had to google. 

    Eric Selinger is a romance guy, but also a poetry guy at DePaul. Jen took a workshop with Eric a million years ago (before she started doing romance stuff), and the guy who said “poetry is a laboratory for sentences” was poet Baron Wormser, author of the best book Jen’s ever read about teaching and learning poetry, A Surge of Language. 

    Jen was thinking about what happens when romance authors are forced to read the sex scenes instead of the feelings scenes, like when Stacey Abrams on Stephen Colbert. 

    Sarah talked about chastity belts at the end, and we here at Fated Mates strongly advise against giving the internet the power over your chastity belts and cock cages. SAFETY FIRST! 

    Derek Craven Day is coming, do you have you merch ready? T-shirts and buttons and listen to our discussion of Dreaming of You, of course.

  • This week, we’re thrilled to be joined by the fabulous Sophia Benoit, sex columnist for GQ magazine and romance novel lover! We talk about romance, about why it’s so hard to talk about sex in the world, about the books Sophia has written and is planning to write, and about Jimmy Butler. Because, obviously.

    Happy New Year!

    Next week is our first read along of 2021, Alexis Hall’s For Real! Get it at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Apple Books, or Kobo.

    Show Notes

    Welcome GQ sex columnist, Sophia Benoit. She’s absolutely great on twitter and writes an amazing advice column, which is available as a Substack. Her book of essays, Well, That Was Exhausting will be out in the summer of 2021.

    The Sex and the City reference, of course, it to Carrie Bradshaw’s job as a dating columnist. 

    Captain Sit on my Face.

    America has a sex education problem. 

    Lollapalooza is very fun and the music is great and every time she’s attended, it has made Jen feel like she’s a million years old. 

    Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina has a famous first line, but the rest of it is very long. 

    HoCo, FauxCo, and Prom is Cancelled. 

    If you’re looking for paranormal, all of season one is a read-along of the Immortals After Dark series by Kresley Cole. 

    The Tom Selleck and Burt Reynolds mustaches of the 80s were quite a thing. And if you look at the original covers of romances from that time, you'll see them in action.

    Wigs were big in the 1700s.

    Reddit’s Am I the Asshole (AITA) is a cultural touchstone for so many people. 

    We are adding Jimmy Butler to our list of favorite athletes, which started with Jurgen Klopp. Here is a bunch of Jimmy Butler information for you: about the trade from The Bulls, about his minivan, about his love of country music, about his coffee company, about his teamwork, and about his fashion sense. The third member of the Fated Mates sports team is Ted Lasso.

    Next week, we’ll be reading For Real by Alexis Hall.

  • WELCOME 2021!

    As is customary on Fated Mates, we’re releasing a special New Year’s Eve episode that requires headphones if you’re in mixed company! We brought some of our most favorite people together for a very special crossover episode of Fated Mates and Andie J. Christopher’s Instagram TV Juggernaut: Drunk Romance History, during which we drink a delightful mix of alcohol and talk about a delightful mix of erotic romance by the queen of the quick and dirty novella—Jessa Kane.

    We’re talking priests and daddy kink, mafia hitmen, billionaires, husky heroes, stepbrothers and what Joanna Shape refers to as the Kane-Trope-Wheel. Tracey Livesay has a mug with penises on it. Bring in 2021 right. (Also, if you, like Joanna and Jen have read all of the Jessa Kane’s, no worries! She released a new one today—BURLY—just in time for this episode! Shero!)

    Head over to Andie’s IGTV channel for the video version.

    Next week, we have a special guest episode, and in two weeks, our first read along of 2021, Alexis Hall’s For Real. Get it at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Apple Books, or Kobo.

    Show Notes

    One more chance for phone-banking is Monday 1/4/2021 at 5pm central. 

    Listen to last year's New Year's Eve epsiode on Pegging with special guest, Sierra Simone!

    Have we mentioned Drunk Romance History on Andie's Instagram? 

    We are joined today by our friends: Andie Christopher, Alexis Daria, Adriana Herrera, LaQuette, Tracey Livesay, Nisha Sharma, and Joanna Shupe. 

    Get Tracey's penis mug here.

    Normalize sex toys. Today's guests are big fans of LELO products and recommend: The Ora2, The Sona2, and The Gigi2.

  • It’s the Holidays and the end of 2020 and we don’t really know what’s happening, but Eric is keeping us honest with another AMA! This one was recorded during our Fated States postcard writing party for Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock — the Democratic candidates for the Senate Runoff in Georgia — answering reader questions that came in during the live recording!

    We talk about pen names, working class heroes, whether or not you should DNF books, and Rasputin’s penis.

    Come back tomorrow for a special treat, and get ready for our first read along of 2021, Alexis Hall’s For Real. Get it at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Apple Books, or Kobo.

    Show Notes

    One more phone banking opportunity for the Georgia Senate runoff is coming up on January 4, 2021 from 5-7 central. Join us!

    You should watch Drunk Romance History on Andie's Instagram.

    If you want more romance novels made into TV shows, you should watch Virgin River and Bridgerton. But everyone is watching Bridgerton, so that's great. 

    Jen thinks you should DNF. 

    We rattled off a bunch of historical romances with working heroes. Dreaming of You, of course, and American-set historicals, like Indigo by Beverly Jenkins. In England, A Matter of Disagreement by EE Ottoman, The Lady's Guide to Mischief and Mayhem by Manda Collins, Thief of Shadows by Elizabeth Hoyt, The Lawrence Browne Affair by Cat Sebastian, Honeytrap by Glen Aster Gray. Almost every KJ Charlesbook would qualify, as well as many by Sophie Jordan and Anne Mallory. Also, don't forget Sarah's Bareknuckle Bastards series. 

    Annika Martin writes all the best bananas books. 

    Rachel Hawkins is writing contemporary adult witches under the name Erin Sterling. 

    Some historicals with characters from Imperial Russia? That's tough, but Sarah suggests the Stokehurst Duology from Lisa Kleypas, the first is Midnight Angel. And if you have kids interested in this time period, check out The Family Romonov by Candace Fleming. There is nothing about Rasputin's penis in that book, be assured.