Podcast Transcript 98: Beta Heroes and Friends to Lovers - Sarah & Jane Answer Listener Mail

Here is a text transcript of DBSA 98. Beta Heroes and Friends to Lovers – Sarah & Jane Answer Listener Mail. You can listen to the mp3 here, or you can read on! 

This podcast transcript was handmade by Garlic Knitter. Many thanks.

 Here are the books we discuss:

Book Imaginary Lines - Alison Parr Book Whisper To Me - Christina Lee Book The Chocolate Kiss - Laura Florand

Book The Do Over - MK Schiller Book Crossing the Line by Kele Moon Book Strawberries for Dessert - Marie Sexton

Book Hot Head - Damon Suede Book Caught Running - Madeline Urban Book Just One of the Guys - Kristan Higgins

Book Her Best Friend - Sarah Mayberry Book Catching Jordan - Miranda Keneally Book Rock Chick - Kirsten Ashley

Book Summer is for Lovers - Jennifer McQuiston Book In the Clear - Tamara Morgan Book Escorted - Claire Kent

Book The Long Shot - Ellen hartman Book Shattered Rainbows - Mary Jo Putney Book The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie

Book The Devil's Delilah - Loretta Chase Book How to Train Your Dragon 1 Book Tribute - Nora Roberts

Book Vision in White - NR Book Born in Ice - NR Book Fangirl - Rainbow Rowell

Book Mr Impossible - Loretta Chase Book Last Night's Scandal - Perry & Olivia  Loretta Chase Book Smith Smythe books - Julia Quinn

Book Flat Out Sexy - Erin McCarthy Book Just One of the Guys - Kristan Higgins

Book Julie James - About That Night Book It Happened One Wedding - Julie James Book A Lot Like Love - Julie James



Sarah Wendell: Hello, and welcome to another DBSA podcast. I’m Sarah Wendell from Smart Bitches, Trashy Books, and with me is Jane from Dear Author. Today we are doing listener mail. Yay! We have two email messages, one about beta heroes, and another about friends-to-lovers plotlines. So prepare yourselves for book recommendations, but please note, if you’re driving or riding a bike or riding a bike in your garage to prepare for a triathlon – how you doin’ – you don’t have to write all these down. The entry will always have the books that we talk about in it, so you can go to either my site, Smart Bitches, or you can go to Dear Author, and you can find listings of all of the books we talk about in this episode. So fear not!

This podcast is brought to you by InterMix, publisher of Pieces of Olivia, the brand-new New Adult novel from debut author Melissa West, available on July 15th for download.

The music that you’re listening to was provided by Sassy Outwater, and I’ll have information at the end of the podcast as to who this is.

And now, on with the podcast!


Sarah: Our first email for the listener mail fun is from Elle.

Hi, Sarah and Jane

Thank you for your podcast. I really enjoy it and have been trying out some of your recommendations. In podcast 75, you suggested that people write in and let you know some of their favorite books, and you would help with similar recommendations or a community where they could find more of the same.

Sarah: Haha, yeah, we can totally do that! Not a problem!

My reread, sweep-me-away, best-romance-of-all-time books are Lady of Sin and Lessons of Desire by Madeline Hunter, A Lady Awakened by Cecilia Grant, and It’s in His Kiss and When He Was Wicked by Julia Quinn. I’m not sure what all these have in common or what they say about me, but no other books I’ve read really live up. I would like to start reading contemporary romances, as I’m getting sick of the Regency setting, but I don’t know where to start. Like you, Sarah, I’m not sure that emerging adult is my thing, and like you, Jane, I enjoy friends to lovers. I haven’t been able to find my niche on Goodreads. Please help.

Sarah: Well, you know, Jane and I are here to help you with friends-to-lovers romances. Are you ready? Because we have epic amounts of recommendation for you.

Jane: So the most recent friends-to-lovers story that I had read was Imaginary Lines by Allison Parr, and it’s kind of a, a reunited – well, that’s not true, it’s not really a reunited lovers story, ‘cause they weren’t lovers before. She had a crush on him for a long time, and he wasn’t ready, so it’s kind of a different friends-to-lovers story, ‘cause oftentimes the male or the female doesn’t realize the other one longs after them. In this particular case, the hero knew that the heroine was in love with him. His family – their families wanted them to be together, and he just was, felt like he was too young, and he didn’t want to be tied down. He was a football player; he got drafted, and then he went off to New York. She comes to New York too because she’s a sports journalist, and they reconnect there, and he decides that he’s ready. But one thing I didn’t like about it is that I felt like, I wish that she had had some options, that she had pursued dating some other people so she could have really decided that yes, this is the, the guy for me.

Jia, who is a really tough grader, really enjoyed this friends-to-lovers New Adult story called Whisper to Me, and I haven’t read it yet. Rachel, the heroine, is, doesn’t like to be tied down. She’s kind of, like, not the man-whore, not the female version of the man-whore, but she just likes make-out sessions and one-night stands. And when she was in high school she had an awful motorcycle accident, and her boyfriend, who was driving the motorcycle at the time, couldn’t handle the guilt and abandoned her, and the only person who helped her was her best friend’s older brother. And then she goes off to college, and when she comes back home for the summer, she reconnects with Kai. So they’re childhood friends moving to lovers, and while he’s kind of a typical bad boy, he’s very caring toward Rachel, and the fact that he stood by her while she was recovering from her terrible motorcycle accident also made him, gave him a different dimension. He’s biracial, Native American, but, and his dad owns a casino. There’s some discussion about whether the casino is good or bad for the, for the people of that culture, so I thought that that was kind of interesting. I have this book on my to-be-read list, but I think we’ve talked about this before, about how when one of our reviewers review it, we feel like, oh, I have to read a different book because I can’t read a book that’s already been reviewed.

Sarah: I have that feeling all the time.

Jane: Another one that I haven’t read but that is recommended is Sun-Kissed by Laura Florand. You’re a big fan of Laura Florand, aren’t you?

Sarah: – am, but specifically of the ones that are set in France and in Paris, the Amour et Chocolat series, I like a lot. The ones where she’s exploring the deepest depths of emotional pain, I can’t read those.

Jane: [Laughs] I don’t know about –

Sarah: We lost a child. Nope, not for me. We were divorced. Nope, still not happening. Any, any deep emotional wrenching agony that is in parent in the cover copy, most of the sun and snow kissing and, and agony books. No. Nononono. Not happening.

Jane: So The Do-Over by M. K. Schiller is one that I had recommended earlier in the year. M. K. Schiller’s books are very expensive, for some reason. They’re like seven, eight dollars, so it’s hard for me to go, say, run out and buy this book, but it is a friends-to-lovers story that I enjoyed. The heroine is an attorney, and I felt like the, the author had a pretty good idea of what a trial attorney does and what this type of attorney does, so, and I don’t recommend lawyer books very often, but I felt like it was a good representation. And she’s not really attractive, or she doesn’t feel like she’s very attractive, and, but she loves this guy, Brad, her coworker, who is currently dating her sister. But she just doesn’t feel like they’re a good fit, and she really loves Brad, so she goes to Brad’s best friend and says, I want you to teach me how to be, how to attract Brad. And so she tempts him with an exclusive story that could win a, a Pulitzer. Four of her clients were forced into a sex ring by a prominent politician, she’s suing the politician for money damages, and they’re willing to share their story, but she, they trust her to pick the right person to share it with. She thinks that he’s a good person to do it because he’s done some great stories in the past, so she dangles that out there. And so he agrees, and as they spend more time together, he begins to fall for her, and the way that it hap-, unspools is that she’s, you know, in, wants to pursue this other man, Brad, and Kyle is beginning to realize that he has feelings for her, and then he has to convince her that she doesn’t really love Brad, that she loves him. And I thought that was a really funny and different type of romantic conflict.

Another book is Crossing the Line by Kele Moon, another expensive book. I think this is, these are books published by Loose Id. I don’t know why the prices are so expensive.

Sarah: It makes me nuts. There are some, there are some Amber Quill books that are just ridiculously high priced.

Jane: So I, you know, wait for a sale or try to buy it on Kobo, and Loose Id has, like, their books are never available on all the retailers, and, and they don’t show up at the same time. I mean, it’s hard to recommend this, because it, you don’t know if the reader’s even going to be able to buy it. But it’s been out for a while, so I think that they will. [Laughs] The story begins with Wyatt and Tabitha meeting in the third grade, and about 60% of the story is about, is from third grade to high school and how they fall in love and what separates them and how they come back together. The one problem I had was there was this long separation, 13 years, during which they are separated. It didn’t make sense to me why they were separated for so long –

Sarah: Mm-hmm.

Jane: – and I felt both of them could have been more proactive, but if you like friends-to-lovers story, I definitely think that this kind of hits those pleasure buttons.

Sarah: – Sarah Mayberry book, Her Best Friend, I think it is? Did you, didn’t you read and like that one?

Jane: Yeah, I did.

Sarah: That was on my list because – I actually have two, I have a male/male list and a male/female list and then a sort of iffy female/female recommendation that isn’t quite a friendship because one of the characters is openly fascinated with the other one – But on my list is Her Best Friend by Sarah Mayberry, and that’s a, a Harlequin Superromance, right? That should be a Superromance, so it would be many, many words for not a lot of money. The thing about Mayberry is that she writes really great dialogue and emotional depth to her characters so that when they talk about how they’re feeling or they show how they’re feeling, it’s not just a bunch of telling informing you this is the character’s emotional state. The way in which she writes it, you feel it too. It’s very powerful.

The other one I think that you read is Catching Jordan by Miranda Kenneally. Isn’t that also a friends to lovers?

Jane: Yeah. That’s a very cute YA, and the one reason I really liked it is I felt like the author either knew someone or had experienced it herself, the recruiting process, and it felt very real to me.

Sarah: It’s nice when, when an author gets the background details right. It, it almost makes everything that happens between the characters seem more real.

Jane: Yes.

Sarah: Like, with our interview with L in the FBI, the minute that things aren’t accurate she’s like, well, can’t read the story at all because these basic things aren’t right, so when you have the depth and the background so accurate, it makes everything else more accurate as well.

Jane: Yeah. I mean, one, one small inaccuracy can really ruin your pleasure for the book. I was reading this book, I See London, and the characters go to Venice, and they drive in cars –

Sarah: What?

Jane: – and – yeah, right, so I’m – and the whole story takes place overseas in different locations, Paris, London, and Venice, and after I read the Venice scene I’m like, I don’t know if she’s right about anything now.


Sarah: What about – and I’m going to break our Kristen Ashley moratorium, which I rarely do – isn’t the Rock Chick series, or at least the first couple of books, aren’t they friends to lovers as well? I haven’t read those, ‘cause those didn’t appeal to me, but I wanted to ask you.

Jane: Actually, yes. The very first one, they were friends for a long time, the very first Rock Chick. The Rock Chick series reminds me of the, the Blair books by Linda Howard. They’re not my favorite Kristen Ashley books, but I’ve read them all. I don’t know what that says about me, because there’s, like, seven of them.

Sarah: [Laughs] I like the fact that if you go to Kristen Ashley’s website, there’s a whole section where the Rock Chicks answers questions in character, so all the characters answer questions from readers, and you can, you can tell how good she is at writing voices and characters, because it seems completely real that these are people answering your email. I, it’s just awesome. But I haven’t read that one, because Kristen Ashley doesn’t always work for me. But I was pretty sure that was friends to lovers.

The other books on my list, I have one historical, one contemporary novella, and one straight contemporary, and is the male/female. Just One of the Guys by Kristan Higgins is probably my favorite Higgins. The, the, the other books that I have read from her have not all measured up to that one book. That’s totally my favorite. Those characters, the hero and the heroine, have been friends for a long time but have a lot of boundaries in between them, specifically that he works for her father in the, in the firehouse, and they’re attracted to each other, but there’s a lot of other little things that are happening between their families that keep them separate, and there’s a scene at the end that is just so incredible that it, and totally humiliating and funny, but lovely, and I love that book.

Elyse reviewed and really liked Summer Is for Lovers by Jennifer McQuiston, and that was kind of interesting, because the first McQuiston book she read, she didn’t like, because it was set, sort of like The Hangover, the hero and heroine woke up married and then spent the rest of the book apart, trying –

Jane: I, I hated that book.

Sarah: [Laughs] – spent the rest of the book apart, trying to figure out what the hell happened, and Elyse was like, this did not work for me, because they weren’t actually together, but Summer Is for Lovers she liked a lot, especially because it was set at the beach in a historical time period, so it was a slightly different setting, and it is a friends-to-lovers story.

Also, I think the first two or three Smythe-Smith books from Julia Quinn are all friends to lovers, or they’re characters who have been in, in each others’ social orbit long enough that they know each other on one level, and then they become attracted to each other on another. The first one, I think it’s Just Like Heaven, where there’s, like, four chapters in the middle where he’s sick, and that’s all that’s happening, that is a definite friends to lovers, and it’s adorable. The thing about this series from Julia Quinn is that (a) just about everybody in the book is a past character, so nothing truly egregious will happen. If you’re looking for things that are not going to rip your heart out, this is perfect, ‘cause nothing bad could happen to these people; it’s like the safest Regency world in, in ever. Like, they’re all past characters. Nothing bad’s going to happen. But they are also very confectionary in, in texture. I, I always call them, like, mineral water. If it’s fresh and cold and you’ve just read it, it’s awesome. If you let it come up to room temperature, it’s really not enjoyable, and that’s kind of how it is when you read this particular series. While you’re reading it, it’s great! And then, like, two hours after you finish it, you go, wait, what happened? There were, there were things that, what, and, and nothing, nothing permanently sticks. It’s very friendly, but not too incisive in your emotions.

The other one I wanted to recommend is a novella. It’s a holiday novella called In the Clear by Tamara Morgan. I really liked this book for two reasons. One, the hero has been in love with the heroine since forever, and he’s socially awkward and very quiet and shy but also has a huge secret that he’s keeping from his best friend and his best friend’s sister, who he is secretly in love with. The sister is sort of an attempt to undermine the manic pixie dream girl trope where she is goofy and goofy things happen to her, but it actually frustrates her that no one holds her accountable when she makes a mistake because oh, well, you know, that’s just so-and-so, and she’s so cute, and that makes her, that makes her really angry. Because she is trying to constantly improve and prove herself, she gets involved with the hero’s secret, which I don’t want to reveal – it’s not, like, a horrible thing, but it’s, it’s, it makes her see him in a completely new way, and the change of seeing him as her sibling’s best friend into someone who is really capable and strong is pretty awesome. But I happen to really like that.

The other thing about friends to lovers, though, is that there’s kind of two flavors. There’s friends to lovers who have known each other forever and now all of a sudden I’ve noticed you’re hot, and then there’s sibling’s friend to lover, so you, you, you’ve grown up with this person who’s your sibling’s friend, and you might have had a crush on them at one point, and now it’s time for that possibility to be reciprocated. Those are sort of two flavors of the friends-to-lovers genre.

The male/male ones that I could think of very quickly were Caught Running by Madeleine Urban, and that’s about two guys who went to the same high school who come back to the high school as teachers, and the one teacher is the gym teacher, and he’s the football co-, no, he’s a baseball coach, excuse me, and then the other guy teaches science and is asked to be the assistant coach to the baseball team, and he knows nothing about sports. They kind of knew each other in school, and they kind of know each other now, but they have to figure out how to work together and also get past all of the prejudices they had against one another for being a jock and a nerd.

I am pretty sure, and you can correct me if I’m wrong here, although you might not know this one, I’m pretty sure Hot Head by Damon Suede is friends to lovers, and I heard so many people saying how amazing that book is. That would probably make this person very happy; it would make Elle very happy.

And the other one that is kind of friends to lovers but not quite is Strawberries for Dessert by Marie Sexton, which I really liked because he was two very different kinds of characters. I had some problems with the ending and the idea that there were, there were moments in the story where I felt as if one of the characters had had something done grievously wrong to them by their boss, and it wasn’t pursued in the way that I wanted it to have been. But the characters are interested in one another and become friends first because one of them has an incredibly busy work life, and the other one isn’t willing to waste time on people who aren’t going to actually be present when they’re together, but ultimately what they learn about one another and how they become friends makes the part where they become a couple even better. And the, the way in which the one character’s father interacts with his son’s sort of new boyfriend is one of the best scenes in the book, and I don’t want to spoil it, ‘cause it’s so sweet. It’s just adorable.

But that’s pretty much all of my list.

This next email is from Anna:

Hi, Sarah! Hi, Jane! Greetings from Canada!

I really enjoy the podcast and basically listen to it any time I have to set foot outside. Walking the kids to school? Put on the podcast! Off to run some errands? Put on the podcast! Random strangers thinking it’s okay to talk to me? Podcast, put on the podcast now. Sorry, can’t you hear you through my headphones! Guess you’ll have to talk to someone else. I figured after many hours of listening to the two of you being all clever about romance, it was high time I popped in to say hi. So, hi!

While I’m here, I figured I’d pick your brains for some reading recommendations. See, I love me some beta heroes. I love them so much, I married one! But they seem to be a relatively rare breed in romance, or maybe I’m just reading the wrong books. There are some truly lovely alphas out there, but most of the time I can’t help but think I’d be spending a lot more time ramming heads with these guys than ramming squishier bits together. And don’t even get me started on the alpha-holes.

I’ve read The Devil’s Delilah and basically everything Victoria Dahl and Courtney Milan have ever written. I like historicals – Tessa Dare is another favorite – contemporaries, and some paranormal, though I’m more inclined to pick up something that’s straight up urban fantasy.

If you ladies had some beta recommendations for me, that would be fantastic, because I could really use a new fictional character crush.

p.s. One of you is probably wrong, and I’m not saying which one.

Sarah: Right, that last part just made me so happy. Okay, Anna, we are so prepared to hook you up. Are you ready? You don’t have to write any of this down, ‘cause it’s going to be in the podcast entry, but prepare ye. We have many, many beta hero recommendations.

Jane: I think Noelle Adams is, who writes contemporary romances, she writes very, not average, but not overpowering males, and they’re successful, just like I think betas can be successful. They’re definitely not the Neanderthal knuckle-dragging cavemen that kind of depict the alpha hero these days. So I would say Noelle Adams. She writes, one of my favorite books is this book she writes, Escorted, under the pen name of Claire Kent, and that’s a, a book featuring a male prostitute, and I really don’t really like those books, but I ended up liking that one a lot, and it led me to read quite a few of her books. She has kind of a – I’m not quite sure how to describe it. I don’t want to say it’s emotionless, but she’s a spare writer and I like that, and her drama isn’t overwrought, and her characters seem very authentic. She has a lot of marriage-in-trouble stories or marriage-of-convenience stories where characters are learning to, that they have greater feelings than they had originally realized, which I think is kind of a fun trope, too.

Ellen Hartman, she writes Superromances, I think her heroes aren’t beta, or aren’t alpha, but very normal. Obviously, Shannon Stacey I think is one of, a great, a great writer who’s writing relatable heroes. Sarah Mayberry. That’s who I can think of right off the top of my head.

I think Mary Jo Putney’s book Shattered Rainbows in the Fallen Angel series is one of the most memorable and I, and I would say beta heroes that I’ve read in, in a long, long time. It’s a book published, I think, in the 1980s.

Sarah: I have a question for you, then. The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie. Would you consider Ian Mackenzie a beta hero?

Jane: Gosh. You know, I think a beta is such a confusing term –

Sarah: Yep.

Jane: – you get kind of, kind of emasculation, which it’s not, but it, it’s like this, you know, oh, they’re second in command, or they’re – and I don’t view that at all, I just kind of view –

Sarah: I know, me either.

Jane: – them as individuals who aren’t running around doing the pelican dance from –

Sarah: Yes.

Jane: – Nemo. Mine, mine, mine, mine, mine, mine.

Sarah: [Laughs] Mine! Mine! Mine!

Jane: Mine! Mine!

Together: Mine!mine!Mine!mine!Mine!mine!Mine!


Jane: So –

Sarah: The, the thing about betas is I love them, but they can be very difficult to describe, and Anna’s example of The Devil’s Delilah is a really good example of a beta, because the heroine is the centerpiece of the book, and the hero turns out to be this guy who’s constantly in the background of what she’s doing, and she’s kind of interesting, kind of interested in him, kind of thinks he’s cute, but is more focused on this outwardly charming, assertively courting dude who ends up not being the hero, because it’s this guy in the backdrop who’s been quietly arranging things for her that ends up winning her heart. The, the thing about beta heroes that I love is that they just do their own thing, and they don’t have to be assertively demanding of, of attention. They just do their thing, and they don’t particularly care what you think of it. And there’s also the idea of the gamma hero, which is a, a blend of the alpha and the beta, and I have never been able to fully distinguish between the beta and the, the gamma hero. I figured there’s just many more varieties of beta, and it’s just harder to describe all of the different ones.

The ones that I wrote down as beta heroes are – I have contemporary and historical and – yeah, contemporary and historical. Just One of the Guys, which I mentioned a minute ago, is also a beta hero. He’s, he’s not trying to be, you know, the superhero, he’s not trying to be the captain, he’s not, you know, aggressive, he’s not any kind of alpha. He’s just doing his thing, and he’s perfectly awesome the way that he is, and the way in which other characters interact with him, he’s also very content with who he is.

I also think that Mr. Impossible by Loretta Chase has a beta hero, but so does Last Night’s Scandal. Perry, or Peregrine and Olivia, Perry’s kind of a beta hero. He does his thing, and he’s perfectly content with who he, who he is and doesn’t need to be recognized or in command or a leader all of the time. If you contrast him in the historical world with someone like Devil Cynster who takes no shit and is obviously in, in control and in command, they’re two very different types of dudes. I also think most of the heroes in the Smythe-Smith series are also – by Julia Quinn – are also beta heroes, many of them, anyway.

And then – this is another one I wanted to ask you about, Jane. In Flat Out Sexy by Erin McCarthy, the hero is a racecar driver, and drivers are pretty, you know, cocky and full of themselves, but he was a very mellow dude and not as alpha and loud and demanding as the other drivers that surrounded him, and certainly not as alpha as the heroine’s late husband. And I sort of saw the hero of Flat Out Sexy as a beta hero, but I wanted to know what you thought.

Jane: Oh, sure. And I, I would say that a lot of McCarthy’s hero, heroes are very, very beta and, and laidback and – you know, one of the most beta heroes that I, is in Tell Me Lies by Jennifer Crusie, the mechanic hero?

Sarah: Yes! Totally.

Jane: He’s just like, you know, stuff, shit happens.

Sarah: Yep.

Jane: [Laughs] But when they want to have something, when they want something, they go out and pursue it.

Sarah: Yep, exactly. They’re, they do not need to have the alpha recognition, but if they want to do something, they’re going to go do it. The, one of the things that I love about Hiccup in the How to Train Your Dragon series, the, the film versions, is that he’s very much a beta hero, but his alphaness, the place in which he is the most competent and becomes the leader is his intellect and his strategy, and he doesn’t need the other characters to recognize him. They do it because they realize that he’s going to have (a) a plan and (b) probably make something really fun or cool, and (c) it’s going to be peaceful instead of war, which they figure out that they like better. But his leadership is entirely based on demonstrating his intellect and demonstrating his ability to do something other than what has always been done, which in any small cultural group is really hard to do. It’s really hard to not do what everyone expects you to do and what everyone else is doing. It’s hard to do something different, and that’s one thing I think beta heroes often do.

The two other books or three other books I wanted to mention: Vision in White by Nora Roberts. The hero is Carter, and he’s awesome. He’s an academic, he’s a little shy, he’s a little blown away by how incredible the heroine is, and he thinks that she is just amazing, but he doesn’t try to be someone he’s not, he just tries to be a better version of himself so that he can spend time with her without making everyone in the room feel a little awkward. And his conversations with his best friend, who is completely clueless about how to do these things, are completely excellent. Carter is probably one of my most favorite Nora Roberts heroes, and I know people really love, like, Roarke or some of the other heroes in her trilogies like the, the vampire guy in the, was it Morrigan’s? It was a paraNora, there was a vampire, he was really hot, whatever. That, those have, those guys don’t do it for me. Carter was, like, one of my favorite Nora Roberts heroes ever. And the guy in – you know I don’t remember titles – this one is the home renovation Nora Roberts contemporary – I think it’s Tribute – but the hero is a graphic novelist. He’s wonderful! He’s completely content in his nerdiness, so when she writes a nerd hero, I’m totally there.

Jane: Wasn’t he kind of stalkerish? I couldn’t remember what – I remember that book, but I kept think-, there was something about him –

Sarah: He lived across the street and watched a lot of what was going on. Yeah.

Jane: There was something about him that just didn’t sit right with me. I actually like the hero in the, the, where the heroine’s agoraphor-, -phobic, kind of, the, maybe slightly autistic, even?

Sarah: Oh, the, The Witness.

Jane: Yeah.

Sarah: Witness. I’m, I’m amazed at myself! That’s like three whole titles I’ve remembered this morning. I’m, I need to just take the rest of the day off, ‘cause I win! [Laughs] She was agoraphobic and had, and was a hacker, basically, and he was the chief of police.

Jane: Right. But I thought she had some kind of socialization issues, too.

Sarah: Yeah, she definitely had social issues. Part of it, I think, was her character, and part of it was her upbringing, ‘cause her mother was a monster in terms of shaping her to a prescribed ideal. But yeah, she had social issues.

The other one that I liked from Nora Roberts is Born in Ice. The, the Born In trilogy is Born in Fire, Born in Ice, and Born in Shame. Born in Fire, if you want to read the character type that became Roarke, he’s in there, but Born in Ice I love better because (a) the heroine runs an inn, and she loves making a welcoming and warm home for people, even if they’re just travelers, and I have, I just, I love this part of her character. The hero is a mystery writer, and he needs isolation and quiet to write his book, and so he checks into her hotel and is basically like, you know, leave me alone, I’ve got to work. The way in which he’s portrayed, his focus is getting his book done, and he’s sort of interested in her, but he doesn’t have time for that right now. I liked him a lot, especially because he has that, like, like what you said, Jane, that sort of laidback, very chill, I’m-going-to-do-my-own-thing attitude, and I don’t need everyone to pay attention.

The other, the last beta hero that I thought of was a book I read recently called Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell, and that’s a YA novel, but it’s – They’re in college in their freshman year. I don’t think there’s any portrayed sex in the book – I can’t remember – so it’s more YA than New Adult. The heroine writes fanfic and has come to college with her twin sister, and to her surprise, her twin sister doesn’t want to room with her, and so she’s put in a room with a stranger, she’s got a lot of social anxiety, and the place where she feels most comfortable is the fandom online where she is a relatively famous and well-respected fanfic writer, but that’s a big secret in her real life. No one knows except for her sister. Her roommate’s buddy is someone who she really is sort of curious about, but she assumes that they’re together, so she never considers him as a, a sort of option until you start to see that he is, he is like the character in The Devil’s Delilah. He’s paying attention to what happens to her and is sort of in the periphery trying to make things, make sure things are okay. He’s a very quiet caretaker, and it’s the caretaker part that I like a lot. He’s, he’s very chill and very mellow and does his own thing, but when he stands up for himself when she doesn’t treat him the way that he would like her to treat him, he doesn’t, he’s not a pushover, he’s not going to put up with a lot of crap, but he’s very chill about how he goes about his life, and that’s another thing I like about beta heroes.

Do you have any other, any other suggestions?

Jane: I’m trying to think of different authors, because I think, I think an author tends to write a certain type of character, you know, like –

Sarah: Mm-hmm. Yep.

Jane: You’re, you’d be hard pressed to find an alpha in a Jennifer Crusie –

Sarah: Yes.

Jane: – or a Sarah Mayberry, or even Nora Roberts. I mean, Roarke is a big – I think – a big departure from her normal heroes.

Sarah: Roarke is a definite departure into alphadom for her, but even then you can see parts of him in earlier books.

Jane: I’m trying to think of – I think I shot my wad. I mean, Julie James. I don’t think her characters –

Sarah: I shot my wad! [Laughs]

Jane: Yeah. I, I’m try-, I don’t know, what do you think? Like, Kyle, I think, is not super alpha. The Twitter Terrorist?

Sarah: No, he’s absolutely not, he is definitely not an alpha male. He does his own thing, and it gets him in trouble. A lot of her, you know, you’re right, a lot of Julies James’ heroes are not openly alpha. There are some that are, and then there are some that are like –

Jane: Yeah, and actually the ones that have the kind of overt alpha are my least favorite. Like, the first one, I thought he was a real asshole.

Sarah: Yep. Totally.

Jane: And I, I think when she balances better there, ‘cause I think that by their jobs, FBI agents or attorneys, you kind of think that they’re alpha, and so because of their jobs you ascribe them, but when they interact with the heroine, they’re not, maybe they try to be overbearing, but the heroines always shove back so much that it doesn’t work.

Sarah: Mm-hmm.

Jane: I don’t know.

Sarah: Well, part of it is that if they’re FBI investigators, one of the most valuable skill sets they have is to listen and observe and not be obvious, and that’s not an alpha skill set. That’s a very beta skill set, to blend into the background, to listen and observe and let someone else lead a particular conversation because it’s in the investigator’s best interest to allow that to happen. That’s a, that’s a pretty beta thing to do. The other thing about Julie James’s hero and heroine pairs is that often I think the heroines are alphas. They are openly ambitious, they like their jobs, they have professional and personal goals, they are determined, and they take the lead in situations. For example, the last one, It Happened One Wedding, that, she was very much an alpha. The one before that with the heroine who’s the general counsel for the restaurant company, and the FBI comes to her to place a bug in the restaurant to catch a particular person doing something that they shouldn’t be doing? She was also an alpha. She, she was in charge, and the heroes in those, in that situation, he had to, he had to respect that, ‘cause that was her turf. Even though he could get a subpoena and he could make her legally do it, he went in acknowledging, this is your turf, this is your territory, I will follow your lead, and she’s like, okay, good, ‘cause that’s how I roll, and I lead generally, so get out of my way. The heroines in her books have alpha characteristics more often than the heroes do, which is something that I just realized. Ooh, it makes me very happy. The heroes are, they’re not necessarily laidback and chill. I mean, they are federal law enforcement – [laughs] – there’s a certain lack of chill that comes with that, but part of their, their confidence is acceptance in themselves, and they don’t have to prove themselves.


Sarah: And that is all for this week’s podcast. I hope you enjoyed our short dip into reader mail. We have a lot more listener mail coming up, because you guys have all sent most excellent recommendations for young readers, so I’m going to humbly put out the request one more time.

If you have any recommendations for young readers who are looking for stuff to read this summer, please email us at sbjpodcast@gmail.com or call our Google voice number a 1-201-371-DBSA. Please do not forget to give us your name and where you’re calling from so we can include your message in an upcoming podcast.

This podcast is brought to you by InterMix, publisher of Pieces of Olivia, the brand-new New Adult novel from debut author Melissa West. This book will be available July 15th for download. You can find it wherever eBooks are sold.


The music that you’re listening to was provided by Sassy Outwater, and yes! More Peatbog. This track is called “Passport Panic,” and it is available on their album Dust, and I will have links to many places where you can buy this music if you haven’t already. I think a great many of you have ended up with more Peatbog on your playlists because of the podcast, which is awesome, ‘cause the same thing totally happened to me.

As usual, just a reminder, if you are thinking, damn it, I was driving and I didn’t write down that book title and I’m never going to remember it, do not worry. Every book we talk about is listed in the podcast entry, and if you cannot figure out which book it was and you just remember a few pieces, email us! We can help you out.

Wherever you are and whatever you’re doing, Jane and I wish you the very best of reading. Thank you for listening.

[haunting music]


General Bitching...

Comments are Closed

  1. 1
    Lina says:

    Thanks Garlic Knitter for the transcript… I love the transcript version of the podcast… I think it’s easier to get my recommendations. There were great recs in this one.  … I too love Laura Florand but the over emotional ones scare me. I intend to read them but feel they require an emotional investment.

    I have to echo the rec of julia Quinn’s Just Like Heaven and When he was Wicked… For the a Friends to Lovers theme.. I loved them both .

  2. 2
    SB Sarah says:


    I’m really glad to know you like the transcripts (and Garlic Knitter is superb at them, like whoa)!

  3. 3
    garlicknitter says:

    Well, thank you, Lina and Sarah!

    I have to say that one of the things I love about typing the podcasts, in addition to their being incredibly entertaining, it that it’s something I’m good at, so I get the added joy of doing something well.  It’s like my own homemade competence porn.

  4. 4
    Helen R-S says:

    I also want to say thanks to garlicknitter for the transcripts! I find it much easier to read the transcripts than listen to the podcasts, so having the transcripts is great :-)

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