Dear Bitches, Smart Authors Podcast

41. Plot Moppets and Pet Moppets

Time for another podcast! We answer a reader letter from Elyse about kids and pets in romance – and how often they become matchmaking plot devices. Plus, while I'm reading Elyse's letter, you'll hear my dogs being podcast moppets in the background.

We also talk about what we're currently reading, including a discussion of Lisa Kleypas' upcoming novel, Crystal Cove.

Here are the books we discuss in this podcast: 

Misty and the Single Dad - Marion Lennox Nikki and the Long Wolf - Marion Lennox Book The Long Shot - Ellen Hartman

Book Out of Bounds - Ellen Hartman Book Unexpected Family - Molly O'Keefe Book Lord Perfect - Loretta Chase

Book Last Night's Scandal - Loretta Chase Book Cover Book Plan B Boyfriend - Ellen Hartman Book Trust Me On This

Book All I Ever Wanted - Kristan Higgins Book Until There Was You - Kristan Higgins Book The Guardian - Joan Wolf

Book Escorted  - Claire Kent Book Reaper's Property - Joanna Wild Book Sealed with a Curse - Cecy Robson

Book Crystal Cove - Lisa Kleypas

There are now three covers online for Crystal Cove, instead of the two we mention during the podcast: 

Woman in a pink shirt and a sweater slouching against a rock wall, looking at a sliver moon and a lighthouse in the distance.Same woman, this time looking at a sunset, or maybe a sunrise, with a peach sky, and no lighthouseA woman in a blue dress and a white hat walking towards the ocean during sunrise

That's a lot of cover – which do you like best? 

The music this week was provided by Sassy Outwater, and the track is called “Nyup” and it's by the Peatbog Faeries from their 2007 album What Men Deserve to Lose. You can find them at their website, or at iTunes.

If you like the Podcast, you can subscribe to our feed, or find us at iTunes. You can also find us at PodcastPickle.

You can email us at, or you can call and leave us a message at our Google voice number: 201-371-DBSA. Please don't forget to give us a name and where you're calling from so we can work your message into our next podcast. We love hearing from you. What books have you enjoyed with kids in them? Which have made you want to screech? Thanks for listening – and for all your email!

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  1. 1
    Kim says:

    Regarding the podcast, there is a fourth book in Lisa Kleypas’s Friday Harbor series. She’s releasing Lightning Bay, a trade paperback in September. There’s no word on the characters yet. Each of the prior books in the series will be released as mass market pbs in June, July & August.

  2. 2
    Bronte says:

    I’m a hater of pets in romances as well.  I guess because pets are my profession it drives me up the wall because usually they are so badly portrayed.  On the Crystal Cove covers I really like the first two but I hate the third.

  3. 3
    Cate Hulk says:

    Caption: Now with magical lighthouse that turns invisible in daylight!

  4. 4
    Mirandaflynn says:

    I think the third Kleypas cover is the most cheerful. The heroine looks really depressed in the first 2…like she’s thinking “Stupid lighthouse (or boat)”.


  5. 5
    Dav says:

    Whether the moon is risen or set at a given time depends on the phase; I know it’s a nitpick, but you can’t just put any moon at any position in the sky.  Also, it looks like there’s a plastic ivy plant just out of sight on that cliff.  Ugh.

  6. 6
    Amanda Barker says:

    Nora Roberts newest trilogy (Inn BoonsBoro) has both kids and pets.  The heroine of the first book has 3 boys, and the boys play at least a minor part in all of the books.  Dogs also play a decent role, though not over the top.  No kid or pet matchmaking.

    I’m not normally a fan of kids in my romance books, but some authors can really pull it off. I prefer the kids be actual characters and not just a plot device.  Same with pets, with the right author they can be.

    Of the three Crystal Cove covers, the first is the best. 

  7. 7
    SB Sarah says:

    I keep thinking she looks like a really morose J. Jill model.

  8. 8
    SB Sarah says:

    Oh, thanks for that info! I think on the back of my ARC it says this is the final book – I’m glad there will be another.

  9. 9
    cecyrobson says:

    Thank you for your kind words regarding SEALED WITH A CURSE. I hope you continue to enjoy it.  Oh, and my name is prounced SESSY like Jessie. ; D Thanks!

  10. 10
    Karen Wapinski says:

    Thanks for the podcast I had to keep restarting it because my family is so loud that I kept not being able to hear and evantually I snapped through my headphones “I can’t hear!” and everyone was like ‘is it homework?’ and i considered saying the truth and then said “…yes..”
    I actually just started reading Lisa Kleypas Friday Harbour books due to a previous podcast; and I have to agree her writing is beautiful
    Good plot moppets? I really liked Savanah’s place in Lucas’ and Paige’s romance in Dime Store Magic. Basically, Paige is a young witch who’s gained custody of Savanah whose mom was known as being the badassest assed witch around; and when her dad (implied evil sorceror) starts wanting her back Lucas steps in as her lawyer. It’s such a well done romance; my favourite in Kelley Armstrong’s series, and Savanah is such a well-developed character of her own right far beyond the simple plot device or matchmaker/antimatchermaker moppet. Petwise I liked Meg Cabot’s The Boy Next Door where the hero stepping in to care for Mel’s elderly neighbours pets (including very people shy cats and a diabetic dog) is a way for them to kind of get together and what really cemets in her mind that he’s a good guy.
    Once again; thanks for the podcast I really look forward to them! 

  11. 11
    library addict says:

    I think Nora Roberts and Shannon Stacey both handle kids and pets well. And Jayne Ann Krentz back when she wrote straight contemps. Of course, I love the dust bunnies in her current Jayne Castle titles, too.

  12. 12
    ms bookjunkie says:

    I believe the third cover is the UK edition.

  13. 13
    LauraN says:

    I’m not always a fan of kids and pets in books, but Jennifer Crusie always handles them well.  I especially love the dogs in Getting Rid of Bradley.  It’s an older Crusie and it shows, but I still find it quite enjoyable.

  14. 14
    Emily A. says:

    I thought the first two covers were both really beautiful. I like that’s she dressed like a real person. I really liked the clothes. I get tired of seeing the evening dress or some naked supermodel on the cover.
    This is fourth book in the series. The first was the Christmas book.
    Anyway I have trouble finding romances without kids or pets. I think most of the romances I’ve read involve one or the other. It surprises me that anyone is able to read romance and completely avoid kids or pets, especially in contemporaries.

  15. 15
    Rae says:

    There’s actually two books I thought of when I was thinking of kids being more than moppets. The first is something I’m blanking on the title but it involves some detective being sent to some dull Midwest suburbia to hide from gangsters until the trial and it just happens to be across the street from the girl who got away, now a widow with darling kids. He gets involved, gets his picture taken and the mobsters come to the town. The kids are actually pretty awesome.

    The other, upon more reflection may have plot moppets…Nora Roberts Blue Dahlia – widow who relocates to her day’s hometown, gets a job in awesome nursery with a very difficult landscape manager. He likes her kids, regularly puts them to work doing age appropriate stuff, and helps fight off a ghost for them. Okay, maybe a bit moppet-ish.

    The worst I ever saw was in a novel Edwina. The heroine is hired to watch the only child of this Scottish laird and somehow magically falls in love with him, despite the fact he is never, ever there.

  16. 16
    Amanda says:

    Hi Sarah,
    My podcast receiver is gPodder and it won’t receive any new episodes from the DBSA podcast.  I believe this is related to the fact that they all show up as dated 12/31/1969.  I don’t have the problem with any other podcasts so I think you may need to tweak something on the RSS feed.  I enjoy the podcast and have been downloading them by hand, but I hope you can fix this.  Thanks!

  17. 17
    SB Sarah says:

    Oh, dear. I didn’t want to tell you, but it is 1969. The fashions are incredible! (Just kidding – let me fix that. Sorry!!)

  18. 18
    claritygolden says:

    I almost always dislike books with kids in them. If there is a secret baby, forget it. If the kids are not really that intrusive, I might be able to tolerate it. Honestly, I don’t want to read about that shit because, being a parent, I deal with it all the time. Even if the kids are not intrusive, I end up rolling my eyes because I think “Gah, how unrealistic! They could never have sex in the living room with a kid sleeping in the other room!” I can think of a few books that I enjoyed where there were kids, but none of my favorites ever have kids.

  19. 19

    I vote for the night time cover – it matches the “Inyodo” theme of the story.  And don’t lie – that Kinbaku scene was HOT!

  20. 20
    Zoe m. says:

    Okay, might have missed this in a previous, but what does Jane hate Kristan Higgans books? I love her stuff (dog or no….)

  21. 21
    Zoe M. says:

    Yes, on iTunes they show up on my iPod at 1970 (slightly better, but still….)

  22. 22
    Joane says:

    I usually don’t like kids in romance novels because they are not realistic, one thing I love about J. Crusie’s Anyone but you is that they don’t want children. Love & children don’t have to go together. Pets? I don’t care, if they have a part in the plot, OK, but I would like something more original than cats and dogs. And about Kleypas. She is one of my favorites, but you know? one of the reasons I rarely read N. Roberts or JAK nowadays is their fondness of paranormal touches. It looks like Kleypas want to walk that path too. I prefer plain contemporary or clear Sci-Fi/urban fantasy, but not that mixing of genres. Of course, it can be my fault.

  23. 23
    Laura Xixi says:

    What was the name of the other Joan Wolf book mentioned in the podcast? With the “Think of the horses!” line?

  24. 24
    Laura Xixi says:

    Aaaaand it looks like I might actually have it on my shelf, now that I go back and read the blurb for the one Joan Wolf I own. If it’s The Pretenders, then I’ve been very silly (oh no! silliness!).

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