It is Howdy! Welcome to our “About Us” page, where we can wank on without limit as to who we are, and why we’re here. If you came to this page looking for how to contact us, there is a whole other area for that. Follow the pretty red hyperlinks.
Once Upon a Smart & Sassy Time…
Smart Bitches Trashy Books began in 2005 as a community of romance readers eager to talk about which romance novels rocked their worlds, and which ones made them throw the book with as much velocity as possible. Since then our site has grown to include a community of incredibly smart and savvy romance readers, as well as folks who are curious about all those fuchsia books with the tangerine skies and turquoise ruffles they used to see in the drug stores.
Some Books Happened Along the Way
Beyond Heaving Bosoms: The Smart Bitches’ Guide to Romance
In April 2009, our book Beyond Heaving Bosoms: The Smart Bitches’ Guide to Romance, was published by Touchtone/Fireside, and is now in use in undergraduate courses at Yale, Princeton, and DePaul.
Everything I Know About Love, I Learned from Romance Novels
In 2011, Sarah Wendell wrote Everything I Know About Love, I Learned from Romance Novels, which was published by Sourcebooks.
Lighting the Flames: A Hanukkah Story
Our book Lighting the Flames, was published on 13 December 2014 as a gift to the romance readers who, like Sarah, wanted more Hanukkah romances.
We Don’t Mean to Brag, but…
We’ve appeared in USA Today, The New Yorker, The New York Times, The Washington Post, Metro:New York, Salon, and in forums dedicated to the finest online wankage money can’t buy.
And, on July 26, 2017, we were name checked and recommended on the TV Land show Younger starring Sutton Foster! SERIOUSLY, look!
(Please note: Dahlia Adler, who alerted us first on Twitter, is a most awesome person.)
Another particular highlight: we have been part of a question on Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me – TWICE! I know!!!!!
What, You Want a Timeline?
OK, here you go:
- 2005: The hot pink palace of Bitchery was started by Candy Tan and Sarah Wendell.
- 2007: Candy went to law school and much to everyone’s surprise, there was no Mullet Defense track.
- 2010: Candy is out fighting legal battles against mantitty encroaching upon the environment. Sarah is now doyenne, mastermind, and general overlady of the site, with many excellent, astute reviewers from around the globe.
- 2014: The website relaunches in full mobile responsive glory and gazillions of smart romance readers were let loose to bitch via their phones.
- 2015: The hot pink palace of Bitchery turns TEN!
- 2017: We were name dropped on Younger. Indeed, Sarah fell off the bed when she saw.
- 2019: We turned FOURTEEN holy smokes.
Meet the Bitches
Short Bio of Shortness:
In 2005 I co-founded Smart Bitches, Trashy Books. Since then, I’ve published two books about the romance genre, spoken to romance readers all over the world who are among the most awesome people ever, and kept on reading, reviewing and discussing romance novels, my favorite kind of book. When I’m not reading, which isn’t often, I like cooking, watching tv, exhausting my children, and going outside as much as possible. With bug spray.
You can read more about me at on my page here on SB-TB.com, which has additional links to media, upcoming appearances, and an assortment of silly and serious headshots. I’m really, really pensive in one of them. You can also find out about having me visit your group as a speaker, wherein I will bring the mayhem and merriment live to your location.
❤ Pronouns: She/her
❤ Twitter: @SmartBitches
All credit to my book-loving goes to my mother.
She was the reader in the house and did her best to foster that same habit into me and my brother. It only really stuck with me.
A former Chemical Engineering major, I soon realized after a semester that I would probably end up miserable at age forty. So I switched to something completely different: Editing, Writing, & Media, and served as the resident SBTB intern for about a year and half. I also just finished earning my M.A. in Publishing & Writing in Boston.
I read anything and everything, though I’ve recently tired of historicals. I’m on a bit of a lull when it comes to paranormals, but I’d love to find a fresh new author without a handful of novels under his/her belt. I love dark or super funny contemporary romances and books where smart people are doing sexy sex things.
Romance authors who I happen to love are: Lisa Kleypas, Judith McNaught, Kresley Cole, Christina Lauren, Alice Clayton, Julie Garwood, Tessa Bailey, Sparrow Beckett, Jasinda Wilder, and Meljean Brook.
Other authors and their genres: Mary Roach (nonfiction), Mira Grant (scifi), David Wong (horror), and Jasper Fforde (fantasy).
❤ Pronouns: She/her
❤ Twitter: @_ImAnAdult
As Smart Bitches’ resident Geek Reviewer, I review science fiction and fantasy romance, science fiction and fantasy with strong romantic elements, non-fiction, movies, and comics, with the occasional foray into contemporary and historical romance.
I have copies of Jane Eyre, The Hobbit, and The Lord of the Rings in my emergency supply cupboard and the collected works of Jennifer Crusie in the trunk of my car. Favorite romances include A Civil Campaign, by Lois McMaster Bujold, Riveted, by Meljean Brook, Unveiled, by Courtney Milan, What Happens In London, by Julia Quinn, and Bet Me, by Jennifer Crusie.
I like romances with geeky scientist heroes, which is not surprising, since I’m married to one, and I have a mad scientist daughter who loves explosions and Lego robots.
I’m the proud author of Pride, Prejudice, and Popcorn: TV and Film Adaptations of Pride and Prejudice, Wuthering Heights, and Jane Eyre. When I’m not writing, I’m volunteering for the library, singing, and raising one kid, two cats, assorted fish, and very emotionally disturbed dog. You can find more of my reviews and other writing at my very own blog, www.geekgirlinlove.com!
I grew up in a house full of books and read everything I could get my hands on at a young age. Since my mother was an avid mystery and thriller reader, that meant I’d sneak copies of her books to bed with me, until she caught me reading Red Dragon by Thomas Harris at age eleven. Trying to keep me away from books that featured, you know, cannibalism, my mom gave me a box of Gothics by Victoria Holt and Phyllis Whitney as well as romance novels by Kathleen Woodiwiss. I was hooked.
I still love scary, suspenseful books so Romantic Suspense is totally my jam. I love HelenKay Dimon and Nora Roberts’ romantic suspense books. I adore Gothics and someday I will run across the moors in a diaphanous nightgown. It’s on my bucket list. I also read a lot of historicals, and I tend to binge on them when I’m coping with pain from my Fibromyalgia.
When I’m not reading, I’m knitting. If you want to chat about either check out our Ravelry group, Smart Knitters, Trashy Books. Photos of my cats and knitting can be found on Instagram as @ElyseIndeed.
Aarya Marsden is a pseudonym for a first generation Indian-American immigrant/ naturalized U.S. citizen. I was born in Singapore to Tamilian parents and moved to the U.S. when I was a child. “Aarya” is a portmanteau of my real name and my older sister’s name in an homage to my sister (she introduced me to romance!). “Marsden” is… well, actually, Marsden has zero significance and I chose it because I liked how it sounds!
I’m in my early twenties but I’m not a newcomer to the Romance genre. I started devouring historicals and Harlequin Presents at age 11—I’m not sure if Judith McNaught was age-appropriate but I was delighted when Jennifer Merrick cut up her kidnapper/hero’s clothes in A Kingdom of Dreams and when Jordan Townsende stormed into church to stop his wife’s wedding in Something Wonderful. As someone who grew up on melodramatic Bollywood musical extravaganzas with happily-ever-afters, is it any surprise that the Romance genre and I are a perfect match?
These days, my tastes have expanded though I confess to not reading much of romantic suspense, categories, or erotic romance compared to other subgenres. My go-to subgenres are historical and paranormal/fantasy: if your book has magical heroines who save the world, wolf shifters with complex mating rituals, or clothing without zippers, then I’m your girl (okay, fine, I also love 20th century historicals set after the invention of zippers). My catnip is house party mysteries, slow burn angst, unrequited love/pining, enemies-to-lovers, protagonists who have difficulty expressing emotion, Slytherin/Hufflepuff pairings, political intrigue, non-European historicals, fairytale/mythological retellings, and meet-disasters. Favorite authors include Ilona Andrews, Nalini Singh, Lucy Parker, Jeannie Lin, Alisha Rai, Alyssa Cole, Tessa Dare, Sherry Thomas, Meredith Duran, Mina V. Esguerra, Kate Clayborn, and many more.
I’m currently based in the Northeastern United States. When I’m not cursing the wretched winters or swooning over happily-ever-afters, I watch culinary television (Top Chef and The Great British Bake Off!), follow tennis obsessively, and badly sing along to musical theater tunes in the shower.
❤ Pronouns: She/her
❤ An Aarya Highlight: In Defense of “Unlikable” Heroines: A Case Study of Three Heroines from Nalini Singh’s Psy/Changeling Series
❤ Twitter: @Aarya_Marsden
❤ Instagram: @AaryaMarsden
❤ Want to read more? All of Aarya’s Recent Work at SBTB
From the moment I snuck my mom’s copy of Shirley Conran’s Lace under the covers with me, I have been an enthusiastic romance reader. Pretty much every aspect of my life has changed repeatedly (location, employment, etc.) but never my love and respect for the romance genre.
Regency will always be my go-to, in particular Tessa Dare, Courtney Milan and Lisa Kleypas. Occasionally, I indulge in a bit of steampunk with Bec McMaster. I love a big, epic fantasy like Kristin Cashore’s Graceling series. I will ready anything and everything written by Helen Hoang and Sally Thorne. While I loved the scattershot rage of Shelly Laurenston’s Crows, it is the laser beam of Jane Doe‘s ire that gave me the most wonderful rush. On tough days, I need a crime novel (particularly PD James or Fred Vargas) and on *really* bad days, I need a Mills & Boon from the 1960s.
When I’m not reading, I’m knitting, sewing or crocheting. I’m trying to find the patience to quilt, but my success rate there has been rather poor to date. I am a co-parent to a three-legged black cat who has taught us to treat her like a queen (which is her due and right as an almighty feline).
❤ Pronouns: She/her
❤ Instagram: @lara_van_lelyveld
I’ve always loved reading and my parents were only too happy to feed my addiction throughout childhood. As my mom still likes to tell people, they never worried when I was quiet because they knew where I was: sitting somewhere with a book.
These days, I mainly read f/f fiction, with a heavy emphasis on romance and the occasional literary, specific or historical thrown in there. One of my personal missions is to connect readers with stories about queer women because they saved my life and I never would have known they existed if I hadn’t been lucky enough to stumble on an article online.
I’ll throw money down every time for celebrity romances, thawing ice queens, fake relationships that become real, and age-gap pairings. I’m also a big fan of small-town romances, workplace relationships, and friends-to-lovers scenarios.
My current favourite authors include Melissa Brayden, Lee Winter, Georgia Beers, Chelsea M. Cameron, Robin Alexander, Ann McMan, Rachel Spangler, Clare Ashton, Anna Burke, Kris Bryant, KD Williamson, Meghan O’Brien, Tamsen Parker, and a bunch of people I’ll be embarrassed that I forgot to mention when I remember them later.
When I’m not working my day job in marketing or spending time with my family at home in Calgary, Canada, I’m also reviewing f/f fiction at The Lesbian Review and Lambda Literary, or am interviewing f/f authors and readers on my podcast Les Do Books.
❤ Pronouns: She/her
❤ Twitter: @taramdscott
I was that kid that brought books to family events so that she didn’t have to talk to anyone. I have since kicked this habit, only for it to have been passed on to my brother.
My grandmother actually gave me my first romance novel, probably during one of those visits when I had tragically forgotten my own book. It was a suspense and I’m pretty sure it gave me nightmares afterward. Luckily for all of us, it did not permanently turn me away from romance novels, though I am a strictly no-scary-stuff romance reader now.
I love historicals, as they were my formal reintroduction into romance, and because they are such a particular brand of trope-filled dream come true. I love sports romances, marriages of convenience, enemies to lovers, heroines looking out for their own self-interest, and obstinate characters who end up wrapped around their love interest’s finger. I love anything that will make me snort with laughter, as well as deeply honest portrayals of people learning how to be brave with each other.
Outside of romance, I read a lot of non-fiction and fantasy (for some reason my fantasy reading hasn’t crossed over into romance yet!).
I’m awful at picking favorites, but some romance novels that I hold dear are written by: Lisa Kleypas, Kristen Callihan, Tessa Dare, Rebekah Weatherspoon, Beverly Jenkins, and Alisha Rai.
❤ Pronouns: She/her
I am a queer reader, researcher, and writer based in Chicago. I come armed with an undergraduate degree in folklore & mythology and a master’s in public health with a focus on sexuality, sexual, and reproductive health, so romance is basically the ultimate nexus of my interests in storytelling + sex.
For both romance and more general reading, I most enjoy historicals, fantasy, sci-fi, and mysteries, although my favorite books often have some kind of cross-genre element. Some current favorite authors include Jeannie Lin, Nalini Singh, Cat Sebastian, and Grace Draven. Some major formative authors during my adolescence include Sharon Shinn, Diana Wynne Jones, and Kelly Link.
I also love comics! (If you haven’t read The Prince and The Dressmaker, please stop everything and go read it right now.)
Other interests: libraries, creepy folk songs, mysticism of all kinds, fiber art, starting new TV shows and never finishing them.
My happy place will always be the Scholastic Book Fairs of my youth (so many options! so little time!!). As a wee Maya, I loved fantasy (I will never stop loving Tamora Pierce’s Alanna series and everything else she writes), science fiction, and your classic series like Baby Sitters Club, Nancy Drew, and Goosebumps. Like many an introverted kid/human, I was the one at family events trying to find a quiet corner to read whatever I could get my hands on.
I started reading romance unabashedly and in earnest following everyone’s favorite PCHH episode about romance novels. Around that time I was working a job where the primary focus was collecting narratives around history of trauma for my clients who were on death row or adults who, as juveniles, were serving life sentences. My day-to-day was steeped in the worst stories you could ever imagine–truly horrific lived experiences that spoke of the systemic and individual failures of this country and its inhabitants to care about the suffering of others. I desperately needed stories that gave me that happily ever after because everything in my world at that point was telling me that such an ending was impossible. I’ve moved on from that stressful job, but romance novels continue to be where I turn when I’m looking little piece of something to improve my day.
Some of my favorite authors are Courtney Milan, Nalini Singh, Mary Balogh (aka my girl Mary), Tessa Dare, Sarina Bowen, Shelly Laurenston, Marina Zapata, Tessa Bailey, Kit Rocha, Tamora Pierce, and Patricia Wrede. My favorite subgenres are historical, including Regency, contemporary, some romantic suspense, sci fi, fantasy, urban fantasy, and some YA. I’ve tried and failed multiple times to get into steampunk romances and, as an attorney, I absolutely run in the other direction from any stories with lawyers, their clients, or any reformed convict-type narratives. Simply cannot.
❤ Pronouns: She/her
Once upon a time, a Taiwanese-Canadian munchkin was FWOMPED under snow. That munchkin was Sneezy. She was out of books to read again, because it took her too long to decide which book had enough magic during her family’s trip to the library. Her sister, on the other hand, signed-out half a shelf of romance novels like she always did. With little alternative, Sneezy nibbled at her sister’s stack. She nibbled and nibbled, then bit and gnawed and chomped, until –
“HEY, GIVE THAT BACK, I’M NOT DONE!!!!! HE’S STILL A RAT BASTARD RIGHT NOW!!!!!!!”
By the time Spring tucked Winter’s blanket away from the prairies, the damage was done. Sneezy was now a demon horse, prowling everywhere for books in the genre of ‘good.’ Her catnip varies wildly depending on the phase of the moon, how many dogs she petted that week, and what she has bubbling over her cauldron, though she has little stomach for horror and none at all for gore. Like many others, Sneezy gets nitpicky about an author’s style. If you’re ever menaced by her and have no book handy, try food, news about any city’s transit system, or the history of anything pretty.
Or not, because I don’t know if I can finish my TBR pile in this life. “No Angel Person, I am not going towards the light. I’m just getting comfortable next to it, so I can use it as a lamp.”
Off the top of my head and in no particular order, the authors I love include: Helen Hoang, Alyssa Cole, Intisar Khanani, Meljean Brooks, S. A. Chakraborty, Naomi Novik, Paula Brackston, Alisha Rai, Bec McMaster, Talia Hibbert, Lucy Parker, Kit Rocha/Moira Rogers, Uzma Jalaluddin, Erin Morgenstern, Courtney Milan, Tessa Dare, Neil Gaiman, Katherine Arden, Grace Draven, Tamora Pierce, Robin McKinley, Laurence Yep, Mollie Hunter, and Meagan Spooner.
At sixteen, Claudia found her older cousin’s stash of Barbara Cartlands and assorted Harlequin-type romance housed in an old sewing cabinet and life was never the same! She loves history, so she mostly reads historical romance. Favorite authors include Meredith Duran, Mary Balogh, Miranda Neville, Elizabeth Kingston, and Rose Lerner. She still gets excited when she reads that there’s only one vacant room at the inn. She lives her HEA one day at a time with her partner and children on the West Coast.
❤ Pronouns: She/her
Hi! I’m a reader who stumbled into romance via fandom, manga, and graphic novels, which means that I’m here for slow-burn relationships and high drama. My tastes run towards SFF, mystery, and historical romance, and I’m currently on a quest to find the perfect queer cozy mystery.
My favourite authors include KJ Charles, Tamora Pierce, Rose Lerner, C. L. Polk, Cassandra Rose Clarke, Aliette de Bodard, Kiiro Yumi, T. Kingfisher, Courtney Milan, Nagata Kabi, Alyssa Cole, N. K. Jemisin, Nino Cipri, Genevieve Cogman…. Basically, if I can get practical protagonists, pining, politics, unspoken feelings, and/or the odd murder or two, I’m happy!
My dayjob(s) involve working in multiple libraries, so my shelves are always overflowing and I am always ready to talk (or yell) about library funding in the UK! Writing-wise, I can usually be found as an editor at the Hugo award winning blog Lady Business, reviewing f/f books for The Lesbrary and short fiction for SFF Reviews, or transcribing podcasts. When I’m not writing, I can usually be found capslocking about video games and knitting on Twitter.
❤ Pronouns: She/her
❤ Twitter: @spindilly
The summer I turned 10 years old I found a trash bag filled with Harlequins tucked into a corner of my grandma’s laundry room. I dove in like Scrooge McDuck in pile of gold coins and haven’t stopped reading romances since.
After years of loyalty to historicals, I now read more contemporary romances. My current favorite subgenres are queer romances of all permutations, Westerns, regencies, Amish, and interracial/intercultural romance—although I get annoyed that the latter are considered unique enough to be a subgenre. I read everything but I have a soft spot for science fiction and fantasy. My fiction faves include alpha heroines and beta heroes, unapologetically fat women, and stories about class differences. I’m still searching for my white whale—a f/f Amish interracial romance with a class analysis.
If I’m not reading, I’m on the road with my (e)books, talking about politics, or baking pastries.
❤ Pronouns: She/her
❤ Twitter: @SaysShana
I’m a genderqueer nerd who got out of college with a degree in communication and rhetoric, and promptly went to work in tech support. When I’m not asking people if they’ve turned it off and back on again, you can find me reading romance, knitting socks, and fomenting arguments among my coworkers about the proper definition of a sandwich. I spend more time talking about robots and narrative structure than I do matching my socks, and I feel like those are good and sound priorities.
I’ve been reading romance since my mom introduced me to Georgette Heyer when I was in middle school. I went through a long Regency phase, flirted with contemporaries, and now I primarily read sci-fi and paranormal. I have a heavy preference for stories with queer characters and pairings, but you can still always get me with a Jennifer Crusie or a Shelly Laurenston. My favorite authors of queer stories include KJ Charles, Melissa Scott, and Effie Calvin, along with the many unsung heroes who write slash fanfiction.
❤ Pronouns: They/them.
I grew up reading everything I could get my hands on, but particularly fairy tales, myths, legends, ghost stories, fantasy and history. I loved Robin Hood, because Marian got to be awesome in her own right, and Tam Lin, because the girl gets to rescue the boy. In high school, I discovered Shakespeare and developed an enormous crush on Mercutio (all those clever puns! The smut went right over my head…), and an even more epic one on Richard III. I have friends from that era who still flinch when his name comes up in conversation. As it sometimes does…
I read The Masqueraders early in my final year of high school, and loved it so much that I had to immediately track down and read every single one of Georgette Heyer’s romances in the space of six months. This probably did not help my studies. After a few flirtations with Amanda Quick and Johanna Lindsey in the mid-1990s, I got into modern romances in 2004, via Julia Quinn’s very funny novel, To Catch an Heiress. I quickly developed a ten-book-a-week habit. (Not coincidentally, I was back at university at this point, and had essays to avoid…)
My tastes have evolved with the genre, and these days, my favourite romance authors include Laura Florand, Courtney Milan, Anne Gracie, Lucy Parker, Loretta Chase, Eloisa James, Talia Hibbert and Meljean Brook. Favourite non-romance authors include Lois McMaster Bujold, Pamela Dean, Connie Willis, Seanan McGuire, Yoon Ha Lee, Amal el Mohtar, Ellen Kushner, Zen Cho, Kerry Greenwood and Dorothy Sayers.
My non-reading hobbies include baking, especially allergy-friendly or vegan cakes (which I blog about sporadically at www.catescates.com.au), singing, conducting, and writing short stories inspired by the names of Paris Metro stations (at www.storiesunderparis.net). Other interests include theology, Australian politics, genetics, languages and meteorology. I live in Melbourne, Australia, and work with a really fantastic group of scientists as an academic administrator – ‘making the brains run on time’.
❤ Pronouns: She/her.
I had wonderful parents, but the truth is that I was raised by JRR Tolkien. After spending most of my childhood writing Lord of the Rings fanfic in spiral-bound notebooks and haunting the fantasy aisle of my local used bookstore, I realized around age 11 that I wanted to read some books where women were the main characters. Conveniently, the romance aisle was just one row over and I was soon down a rabbit hole of Catherine Coulter, Georgette Heyer, and Australian medical romances.
These days, I live in a condo in the southeast US with several walls full of books and a moderately well-behaved terrier. My catnip is heroines who are kickass at their jobs and heroes who love them for it, and I die for romances that pass the Bechdel test. My favorite authors include Courtney Milan, Rebekah Wetherspoon, Julie James, Alyssa Cole, Mariana Zapata, Rose Lerner, Holly Cole, and Naomi Novik.
Outside of romance, I read a ton of hard scifi and nonfiction, and my love for LOTR will probably never die. Random things I’m interested in include the history of witchcraft, Weimar Germany, Henry VIII’s Great Matter, and fermented foods. I’m also a competitive amateur athlete and spend a lot of time elsewhere on the internets writing and tweeting about professional cycling.
❤ Pronouns: She/her.
❤ Twitter: @cdbackson
Redheadedgirl is a 30-something lawyer who likes arguing and telling people what to do, along with Riesling and chocolate chip cookies (but not with walnuts. What are you, a heretic?). She prefers old-school romances, the more ridiculous the better, ideally with a steady helping of costume porn (but most historicals will do).
Or Richard Armitage. Which ever.
But enough about us! How about you?
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