Then we answer a reader recommendation letter from Kate, who is looking for snowed in romances! Plus food, video games, and a typical number of breakthroughs.
Bonus bonus woot woot! Stay tuned after this episode for a fantastic and rather expansive sample of the audiobook of Erica Ridley’s new historical romance, The Duke Heist!
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We also mentioned!
Amanda was quoted in Forbes: 10 Romance Novel Recommendations From Reviewers And Podcasters, by Rachel Kramer Bussel!!
(Yes, I am a little excited about this, why do you ask?)
- The Friendshipping podcast with Jenn and Trin!
- Amanda’s amazing Aerie robe
- Three Rec Leagues!
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Thanks for listening!
This episode is brought to you by The Duke Heist by Erica Ridley – and don’t miss the audiobook sample at the end of the episode!
Chloe Wynchester is completely forgettable—a curse that gives her the ability to blend into any crowd. When the only father she’s ever known makes a dying wish for his adopted family of orphans to recover a missing painting, she’s the first one her siblings turn to for stealing it back. No one expects that in doing so, she’ll also abduct a handsome duke.
Lawrence Gosling, the Duke of Faircliffe, is tortured by his father’s mistakes. To repair his estate’s ruined reputation, he must wed a highborn heiress. Yet when he finds himself in a carriage being driven down the cobblestone streets of London by a beautiful woman who refuses to heed his commands, he fears his heart is hers. But how can he sacrifice his family’s legacy to follow true love?
Grab your copy of The Duke Heist at your favorite store!
There’s a special bonus for a limited time: if you buy The Duke Heist and register your purchase on Erica’s website, she’ll send you a free bonus Wynchester novella! Just go to EricaRidley.com for more information.
❤ Click to view the transcript ❤
Sarah Wendell: Hello there. Thank you for welcoming me into your eardrums. I’m Sarah Wendell. This is episode number 443 of Smart Podcast, Trashy Books, and my guest is Amanda! We are going to chat about the dubious coverage of romance around Valentine’s Day – take cover; I’ve got wine in the bunker; you’re welcome to join us – and we’re going to talk about an outstanding article that Amanda was quoted in that appeared on forbes.com, written by Rachel Kramer Bussel – yes, there’s a link in the show notes; you should definitely check it out. Then we answer a reader recommendation request letter from Kate, who is looking for snowed-in romances. Plus we talk about food and videogames, and we have our typical number of breakthroughs. I’m glad you’re joining us!
This episode is brought to you by The Duke Heist by Erica Ridley, and I have a sample of the audiobook at the end of the episode! If you like the show Leverage, you will like this: Regency bad guys doing good things like Robin Hood, only with, you know, more dukes and carriages. There is some serious trope catnip in this book. We have secret identities, forbidden love, opposites attract, and found family running heists to help those who have nowhere else to turn. Years ago, Chloe Wynchester and five other uniquely talented orphans were adopted by a wealthy baron with a secret mission: the motley Wynchester family fights for justice from the margins of high society. Chloe Wynchester is completely forgettable, a curse that gives her the ability to blend into any crowd. When the only father she’s ever known makes a dying wish for his adopted family of orphans to recover a missing painting, she’s the first one her siblings turn to to steal it back. No one expects that in doing so, she’ll abduct a duke. Oops. Lawrence Gosling, Duke of Faircliffe, is tortured by his father’s mistakes, and to repair his estate’s ruined reputation, he needs to wed a highborn heiress. Yet when he finds himself in a carriage being driven down cobblestone streets by a beautiful woman who refuses to listen to him, he fears his heart is in trouble. But how can he sacrifice his family’s legacy to follow true love? Now, if you like diverse historicals, the Wynchester siblings represent a diverse and inclusive cast in terms of sexuality, gender identity, class, race, and abled-ness. Many of these elements are Own Voices for Erica Ridley, who is biracial, Black, bisexual, and has a chronic disability. If you are curious about this story, there’s a free prequel story called The Governess Gambit, and I will have a link to that in the show notes. You can grab your copy of The Duke Heist at your favorite store, or visit ericaridley.com for more info. And there’s a special bonus for a limited time: if you buy The Duke Heist and register your purchase on Erica’s website, she’ll send you a free bonus Wynchester novella. Visit Erica Ridley – that’s E-R-I-C-A-R-I-D-L-E-Y – dot com [ericaridley.com]. Stay tuned after the episode for a free sample of the audiobook of The Duke Heist.
I have a compliment in this episode, and oh my gosh, do I love doing this.
To Anja G.: Grammarians and linguists have had a meeting – virtually, internationally – and they have decided and decreed that the plural of you is a superb of Anja. Now, first of all, I hope I pronounced Anja correctly, and if I didn’t I apologize, but still: a superb of you.
If you have supported the show with any amount with a monthly pledge at Patreon, thank you. You’re helping me keep each episode transcribed and accessible, and you’re keeping the show going.
I want to say hello to Ellen and Lily, our newest Patreons, and if you would like to join, have a look: patreon.com/SmartBitches.
We talk about a lot of books and a lot of Rec Leagues and a lot of different things in this episode, and I will have links to all of the books we mention in the show notes, plus links to the bonus novella and links to pretty much everything we talk about – because that’s what I do after I do the intro: I do the linking! – at smartbitchestrashybooks.com/podcast!
But now, let’s get started with Amanda and me and a reader letter from Kate. Thank you, Kate! On with the show.
Sarah: I want to start –
Sarah: – with big, fat, fucking congratulations to you, ‘cause you –
Amanda: Thank you!
Sarah: – are in Forbes! Not only are you in Forbes, but you’re quoted in Forbes, aaand it’s in an article about romance –
Sarah: – in February –
Sarah: – that doesn’t suck! Yeess!
Amanda: I mean, if it did suck, we almost had a bingo, right? Like a –
Amanda: – shitty – [laughs] – romance coverage bingo.
Sarah: Boom, boom, boom, boom, boom! I mean, let’s think – it’s February. Like, I’m sort of like, all right, everybody take cover, ‘cause media coverage in February about romance, unless the call is coming from inside the house, it sucks. And the nice thing about Racher Kramel, Rachel Kramer Bussel – goodness, I almost stuttered that – she gets romance, and so the minute she was looking for a quote I was like, oh yes. You can have all the quotes you –
Sarah: – I, who – yes! Anything you want, ma’am! Let’s do this. The, the new Best Women’s Erotica that she edits, the new one, the lineup is unreal cool. Like, the 2021 Best Women’s Erotica – hang on, I’ll look it up.
Amanda: Also, when, when is this episode, is this pre Valentine’s Day, this episode?
Sarah: Yeah, this is for Friday.
Amanda: Okay, can I just give everyone a general reminder of, you know, just relax! If there’s a shitty romance article, we’ve been through this before.
Amanda: It’s not a surprise.
Amanda: Just –
Sarah: Like, literally, play Bingo.
Amanda: Yeah! Just relax. You don’t need to, it’s not worth your time or energy to tweet about it or go on a Facebook rant. Just chill out! There are plenty of other spaces and people covering romance who read and respect the genre, and we’re all on limited bandwidth right now, so don’t give your energy to just a rage cycle of bad romance takes in February. Just relax!
Sarah: I get it. There is something very cathartic about, I have all of, like I, like I’ve said so many times, big rage, short fuse. Like, I have all of this rage stored up about all these things that I have no control over, but not only do I have the language and the ability to articulate every element of my rage, but I can go point by point about how much this one thing here, right here, sucks?
Sarah: It’s very cathartic, but it also just invites such bleaach! into your timeline. Bleah!
Amanda: But, like, you know, what does it do for you? How does it serve you?
Sarah: More importantly, ignominy is often the best response to some of this shit.
Amanda: Just, you know, crack open a beer, glass of wine, pop an edible, and chill – just relax! It’s, it’ll be, it’ll be over in a week! Like –
Amanda: – it’ll be fine.
Sarah: And, and this is, this is an annual tradition. You know –
Amanda: It is!
Sarah: – it is an annual tradition. I remember authors like fifteen years ago complaining about how they would get press inquiries from people for Valentine’s Day asking, well, you’re a romance author. What do you think is the most romantic date? And they’re like, I’ve been married to my husband for like twenty years? Romantic date is, like, going to bed early –
Amanda: It’s –
Sarah: – and ordering takeout? What are –
Amanda: It’s like that annual tradition that shows up in horror movies where, like, an outsider comes to this creepy rural town –
Amanda: – and it’s like, you know, every –
Sarah: I like being in the creepy rural town; keep going.
Amanda: Yeah. And every year they have, I don’t know, like, the Reckoning, and they, like, sacrifice something. It’s like that sort of like yearly ritual. It’s like –
Sarah: Oh yeah.
Amanda: – midsummer, you know –
Sarah: Yep. It’s Valentine’s Day in Romance Land. Everybody get in the bunker. I’ve got plenty of wine; we’re going to get some –
Sarah: – ridiculous coverage, but you got good coverage! And the, and this Forbes article was really, really great! Good job!
Amanda: It was very interesting, and I really appreciated how many different, like, facets of, like, romance critique that she was able to – like, there’s podcasters and, like, academics and –
Sarah: I know!
Amanda: – just like a really interesting spread of, of readers.
Sarah: Yes. Much, much toasting of wine to Rachel Kramer Bussel, and while I have it pulled up, Best Women’s Erotica of the Year, Volume 6, just came out in December of 2020, and here are some of the people that are in the anthology: Naima Simone –
Sarah: – Shelly Bell, Mia Hopkins, Olivia Waite, Anuja Varghese – I think I said that correctly; if I didn’t, I apologize – Alexis Wilder, Katrina Jackson, Zoey Castile, Saskia Vogel, and Jeanette Grey. And there are other people in there –
Amanda: There’s a lot!
Sarah: – that was just a quick glance at the contributors?
Sarah: So yeah.
Amanda: Those are, that, that is a good lineup!
Sarah: Right?! Super awesome! So good job! Congratulations!
Sarah: I, I hope this is the start of a –
Sarah: – balls-out awesome February where everything that’s written about romance is insightful and thoughtful and interesting and, you know, takes romance as seriously as other genres are taken – I realize I sound like I’m high as a kite right now and I’m –
[Phone vibration, musical ringtone]
Sarah: – really, really not! And I forgot to turn off my phone ‘cause I’m a bad podcaster! But still!
Amanda: I mean, that’s –
Sarah: Maybe you are setting the tone here! That –
Amanda: – that is a –
Sarah: That’s some optimism, wasn’t it? This is –
Amanda: Yes, that’s –
Sarah: – terrifying optimism.
Amanda: – very optimistic of you?
Sarah: Yeah! I’m extremely optimistic here.
Amanda: Me, not so much. [Laughs]
Sarah: Well, you know.
Amanda: Me –
Amanda: – yeah. You know, it could go either way!
Sarah: Yeah! We started off really strong. Real, real strong, so mad props to Rachel Kramer Bussel and to you and Forbes. Awesome!
Amanda: Thank you!
Sarah: So now that we’re in the bunker of February –
Amanda: Yep. Bunker –
Sarah: – it’s literally and actually snowing. I just want you to know, if you hear walking around, Adam has a meeting, and he has to put on a real shirt.
Amanda: Oh no!
Sarah: Not only that, but there was apparently an email chain among the other men in his group who are going onto, going on this call like, do we have to wear ties? Should we wear jackets? Was the verdict shirts and ties, no jacket?
Sarah: Shirts, ties, no jacket –
Sarah: – so he’s going to be wearing like sweatpants and then a button-down and a tie. Yeah.
Amanda: I mean, you gotta do what you gotta do. That sounds horrific!
Sarah: Oh, we, I was – I mean, clearly, I got dressed up. I’m in the Hoodie of Working.
Sarah: This is –
Amanda: I was in my robe, but I got too hot, so I took it –
Sarah: [Laughs] So it is actually snowing, and we have a reader letter. Would you be so kind as to read the reader letter?
Sarah: Very excited for this.
Amanda: Okay. Let me scroll it back. Okay!
“Greetings from my quarantine cave in New Hampshire!”
Amanda: Greetings! Another New Englander!
Amanda: “I hope you and your loved ones are doing well.
“I will not assume you remember me from past emails so let me establish my credentials:”
Sarah: Spoiler alert: I do in fact remember this person from past emails –
Sarah: – but that’s okay! ‘Cause I remember things by reading them, so good job, Brain.
Amanda: “I am a long time fan of the site –“
Amanda: “ – listener of the podcast, and Patreon supporter since you rolled it out.”
Sarah: [Sings] Thank you!
Amanda: [Laughs] “I also discovered my second favorite podcast (Friendshipping –“
Sarah loves it. She talks about it I think at least once during every Twitch stream we do?
Sarah: I love it so much!
“ – with Jenn and Trin) thanks to your recommendation. (Yes, you should assume that YOUR podcast is my favorite based on that last sentence.)
“I just love this community you have built and I am so grateful it exists. In 2019 I faced some big changes (divorce, new job, out of state move) and it is not an exaggeration to say that your podcast helped me get through all that turbulence.”
Oh, that’s sweet!
“It felt like you were a friend I could take with me when I moved to a new place and knew no one, podcast friends are very portable. Like many –“
Sarah: We do!
Amanda: Yeah, we fit in your pocket.
Sarah: In your pocket, yeah! Mm-hmm!
“Like many other listeners my favorite episodes are when you and Amanda just hang out to talk about books and food and video games and whatever else makes your hearts happy.”
Well, you’re in luck! ‘Cause that’s what we’re doing! [Laughs]
Sarah: You’re so in luck! Welcome to this episode which you have created! We will give you all the things you like!
“It feels like I am hanging out with a couple close friends, basking in their affection and admiration for each other. Warm fuzzy feelings are very much appreciated during this dumpster fire of a year.”
Sarah: Oh, we are sending all the warm fuzzy feelings. In fact, until a few minutes ago Amanda was wearing the warm fuzzy robe of affectionate feelings.
Amanda: I was. It’s from Aerie. It’s amazing. It’s like a lovely soft Sherpa robe that I bought on sale. It’s great.
Amanda: “That is probably all the gushing praise you can stand –“
Oop, drink for the word gushing; everyone take a shot.
“ – you can stand so let’s move on to my request!”
Sarah: I’m out of tea, so I’ve switched to water. Okay.
Amanda: “I believe that you are also a fan of snowed in romance, I hope I have that right.”
Sarah: Oh, you have it so right!
Amanda: Me, not so much, but I’ll, we’ll explain.
Sarah: We’ll, we’ll go in, yeah.
Amanda: We’ll explain!
“I love this particular type of forced proximity and was hoping you had some recommendations for me. I prefer historical to contemporary but will read both, especially when I trust the recommender. Bonus points for marriage of convenience because I love that trope. Winter is settling in here in New England and that seems like a great time to read about some folks trapped together in a not really dangerous situation, if there is a bit of danger added to the mix that is okay too. The only trigger I can think to ask you to stay away from is obvious violations of consent / coercion but I don’t think you would blithely swim past that without mentioning it.”
Sarah: No, not ever!
“I am sure that I love this set up because the first romance I ever read was The Hidden Heart by Candace Camp –“
Amanda: “ – a snowed in romance where a Duke and governess have to find out who is targeting the strange assortment of travelers that have become stranded at the Duke’s country house. I left a rambling message about it for the podcast episode where you asked listeners about the first romance they ever read. I’m so glad the heroine of that book was such a badass, it made me want to read more like it. Here I am roughly 20 years later still loving romance novels.”
Amanda: “Let me sum up:”
Amanda: “snowed in”
Sarah: Got it.
Amanda: “marriage of convenience (optional)”
Sarah: Can confirm.
Amanda: “danger/mystery elements okay”
Sarah: All right.
Amanda: “Thank you!!!!!
“Best wishes to you and yours,
Sarah: Hi, Kate! Yay! Kate, we are here for you! It’s literally snowing, so I could not think of a more perfect recommendation –
Sarah: – letter to share –
Amanda: And if, if you’re in New England, Kate –
Sarah: – and I’ve had this on my list for weeks.
Amanda: – then you’re also snow, snowy.
Sarah: Yeah, You’ve got snow. I hope things are better for Kate.
Sarah: I hope all of these changes have turned out as a net positive –
Amanda: I hope so.
Sarah: – 2020 notwithstanding.
Amanda: Yeah. I feel like we should just all just scratch that off.
Sarah: So –
Amanda: Just scratch it.
Sarah: Yeah. I mean –
Sarah: – you can’t. It’ll, it’ll contribute to some knowledge I have in the future, but right now –
Amanda: I know.
Sarah: – I’m just tired.
Amanda: I’m, this is a permanent state of being tired, even –
Amanda: – even with my sedatives now that I’m on. [Laughs] Still just in a permanent state of being tired.
Sarah: All right.
Amanda: Snowed in: I will briefly explain. So Sarah does like a snowed-in romance.
Sarah: I do, and Kate explained it perfectly! It’s, it’s forced proximity, but you’re not in imminent danger.
Amanda: So for me, I feel a lot of the times a snowed-in situation is usually adjacent to a holiday romance. It usually happens around that time, or, like, you know, on, on Christmas Eve or whatever, and I do not like holiday romances. I do not like Christmas romances, let me specify. I don’t like Christmas romances; I’ve written about it for the site, and I just, I don’t have fond memories of Christmas myself, and so –
Sarah: Nope, me neither. I recommend Judaism. You get off the hook for the whole damn time.
Sarah: Get to go to Chinese and a movie!
Amanda: I –
Sarah: Or just have Chinese brought to your house and then watch a movie on the television during the pandemic.
Amanda: I can just do that anyway!
Sarah: I mean, yeah, there’s no requirement –
Sarah: – but yeah.
Amanda: But yeah, so it’s complicated for me, and, like, whereas, you know, Sarah can read them and probably be fine, I, yeah, I just, I’m a Grinch around –
Amanda: – the holiday, and I would just love to read about a holiday romance with, like, two Grinches just kind of commiserating about how much everything sucks. I would love that! So Sarah has a bunch of recommendations. I think I only had two to add? But Sarah, if you wanted to go first –
Sarah: I will go first!
Sarah: Okay. So, first of all, I would like praise, Amanda.
Sarah: I would like praise.
Amanda: Oh, yes!
Sarah: Praise for Sarah, because we have a whole Rec League of Inclement Weather, and I remembered it.
Sarah: And got the link.
Sarah: And it’s from 2017, which might as well have –
Sarah: – been an entirely different era in my life.
Amanda: Well, can we get, like, a round of applause for Sarah’s brain remembering?
Sarah: Sarah remembered a thing: good job. Yay!
So I am very honored to be the friend in your ear when you made life changes, and I hope you’re doing okay, and I hope this list of books keeps you going for the rest of this year and that we all end this year, like, leaving the house from the forced proximity of pandemic Quarantimes?
So first, one of my very favorite holiday novels, and I’m pretty sure that I recommended this to you when I replied to your original email, is not necessarily snowed in, but it is a somewhat scandalous holiday house party, and the house party historical functions in a lot of similar ways to being snowed in, because once you show up you’re not leaving for a while. You know –
Sarah: – the presumption of a house party is that you’re going to park for a good while.
Amanda: Also, something – I’ll put a note in the notes – we also have a Rec League for House Parties!
Sarah: Oh, excellent!
Amanda: So –
Sarah: Excellent! So we’ll have, we’ll link that, to that in the show notes as well.
Sarah: So one of my favorites that I’m pretty sure I emailed to Kate is Season for Surrender by Theresa Romain, ‘cause there’s a very scandalous holiday house party with a host who’s very scandalous and turns out to be kind of nerdy, which is, mwah! Chef’s kiss catnip.
Now, the thing about several of the recommendations that I have is that they are novellas or shorts because –
Sarah: – being snowed in is a rather – as I wrote in the notes – it’s a melt-y conflict. It’s rather temporary and –
Amanda: A melt-y conflict!
Sarah: It’s melt-y; it melts! It, it’s not very permanent, and forced proximity, the, the tension of forced proximity is bound partially in the idea that the person you are with the person you’re with in this proximity situation might be a little different, a little more genuine or a little bit more stressed or a little bit more specific than the you who you are when you’re outside of the proximity situation, and part of the tension is reconciling who you are in this forced proximity scenario and then who you are after. Sort of like with Speed: they allegedly fall in love on a high-speed bus chase, and –
Sarah: – they’re going to be fine forever after it’s done?
Amanda: Which is wild, because, like, if that were me, if I were Sandy, Sandra Bullock, my anxiety would be through the absolute roof, and I –
Sarah: You’re not going to fall in love with Chris, Keanu Reeves as he sort of stands over the seat while you’re driving?
Amanda: I mean, I can, under normal circumstances, sure.
Amanda: But if – Keanu, there’s a situation here, and I don’t have time for this.
Sarah: Yeah. There, see, there are, there are people who, in that situation, would get horny pants, and there are people in that situation who might not! So, but the idea of forced proximity, the tension of it comes from the, sort of the aftermath. What happens when you’re not in that forced proximity situation? If you are your genuine self in this limited time and space, what happens when you have to interact with the rest of your life and the rest of the world, and you have this person who might know a slightly different version of you? So –
Amanda: I also think that’s why I have problems with novellas too, in that, like, they’re so short –
Sarah: Mm-hmm! I tried to write one, and I called it a novella, and it’s like fifty-six thousand words!
Amanda: But, like, a conflict has to be pretty low stakes for a novella.
Sarah: Right, and you like a high-stakes conflict.
Amanda: I do like a high-stakes – we’re uncovering all sorts of things today. It’s like going to a therapy session and, like, connect, like – [laughs] –
Sarah: I think that has happened before.
Amanda: We’ve, we’ve made a breakthrough!
Sarah: Yes, welcome to Sarah; I’m your book therapist.
Sarah: So a lot of these are novellas because you have a very, the, the snowed-in part is a very short-lasting conflict. I mean, you’re going to have a big storm, and snowstorms can be slow and ponderous, but, you know, couple days later, some, one would hope that they would have a plow, maybe? I mean –
Amanda: [Laughs] A plow?
Sarah: – at some point you’re going to get out of wherever you’re stuck!
Amanda: They’re plow-, plowing two-fold!
Sarah: Yes, lots of plowing, different kinds.
Sarah: Some-, sometimes there’s salt, and sometimes there is –
Amanda: Oh, ugh! [Laughs]
Sarah: – birth control. You want to apply in the right place.
So here are some options; they are not necessarily historical, but I have a few.
So first: Snowbound with the CEO by Shannon Stacey, also became a movie, Snowbound for Christmas, that you might still be able to find on some streaming services.
And then another short romance: Midnight Assignment by Victoria Dahl. I always remember this one because the two people who are stuck in the hotel are FDIC investigators, and I believe they’re doing some forensic accounting?
Amanda: That is your jam.
Sarah: Super hot and sexy nerds doing nerdy things stuck in a place. Hell yeah. It helps that my husband is a municipal bond attorney who works for the Securities and Exchange Commission.
Sarah: I don’t know of any SEC romances though. I’ll have to find out.
Amanda: I think, think I, I’ve read one.
Sarah: Okay, well, I need to know it, ‘cause I need to read it, and then I’m going to talk about it! [Laughs]
Amanda: I mean, correct, correct me if I’m wrong, I might be wrong on this, but it is –
Sarah: Googling on the podcast has occurred! All right, you google; I’ll keep going.
Now, one I did read very recently – I read this last year – is an older Mary Balogh that you can usually find in Hoopla or in the library. She’s reissuing her older Regency romances, and Regency, by which I mean the Signet Regencies that are much smaller than a Regency-set mass market, which would be a much bigger plot. The Signet Regencies were a little smaller in, in plot complexity and lighter in page count. All of the Mary Balogh reissues have these gorgeous silhouettes against a striped cover so that you can just see them at a glance; you know exactly what you’re looking for. This one is called Snow Angel, and what happens in this one is a young woman is in a carriage with her brother and they have a fight, and she gets out of the carriage and she stomps off, knowing that her brother will event- – he drives off because he’s a jerk, but she knows he’s going to turn around. Except he doesn’t ‘cause his carriage throws a wheel or there’s a problem, and they don’t have cell phones so she, he can’t be, like, texting her like, sorry wheel RU dead in the snow? So she ends up at this stranger’s house, and she’s a widow, and he is supposed to be hooking up with his mistress, but his mistress got sick, and here’s this convenient woman here in the snow for some convenient no-sing –
Amanda: Convenient woman!
Sarah: – no-strings sexytimes! So they have, like, they’re snowed in, they’re stuck, and they’re both, you know, DTF.
Amanda: I’m going to put that on my business card: Amanda Diehl – A Convenient Woman.
Sarah: [Laughs] But they think they’re getting in some no-strings sexytimes interlude in the snow, and then of course there are strings because it turns out he is engaged to marry someone that she is related to, and there’s a big old forced proximity house party!
Amanda: Oh boy.
Sarah: And they have to confront their noble feelings of really, really having horny pants for each other but also having familial obligations to other people that prevent them from indulging in these horny pants the way they would like. It was pretty delicious.
Amanda: Found the book!
Sarah: What is it? SEC romance?
Amanda: Hot, Hot Asset by Lauren Layne. The heroine is an SEC agent –
Amanda: – investigating –
Amanda: – the hero, who, like, works on Wall Street. I thought it was okay. I wanted more – the, the, like, cover copy alludes to a lot of, like, I want to say like enemies to lovers, but, like, you know, antagonism between the hero and heroine and –
Amanda: – and I do like Lauren Layne, but I wish there were more of that. It, it switches to, like, pants feelings pretty dang quickly.
Amanda: But she is an SEC agent.
Sarah: I don’t know if I can read about Wall Street hot shots at this moment, but I am very curious.
Amanda: Yeah. So –
Sarah: Ohhh, so she, so she’s in, what the hell is that department called?
Amanda: – white, white collar crimes and stuff.
Sarah: Enforcement. Yeah, she’s in enforcement.
Amanda: Sure! I don’t know any of this stuff.
Sarah: I don’t either!
Amanda: That’s, that’s the only one I remember that I’ve ever seen is that one –
Sarah: All right.
Amanda: – and I read it, and it was okay.
Sarah: I, I might have to read it and be like, all right, so does this happen? And Adam’s going to be like, I don’t frigging know! That’s not my department! Why are you asking me these things? So, excellent. I’ll give it a try. It’s Kindle Unlimited; I have, you know, no risk; just click!
Amanda: Okay. I think so, yeah.
Sarah: So there’s another Mary Balogh that also has a snowstorm, and that’s Simply Unforgettable. Now, unfortunately for me, I don’t remember whether I’ve read this, so irony. They meet in a snowstorm. This is apparently a thing that Mary Balogh likes to deploy. I’m all in favor.
Tessa Dare also has a novella called Lord Dashwood Missed Out. That takes place in a, takes place in a snowstorm.
And Carla Kelly, who writes really lovely, emotional, wrenching historicals – I think she’s now switched to writing Inspired? – but her older books are often Regency historicals, and they’re very emotionally driven; there’s a lot of emotional conflict between the characters. She has a book called Softly Falling which is, I believe, about ranchers, and there’s a snowstorm, and they have to save the cattle? It’s a problem in the snow.
Sarah: Now, Jackie Lau’s Her Pretend Christmas Date is not, I believe, a snowstorm, and it is not a historical, but it has a relationship of convenience and it says so in the title. And there’s also lots of holiday mishegoss going on.
Sarah: Mishegoss. And I don’t know if this qualifies, but I’m thinking that there’s a good chance of snowed in any time you have a polar bear shifter. Right?
Amanda: Sure, yeah! [Laughs]
Sarah: Right? Yeah, right? Yeah, so if you, if you’re thinking paranormal snowed in, look for your polar bears. Polar bears good.
Amanda: Look, look, instead of, like, look for the helpers, it’s –
Sarah: No! Look for the polar bears! They’re going to be in the snow!
All right, what are your recommendations –
Amanda: Okay –
Sarah: – for Kate?
Amanda: I don’t think I have one that ticks all the boxes, but –
Amanda: – you know, I’m doing the best I can!
Sarah: No, you’re fine.
Amanda: So the one that I –
Sarah: This isn’t your jam! It’s okay!
Amanda: I know. I know! But the, the first one I thought of was No Groom at the Inn by Megan –
Sarah: Oh, good call!
Amanda: It was, it’s a novella – [laughs] – historical romance.
Sarah: Seriously! It’s a melt-y conflict!
Amanda: Yeah! Historical romance, not marriage of convenience, but fake relationship. There are scene-stealing chickens and other barnyard animals. And Elyse –
Sarah: As you do.
Amanda: Yeah – Elyse gave it an A in a Lightning Review, so she really enjoyed it, and I’m sure Sarah will link it in the show notes if you want to read the review.
Sarah: Course I will!
Amanda: But yeah, fake fiancé, you know, kind of together at an inn, snowy wintertime. That’s, that’s that.
Amanda: I am mentioning In a Holidaze by Christina Lauren, even though I don’t like holiday romances. I liked this one ‘cause it had a bit of a twist to it? It’s like –
Amanda: – Groundhog Day meets a holiday romance. Like, the, the heroine is kind of like stuck in this holiday time loop, which is a fucking nightmare for me. Like –
Amanda: [Laughs] This is my worst nightmare! But it’s also, like, snowy. They get together in this, like, cabin in Utah, which, Christina I believe lives in Utah, of Christina Lauren. So it’s kind of like a little bit snowed in with, you know, like, a giant family and family friends, but there’s kind of like a time loop scenario.
Amanda: Which I thought was –
Sarah: Which is, which is another kind of sort of forced proximity. It’s not snow; it’s –
Sarah: – improbable looping of the space-time continuum, but you know, same thing!
Sarah: Before we continue with the rest of the recommendations, I wanted to give you a heads up, because if you love Amanda and me on the podcast, then mark your calendars for Tuesday nights at 7:30 p.m. Eastern. We have a live podcast bonus after party on Stereo! If you’re one of the people who tries to talk to us while you’re listening, this is perfect for you. Tuesday nights, 7:30 Eastern, we are going to be live on Stereo. Stereo is a live broadcast platform that allows us to talk to you in real time. With avatars, so we don’t have to, like, put on lipstick or, you know, do our hair or anything. You’ll be able to listen to us live only on the Stereo app, and you get to record messages for us to play during the conversation. We’re going to be doing random silly trivia, discussing essential Quarantimes topics, and we’re always going to talk about food, and we definitely have book recommendations, and we want to hear from you so you can be part of the fun. All you need to do is download the free Stereo app and follow us at stereo.com/smartbitches so you can connect with us when we’re live Tuesdays, 7:30 Eastern. There’s a whole avatar building component that is so much fun, and we love looking at yours; they’re so cute. Just go to stereo.com/smartbitches to get started so you can join us Tuesday nights at 7:30 Eastern. I’m going to have more details and a clip from our latest broadcast after the show.
I also want to let you know that this podcast is brought to you in part by Prose. Now, Amanda and I talk a lot on our Twitch stream and on Stereo about how we are trying the curly girl method, because I did not know that my hair is wavy. This is a Quarantimes discovery, and I am shocked. So I’ve been doing a ton of research to figure out what products to try, and Prose came at the perfect time. Prose creates custom shampoo and conditioners based on your personal hair analysis in their algorithm. If you love a quiz, there is a quiz. They have an online quiz that dives into every possible factor that might affect your hair. My personal favorite was it telling me that because I live outside of DC that humidity is a factor. Yes, yes, it is. I can confirm. Their algorithm will personalize over fifty billion formula combinations, and they will come up with a unique blend that addresses my exact concerns. In my case, my concerns are what do I do with wavy hair? I have no idea. Well, now I sort of do! I received my order and wow! Okay, first, you get to pick your scent, and the scent totally works for me, and second, it seems my hair really likes the shampoo and conditioner and the hair mask that goes on first. After my first wash, I had ringlets on their own. No curling iron, no permanent – that was from the ‘80s – just my hair doing its thing with Prose products. It was soft and curly? I, I am shocked. I had no idea that my hair did any of this, and I’m having the best time, so if you and your Quarantimes hair are on the what is happening right now journey with me, I have a coupon for you! Prose is the healthy hair regimen with your name all over it – literally, on the bottle: your name will be on it. You can take the free in-depth hair quiz – yes, online quiz! – and get fifteen percent off your first order today. Go to prose.com/TRASHYBOOKS – that’s P-R-O-S-E dot com slash Trashy Books – for your free in-depth hair quiz and fifteen percent off your first order.
And now, back to more snowed-in recommendations with me and Amanda!
Amanda: And then my last one that I just thought of while we were recording is Snowspelled by Stephanie Burgis?
Sarah: Good one!
Amanda: Yeah. Another short – I don’t know if it’s quite a novella, but it is shorter.
Amanda: It is technically historical feeling, but it’s historical fantasy, and I really loved the kind of like society Burgis created here? So in this society, men become magic users, and women become politicians. But the main character doesn’t really have, like, any political ambitions and is able to use magic, and she be-, she becomes, like, this, like, ooh, the first woman to, you know, go through all this magic stuff, and then kind of borks it. Just totally, like, beefs her opportunities. And so she’s attending a house party –
Amanda: – where a snowstorm is –
Amanda: – raging in, and –
Sarah: Check, check.
Amanda: – her ex-fiancé, I believe, is there in attendance? And the snow’s getting bad, and they’re like, this seems different than a normal snowstorm, so they kind of like investigate the surrounding area in the middle of a snowstorm and discover, like, this, like, fey character causing all this hullabaloo.
Amanda: I mean, I don’t want to, like, spoil anything, but, like, yes, the, the snow and stuff like that has, it’s not a natural snowstorm. But I, I mean, it’s very wintry and cozy, and I loved the, like, magic systems. It’s more on, like, the tender side in terms of, like, sexual content. But it’s also kind of a, a snowy romance with a little bit of a, a twist with the fantasy elements. But I, I like that entire series a lot. It’s like a very, like, sweet, like, mug of cocoa sort of, of read.
Sarah: That, that works really well with the snowed in trope, because, like I said, you’re not in great imminent danger if you’re not outside –
Sarah: – freezing to death. If you’re inside, you have food, you have fuel, you’re warm, there’s body heat to –
Amanda: Yeah, yeah!
Sarah: – keep you warm sometimes?
Sarah: Inside plowing?
Amanda: You know, you’ve just got to –
Sarah: You’re –
Amanda: – you’ve got to get into that Tauntaun.
Sarah: Yeah! Just slice, slice its belly open and crawl up in the intestines; you’ll be fine!
Sarah: But it’s not, it’s not imminently life threatening if you’re not worried about hypothermia?
Amanda: Yeah, I mean, if you want that, you know, there’s Whiteout by Adriana Anders.
Sarah: Yeah. Yeah, well, they can’t bone ‘cause it’s so cold they’ll die.
Amanda: So cold.
Sarah: It’s so cold they cannot bone.
Amanda: The ending, we – that was a recent book club pick for the romance book club I run, and –
Sarah: Is this the Harvard book club?
Amanda: Porter Square.
Sarah: Porter Square: sorry, sorry, sorry.
Amanda: Different square.
Sarah: I was thinking Harvard Square, and –
Amanda: [Laughs] There are too many –
Sarah: – replaced Porter with Harvard.
Amanda: – squares in New England, so many squares.
Sarah: They’re very square; what is with that?
Amanda: Oh, like, so many squares, so many squares, but the roads are all janky as shit. Like, there’s like –
Sarah: Oh, yeah, oh.
Amanda: – one way this way, one way, like –
Sarah: Oh, oh yeah.
Sarah: It’s like Greenwich Village: you’ll never get out if you go in without a map.
Amanda: [Laughs] That’s like the basis of a horror story, I feel like, is stuck in Greenwich Village.
Amanda: But Whiteout was good up until, like, the last act, I suppose.
Sarah: Yeah, the overall rescue is a little unsatisfying, but the part from the beginning up until that point is – [inhales] – super tense, with competence, and like I said, they can’t –
Sarah: – bone ‘cause they’ll die of cold.
Amanda: And the danger feels real. Like, it’s a real –
Sarah: Oh yeah!
Amanda: – it’s not like –
Sarah: Oh yeah!
Amanda: – you know, I don’t know, but –
Sarah: I love a romance where you have, where the people in the book have to contend with the fact that they’re in a place where –
Amanda: That could kill them!
Sarah: – if they are stupid, the land will kill them.
Amanda: Oh yeah. I mean –
Sarah: It cuts down on a lot of extraneous bullshit.
Amanda: I liked it a lot because for romantic suspense, I was just, like, getting tired of, like, oh –
Sarah: There is a serial killer. No, there’s a serial killer; it’s a –
Amanda: – government super soldiers and they’ve been augmented, and I’m like, oh bleah.
Sarah: I really liked the fact that they did have an actual human danger that was pursuing them and that sometimes that human danger was actually ept? Not inept, but capable. Like, they didn’t screw up all the time; it wasn’t like they were being chased by idiots. But the other danger that was working against them was the fact that they were in Antarctica and the land would kill them –
Amanda: I do –
Sarah: – if they were dumb!
Amanda: I do love a – and I think we have a Rec League for this too – I do love a story where it’s like the couple versus, like, the environment.
Sarah: Oh yeah! That creates a really good tension, because again, it boils down to absolute essentials. What are the essentials we need to survive? What are the essentials we need to get along? And if you, if, if you have to put up with some annoying personality quirks in order to survive, you will –
Amanda: No, I’m going to just murder them and eat them for sustenance in –
Sarah: But don’t forget, there’s a limited time before, you know, full rigor sets in where their body heat, you can just crawl in their intestines and keep warm for a little while.
Amanda: Tauntaun fantasy come to life right there.
Sarah: Yeah! Amanda slipping in –
Sarah: Amanda likes intestines; it’ll be the title of this episode.
Amanda: When I was in high school, I was so tiny that I could fit into a pillow case?
Amanda: And, like, I have a, I have a photo of my boyfriend at the time holding me up, and I’m, like, inside a pillow case.
Amanda: So I feel like I could –
Sarah: So you could theoretically fit inside someone –
Amanda: I could make it work!
Sarah: – abdominal cavity.
Amanda: Yeah! I could make it work. Just move all the stuff out of there; you know, clean house a little bit.
Sarah: You’re dead! You don’t need this!
Amanda: Marie Kondo the inside of –
Sarah: Gall bladder: it’s optional! Get out!
Amanda: Does this rib cage spark joy? No!
Sarah: [Laughs] Picture you in there with some mallets playing the xylophone on the ribs – [hums short tune]
Sarah: [Hums more] That’s my new ring tone.
Amanda: This does spark joy! Okay, keeping the ribs.
Amanda: But those are –
Amanda: Yeah, those are the recs that I have. They’re not a lot.
Sarah: Those are good recs! Those are very good recs!
Sarah: I know it’s, it’s not your jam –
Sarah: – but I’m very much an internal, emotional conflict reader. I like when the conflict is you’ve got to work your shit out, but the shit can’t be so large that it’s not work-out-able without serious therapeutic intervention.
Amanda: It’s so interesting, ‘cause I’m not a big internal conflict person, because, like –
Sarah: Oh, I very much am.
Amanda: – it’s in-, because I feel like in terms of, like, mental health stuff, like, you know, we’re both supporters and advocates for therapy and stuff like that and, like, working your shit out –
Amanda: – and, but, like, I don’t want to see a, anyone else working their shit out. It’s like, I’m trying to work my own shit out; I don’t need to worry about your fictional shit on top of my shit. You know, I’d rather have, like, the world is going to explode! I’d rather that be –
Sarah: If we don’t bone! [Laughs]
Amanda: I know! If we smooch, some, the prophecy will be fulfilled and the world will go dark for eight hundred years.
Sarah: I mean, sounds great.
Amanda: [Laughs] So internal conflict is hard, because I’m thinking like, get on some antidepressants and go to a fucking therapist, you idiots!
Sarah: [Laughs] This is why the shit has to be work-out-able without the need for long-term therapeutic intervention, ‘cause that would be a very long book. I would like to point out –
Sarah: – that when we stream and we play Stardew, what are you doing?
Amanda: [Laughs] What do you mean, what am I doing?
Sarah: You have a sword and you’re killing shit that wants to kill you. Your whole Stardew play is all about external conflict. You want to go thwart the things that want to kill you. What am I doing?
Amanda: Making friends! [Laughs]
Sarah: Growing plants and making friends! And I’m looking for cut scenes. So I am noodling around the farm and petting all the chickens and harvesting the crops and making random shit that I can then go out and give to people because I am after the interpersonal relationships in this game, whereas you are, give me the sword, going to the mines, going to kill some slimes.
Amanda: I, look, I’m eradicating the local ecology is what I’m doing. It’s like – [laughs] –
Sarah: Right! You are all about the external conflicts of Stardew Valley, and I am about the internal, interpersonal – and, and we both dislike very much that there’s very little mental health and pastoral care in Stardew Valley. They have a –
Amanda: Oh my God.
Sarah: – serious problem –
Amanda: Oh my God.
Sarah: – with their mayor. Like, we have, we have –
Amanda: Oh my God.
Sarah: – we have whole designs about the political system, but when we’re playing day-to-day inside the game, you’re all about the external conflict. The game will end if you don’t slay those slimes.
Sarah: Whereas I’m like, let me go make friends with people, ‘cause more cut scenes. I’ll give you things that you like. Oh, I will –
Amanda: But I think that’s why –
Sarah: – bring you this thing that you like because you like it!
Amanda: I think that’s why it works so well, though, right? ‘Cause, like, you get to –
Sarah: Oh, for sure!
Amanda: Like, we’re not really like, you know, stepping on each other’s toes or whatever.
Sarah: No! We have turf in this game, and it’s complementary.
Amanda: Yeah! Also –
Sarah: I can’t go in the casino, though, because I didn’t unlock the casino quest?
Sarah: But when you unlock a level in the mines, I just jump down five levels. I’m like, oh, this chest –
Sarah: – gives me some boots! And this next chest gave me some swords! Right, it works out!
Amanda: And we re-, we reap the benefits. You, like, cook things so I can go into the mines.
Sarah: Right, exactly!
Amanda: I go into the mines and unlock levels so then –
Amanda: – you can get the loot from the le- – it’s effective!
Sarah: I got boots. Yeah, it totally works. It is a, it is a complementary set of priorities that works, but you are all about the external conflict, and I am all about the internal conflict even in Stardew!
Amanda: Yeah. It’s very true. I do, I do love swinging my sword around!
Sarah: Had another breakthrough.
Amanda: Another breakthrough!
Amanda: Yeah, I don’t – I need more sci-fi romances, by the way. I, like, I feel like publishing hasn’t caught up yet with my need. So I need more high-stakes, the world is going to end –
Sarah: Space romance.
Amanda: – smooch- – yeah – smooching.
Sarah: Have you, have you depleted the store of Reylo fanfic?
Amanda: I am pretty caught up –
Amanda: – on the things that I’ve been reading, and, and Dramione fanfic, Draco and Hermione.
Sarah: [Hermione voice] It’s not transphobia; it’s transphobia.
Amanda: And, yeah, and I feel like I’ve gone through the recommendations we’ve gotten in the past. It’s like, I need some deep cuts at this point. [Laughs]
Sarah: Well, maybe we need to do a Rec League of The World Will End If We Don’t Bone.
Amanda: Yeah, and –
Sarah: Because that’s not necessarily a specific genre, but the mechanic of the world ending is going to happen most likely in paranormal and science fiction and fantasy, because then the world mechanic of the world actually being able to end doesn’t usually show up a lot in contemporary romance, you know.
Amanda: I, I know –
Sarah: The world keeps on going. Someone –
Amanda: Yeah –
Sarah: – there’s always another cupcake-bakery-cum-bookshop slash –
Amanda: [Laughs] bakery-cum-bookshop.
Sarah: Yeah! [Laughs] Slash coffee shop!
Amanda: Like wedding planner – [laughs] – small-town lawyer –
Sarah: Do you know, you know, I just realized something? There are a lot of book descriptions where I read about one of the characters’ professions, and I’m like, oh, that’s too much people. [Laughs] How sad is that?
Amanda: Is dukes to historical romance as wedding planners to contemporary romance?
Sarah: Ohhh, good question. ‘Cause all of those are, like, character archetype shorthands, right. Like –
Sarah: – duke implies wealth, power, influence, network, social status –
Amanda: Event planning is, like, type A, super organized, detail-oriented –
Sarah: But also, it’s a form of personal caretaking to be –
Sarah: Like, you know this as a person who coordinates even virtual events, when you plan an event, you are anticipating the comfort and enjoyment of other people. It’s a form of caretaking.
Sarah: So, like, if I am hosting Thanksgiving, I will look at my dining room and be like, all right, what is every-, what do I need here so everyone is comfortable and enjoys the meal? If you are doing a book event, you’re like, what is the, what is the thing that you want people to experience? What is the, what are the needs that you need to anticipate before the thing happens? So event planning, wedding planning, all that kind of thing is still gathering and people caring for – I could have said that better. Caring for people? Yeah, that’s the right word.
Sarah: That’s how those words go! Good job, Brain! [Laughs]
Amanda: It was a long road, but we got there.
Sarah: But I got there. You know what I mean!
Sarah: So all of that is archetype, archetype shorthand for caretaking in some way. It’s still a form of meeting the needs of people in a specific situation or gathering. And there are, there are some, some professions, I look at them and I’m like, oh, that’s too much people. Bleah, people. No people.
Amanda: Just thinking about, like, running a small brick-and-mortar business sounds exhausting.
Sarah: Well, I have a small business, but it is not brick-and-mortar, but it is work!
Amanda: So – yeah! It is work!
Sarah: It is a lot of work!
Amanda: I mean, whoo! I’m like, it’s nice; the fantasy of, like, owning your own bakery or bookshop or whatever is nice, but the logistics!
Sarah: Oh yeah!
Sarah: And it’s – okay, so don’t get me wrong. I – ‘cause we were talking about this in the stream recently, about, you know, it’s okay to try things! Try things: they don’t have to be, they don’t have to be the only thing you ever do forever. So I am a slightly different generation than you.
Amanda: One, just one up.
Sarah: Yeah, but I’m the tail end of, of Gen X, and I came out of college in a completely different economy, in a completely different job market. I bought a house when I was twenty-five. Like, it’s a completely different world. So basic, with the, with the acknowledgement that the world that I entered as an “adult” is a different world than the world that exists right now. I was –
Amanda: Yeah, I mean, I’ve, I’ve eaten two things of avocado toast, so that means I’ll never own a home.
Sarah: Well, now you’re fucked.
Amanda: I’m fucked! All –
Amanda: All of my savings went to avocado toast!
Sarah: Oh God! So with that understanding, I arrived in a job market where it was before the gig economy, but there was a lot of Find Your Purpose! Make your purpose your job! Find the work that you love! Make your job your passion! Like, there was a lot of that bullshit, because, well, it was a completely different economy, and you could choose things, right? So I am a person who, up until this became my full-time job, I was a secretary, ‘cause I was real good at organizing other people. Like, nine other people, one calendar? Not a problem. And one thing I think that people don’t really understand is that administrative work is a skill set, not everybody has it, and part of administrative organization is, much like event planning, anticipating the needs of people before they get there so everything is set. So I came out of the, of college and went into grad school and entered the job market, where there was a lot of talk about, like, Find Your Purpose! Make your purpose your job! And that’s only gotten worse? But that turned into the gig economy of, you know, cobble together nine different jobs so that you can make a living.
Amanda: Oh yeah, like, hustle culture and the gig economy –
Sarah: So toxic.
Amanda: – is a nightmare –
Amanda: – and I feed into it. I have like a zillion things that I’m doing to make money. It is exhausting, and I mean, this is something that I’ve talked about with, like, my therapist, my friends, and you and just, like, you know, I say yes to things even though I probably shouldn’t because of my limited time, but, you know, like, I feel like my generation – I’m a Millennial –
Sarah: And I will forever stan for Millennials, by the way; I don’t tolerate any anti-Millennial bullshit.
Amanda: Thank you! [Laughs]
Sarah: And I will tell you, as someone raising two members of Gen Z, they’re pretty fucking awesome!
Amanda: Good! But I feel like Millennials get, like, the blame for a lot of things.
Sarah: Oh yeah! Yeah, and everyone ignores Gen X; it’s great.
Amanda: We, we ruined –
Sarah: They just forgot we –
Amanda: – the napkin industry and industries I didn’t even know existed, we somehow ruined.
Sarah: They were, they were not adaptive. It’s not your fault.
Amanda: But it’s just like, you know, I feel like for Millennials, we kind of, the, the pervasive motto is like, you could always be doing more. You know what I mean? Like –
Sarah: Oh yeah! It’s part of the “laziness lie.”
Amanda: Yeah! Like, what are you doing?
Sarah: You could always be doing more. You can always be doing more. Mm-mm.
Amanda: Yeah, like, you, you have this spare moment in your day. Like, what are you doing to make it productive? And it’s like, I just want to lie here in my bed! Is that –
Sarah: That is productive!
Amanda: I know, but, like –
Sarah: Rest is a weapon!
Amanda: When, like –
Sarah: It’s hard to undo that messaging. It’s so hard to undo that messaging.
Amanda: Yeah! We don’t see as, like, taking a nap is being productive, or, like, playing a videogame is being productive. Like, physical examples of productivity that can be, like, measured are clearly valued more than psychological or emotional – what are you laughing at?
Sarah: All right, so, so you know I have my little traveler’s notebook, right?
Amanda: [Laughs] Yes!
Sarah: So I track four habits.
Sarah: Right? Here’s February. Four habits. ‘Cause I try to go easy on myself. Did I meditate? Did I do yoga or go on the treadmill? Did I work out in some way? Did I read? And did I play or create? So I value play and create and relax and play videogames or sew or quilt or whatever, but I’m still tracking it on a productivity matrix!
Amanda: [Laughs] If you can’t –
Sarah: So yeah. No one’s immune. [Laughs]
Amanda: If you can’t physically look at it, did you really even do it?
Sarah: Did I draw the bubble? If I didn’t draw the bubble, then I didn’t correctly play. Oh, for the love of God! I mean, but, but you know what? It helps me think, okay, this is important. So on one hand, this is important: I need to make sure that I spend some time of my day doing goofy shit! I need to play Witcher 3 and kill some bandits and loot their pants for chicken sandwiches! This is important –
Sarah: – to my productivity. On the other hand, I’m tracking it in a productivity tracker! [Sputters]
Sarah: Gah! I see the paradox is what I’m trying to say here.
Amanda: Yeah! Yeah! You’re right: none of us are immune. We –
Sarah: No! Not at all!
Amanda: We all find ways of, like, tracking, whether, like, you’re trying to gamify, you know, your shit or whatever or, you know, use a fancy app, it’s still the same.
Sarah: I have a tracker for what my hair is doing.
Sarah: And I’m a very lazy-ass bullet journal-er, by the way. This, I’ve had this one notebook? This notebook goes back to December of 2017. So I’ve been working on this one for a while. Check out, check out my overachieving ass in December of 2017. Look at this bullshit!
Amanda: Oh my gosh! It’s color-coded and everything!
Sarah: Oh, was I, was I making progress? Did I avoid wheat? Did I do pushups? Did I meditate? Did I read? Did I eat vegetarian? Did I study language? Did I do some – God, Sarah, calm down!
Amanda: What, it’s like, what was life like in December of 2017? [Laughs]
Sarah: I was a lot more fussy about my HabiTracker, as opposed to now, where it’s just a dot and it’s four things. And I try not to make myself track more than four, because then I just get anxious about whether I’m meeting my productivity goals with my little dots, which is just bananas! Let’s be real!
Amanda: Linus, what are you doing?
Sarah: He’s doing something!
Amanda: I don’t know – come here!
Sarah: Wait a minute.
Amanda: Come here, big boy!
Amanda: Just, like, we went on a tangent.
Sarah: As usual. But before we go, we do have a new thing happening tonight!
Sarah: I mean, this’ll be up on Friday, but it will have already happened, and I might have a sample from tonight’s show in this podcast –
Sarah: – at the end of the podcast. I mean –
Sarah: – this is just very podcast inception, folks; I’m really sorry. But every Tuesday night at 7:30 Eastern time, Amanda and I are going to be live on Stereo, which you can download at stereo.com/smartbitches.
Sarah: And we’re going to do oversharing, and I just want you to know – hang on, I’ve got to reach behind my recording box here – I have a deck of question cards called Oversharing.
Amanda: Oversharing! Okay!
Sarah: Oversharing cards, so if we, like –
Sarah: – run out of things to overshare about, I have questions.
Amanda: Okay! And you can, for anyone listening –
Amanda: – you can submit us live questions!
Sarah: We want to hear your answers –
Sarah: – to the oversharing questions. You can record a little voice memo, and then we’ll play it on the show. Now, technically, I’m supposed to designate a moderator who will vet – they say, nonononono, we’re not doing that. We’re just going to play it, so you can say whatever the heck you want; we’ll just be like, oh, okay! But if you say something gross I might stop it. But I am trusting you –
Sarah: – not to say something gross. People who listen to us are not gross at all. Ask us questions that are going to be hard to answer, like math ones.
Amanda: I will, I will answer anything. I have no boundaries.
Sarah: I am aware.
Amanda: [Laughs] I probably –
Sarah: I have a few, but only because my children are on the internet and, you know.
Sarah: I already have enough of a presence on the internet that, like –
Sarah: – like, at one point –
Amanda: That’s fair.
Sarah: – my older son’s friends were like, we, we googled your mom. He’s like, oh shit. [Laughs]
Amanda: Why did you do that?
Sarah: Well, they’re like, did you know she’s an author? He’s like, yeah. And he’s, like, waiting, and like, and we found her website. He’s like, yeah, there it is.
Sarah: Sorry, dude! However, they’re allowed to curse in my house ‘cause mail arrives to the house that says Bitches on it, so it’s kind of like, all right, well, that’s off the table.
Amanda: Yeah. I mean, when I visit my parents, I, I don’t know, I feel, I feel like curse words are –
Sarah: Low stakes.
Amanda: They’re, like, superfluous; like, who cares? Like, who decided, like, fuck was a bad word and you can’t say it?
Sarah: Many people.
Amanda: But, like, why? Why? What’s so bad about it?
Sarah: I don’t know, but if, if you’ve ever looked at the, the linguistic etymology of curse words in different languages, they have a lot of sounds in common. There’s specific fricatives and explosives and vowel sounds that –
Amanda: Like CKs.
Sarah: Yeah, exactly!
Sarah: The, the sounds, those sounds coming out of your mouth actually create serotonin and relaxation chemicals in your brain, because you’re releasing the tension through the sounds of those words.
Amanda: I think there’s a Netflix series that I’ve been meaning to watch on, like, the history of curse words.
Sarah: Words are cool; I’m a big fan.
Amanda: Yeah! But I’m one of those people that, I, I’m pretty good at knowing when is appropriate to use them.
Sarah: That is a thing that I am teaching as a parent.
Amanda: Yeah! I mean –
Sarah: Especially in virtual schooling when my kid goes from playing videogames with his friends, which cursing, to –
Sarah: – virtual class! Not cursing.
Amanda: It gets easier with practice.
Sarah: Oh, for sure!
Amanda: It does, yeah.
Sarah: It gets easier with time and knowledge and, you know, understanding.
Amanda: Yeah. The more, the more you curse, I feel like, the easier it gets to know when is the right –
Sarah: The more you curse the better you feel! So say curse words at every meal!
Amanda: [Laughs] Say your curse words at every meal.
Sarah: Okay, so can I tell you something that I have been trying not to mention ‘cause I feel so bad?
Amanda: Yeah. Where are you, Linus?
Sarah: You, you, you have a typo in your screen name on Stereo. When I screen-capped it I noticed; it’s _imamadult.
Sarah: [Laughs] Yes, it’s so awesome!
Amanda: No! It’s not awesome!
Sarah: It’s excellent! What are you talking about? It’s terrific!
Amanda: No! I’m editing it right now.
Sarah: No, don’t! I have –
Amanda: I’m, no, I’m doing it!
Sarah: No, you can’t! No!
Amanda: I’m doing it right now! Why wouldn’t you tell me?!
Sarah: Because I had thought if you had to change it it would break it, and you would lose all your followers!
Amanda: Ah, damn it!
Sarah: Can’t change it?
Sarah: Oh no! [Laughs]
Sarah: Oh, bugger; I’m sorry. [Sniffs]
Amanda: No! [Laughs] This is the worst thing that ever happened to me!
Sarah: [Laughs] Sorry! I should have just left it be and let people be like, why is Amanda – I don’t know.
Amanda: Damn it! Oh God.
Amanda: Fine! I’m going to live with that for the rest of my life.
Sarah: And that brings us to the end of this week’s episode, but we have so much fun stuff planned for what happens right now, so don’t go anywhere! I’ve got audiobook samples and samples of our Stereo broadcast, and I got so many cool things to sare, share, and I can’t even talk about it, but thank you, Kate, for emailing us.
If you would like to email us and tell us all the things, we love hearing from you! You can email us at [email protected]. We love giving book recommendations, and it’s really fun to hear what you’re doing when you listen.
Now, as I mentioned, Amanda and I are also doing after parties! Woohoo! Live shows Tuesday evening, 7:30 p.m. Eastern on Stereo. Just go to stereo.com/smartbitches to get started. We get to bring you extra live content, we interact with you during the show, and, you know, provide extra mayhem and silliness. Stereo can be downloaded for free. Once you download the app you get to create your avatar, and then during the live broadcasts, you get to submit audio messages to join in the conversation! So like I said, if you ever catch yourself trying to talk with us, now you can! Super awesome! Here is a sample of what that was like in our latest episode with, hello, one of my friends from college, Claudia.
Sarah: Claudia is back. Let’s see what we’ve got here.
Claudia: Sarah, I actually have a pro tip for you: get a heated throw from Amazon.
Claudia: They actually have them; they have, like, the little feet pockets in them, and –
Claudia: – since I have chronic pain, it’s better than the heating pad because it can go over your shoulders, it can go over your legs. It’s amazing. But, yes, heated throw: it’s small enough to be used in the office and has a little bit less direct heat than, you know –
Claudia: – putting your butt on the heating pad all day, which sometimes can grow uncomfortable.
Sarah: Okay, first –
Amanda: Claudia coming through with a life hack right here!
Sarah: Okay, so did you hear the Instant Pot in the background?
Amanda: I did. Yeah, I’ve heard that –
Amanda: – screaming.
Sarah: Instant Pot would like to add to this conversation by saying, hello! Dinner’s ready!
Amanda: So –
Sarah: I didn’t know that there were heated, heated throws with foot pockets? Foot pockets!
Amanda: That’s amazing. Someone needs to get that person the Nobel.
Sarah: Oh, right?
Amanda: But so you have the heating pad, and what I just got today, because I’m spending a lot more time at my desk working from home – us-, I miss going out to, like, a coffee shop and doing work – but I got a back massager, a heated back massager that straps to the back of my chair, and it’s, it’s, I, like, ripped it open out of the box and immediately started using it. It’s so good.
Sarah: So if you think that sounds like a whole lot of fun – and thank you, Claudia, for the heated throw recommendation with pockets for your feet, holy cow! – join us Tuesdays at 7:30 p.m. Eastern, stereo.com/smartbitches. You can download the app and then record audio messages and listen to us live every Tuesday, 7:30 p.m. Eastern, stereo.com/smartbitches!
Now, as always, I will not let you down: I have a joke. But before I get to the joke I have to tell you that there is a sample of Erica Ridley’s new book The Duke Heist in audio right after I’m done talking! So if you would like to try out the audiobook, don’t do anything; just relax and sit exactly where you are. You will get an audiobook sample of The Duke Heist by Erica Ridley, and if you buy the book you can register your purchase at ericaridley.com and you get a free bonus novella! Woohoo!
And now, it is bo-, it is, it is, yeah, it is, it is bad joke time. It is; I’m sorry. This is, this is a really, really bad one. I got many groans for this one, so of course I saved it. Are you ready? Okay, here’s your bad joke:
Did you know that in Germany, when someone is diagnosed with celiac disease, all the other celiacs gather around and chase them and try to hit them with bread to make them feel welcomed?
It’s called the Gluten Tag.
[Laughs] Gluten Tag! Somebody out there speaks German and is now so mad at me, it’s amazing. Gluten Tag! [Laughs more] So terrible, I love it!
[Clears throat] Okay, back to serious podcaster – I am not one of those, sorry. That’s probably why you listen! [Laughs]
On behalf of everyone here, we wish you the very, very best of reading and a wonderful weekend! And don’t forget, stay tuned for an audiobook sample of The Duke Heist by Erica Ridley, coming up in like twelve whole seconds!
Smart Podcast, Trashy Books is part of the Frolic Podcast Network. You can find more outstanding podcasts to subscribe to at frolic.media/podcasts.
Now, do not move. Stay exactly where you are: it’s audiobook time.
[Excerpt of The Duke Heist by Erica Ridley]
This podcast transcript was handcrafted with meticulous skill by Garlic Knitter. Many thanks.
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The best historical snowed-in romance I’ve ever read is Katharine Ashe’s When a Scot Loves a Lady…it’s also my favorite of hers so far. They are snowed in in an inn in the central part of the book and that’s where they fall in love, but there are other characters with them (it is an inn). Love this very underrated romance!
Jackie Lau has a Christmas-y snowed in novella as well–A Second Chance Roadtrip for Christmas–which I liked a lot because I think reunited lovers makes a lot of sense for novella length and also the conflict that kept them apart was not so serious it couldn’t be resolved in the length of a novella. Probably too low-stakes for Amanda, but it’s currently my favorite of the Holiday with the Wongs so far, at least in part because Greg is relatable in his grumpiness. (I’m saving the Valentine’s Day one for next week!)
As for other snow-forced-proximity romances, I did really like Whiteout (although the more typical conspiracy-related suspense elements felt a little silly). The main couple was great! I’ll have to check out more of the recs here.
Also, I unabashedly love Speed. It turns my brain off in a great way where I am not at all inclined to pick at any issues and I can just suspend all disbelief. Of course Young Keanu and Young Sandra fall in love in a high-adrenaline situation! I pretend the sequel never happened.
Also, as I work in a field regulated by the SEC, I might have to check out the SEC examiner book, thanks for putting it on my radar!
I’m late posting this, but a “hell YES” to SNOWSPELLED. It was on my best of list in 2019 and it’s so so good. My only complaint is that it’s not longer. I adore Cassandra and Wrexham and Burgis writes GREAT fae dialogue/plot points.
Simply Unforgettable by Mary Balogh starts with the two main characters getting snowed in after a carriage accident. It’s one of my favorite Baloghs of all time, and I want to second the recommendation for When a Scot Loves a Lady, which is also my favorite Ashe!
Not exactly snowed in, but Alyssa Cole’s Radio Silence immediately jumped to mind. There is a lot of snow and the isolation create a forced proximity relationship.
Avery Flynn’s Loud Mouth is a contemporary snowed in romance – without a holiday connection, just a winter blizzard. It’s part of her Ice Knights series, so has hockey connections, but also a great set of girlfriends.