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Season 1

S1E10: Three audiobooks I hated (that everyone else loved)

Yup. Everybody else loved these books. I hated em.

Go ahead and admit it. You’ve already scrolled down and peeked. I just picked on one of your babies and you’re pissed. 

It’s all good. We don’t all like the same things. But I bet you’re dying to find out why I hated these so much I did a podcast about them. Well sister, listen on! And don’t be shy about leaving me a comment. =)

Books mentioned in this podcast

Wrong by Jana Aston

Contemporary, Virgin/Gynecologist, College (young New Adult)

See it on Audible


His Turn by J.A. Huss

Contemporary, Menage, D/s, Enemies-to-lovers

See my review on: Audible (“Not really a romance and not all that sexy” by DaVinciKittie)


Misadventures with a Professor by Sierra Simone

Contemporary, Virgin/Professor, Strangers-to-lovers

See it on Audible

Join the discussion

Have you read any of these books? Loved em? Hated em? Think the author is just the best ever? Leave a comment below and let me know your thoughts!

S1E9: Kindle Unlimited books we’re hoarding [tipsy episode]

We have a secret. We’ve been hoarding books!

Sooo, that probably comes as no surprise to any romance reader, ever. But it’s the sad truth of the obsession. We all love the possibility of the stories, yet we have such limited time. Right? If you know what I’m talking about, this is the episode for you. Listen as we chat about the books that have been languishing in our Kindle Unlimited libraries… for years.

Oh! We also go on a rant about Facebook. If you’ve ever raged against the social machine, you’ll enjoy the last part of this chat! 

Books mentioned in this podcast

The Escort’s Tale, an MMF bisexual romance by MJ Edwards

Contemporary, Disability, Menage

See it on: Amazon

Vampire Claus by Robert Winter

Contemporary, Gay romance, vampires, Christmas

See it on: Amazon

Instauration by Sarah Lyons Fleming

Apocalyptic, Zombies

See it on:  Amazon

Honeymoon For One by Keira Andrews

Contemporary, Gay romance, May-December, Australia

See it on: Amazon

Lights Out Lucy by Elicia Hyder

Contemporary, Young/New Adult, Roller Derby

See it on: Amazon

The Other End of the Leash by NJ Cole and Oliver Durant

Contemporary, BDSM, Lifestyle D/s

See it on: Amazon

Breaking Meredith: A Dark Romance (Disciples Book #4) by Izzy Sweet and Sean Moriarty

Contemporary, Dark Romance, BDSM, DubCon

See it on: Amazon

The King’s Spinster Bride by Ruby Dixon

Fantasy, Dark Romance, DubCon

See it on: Amazon

Accidental Daddies: A Contemporary Romance Box Set by RR Banks

Contemporary, Surprise baby, Anthology

See it on: Amazon

Night of the Monrok: A Reverse Harem Romance by Aubrey Cara

SciFi, Menage, Reverse harem

See it on: Amazon

Defying the Odds (Battered Hearts #1) by Kele Moon

?? (How to classify this? I’m not sure.. Sherrryyyyll??)

See it on: Amazon

Jumping Jude (A Made Marian romance) by Lucy Lennox

Contemporary, bodyguard (?), rock star

See it on: Amazon

Overflow (The Carpino Series) by Brynne Asher

Contemporary, Mafia

See it on: Amazon

Broken by Nicola Haken

Contemporary, CEO, gay romance

See it on: Amazon

Seeking Her Mates by Carina Wilder

Paranormal romance, Dragon shifters, reverse harem

See it on: Amazon

Guardian by Sierra Riley

Contemporary, Bodyguard, gay romance

See it on: Amazon

Barbarian’s Rescue (Ice Planet Barbarians #15) by Ruby Dixon

SciFi, Alien, Alpha males

See it on: Amazon

Full Domain (Nice Guys #3) by Kindle Alexander

Contemporary, Tattoos, US Marshall, NSA, Romantic suspense, gay romance

See it on: Amazon

Cut Wide Open by Abby McCarthy

Contemporary, Motorcycle club (MC)

See it on: Amazon

King by T.M. Frazier

Contemporary, Criminal past, New Adult

See it on: Amazon

Join the discussion

Have you read any of these books? Loved em? Hated em? Think the author is just the best ever? Leave a comment below the transcript and let us know your thoughts!

Episode transcript

You’re listening to infatuated. The podcast for romance readers who just can’t get enough.

Hey there and welcome to the Infatuated Podcast. This is Season 1 Episode 9. I am your host Sue Brown-Moore, and today’s episode is going to be a little bit different than usual. If you’re a frequent listener you know that we love to talk about books, especially romance books, because that’s kind of our thing. But in this episode we’re talking less about books and more about the idea of books, the promise of book. And I should also be straight up with you that we’re pretty drunk. Seriously, I mean this is probably not a surprise to anybody who’s listened to us before because we love our wine, but we did have a bit to drink before we started the podcast.

So you’re not imagining the slurs and the giggles, but it’s fun and I hope you’ll stay tuned at the end of the episode to find out what’s coming up next on the Infatuated Podcast. And without any further ado, let’s go straight into it.

[00:01:12.30] – Sue
Okay. So today Sheryl and I are hanging out and we were just randomly talking about our Kindle Unlimited lists, which are constantly full because you know you only get 10. And so I said, let’s just read them off let’s see what we’ve got. And so we started reading them and realized this could be a fun podcast. So we’re just gonna chat and riff about what’s on our queues, and to be clear this is not my backup wish list. Because I have one. This is my actual library, is checked out to me, and some of these have been in here a long freakin time. Sheryl why don’t you start us off, because I think yours is related to mine.

[00:02:00.41] – Sheryl
So the first one I have is by MJ Edwards. It’s called The Escort’s Tale, an MMF bisexual romance.

[00:02:07.85] – Sue
That title is unfortunate, but it’s actually a great read. I just finished it today and I was like I need more. This is so good. And also I wanted it to be a series and I don’t think it’s going to be. This made me a little bit sad, but it’s a really good book.

And so my my first book is about the same author but a different pen name, Robert Winter called Vampire Claus. It’s a short story Christmas novella about a vampire. I am reading so many holiday books right now. I have read so many lately. Like, its Christmas in August and September, is what it is. By the time December gets here I’ll be in Summer Olympics land.

[00:03:02.58] – Sheryl
OK. So my next book. Oh God, I have to say the name again. I cannot pronounce this. I’m a very bad speller by the way. So in it’s Instauration. It’s series book 3 by Sarah Lyons Fleming. It’s a great book. It’s about zombies and the apocalypse. And like, romance—there’s some romance in there.

[00:03:45.26] – Sue
You and your zombie books. Zombies creep me out, I can’t do it.

[00:03:47.33] – Sheryl
Oh yeah no totally. They creep me out as well, but like this book is really… it’s done in a way where you’re not dealing with the flesh eating-ness of it, but dealing with the love aspect of it too. It’s like a romance book with a twist.

[00:04:00.86] – Sue
I mean, is it like the walking dead zombies?

[00:04:09.62] – Sheryl
People can get eaten and they become zombies but it’s not everybody. The people that you root for I think get the happy endings which is really nice. Well that’s important in romance.

[00:04:24.06] – Sue
We’re not talking about The Walking Dead, though, right? I dislike zombies in general so that’s a big turnoff right there. But also it’s all politics. It all becomes human survivalist politics and that doesn’t make me happy. Like yeah it’s escapist but it’s not the kind of escapist I really want. I want to forget about my life and go somewhere totally different that’s happy.

[00:04:51.91] – Sheryl
I would I would I would definitely take a boat to an island. I’d go back to the motherland, well my parents motherland of Fiji, and kick all the zombies off and make them swim away or drown them or burn their bodies. I’d live on a perfect island. I’d have like goats, cows, chickens.

[00:05:08.43] – Sue
Wait, so we can kick the zombies off? Because why don’t they just do that? That’s it. That wasn’t the solution right there.

[00:05:24.21] – Sheryl
Like New York has what like billions of people?

[00:05:28.65] – Sue
Don’t use logic, don’t use logic. Okay. Too much wine for logic. Next. Number two on my list and my Kindle Unlimited library is Honeymoon For One, May-December gay romance by Keira Andrews. I really like this author. There’s an ice skater romance that she has, which is one of my favorites, and so I’m really looking forward to this one as soon as I finish Vampire Claus. Because vampires.

[00:05:56.13] – Sheryl
So my next one is Lights Out Lucy: Roller Derby 101 by Elicia Hyder and it is the Music City Rollers series.

[00:06:07.68] – Sue
I’m really excited to read this book because those girls are hardcore they’re badass.

[00:06:14.79] – Sheryl
Yeah I was a little afraid of some of them. #NightsWithFury #LadyFury

[00:06:25.85] – Sue
Okay next one on my list is The Other End of the Leash by NJ Cole and Oliver Durant. This one is about a couple who is in the 24/7 lifestyle, I think, and the dom has to leave for whatever reason so he transfers his dominance to another guy, another dom, and it’s a struggle of… they bond, couple bonds during this time, so can the guy give up his temporary submissive at the end?What’s going to happen? I don’t know but it looks interesting.

[00:07:00.44] – Sheryl
My next one is Breaking Meredith: A dark romance (Disciples Book 4) by Izzy Sweet and Sean Moriarty.

[00:07:08.21] – Sue
That sounds super familiar. What is that about?

[00:07:10.67] – Sheryl
So it’s mafia. Well, the series… Each has different women and a different person in the Mafia. You could argue that the head of the mafia is the muscles whatever and I think one of the books that I really liked was the very first one where it was the head of the Mafia. He going back to collect a debt. And the guy basically says, take my wife and kids. That’s my debt to you. And this guy was like totally into the woman. So he basically took her options away, took the kids, made the kids his own, and she eventually was okay with it because she realized he was taken care of.

[00:07:49.55] – Sue
So… you can’t see my face right now, but it is, like, big eyes. My mouth is an “O”, like Oh my God. Seriously… What??

[00:07:59.87] – Sheryl
I’m telling you I know you’re not into mafia books but I think you might get into this one it’s pretty good. I’ve read, I think, three of the books already and this one is a little bit more of a harder one for me to get into because I didn’t like the heroine, and I think that’s what’s given me kind of a hesitancy in reading this book. I like the guy but I don’t really like the girl. She seems like a spoiled brat. She doesn’t really get anything, but again, as a reader you see a different story to the what the actual story is for her as a character.

[00:08:42.74] – Sue
My next book is The King’s spinster bride by Ruby Dixon. This has been on my list forever.

[00:08:54.68] – Sheryl
I love Ruby, loved her.

[00:08:57.53] – Sheryl
I’m not even sure I’ve read…. Have I read Ruby Dixon?

[00:08:59.96] – Sheryl
You have not I haven’t. I’ve been trying to get you to read the barbarian books.

[00:09:05.81] – Sue
Is it the ones on the frost planet. Yes. Not Hoth. This book, I keep trying to take it off my list. Every time I come across something else, I’m like Oh want to read that, but it’s KU, do I have room, can I get something off? And then I go to my list and I look at everything, and every time I look at this one I’m like, No. That looks really interesting! I really want to read that. So it stays. It’s been on here for two years!

[00:09:32.82] – Sheryl
So the next one is the reason we’re doing this podcast. [giggling] Because we couldn’t keep it straight face. So the author is RR Banks. It’s called Accidental Daddies, a contemporary romance box set. Yes, I bought a box set, and yes it’s called Accidental Daddies.

[00:10:02.13] – Sue

[00:10:02.96] – Sheryl
I don’t know, I was in a daddy mood one night and I went for it. I don’t know why it’s still sitting there.

[00:10:10.15] – Sue
This title is hilarious. Okay what’s great about this title. I can’t even open my I’m laughing so hard I’m squinting. What’s great about this title is that it tells you exactly what you’re getting. If you’re into that kind of book, that is your anthology. I am super curious how this turns out. My ears are crackling I’m laughing so hard.

[00:10:32.34] – Sheryl
This has been sitting there for a while. And I have not opened it. Well at this point I think, do I really want to read this?

[00:10:40.76] – Sue
Well I think it’s worth a look. Based on the title. [more laughing] Oh my God. Okay. Well, staying in the realm of the weird, my next one’s Night of the Monrok by Aubrey Cara, a reverse harem romance. I’m pretty sure it’s a sci fi four or five on one.

[00:11:06.62] – Sheryl
Come on look, I’ve read a few reverse harems and I like them. But there are some that are kind of just like oh there’s 10 guys. What hole are you filling? How many holes do I have for you?

[laughing] Too much wine. So. Okay. Reverse Harem is one of those things that I love and hate in equal measures and here’s why. I love the idea of a reverse harem.

I like the idea of the woman being the center of this group of men who all find her fantastically attractive. However it also kind of brings me back to Anita Blake Vampire Hunter, with the magical vagina, where all the dudes want her, all the girls want her. But why? Is it because she’s a succubus. Is it because she’s sexy. I don’t know, who knows? Everybody wants Anita.

Yeah it’s a little bit weird. But in most of these stories there’s a setup for it. So she’s auctioned off and it’s on some planet where there’s not many females and the men have to share.

Okay I get the logic. I get how the built the worlds are built, but why can’t the men be together? Why are almost all reverse harems where the men are never together with each other, they’re only with the woman. And I don’t know if that’s realistic completely? And I just I want to see the guys together too, so I like reverse harem, and I enjoy them for what they are but I also really like me some MMF.

[00:12:38.39] – Sheryl
Yeah I agree. Hundred and fifty percent

[00:12:42.08] – Sue
So every time I read a reverse harem, I then have to read an actual MMF menage because I need some guy on guy. All right. Next up, what you got.

[00:12:52.07] – Sheryl
It’s Defying the Odds (Battered hearts book 1) and I’m sorry if I’m saying your name wrong, I don’t want to try to pronounce it. It’s K E L E Moon— K L Kelly Kelly? I was thinking Kelly but I also don’t want to be wrong about that. I don’t remember what this book is about at this point.

[00:13:32.94] – Sue
I have trimmed like ten books I’ve really trimmed like ten books off in the last six months so it’s a new list than it was. OK my next one is Jumping Jude (Made Marion series book 3) by Lucy Lennox. I think this is a bodyguard romance, maybe rock star bodyguard, country music star bodyguard? Something like that.

The cover looks that people are at a concert, but then there’s two shirtless dudes staring at each other, so I don’t know. It’s a gay romance.

[00:14:32.89] – Sheryl
Yeah. So my next book is by Brynne Asher called Overflow: The Carpino Series. I don’t really remember what this is about. I think it’s got a mafia as well, not a hundred percent sure. You’re not going to like my next one.

[00:15:09.90] – Sue
You’d better go. I forgot where I’m at. I’m way out of order. OK I might have to start picking things. Broken by Nikola Hakan. The cover is nice and the guy on the cover kind of reminds me of the guy in the cover of American King by Sierra Simone. He looks like Ash. Which just makes me very interested.

Let’s see. Let’s see when I checked this one out. Borrowed on April 5th 2016. Guys it’s been over two years.

[00:16:37.03] – Sheryl
So my next one is Seeking her Mates, a paranormal dragon shifter romance, Alpha Seekers book 2 by Carina Wilder. It’s a very long title. Yeah. I also keep holding it because the book cover is very hot. It’s two guys on a girl. You guys should check it out. Check it. Finding her mate.

[00:17:13.32] – Sue
My next one is Guardian by Sierra Riley. I think it’s another bodyguard one.It’s also gay romance which is kind of my thing. I love them I love them. When did I borrow this one. Let’s see. March 20th 2016. For date reference, it’s now 2018. So yeah what you got next.

[00:17:54.40] – Sheryl
I have a Barbarian’s Rescue, a sci fi alien romance ,ice planet barbarians book fifteen by Ruby Dixon. The whole series is based off these women that are taken from Earth as prisoners and they are dropped off on a inhabitable planet and they find their mates. And they have to have something called the Kiwi (?) ingested into them to be able to survive on that planet.It is super good and I recommend everybody to read this.

[00:19:03.40] – Sue
My next to last one is Full Domain, Nice Guys novel book 3 by Kendall Alexander. At least two of these have had Reese Dante as the cover artist and I really like her covers. Let’s see when I check this one out. Oh this was in January of 2016. What’s it about? Let’s find out.

Honor integrity and loyalty are how Deputy U.S. Marshal Creed Sinacola lives his life. He’s a former SEAL and he’s now a marshal.

And then the other character—Oh it’s a gay romance. Shocking, yes really shocking—Young full of idealism. He’s an NSA agent. I think it’s gonna be kind of an action venture kind of thing. Maybe it’s another bodyguard romance! Could be fun. All right. What else you got.

[00:21:08.06] – Sheryl
My last book is called Cut Wide Open, a bleeding scars M.C. book one, by Abby McCarthy author, Hang Li illustrator, Nicole Reid editor. The front guy cover is really really hot. He has a shirt on but his haircut makes him look beautiful.

[00:21:42.44] – Sue
I’m not complaining. I like a beautiful beautiful cover too.

[00:21:46.97] – Sheryl
I mean who doesn’t.

[00:21:50.72] – Sue
All right. My last one in my actual Kindle Unlimited library. That’s not counting my wishlist, which is like a totally separate thing that I have to keep up because I don’t have room left, is the King series collection— King and Tyrant by T.M. Frazier. This has been in here since December of 2015. I know guys, I really need to get on this list.

[00:22:17.79] – Sue
Well I guess that’s it for tonight. That was a ton of fun. That was very interesting. I think at some point we should actually read all these books.

[00:22:24.54] – Sheryl
Yeah I’m hoping to.

[SUE NOTE (NOT IN THE AUDIO): Some extra chatter here about Facebook and giveaways and how to get the most out of blogger promos. Sorry, guys, this episode took forever to transcribe! Listen to the audio if you want to hear us being silly. 🙂 ]

Well that’s it for today’s episode. Thank you guys so much for making it all the way to the end. I know we rambled a little bit there at the end. I hope you had a good time listening to us and I hope you tune in for next the next episode. I would say next week but it’s going to be two weeks before it comes out so hang tight in the next episode. We’re going to talk about audiobooks and this is huge for me because if you know anything about my reviewing you know I never ever ever do audio books.

I am so picky guys so picky. But I finally found some audio books that have really turned me on to them and now I’m kind of obsessed. So tune in next time to find out which ones I loved and why you should read them. And also some things about that we’re like OK I liked you but I didn’t like it but maybe it’s for you anyway that’s all for this week. See you next time. Read something sexy!

S1E8: Four romance books that will make you a better person

I dare you to read these stories.

At least one of them will change the way you think about disability, and how you can become a better version of you. And if that sounds too serious for a good, smexy romance book, don’t worry—there are plenty of sexy times to go along with the stellar storytelling. 

Books mentioned in this podcast

The Year We Fell Down (The Ivy Years #1) by Sarina Bowen

Contemporary, Disability, College (New Adult)

See Sue’s review on: GoodReads | Amazon

The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang

Contemporary, Reverse Pretty Woman, Autism

See Sue’s review on: GoodReads | Amazon

It Takes Two (Bridesmaids Behaving Badly #2) by Jenny Holiday

Contemporary, Bridesmaids, Second Chance

See Sue’s review on: GoodReads | Amazon

The Duchess Deal (Girl Meets Duke #1) by Tessa Dare

Regency, Beauty and the Beast, Humor

See Sue’s review on: GoodReads | Amazon

Join the discussion

Have you read any of these books? Loved em? Hated em? Think the author is just the best ever? Leave a comment below the transcript and let us know your thoughts!

Episode transcript

You’re listening to Infatuated, the podcast for romance readers who just can’t get enough.

I’m your host, Sue Brown-Moore, and today I’m talking about four romance books that will make you a better person. Obviously you have to read them, but you’re going to love them. These are some of my favorite books lately and I just loved them so much and they made such an impact on my personal life in the way I see things. And, oh, I can’t even! We’re going to talk about that.

OK. But first I just want to say thank you to all my regular listeners out there. If you’re following us through a subscription or through one of the podcasting platforms then you know that we haven’t been super regular lately. And it just is what it is. But what I’m trying to do is get out Season 2 and I thought that I was done with Season 1, and I thought, we’re going to go ahead and record all these great Season 2 episodes which are going to be fantastic. I’m really excited, you guys are going to love these. Season 2 is basically me and my friend Sheryl, who is my frequent co-host. We’re going to talk about two books every episode. The season’s called Duets and we’ve already recorded a few of these, and we’ve got lots more great books coming, but just a preview of the authors that you’re going to get to hear… Katie Robert, Alexa Martin, Tiffany Riesz, Laura Kaye… To be clear they’re not going to be on the podcast—for this season it’s just me and Sheryl, but we’re going to talk about some of these fantastic books.

But going back to Season 1, I am unexpectedly continuing Season 1. I thought I was done recording these, but then I had a second wind, and I didn’t want to make you guys wait. So, this episode I’m super excited about. It was inspired by diversity, by all the discussion that’s going around about diversity right now. This is such a big topic in romancelandia. And I think it’s important that we talk about it.

I think it’s also important that we recognize that we throw this term around a lot. We say, ‘diversity so important and we should recognize it.’ And there’s this discussion around being colorblind, or recognizing that there’s all these different ways people perceive and handle racism, bigotry, the whole spectrum of things that come along with that. This episode is not going to really talk about those things. When I say four romance books that are gonna make you a better person. I just mean… it helped me.

These books opened my eyes. They made me feel, as a person, I had a better grasp of what other people are going through, and I really think that is where we start understanding. That is where the whole discussion about diversity needs to start. We need to understand each other. And you really can’t understand what you don’t experience unless you expose yourself to it.

So I’m going to skip right ahead to book number one. There’s four books on this list today. The first one was recommended to me by a fellow blogger Suzanne Krohn from LoveinPanels.com. We met at RWA this year at Blogger Day and we had a fantastic discussion—the whole group had a great discussion—about diversity and how if we are not actually promoting diverse romance, then we are part of the problem. And I’ve heard that before.

It’s political season, so you’re probably hearing that a lot actually, but it hadn’t really hit home with me until I listened to the discussion. Other bloggers, people like me who had similar opinions… If you follow my reviews and you follow my podcast, we don’t do a ton of diverse romance. I do a lot of gay romance because that’s what I like to read. That’s what I edit, that’s what I acquire, but in my personal likes, I have somewhat of a narrow view of what I tend to gravitate to, and I tend to review what I like what I read. And this question just really opened my eyes to the fact that they’re right.

I have a platform. You guys are listening to me right now. I do have a responsibility to at least try other things to see what I like. I don’t have to like everything, but who knows, right? And if I do like something, I’ve found a new genre, a new trope, a new set of themes that I can explore that I can share with you, and that’s me contributing and not being part of the problem. The problem being we’re only promoting the things that are traditional: cis, white, het, Christian, able-bodied, well-minded.

You get it, right? I would say that the majority of the population probably doesn’t fit all of those perfect things. All heroines, all people in life are not size 4 with a perfect body. And we are starting to see more diversity in romance. But as bloggers it’s part of our responsibility to get out there and see what else we can help promote. And I am so thankful for that discussion and I just wanted to give a shout out to Love In Panels for recommending this book to me, which was The Year We Fell Down, by Sarina Bowen. I had already read book 3 in the series, because I’m a hockey fan.

I love me some hockey. I love me hockey romance, and the third book in the series is a gay hockey romance, which is like the ultimate for me, because it’s gay romance which I love and hockey romance which I adore. So I had already read that, and I kind of forgot that I had read it because I read it in sort of a blitz of gay hockey romances about a year ago, and when I started reading through the series and I got to that one, I realized, ‘oh my god, I love this book, I’m so glad!’

But even more than that, the first one, The Year We Fell Down—I adore the hell out of this book. I never would have read it on my own if someone hadn’t said, “No seriously.” Seriously. Susanne’s like, “No, you need to read this book.” All right, all right, I’ll try! And I was hooked from the beginning. One, it’s Sarina Bowen, and I am such a fan of her work in general. Everybody has those authors where you’ll pretty much buy everything they write, and not every single book is going to be a perfect fit. And that’s true of every author. There’s no author out there that I’ve loved every single book. But Sarina is one of those few, the select few for me, where I will basically try anything that she does, and even though is heavily New Adult.

And it does have a lot of angst in it. It’s got these overwhelming themes of positivity and acceptance and the struggle is so real. OK so let’s talk about the book. The heroine is paralyzed. She’s in a wheelchair and she has some feeling below her waist, but not equal between both her legs, and she can’t walk. She can kind of walk on crutches if she wears the right kind of brace and she’s careful, but stairs are just not happening and moving around is hard.

She has challenges in her everyday, like anyone who is paralyzed from below the waist. How do you handle basic bodily functions? How do you take showers? How do you use the restroom? How do you move through your day? How do you navigate a world that is made for people who walk? And those are all things that you don’t think about until you see the struggle that happens to people who do have to deal with this. This is their life and what I loved about the set up for this book is not only is the heroine disabled but the hero kind of is too.

So he’s had an accident doing something stupid. Before the hockey season starts, he’s the captain of the hockey team or something like that, and he’s been in an accident so he’s in a cast. He’s walking on crutches. So this guy can’t walk unassisted either. I mean without the crutches. So he’s really not doing stairs or anything, you know, active either. The two of them live across the hall from each other—they’re in one of the accessibility dorms at this school called Harkness College.

I don’t know if this place is real. I kind of wish it was. I want it to be real because I wish I had gone there. I’m really jealous of these people, this experience, because all the characters love this college so much. They talk about it sort of like it’s Harry Potter—you know, with the houses, but without the Sorting Hat? And I think there’s 12 houses within Harkness College. I just fell in love with the whole environment and the characters are fantastic. The emotional arc is so deep and complex, and the struggles are just eye opening, and the relationship between the two main characters is just adorable.

I love that they’re both fans of hockey, and they play this hockey game, Real Sticks—I think it’s a fake game—and that’s the thing they do at night. They play hockey together even though he has a girlfriend. And that’s something that you should know. It’s one of the reasons I was initially unsure about this book. Not just because of the disability aspect but because he has a girlfriend for the first half of the book. I thought, ‘oh cheating’, but it’s really not like that.

They become really good friends. But there isn’t any cheating in this book so don’t be too concerned about that. He has a reason for doing what he does and I think it’s a good one. It’s complex. There’s a lot of themes in this that are unexpectedly deep. I really think you should give this a try, and you’re going to love the rest of the series if you like this one. The second one is even harder hitting emotionally than this one, and the third one is, like, serious coming out angst. But anyway. OK. I think I have talked that one into the ground. That was The Year We Fell Down by Sarina Bowen, and it is absolutely a must read.

OK. Next up is The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang. This one’s from Berkeley and it is basically a reverse Pretty Woman. Now I actually did a little bit of googling while I was reading this, because when an author says the hero looks like a star or there’s some reference to somebody that they might resemble, I have to look this person up. So the hero, Michael, apparently looks like a lot like the K-drama star Daniel Henney. I actually have seen him before— he was in one of the Xmen movies.

So Michael is a prostitute, or a male escort, and he only “dates” (escorts) on Friday nights. The rest of his time is dedicated to his family and his work, and this one resonated with me on many levels. One was the closeness of his family. They are a Vietnamese family, I believe. His heritage is mixed Vietnamese and Swedish, so he sort of doesn’t fit in with the white people and he doesn’t fit in with the Asians either. He’s sort of out of place everywhere, but he’s this amazing person that I just wanted to snuggle and hug and take home with me. But other things that I liked about the story was the family dynamics that they showed us, and the hidden passion he has for this job that he had to quit so he could support his mom in her struggle with cancer. I mean, man, that one just hits that it’s home, right? That’s… wow. He also makes a lot of private sacrifices. He escorts so he can support his family so that they don’t struggle, and the thing is, they don’t even know. They don’t even know! Which, oh my god, knife the heart, like perfect hero. Perfect. I love this guy.

You know sometimes you get those questions, like, ‘Hey who’s your favorite hero?’ or ‘If you could have any hero and be stranded on a desert island or take him home’ or whatever. I can never answer that question because my default answer is always Bones from the Night Huntress series. That’s kind of a running joke with me and Sheryl because I always just throw Bones out there. While I do like Bones, there are so many other heroes that are fantastic, and Michael is one of the newest ones where if somebody asked me that question today I might say, ‘Michael from The Kiss Quotient’, because he’s so fantastic. He’s so gentle with her and he’s so understanding, and oh he’s a designer! I just like everything about this guy. I don’t want to give too much away because I want you to read it.

But aside from those things that really resonated with me, the thing that got me the most about this book, and the reason I have it on this list of four romance books that will make you a better person, is that the heroine, Stella, has high functioning autism. She has Asperger’s. And she has to carefully plan and script her day so that she can interact with people in ways that don’t trigger her. Here’s an example of a list that she gives in the book.

‘Think before you talk. Anything and everything can be an insult to someone, so when in doubt say nothing.’ Well I can totally relate to that. ‘Be nice. Sitting on your hands prevents fidgeting and it feels good.’ Okay. You can tell she comes from an upper class household here, where you don’t want to make the wrong impression physically. ‘Make eye contact. Smile, but no teeth, because that scary.’ It sort of made me giggle a little bit that somebody needs to tell themselves, ‘Don’t use your teeth when you smile because people find that threatening,’ and the person doesn’t realize that. It’s one of those social clues they just don’t get. Another one was, ‘Make eye contact for a specific amount of seconds.’ I think it’s no more than three seconds or you look creepy or threatening, and no less than three seconds or you look nervous or guilty. And that’s actually really true. And it’s kind of sad that there’s this disconnect. In order to be accepted in society, somebody has to follow these specific things because we depend so heavily on body language and non-verbal cues. And when you have to remind yourself to say please and thank you and to apologize with feeling so that people believe you.

There were so many things in this story that I saw in myself, and I was like oh my gosh, oh my gosh. When you think about autism and you think about Asperger’s syndrome, unless you are familiar and acquainted with these topics, you might think of societal stereotypes. Rain Man, who’s very extreme. Or the portrayal of Asperger’s where the person swears all the time. And I think in that respect, the media and our pop culture has done a disservice to these… I don’t want to call them disabilities, and I don’t want to call them illnesses—they’re just states of being and people are just built differently. And reading through this it sort of made me realize that maybe I fall under some of this. Maybe this affects me too, and I just haven’t realized. There’s a lot of quirks and a lot of things that I do that I compensate for that I don’t really think about anymore. I’ve just learned what’s the best way for me to do something for me to handle things emotionally. I’m very sensitive emotionally.

And at the end of this book the author has an author’s note where she talks about her struggle and being late diagnosed. She wasn’t diagnosed as a child and she recommends some books. And so I really recommend this book to anybody, even if you believe you do not have autism or you’re perfectly normal, whatever normal is. I recommend anybody read this book because it will open your eyes to the struggles that some people have. And it might make you more willing to accept other people’s quirks.

And also you’re going to fall in love with Michael because he’s the most supportive hero ever. Oh, Michael. Anyway. OK. Let’s see. Is there anything else I wanted to say. Oh you know what, one more thing about this—the heroine. She reminded me of people that I worked with when I was in tech, because she’s an economist who studies data sets and does predictive models for online purchasing, and that’s sort of similar to some of the engineers I worked with when I was in the tech industry for predicting ads and what a person might be most likely to click on in a game if you played an ad for them. But aside from the joy she finds in numbers, she just sparkles.

She’s just happy when she’s not stressed out. Little things make her happy, like she’ll clutch her phone to her chest and spin in her chair. And things like that just made me feel the joy, they made me happy, they lifted me up. In the midst of all these other things were she stressed out about how she’s going to interact with somebody. All the little things that she deals with on a daily basis are a little bit stressful to read about. But then you see her in her natural state. It just makes you appreciate what a great person she actually is. And it makes you realize that there’s so much about people that we don’t see and we don’t think about and we totally should.

OK I think I have also beat this one into the ground, so I want to encourage anybody who hasn’t read this book, please read it. If nothing else it will make you see autism differently and I think that’s really important right now, just to be educated about these things that don’t necessarily affect us. And you never know it might be something that you really connect with too.

OK. Book number three: It Takes Two by Jenny Holiday. This is number two in the Bridesmaids Behaving Badly series. This is from Forever Romance (Hachette). This story has incredible banter— this one and the next one. The banter between the hero and heroine in these is just off the charts. Awesome. Loved that in this one, both characters are lawyers, and their wit is just delightful. The two of them together, their chemistry, I mean it’s all there. You can tell these these two people are made to be together, and I love it when an author can slamdunk that chemistry, because that’s part of what pulls me into these stories. I need characters that are memorable and that that really pop that have depth and realism but also sparkle to them and a little bit of magic, and these totally do. And the way they connect is fantastic. She is literally running from her past, which is him, and he is working himself into exhaustion because he’s scared to leave his past behind. Because if he if he does then things might explode again. And he just can’t go there mentally or emotionally.

So the two of them have these things that they are fixated on that have become key parts of their personality. And that’s the reason this story is on this list. For the first, two you’re like, ‘OK disabilities. I can see how understanding those would make me a better person. What about this story is going to make me a better person?’ And what I want to really hit home here is that there are things in life that affect us that we may not even realize. There are things from childhood that affect us that we might not even remember, or maybe we do and we think about them every single day, but they really crystallize and they change aspects of your personality. They change the way you react to things. And this this book, I just felt it. I just felt it. I mean it’s a little bit New Adult angsty, which isn’t normally my thing. But I felt like the emotional arc was really strong and it was really well grounded in the history of the characters. For example, the heroine Wendy —who Noah likes to call Wendy Lou Who, which makes me laugh (her name is Wendy lou)—she has an aversion to silver dresses because of something that happened. And again, I don’t want to tell you too much. I want you to read the book.

But I started thinking about, there’s things in life that I avoid because they make me have these feelings of dread or fear or I get these flash memories of bad things that happened to me, and they might have been snapshots, moments in time. But it doesn’t matter because that’s part of me and that’s part of what’s made me who I am. But do I want to go on living that way for the rest of my life? Probably not. If I could get through those things, then maybe they won’t totally go away, but maybe they will be easier to deal with. Eventually, maybe they won’t bother me at all. That’s really why I enjoy this book, because it really hits home how those things affect us, and that you can get through them. You just have to recognize them first, and then you need a partner or friends who will be there for you and recognize what you need as well.

Another side note on this story is that this series—I haven’t read the rest of the books in the series—really looks delightful. I love that it’s about Bridezillas. Wendy is a bridesmaid for her best friend, who is Noah’s sister and is all about a low key wedding. This wedding is gonna be low key and they say ‘low key’ so many times it’s in air quotes, and the bride is anything but low key. Realistically, she wants to control everything, but she wants what she wants it to be ‘low key’. Eventually of course it becomes not low key and they just sort of accept the crazy. The groom has very small amounts of Scottish heritage and they end up switching out the tuxes for kilts and adding tartan sashes. It’s funny! There’s really some really delightful parts to this book.

There’s a bet between the hero and heroine about who can throw the best bachelor/bachelorette party and there’s some Vegas shenanigans. I just really enjoyed it, really enjoyed this story. You should absolutely read this. It has all the feels, and I teared up multiple times. I mean just loved it. Okay. That was It Takes Two by Jenny Holiday.

The last book on my list today is The Duchess Deal by Tessa Dare. This is from Avon Books, and it’s kind of a Beauty and the Beast story, but without the physical transformation at the end, which I like. I actually really like that about it, because real life isn’t magical and we don’t all magically recover from these horrible things that have happened to us, especially physical illnesses. He’s badly scarred. Basically, a rocket exploded in his face in war (this is a Regency era story). And so one half of his face and down to his hip and chest, all the way down to his hip is just badly burned and scarred, and so he believes he is a monster. And people treat him like a monster, except the heroine who is a seamstress and a preacher’s daughter, so she has a little bit of a gentle upbringing.

But she has her own demons in her past (no pun intended) that she’s dealing with. And it’s sort of a marriage of convenience sort of thing, which is kind of a common theme in the Regency world, but he needs an heir so that his holdings go to his son rather than his terrible relatives who are going to mismanage everything that he and his family have spent their lives building up. Which is thousands of tenants. And he’s worried that his people will end up homeless. He’s got a good reason for needing to ensure his bloodline, and it’s not just because he has pride. He wants to make sure his people are taken care of, and to do that, he needs to have a legitimate son. His previous bride saw his face, turned him down, and broke the engagement, called him a monster.

I mean right there you can tell why this book is on this list, because even if our faults are not on the outside, even if they’re not on our skin, sometimes we do feel like monsters, when we feel like people are turning us away because of something inside, because we’re bad people. And this guy has a legitimate reason to feel this way because people treat him that way. And they shouldn’t because he’s an amazing guy, and the banter here like in the last book is just fantastic. These two characters they cracked me up. This—the Duke of Ashbury—is another hero that I would put on that list of favorite heroes of all time.

Because he’s really gruff when you first get to know him, but it’s penned in such an elegant, nuanced, skilled way that you understand that his gruffness doesn’t come from him being an asshole. That’s just him. It’s partly a defense mechanism, but partly it’s funny. It’s a subtle humor that comes through. And the heroine is totally on the same level with him. And she’s a seamstress who basically was like, ‘well you know, I don’t really have better prospects and I’m going to be out on the streets soon.’ She’s in a financial bind. He’s offering to make her a Duchess. No woman in her right mind would say no to that, when you’re in a financial bind like she is. She also has another reason—she wants to help a friend of hers who’s in a situation that she really can’t get out of. So many things about this book are just fantastic. And surprisingly, this is my first Tessa Dare book. I know, right? How have I read so many Regencies, but not Tessa Dare? I am an instant fan. I just love her style. I was laughing or commiserating every few pages. I wanted to read some sections from this book because it just cracked me up so much. so I’ll read you really quickly the back.

[Back blurb read here]

That right there gives you an idea of the author’s writing style and just how fun it is. And then, one more, because there’s a cat, and I am a cat person. I have dogs too. You probably hear them in the background. Right now, they’re making so much noise. Whenever I record a podcast, my pets are like, ‘Hey let’s get Sue’s attention! It’s obviously time to be friendly!’ So they’re just saying hi.

One of the terms of her marrying him was that she could bring her cat. She didn’t actually have a cat, but she got a cat anyway because she just needed to make a demand. So here’s a little excerpt about the cat…

[excerpt read here]

All right. So that’s it for my excerpts from The Duchess Deal—I can’t read too of too much of it on the air. But if you are not a fan of Regency, this might be a really good starter for you, because it does have a lot of the customs and the typical Regency type themes, but it also has so much character, and it has a hero and heroine that are not typical for romance in general, but definitely not typical for Regency.

So that wraps up my list of 4 Romance Books That Will Make You A Better Person. I will definitely be doing other episodes featuring more diverse books, but I wanted to get this train started because I really liked these, and I think you guys are going to enjoy them as well. I am going have text reviews up for some of these books on GoodReads and Amazon. I will link to those from this episode on the InfatuatePodcast.com website if you would like to suggest some other diverse romances to me.

Please feel free to shout out to me on Twitter @GraveTells or @DaVinciKittie (or @InfatuatedPdcst). You can stop by the GraveTells Facebook page, or you can hit me up on InfatuatedPodcast.com and leave a comment. There’s so many ways you can reach out. Guys I would love to hear from you.

Coming up next on the infatuated podcast, Sheryl and I are talking about our Kindle Unlimited lists. And let me tell you, I have some books that have been there for, probably, years. So, if you want to find out what dark and dirty secrets are hiding in our KU lists, stop by the next episode of the infatuated Podcast.

Infatuated with romance and just can’t get enough? So are we. Visit InfatuatedPodcast.com for all the latest episodes, and be sure to check out today’s show notes for buy links for recommended books and bios on our guests. Want us to review a book you love? Give us a shout out! We’re on Twitter @InfatuatedPdcst or on Instagram @InfatuatedPodcast. Or, of course, you can e-mail us anytime at Romance (at) InfatuatedPodcast (dot) com. We would love to hear your thoughts about the podcast, so don’t be shy!

Until next time, read something sexy.

S1E7: Bestselling author Rebecca Zanetti chats about her Dark Protectors reboot, Vampire’s Faith

Today I chatted with one of my favorite authors of paranormal romance, Rebecca Zanetti. Her new release VAMPIRE’S FAITH is a great entry point for readers who are new to the Dark Protectors series—you can just jump right in without having to read the earlier books—and fans of the series will see some new faces as well as some old friends. This podcast is SPOILER-FREE, so listen on with confidence!

S1E6: Name that drink! (character-alcohol matching game)

Sometimes you just want to drink and chill with friends. And if your friends are also rabid romance readers, the conversation is bound to devolve into giggling and book talk. So we decided to just cut right to the fun. Join Sheryl and I as we match our favorite tropes and book characters to alcoholic beverages! Listen in to see if we got ’em right!

S1E5: April 2018 romance reviews

Yep, it’s June, and I’m still playing catch up! The good news is that good books never go out of style, so here are my April 2018 review reads. Listen in to hear why you should Buy It, Try It, or Skip It!

S1E4: Princess Fever

This episode was inspired by the royal wedding—Meghan and Harry—and we had a ton of fun chatting about our favorite things from the day, including our thoughts on the dress. BUT! If you’re over the whole wedding thing*, we’ve still got you covered! Tune in to find out what romances we recommend for meeting your very own book boyfriend prince.

S1E3: February & March 2018 book review recap

Bear with me as I catch up on a massive review backlog! This podcast is all about my thoughts—snark and all—on my February and March 2018 review reads. It’s a shortie, less than 14 minutes long, so pop in and give me a listen! <3

S1E2: Raw reactions to Sierra Simone’s American King

Join the angst-fest as we celebrate (and curse) the highs and lows of our experiences reading American King, the final book in Sierra Simone’s New Camelot trilogy. This episode is RAW (these books inspire some serious feels, peeps!). If you’ve read Sierra Simone’s New Camelot series, you know exactly what I mean. Listen in to hear our 110% honest thoughts about this extremely emotional rollercoaster ride of a series. **SPOILER WARNING**

S1E1: Twilight & Fifty Shades: How these YA and NA fandoms changed our adult lives

Being part of the Twilight and Fifty Shades fandoms has literally changed my life. These stories influenced both what I read and the people I have connected with. In this first episode of the shiny, new, rebooted Infatuated Podcast, I dish with two of my girlfriends about the books, the trips, and the friendships that came out of our mutual love for these two fandoms. Click through for our most memorable photos & my Best Of Twilight & Fifty playlists!