Hey everyone, welcome to Queerly Recommended the podcast that’s all about recommending queer movies, books, TV shows, video games. If it’s media, you’re gonna find it here. I’m Tara, I review queer women’s fiction at The Lesbian Review, Lambda Literary and Smart Bitches, Trashy Books.
And I’m Kris Bryant. I’m a contemporary romance writer who just signed her 18th contract this week, about women loving women.
Yes, that is exciting. So speaking of Kris, how are things going in your writing life?
So I have a bunch of deadlines that hit all at once, of course, right during the holiday season, which sucks. But you know, I do this to myself. It’s nobody else’s fault. I just received edits back on one of my books, and my editor took out about total of about 16,000 words. So I have to do a new ending for this book.
That’s like, that’s like a lot less like a long, short story. That’s almost novella territory, isn’t it?
That really is, yeah. So I mean, and I don’t disagree with my editor, we had a long phone conversation about it, where we actually discussed the importance of sunscreen more than anything else. But we did talk about how it was important to change the ending, and I’m going to do it, I’m going to change the ending. And I also pushed back the book that I’m writing right now. I said, “Well, if I’m gonna have to redo this ending, I’m gonna need a little bit more time for this book”. So I’ve got- I’ve got a lot going on. Lot of deadlines. And but I don’t have any- I don’t have any negativity in my heart about this. I think it only will help the story. So I’m okay with it.
That’s good. How many books do you typically have on the go at any given time?
This is extreme. So like 2022 is going to be an extreme year for me, because I have three full length novels and a novella. And so it’s just all kind of coming to head right now. Like I just did page proofs for Always, which comes out in January. So that should be hitting, you know, everything real soon, like reviewer sites and the actual website soon. And then I’m doing the rewrite of The Ending of Forever. And I’m in the middle of writing Serendipity. So and then, right, I posted last night on Twitter, about- I replaced Ryan, with Robert, in my story on this- the short story, I’m sorry, it’s not a short story. It’s a novella in the novella series that I’m doing, and I forgot to use, like, capital R. So my name got changed from Kris Bryant-
It got changed, yeah, to Kris Broberts. Yes. And I didn’t even catch it. I sent it in. And my editor sent me a screenshot and she’s like, “Um, did you maybe change somebody’s name from Ryan to Robert?” So yeah, so it’s been a little stressful over here in my world, my writing room.
But we’re all excited for you. I’m excited. Oh, man. There’s a couple of those in there that people don’t know about yet and I am so excited. I can’t wait for them.
Yeah, I think Forever is gonna be a fun read for a lot of people, you know, and that’s the one I have to do the ending, redo the ending on and it’s all good, because I agree. And that’s, that’s why you need a good editor, one that can actually work with you on the story instead of just either changing it or letting it go, which is even worse.
I mean, I think, you know, a lot of editors are scared to change the context of a story. You know, they want to play the role of copy editor instead of content editor. And I love that my editor is like, full, you know, head on, like, “We need to make this work. We need to make this better”.
And this isn’t gonna work. So you need to change this to make this better for everybody. And so I 100% trust her. I’m good.
And that’s important. Yeah, yeah. So it is listener question time and I think it’s very- I think this is pretty much all for you and I’m totally okay with that.
So I’m, yeah, I think so. Cuz I don’t know that I can answer these.
I think you can answer the second one. But let’s go with the first one first.
We’ll go with the first one. Let me read you the question. It’s by and I’m totally gonna mutilate this because I’m not quite sure how to pronounce this. It’s either go Yankee peach. Go Yanji, peach, goy an G peach (Goyangipeach) asks, “Hello. What is the angstiest lesfic you’ve read? LKooking for recommendations”.
Yeah. So there are a few. And I just thought of a third, which is why I kind of paused there. Hang on. Yeah. So there are a few and the- when I think about how to choose something like this, like, what are the, because it’s also not just like, what’s the angstiest lesfic I’ve read? But it’s like, what’s the angstiest lesfic I’ve read that I would actually recommend? Because-
Yeah, like, I’ve read some that felt like, angst for angst sake. It didn’t feel like it necessarily added to the story. It was, “We’re just going to make you feel pain. And there you go, enjoy your pain”. But when it’s done really beautifully, in a way that drives and builds story, that’s when you catch my interest. And so I have three, and not all of them are romances. In fact, the first one is not a romance, but it is Letters Never Sent by Sandra Moran. And this is a book from- I’m not sure exactly when I think it was like the early 2010s or something like that, probably. I mean, Sandra, unfortunately, is no longer with us. She passed away what like five years ago or so?
Very, very well respected, very well loved author in the lesfic community. But she didn’t write romance novels. And this particular one, this one has a love story a`nd it’s beautiful, but it’s like a rip-your-guts-out-and-then-put-them-all-back-together kind of story. It’s- there’s kind of it’s a story that’s happening in two timelines. In the main timeline, which is, well, main isn’t fair. Okay. In the more present timeline, I guess we’ll say it’s 1997. And it’s just woman, Joan, and her mother has died. And she’s gone to clear out her mother’s house after her funeral. And inside an old suitcase, she finds a box. And it has like a bunch of trinkets. And it has a bunch of sealed letters to someone that her mother only identifies with an initial. And when she reads these letters, she finds this side of her mother that she’s never known before, because she was cold and angry. And then as she’s reading the letters, that takes us back in time to her mother, Catherine, you know, she leaves Kansas in 1931. She goes to Chicago, she goes to work at the glove counter at Sears and Roebuck.
And there’s one day she meets this young woman who kind of this relationship changes her life and it goes back and forth. And you know, we spend- it’s really interesting seeing this, like, who Catherine was as a young woman wasn’t that same like angry, cold, whatever. But you kind of understand how that ended up being the mother that Joan was raised by. And just her story. And what happens with her, and specifically what happens with her and Annie is so incredible. It’s just the most beautiful thing. I do have to give two content warnings though, there is a sexual assault that happens in the book and there is also a botched abortion for one of Catherine’s friends. So not a main character, but a side character. This is before you know, abortion was legal. And unfortunately it kind of goes about as badly as it can go. So if that’s something that’s likely to make you squeamish just like a warning there. For me, I found it 100% worth checking out that, like it was it was still worth it. Because overall the experience of that book was amazing.
The next two books, I have are romances. And it’s funny as I was going through this I was I was telling you, Kris, I was like, you know, I know Radcliffe did some real good, angsty ones and I couldn’t think of any off the top of my head. And I was scrolling through Goodreads. And I was like, that’s it. That’s the one. And it’s Love’s Melody Lost, which is one of my favorites by Radclyffe. And so it’s this composer and pianist Graham who after some kind of an accident she lost her vision, she’s blind now and she just becomes kind of a recluse and is in this like, dark mansion. Yeah even the the blurb says she retreats to a bleak mansion, atop wind swept cliffs. And you know like, her life is sad now. And so then Anna comes to- I think she comes to like run her home basically, like I don’t like I guess be like a personal secretary. Like she doesn’t cook for anything like that, but whatever, they fall in love. But the thing that I love about this is how it really harkens to the Gothic novel tradition. And like, Graham, in a lot of ways kind of reminds me of Mr. Rochester near the end of Jane Eyre, like after he’s had his big accident and he’s like, “Who could love me?” and Jane’s like “Me you dumbass.”
And so, I am sure that the disability representation is problematic. This book is like 20 years old, but there is just something about like the passion. And yeah, the whole Gothic side of things driving that angst that is really, really good. My last one, which I’m not really going to get into, but I will say the Goodmans by Claire Ashton, there is a subplot in there. Because there are a couple of romances happening. And there is a subplot that happens in that book, that when I got to that part, I felt like I got punched in the stomach, and I could like feel it in my body for three days afterward. It is the biggest angst bomb I have ever come across. And it’s perfect. And I don’t want to say any more because I don’t want to give any type of a hint or anything like that. It is one of those books that like you just kind of have to read it. And you have to experience it. And you will be changed. Probably I was like I just woof it was oh my god.
I know it got a lot of discussion in the lesfic community for sure. I remember that.
Yes. Anyway, I’m gonna leave it there. I know that’s super cagey. If you want to know more, you know there are reviews at, I think I’m pretty sure I reviewed at Smart Bitches Trashy Books. I think Sheena was probably the one who reviewed it at The Lesbian Review. But honestly, just go into it. Don’t read anything about it. Just read that book. Is my thing.
Have you read any angsty lesfic books?
I have. I’ve read a lot of them. Do I have any recommendations? You know, here’s the deal. I have a hard time with angst. I really do. I- like it’s too much for me to handle sometimes. Like I- it’s why I don’t watch Lifetime movies and I watch the Hallmark movies. Because with Lifetime there’s always angst, whereas Hallmark is so sweet and syrupy that like I have a hard time with them. But I know that I like you said Radclyffe, Radclyffe, for sure. And I’ve read some angsty Melissa Brayden.
I mean, you can- Yeah, so we have one of her first ones, Waiting in the Wings and then the first book and the Tangle series. You know, I did this all the time. I call it the Tangle series.
Well, I think the book is called Entangled, isn’t it?
Yeah, I think but is it Entangled or is that the first one? Because it’s like a- there’s like a three book. But the first one whatever the first one is, and I can’t remember it now. That caught me off guard because I wasn’t prepared.
But the first one- Yeah. The first one was a roller coaster for me. And I told her I was like, “Oh my gosh, you know, you put me on this ride”. Because it was like, oh, everything’s better. Oh my god. No, it’s worse. It’s like a roller coaster, up high, down low.
I thought that one wasn’t so bad. Strawberry Summer was-
Berry berry angsty.
Like I cried, yeah.
You’re not going to call me on the pun? The book related pun?
I’m not gonna call you on the pun.
I hate puns. But I couldn’t help it.
I do too. You know, somebody has ruined puns for me. I used to like love them. And I used to every so often, like a perfectly dropped pun is amazing.
Like, drop it and run. But somebody has ruined puns for me, because that’s all they talked to me in is in pun talk and I can’t deal with it. Like I literally have to leave. Because I get so angry because they have ruined something so wonderfully.
Yeah, it’s too much.
Yeah, like you could drop- yeah, when you can drop an awesome pun and walk away and just be like, “I’m the coolest person ever”. But then somebody who talks and nothing but puns, like just irritates the shit out of me. So, anyway. Okay, so, here’s another question. KB asks, “Why lesfic? When did you first discover lesfic?”
Alright, I feel like this is one like, surely you also can talk about when you first discovered-
Oh for sure. Yeah, yeah, yeah.
Okay, so for me, I feel like I’ve probably mentioned this and talked about this in an earlier episode. But in case I didn’t, I don’t really know how to answer the “why lesfic?” question. Maybe it’ll be easier if I talk about why I discovered it first, or when I discovered it first. So when I discovered it. I was pregnant with my oldest daughter. So it was a little over 10 years now. Probably about 10 and a half years ago, and I was not doing my job at work. I was at work but I was perhaps a little disengaged, doing a little scrolling on the internet. And I came across- this was when I was a pretty big fan of the site Jezebel and they reprinted a top 10 list from Auto Straddle. And it was something like the top 10 lesbian romances on my Kindle right now.
And I read probably half the list. I started with And Playing the Role of Herself by K. E. Lane. And then I read Above All Honor by Radclyffe and then went on to gobble all the books in that series that were up to that point. I read It Should Be a Crime by Carsen Taite, which is still my favorite of Carsen’s books. There was another Radclyffe one. Oh, what’s that one that everybody loves? That has Quinn and… Faded Love! Faded Love, yeah. And I think there were a few from Bella on there but I didn’t get into those. And so from there, I kind of just like that was how I learned about Bold Strokes Books. And I read like a ton from Bold Strokes. And then a few years after that, they put out a call for proofreaders and I applied because I thought well, I mean, I have a masters in literature. I’ve been a copywriter for however long and they said, “You know, we pay in books”. And I was like, “Well, I would like books”.
And so I did that for a couple of years, until I realized that if I became a book reviewer, I could get books from any publisher that I wanted. So that’s how I ended up there. So that’s kind of how I ended up in lesfic here, although the thing that’s interesting that I completely forgot until a few years ago is that, you know, that wasn’t the first lesbian books that I read. When I was in university I got into Jane Rule who is a Canadian lesfic lesbian fiction author, probably most famous for her book Desert of the Heart, because that was also turned into a film. And then I guess like-
And I remember that film.
Yeah, right? So then I guess back to the “why lesfic?” Like, why, why do I still read it so much? Why am I still kind of involved and part of the community? I think the why is that, you know, it brings a more balanced dynamic to relationships, then what I was seeing in the opposite sex pairing, romances, or even the male male romances, because I read a handful of those before I started reading lesfic. Gender politics don’t come into play. It’s more- you still get your tropes, you still get your themes, but it’s never like, “Alpha male, I know what you want. And I’m gonna tell you, and it’s this dick” and it’s like “No, go away.” It’s not like, it’s just not like that. And to be fair, I mean, it’s not like all opposite sex romances like that either. Like I have read kind of a handful more over the last couple of years. And if you know where to look, you can you can find good ones. But that’s, I don’t feel like I see myself in that kind as much either, even as someone who’s married to a man, because the romance heroes often don’t match the emotional intelligence that Neil has.
And not seeing that ends up being really unsatisfying. So I did have to take a bit of a break from lesbian romance over the last year, like every so often I have to take a break, because that’s pretty much all I read for eight years. And then the pandemic hit, and I don’t think I’m unique at all but when the pandemic hit romance wasn’t landing the same way for me anymore. It was really hard to get into and stay into, so that was how I ended up reading more, you know, sci fi and YA and fantasy and nonfiction and all those other things. But I mean, I keep coming back. That’s what I was reading at bedtime last night. So what about you? How did you discover it? Why lesfic for you when you could be writing anything?
Right, because I didn’t know it existed until about 10 years ago. So like here in Kansas city I always joke about how we are at least 20 years behind the rest of the world. And I think that this is true. And we had one store that had a, you know, a rainbow flag. And the books that were in there were usually like male male or like they were just so like short stories of like pure erotica and it just, it like kind of got me like, “Oh my gosh, there are books out there like this.”
And I’ve always been a book person, like I like to hold books. I like to like I may- everybody hates me for this but I actually dog ear pages. You know, I’m that person. I like tangible things. And so I fought the Kindle, I was like, “No, I don’t want a Kindle. I like books. I like having a ton of books on my bookshelves. I like knowing that I could just go and pick one up and turn to a page and know what I’m reading when I’m holding, what page I’m on.” Stuff like that. So I fought the Kindle. And then my parents got me a Kindle for Christmas.
And I don’t know how I stumbled on it but I found lesfic on Kindle. And it was so nice, because then it says, “If you enjoy this book, you know, you can click and buy this book”. And so like I was looking through all of my orders, and they actually got it for me, it looks like for my birthday in 2011. So in my birthday month, 2011. I was, you know, really young0
You were a baby. You were a baby.
So like, I was a baby. And so I was looking at all my downloads, you know what all I did, and for sure, like, I had Fated Love. Radclyffe is one of my first ones. I actually have Thy Neighbor’s Wife, Waking Up Gray, Too Close to Touch. So I just kind of went through all of the, you know, suggestions. And then I actually found the whole thing. And I was- and I read like 200 books in like, no time. I was like, boom, boom, boom, this is amazing. Oh my god, there are people out here just like me and they write. And there are stories, you know, that I wanted to read my whole life. But I you know, had to read the bodice rippers from, you know, the bookstores because they didn’t cater to LGBTQ people. Yeah, so that’s, I just did that. I found it that way. And I said, “I’m going to do it. I have a degree in writing. And I never put it to use. So I’m going to do it”. So that’s when I decided to write lesfic.
What have you been reading or watching lately? I suppose you’re just watching because you’re writing all the- if you’re not writing a book, you’re editing a book. And if you’re not editing or writing a book, you’re doing page proofs. Right?
Exactly. So the TV is on. And here’s the good news. Dexter started back up. And I’m super excited about Dexter. A lot of people are and some people are like, “Who the hell’s Dexter?” So it is a show on Showtime that ended, I don’t know, like 10 years ago? And here’s the thing, I didn’t watch Dexter when it was on. I like binge watched it during the pandemic. So, like, I seriously watched all however many seasons there were like a season or something, something like that. And so then it started back up. So it’s still kind of new for me. You know, I still kind of remember the characters and stuff.
I thought they ended it.
Ha ha, no, they ended it. But then they started it back up again. Because in the original you see that he, at the end of the season, you see like there’s an opening-
-and like the world hated how Dexter ended. Hated it.
So so they started up again. So that’s nice. So I’m watching that. And I also just started, I finished the first season, you know, because I can like do it in a day.
Of The Morning Show with Jennifer Aniston and Reese Witherspoon. So I’m watching that, I just started the second season. And also you know, I hate it. But the stupid frickin the- well I love it. The Great British Baking Show. They do weekly now, they’re doing that stupid weekly thing. You know, like, Survivor that I also watched. They’re doing that. And I don’t like it. But I love it because I love that show. And I love British humor, because they get away with so much that there’s no way we could get away with in the United States on their television shows. And it just cracks me up. So that’s what I’m doing. Yeah.
Do you ever watch any of the quiz shows that come out of Britain?
No, I don’t.
There are some fun ones. And they always put comedians on them. And so one of my favorites is called QI. Because it’s it’s definitely comedians, but they have a theme for each show. And so or it’ll be a letter. Yeah, each- See, I should have before I said this, I should have looked it up to make sure I actually knew what i was talking about. Trying to remember, if it’s a season, if it’s each episode is one letter, it must be each season is based on one letter. It’s like everything is- every question has to do with a word that has to do with the letter K, in an episode, for example, but because it’s all comedians, like sometimes they come up with things that are actually true. But often they get more points if they’re interesting than if they’re correct. Which is fun. And then every year the other one that we like to watch every year, it’s called Big Fat Quiz of the Year. And it’s all questions about things that happen throughout the year. But it’s also all comedians doing it and it ishilarious you can find it on YouTube, usually. It’s well worth your time.
Okay, good. Yeah cuz I love quiz shows. And I love British humor. So yeah, I’m in. What about you, what have you been watching?
They made you a show. What if I’ve been watching did? Yeah. What have I been watching? Okay, so I have been- I have been watching more than I have been reading but I do have a book to tell you all about.
So I have been reading The Demon Equilibrium by Cathy Pegau, friend of the podcast, and I first got to know Cathy because she wrote some sci fi books for Karina Press, and two of them are WLW and then one of them is a male female one, but like they were great. Super, super, super fun romances where the like the sci fi world building was great but like the chemistry was fabulous. And so I was like, “Okay, okay, it’s been a while since Cathy put out a book that I’ve read”, because she also had another series that I did not read, but I think it was like a historical mystery series or something like that, which like, mysteries. I’m sorry, Cathy mysteries are not my jam they’re just not. But with this one- So it’s a new book that came out, I think beginning of November with Bywater books. So also great, great, great, fabulous lesfic publisher. And it’s about queer lady demon hunters.
Right? Oh, and is being told in two timelines. So there is the present, which is like 1903. And then there is the past, which is six years before. And in the present. It’s the characters coming back together. And in the past, it’s how they got together in the first place. And so there is something sort of second chancy about it. Except it isn’t, like they just broke up. There was some fuckery, they were forced apart. And it has something to do with the magical stuff.
Mmm. Magical stuff.
That’s all I’m gonna say. It has like a really good strong adventure vibe. The chemistry is there. I’m really digging it. I think I’m only about 15 20% in but really, really enjoying it.` And I will report back if it stays good. In terms of what I’ve been watching, RuPaul’s Drag Race UK is still on. Canada’s Drag Race is also on. I don’t know about anybody else. But I’m weirdly kind of disappointed in both of them.
What? That’s your jam.
I know, but I kind of feel like they’re both a little bit boring. And UK struck- the UK one I was super interested in because they had their first AFAB queen, like a like a drag queen, who is a woman, you know, assigned female at birth, identifies as a woman. But she was incredible. Her makeup was so good, Victoria Scone, like, she’s just fucking great. But she had to go home with an injury in like the second or third episode, and I was like, “Well, okay, well, at least Veronica Green is still there”. Veronica Green was on season two of Drag Race UK and they were in the middle of filming that season when COVID hit and so they all had to go home and then come back later to finish the season. But she couldn’t come back because she had COVID. And so they brought her back for season three, and I was super excited. And then she got sent home in like the second episode or something like that. Yeah, right, like the two that I was most excited about were sent home? And there are some like, there are some good talented wueens but like I kinda it’s just not that interesting.
And Canada’s Drag Race. So I couldn’t finish all of the first season because I didn’t like the judging, they don’t have RuPaul judging that one. They have other folks judging it. So like Brooklyn Heights, who I think was on season 11 of the US drag race is kind of the the drag queen judge and then they have like a couple of other judges. And I couldn’t get behind the judging in the first season, because some of it was really mean. And not only was it really mean, I didn’t feel like any of them brought the authority that RuPaul brings.
Right, because like RuPaul was super model of the world in what, like 1992? Was when that was happening, like RuPaul is such an institution and a drag and I feel like can give just about any comment that he wants to because he’s RuPaul. But like Brooklyn Heights, like you were just on your own season a few years ago.
You can’t do that.
No, and I feel like they did- They’re doing a much better job on the judging this season. Like it doesn’t feel as mean, there’s still critical feedback for sure, which is good, but for two weeks in a row, I watched an episode and woke up the next morning and said “Who the hell was eliminated again?” I couldn’t even remember. Like, it’s just not- So that’s been kind of a disappointment.
On the flip side, still in the world of drag and connected to Drag Race, season two of We’re Here is airing. It is on HBO. It was my official recommendation a few episodes ago for season one. And season two, holy shit is so so so good. So it’s on HBO. If you are in Canada, you can get it through- If you are subscriber to Crave, it’s automatically included in the basic package. And again, it’s that for anybody who didn’t listen to that episode, it has Bob the Drag Queen, Shangela and Eureka O’Hara, all kinds of royalty from RuPaul’s Drag Race, and they’re going to small towns. And they each take on one or two, or sometimes three, what they call their drag daughters or drag sons, like basically, they’re getting them into drag, and they’re all putting on a drag show. And it’s to spread some kind of a message in the community.
In some cases, it’s to memorialize a queer person in their life that they lost. Sometimes it’s a straight person who wants to show that they’re a good ally to the community. Sometimes it’s to help a queer person gain more self acceptance, you know, they’re just, they don’t even realize that that’s kind of what they’re there for. And that’s what ends up happening. It’s so good. I think one of the most moving so far. I mean, they’re all moving to a certain degree, there were a couple that really spoke to me. And there was the one in Selma, Alabama. And they actually also like, not only are that so there’s a black trans woman, there is a grandmother and her grandson, who are doing it because his sister, who was also you know, the granddaughter had been murdered, and she was gay. And yeah, and a gay man in the community who is a real estate agent. And just basically talking about how hard it is to be queer in Selma, because it is deep in the South.
There is a lot of violence in that community, they were sharing, but they met, the three drag queens met with some of the foot soldiers who were there on Bloody Sunday. And it was incredible, like, just kind of that reminder that there are still places in the US where like history was made. And there are queer people there too. And that struggles are intersectional. It’s so- Oh, my God, it was so good.
And then in the episode after that, it was some place in Indiana. And there was a Methodist pastor who got into drag, even though like he might get kicked out of the church, he doesn’t know. But because he wants to say, “God loves you. You are welcome here”. He has a pansexual daughter. And again, it’s to say like, “I love my daughter exactly as she is”. And it was so- Oh! I love that pastor. He’s so good. And it’s like, I don’t love a lot of pastors we know, you know?
Yeah, that’s true. We know.
Talked about how I have left the church and how that’s like a thing of contention for me, but like I can get behind pastors like that, making his church a safe space. So yes, go go go check out We’re Here because it just continues to be phenomenal. And they’re actually got two extra episodes this season. They had six episodes in the first season. And they have eight episodes this season. I mean, who knows? Maybe they’re supposed to have eight and then COVID fucked it up. I don’t know. But-
Yeah, maybe. Well, that’s good. You’re pretty excited to find out that you are not at the end of it.
I was very excited. That’s right. Well, I was talking to Kris and I was like, “Well, there’s one more episode,” then I was like, “I better look it up and woohoo! There’s three more episodes.”
Yay. Good for you.
Best news. Alright, so Kris what is your official recommendation this week?
So my official recommendation is Beginner’s Bet by Fiona Riley. It was one of the audiobooks I listened to on my 24 hour x2 trek to Ptown, to and from Ptown. So, you know, last week or I’m sorry, last podcast, we discussed Evelyn Hugo. And this was another book that I really enjoyed. And I’m going to go ahead and read the blurb because it’s just the easiest way to describe- I’m really bad at describing things so the blurb works.
Okay, Ellison Gamble owns the most successful luxury real estate firm in Boston. But the accomplishment feels hollow when she comes home to an empty house. Institutionalizing her mother for her own safety was the hardest thing Katie Crawford had ever done. The costs are becoming more than she can manage, and her only solution is to sell her childhood home that has fallen into disrepair. After a tense first enter action with Katie, Ellison eventually finds herself in an unlikely friendship and makes a risky offer to help Katie sell her mother’s home. Katie will do anything to help her mom. But being attracted to a woman for the first time was not in the plan. Will the risks they take be worth the reward or have they wagered on a losing bet?
Dun Dun Duuuuuun!
So this book is the third in the High Stakes series but it totally can be read as a standalone. You know, it’s kind of fun to know who the other characters in the other books are. But it’s not a make or break deal. And spoiler alert, it takes a lot for me to read a series, it just does. Like, my attention span is that of a gnat. And I’ve talked about it before. But you know, in this in this particular series, I have actually read all three books. And the first two books were good, this book is great. And I think it’s because the characters are different. They’re not- there’s no competitiveness, like the first book is really was- it was kind of funny, there was like a big joke on social media, whether you were team Trina or team Kendall and I was totally team Kendall, hundred percent. But this one it, it was just such a different book, you know, the characters. They’re not the same social or professional fields. So it’s kind of a rich poor trope. And so there’s no competitiveness, there was no quippy banter back and forth, it was all really organic conversation and that there was a vulnerability when Fiona wrote this book. And so and it comes through on the page, and it’s just so beautifully written. And so when I first started reading this, Rebecca from Ted Lasso, played by Hannah Waddingham, I think is her name. She popped in my head as Allison.
Yes. So you’re welcome. For that, yeah. That’s how I saw the entire time, you know, strong, intelligent woman who shows her true self to people who deserve to see it, you know, who have broken through this tough exterior, just to get to her true heart. So I talked about in the past how, when I read books, if they’re really, really good. They play like a movie in my head. And this book played, you know, for sure, when when, you know, I had Rebecca as Allison for sure it played into a movie, because like, the way Fiona writes is just so special. It’s so clear, and so good.
You know, so the conflict was was believable. And you know, the sex, of course, is really good. So here it is. So like, if you like the rich trope, rich poor trope, and the Oh, I thought I knew the ending, but I was so fucking wrong then pick up this book. And I listened to the audiobook, and I thought it was great. But I know- but I’ve read the first two books so you can’t go wrong either way, either with the audio book or with the actual tangible book.
It sounds pretty great. And like, I should check it out.
Yeah, for sure. And it’s been getting really good reviews, like really good reviews. And usually, you know, when you do a series, you know, the first one’s always real big. The second one’s okay, the third one, just kind of, you know, it’s okay. But this one, I think it it started off. Like, I really thought that this book was the best out of the series. And like I said, it can be used as a standalone, but it’s also nice to know the other characters who are in to the story as well from the other books.
Hmm. Pretty exciting.
Yes. What about you? What, what’s your official recommendation?
Okay, so I mentioned a couple episodes back then I was reading this book, but I finished it. And it is high high high recommendation. It’s The Headmistress by Melina Mackay. The premise of this is that Sam Threadneedle is a teacher at Three Dragons, which I was a little- I have to be honest, I was a little confused at first because I was like, “Is this a magic school? They have houses? Is this like a not Harry Potter kind of?” No, it’s not. It’s just a fancy boarding school. It’s a it’s a private boarding school. So Sam is a teacher. She’s a math teacher. She’s kind of- you see her daydreaming about this, like super hot one night stand she had with this older woman in New York City a few months before. And then it’s just this like, “Oh, hey, guess what? So we have some new board members and they said that the headmistress needs to be replaced and everybody has to reapply for their jobs”. And guess who the headmistress is?
Let me guess.
It’s the hot older woman she banged in New York.
Of course it is.
And it’s fabulous. And who is an ice queen, which I love. And it kind of just goes from there. And so one of the things that I really liked off the bat is that it kind of- the chapters, it goes back and forth between Sam recollecting her time with Magdeleine. So Magdeleine Knox is the new headmistress. But it goes backwards. So it like starts with the sex scene. And then it goes kind of into the present time with what’s happening at the school. And then at the next chapter, it’s like, anyway, it kind of moves its way backwards. So it goes from like sex scene to like them being in the room to how they met in the bar.
Oh that’s cool.
Yeah, like, it’s really, it’s kind of clever. And I quite like seeing that sort of back and forth, there’s the difference between like, who she saw, and was super attracted to New York to this, like, Bitch on Wheels whose like firing her friends and all this. But at the same time, Magdalena recognizes that she’s smart. And so she keeps Sam and she takes Sam’s council. And they kind of get like- they know they’re attracted to each other. But they actually- I really enjoyed watching them grow to respect each other. And then how that ends up being the foundation before they get back into more sex later. And the other thing that I thought was kind of fun is that there’s one more ice queen in the book. And it’s a cat.
Like every cat is an ice queen, I’m just saying.
Right. Yeah, yeah, it’s a cat. So it’s a cat that basically belongs to the school and Magdalen points at it and she’s like, “What the fuck is this? And why is it in my office?” And they’re like, “I mean, that’s, that’s the school cat”. I can’t remember the cat’s name. “That’s the school cat”. And she’s like, “Get the fucking school cat out of the school”. And the cat just is like, Nope, and double nope”. They kind of, they grow, they end up growing fond of each other, like watching between the cat and Magdalen. This beautiful little loving relationship grows. So the cat follows her everywhere around the school. And like, that’s awesome. Will be protective of her. And then eventually, you know, eventually the cat let’s Sam in as well because it’s like, “Oh, you’re my persons person:”. Like it’s just I was beyond delighted. Like, yes, that’s a relationship between Sam and Magdalene is fantastic. Chemistry is off the hook. But I never expected to see that happen with with the cat and the ice queen. And it was it had my heart.
The other thing and I hesitate whether to even bring it up because I had no idea. And I was floored. So I will say as little as possible. All I will say is that there is a twist. And the twist was so clever that I will read this book again because I need to read it knowing that piece of information.
Okay, yeah, right. I’m gonna read it. Is it an audio book too?
I love the cover by the way. I love the cover. Oh, you know, I- we’re cover snobs. And we’re like totally different on covers. So are we agreeing?
I have bagged on a lot I have talked shit about a lot of covers in my-
Mine included. And that’s okay. I can respect it.
I did. We might be thinking the same- I- I like some of your covers. There’s- Yeah. Some of them didn’t do it for me.
It’s okay. it’s okay.
It’s not personal. I’m checking if it is in audio. My search on Audible did not turn up any-
-and I’m just I’m just asking because I know a lot of people are switching over to audiobooks now. And because I won’t be going on a road trip anytime soon. It’ll actually be an actual book for me.
But I know a lot of people are into the, you know, listening.
Yeah, I don’t think it is yet. This author is self published. And I mean, yeah, some some self published authors get audio books made but they are expensive and difficult to get made sometimes so I can understand why honestly though. It’s well well well worth it. Like I said though, if you start reading it you’re like, “Is this- I’m not Hogwarts?” It’s not a not Hogwarts. Just think like fancy private school. Yeah, the ice queen age gap thing. Very, very worked for me.
And the cat.
And the cat.
That that was the sinker for me. I mean, the like the swish. Like the whole, I’m doing it. I’m gonna I’m gonna read it because there’s a cat and I love cats. I’m in.
Well, the thing that was funny about that is I was- so I had started reading it. I’ve, I’ve had kind of a bit of a tough time this fall with like, getting into books and finishing them. And as I don’t think it’s anything to do with the books themselves. I mean, I mentioned in an earlier podcast that, you know, my whole family ended up getting COVID, myself included. And while that was shifting from like a physical standpoint, it was I think, harder for me from a mental health standpoint. You know, I ended up being very, very angry and- So it was hard for me to get into books and it was harder for me to like stay into books. And so The Headmistress’s is one that like I picked up and put down probably three or four times and nothing to do with the book, more because I was a walking rage ball. And you know, reading about people falling in love super wasn’t working for me. And I saw Lee Winter, who was another, you know, lesfic author, one of my favorites. Love, love love her books.
Yeah. Oh my god. She writes all the ice queens. I love her ice queens. And she was talking about how her favorite thing was seeing the two ice queens, Magdalene and the cat and I’m like, “Pardon?” And so I got back into it. And then once I got back into it, it was pretty hard for me to put down Yeah, actually. So yeah, it’s fantastic. Highly, highly recommend.
So that is all for this episode. Thank you so much for joining us. If you’ve enjoyed the show, please you know and you are not a subscriber, please consider hitting that subscribe button so that you’ll get you know, automatic downloads whenever we release an episode. If you’d like to support the show, we have a link to our ko-fi in the show notes. If you don’t want to, that’s totally okay. It’s just there if you’re interested. And if you have a friend that you think would enjoy getting queer media recommendations in to their ears, please let them know about it as well.
Yes. And you know what I would love?
What would you love?
I would love if we got some more reviews on Apple podcasts. Is it Apple Apple that we have the- I always have terrible up like “Hey, have we do we have any no reviews? Do we have has anybody said anything about us?” And it’s free. So if you review us it’s free and it’s the holidays are coming up and it’d be nice to have more reviews. So I would love that and so would Tara. Okay, so if you want to connect with us on your social favorite cheese Hello, hello. I’m halfway out the door. I gotta go. I gotta go find some sleighs. I’m getting ready to go on a scavenger hunt type thing. Um, anyway so if you want to connect with us on your favorite social media sites just search for queerlyrecommended on Instagram Twitter or Facebook or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and you can also find Tara and I separately on Twitter, everywhere, both Facebook all those we have our separate accounts plus we have the Queerly Recommended account so.
Yes. So Goodbye, everyone.