Hello everyone and welcome to a very special live edition of Queerly Recommended the podcast where we recommend queer books, TV shows, movies and more. And because we are doing this live hopefully we’re not gonna biff it too much because we don’t have an editor who can just take those pieces out and stick them at the end. So I’m Tara Scott, I review queer women’s fiction at The Lesbian Review, Lambda Literary, Smart Bitches Trashy Books, and I am thrilled that we’re here at TLR’s Sexy Reads event. Thank you so much Sheena, for asking us to be a part of it.
You basically said everything I was going to, but I’m Kris Bryant, and I’m a contemporary romance writer with about 20 books under my belt through Bold Strokes Books. And I’m excited that everybody’s here.
So for everyone who is here live in the event session, honestly, like, please feel free to submit your questions at any time using the chat. We’re planning on saving time at the end, so if there’s anything you’ve been burning to ask us, whether it is- it could be about erotic books, or it could be about anything, like how long is Kris’s hair for real, because from here, it looks very long. You can-
Tara Scott 1:28
I know I need to get it. This is a thing, I really do need to get it cut. And I say that every podcast and every time I do a panel, and it just gets longer and I never cut it. So.
Tara Scott 1:38
Well, I mean, it’s-
Tara Scott 1:40
-the source of your strength. So, you know. So yeah, honestly, drop your questions in the chat. We’ll save some time at the end. And because this is a live event, we’re doing something a little bit different and instead of following our typical format, we’re going to be doing mostly recommendations. But first, Kris, I hear there’s something exciting in the queer world that you would like to celebrate.
I really want to celebrate the first non binary Olympian.
Tara Scott 2:05
I don’t know who that is, tell me more.
Timothy LeDuc. They are an American- pair of an American figure skating team. And it’s just, it was so refreshing. This is like brand spanking new information. And I’m so excited. I mean, having queer rep in the Olympics has started to really roll in the last what, two Olympics? And so I’m so excited that this is happening. Because, you know, queers have been in the Olympics, like, since the beginning. We all know this. Everybody was in the closet. And it wasn’t I think until 1988 when the first- I want to say, yeah, it was 1988 when there was an actual out and proud Olympian. I think that’s right. But geez, most of the time you hear about it after they’re done and they have their awards, and their medals, and their, you know, whatever their Wheaties or whatever they’re sponsoring. You know, something like that. So it was really cool that this is like non binary and the Olympics. I was great.
So cool. And in the chat, Tiffany shares that Canada Women’s Hockey Team – whoo!, go Canada – is the most LGBTQ team ever in history.
Tara Scott 3:03
That is amazing. I love it. I love it. So I’m glad that we talked about that. So that is what I wanted to get off my chest today before we started our, our…
Yeah, Kris was texting me last night. “We have to talk about the Olympics!” I was like, “Okay, I haven’t watched anything but let’s go”.
Tara Scott 3:31
Tara Scott 3:34
Before our recommendations also, you have also written erotic romance. How did that come about? I’m sorry Brit Ryder. Brit Ryder, your alter ego.
Brit Ryder is here. Okay. So when I wrote my very first book Jolt, after that was published, I met with my editor. I went to California, and met with my editor, Ashley, and Ashley was like, “Look, like don’t let it go to your head”. Because readers are saying, “Oh, the sex is great. You know, maybe you think about it”. And I’m like, “Oooh”, you know, big head. “I’ll just go ahead and do it”. And so I have like a few chapters or something I’d written and Ashley’s like, “Absolutely not. This is horrible. What are you thinking? None of this is right. You can’t do this”. So she gave me an assignment to read the book. Macho Slut. I don’t know. Have you ever read it Tara?
Tara Scott 4:20
I don’t think I’d even heard about it.
Okay. So let me tell you.
Tara Scott 4:24
I don’t think.
Okay. it is, but and I’m not quite sure if I’m pronouncing the last name right. Pat Califia? Pat Califia.
Tara Scott 4:31
Oh, did Sinclari talk about that when we talked to them?
Maybe when we talked to them for our thing?
Tara Scott 4:36
Maybe so, maybe.
Tara Scott 4:38
So for anybody who doesn’t know we recently on the podcast had a bonus episode with Sinclair Sexsmith, editor of The Best Lesbian Erotica of the Year. And they talk about Pat Calafia a few times. So if you want to also know more, that’s a place you can go.
Right. So I was not prepared for that. I was not prepared for it. And so I said, “Okay, yeah, no, I’m not ready yet”. So I had to wait. And you know, I have learned being a writer that there- it really is a process to, to get to that point to where you have to be also personally comfortable writing about it and reading about it. And so- and I wasn’t there at the very beginning of my writing story. And so when I finally felt comfortable enough, I said, “Okay, I’m gonna do it”. And so I did it.
Tara Scott 5:23
And people liked it.
They liked it.
Tara Scott 5:24
Even better. Well, we’re not here to recommend your books, although we could, but we’re not going to. So Kris, we each came prepared with a few options, and however many we share truly depends on how ever many questions we get in the chat. So like we said, we’re saving time for you all. What is your first recommendation today?
Well, I don’t think that we can actually talk about lesbian erotic romance or erotica without mentioning Meghan O’Brien.
It’s true. I don’t-
It’s very true.
Tara Scott 5:57
I think we might get arrested if we didn’t bring it up, but then we might like it. I don’t know. It’s hard to say.
This might be a short story for Brit Ryder in the future. I’m thinking. Maybe.
Tara Scott 6:08
Mm hmm. Mm hmm. Let’s see.
Maybe. Okay, so The Night off by Meghan O’Brien was written in 2012. And I’m just going to go ahead and read kind of the blurb. That’s kind of how I usually do it. Emily Parker has a busy life over which he maintains ironclad control. Raised by drug addicted parents, she used to take care of people around her to the exclusion of her own needs. But not tonight. After years of celibacy, she’s ready to pay for exactly what she wants, to surrender control by having it taken away. Hard working- hard. Jeez, there we go. This is the part where I need Neil to edit this. Ah! Having worked as a high price escort for years Nat Swayne not only knows her job. She’s damn good at it. Dangerously sexy. She knows precisely how to fulfill the fantasies of women who enjoy her special brand of make believe, all without ever becoming emotionally involved. When their night of intense play turns into something more, Emily and Nat can’t help but pursue a connection in the real world. Unfortunately, old- Here we go again. I really do get through this. I really do.
Tara Scott 7:16
Old habits die hard. And love isn’t always enough. So this is an amazing book. And for so many different reasons. I had a conversation with one of my friends. We had talked about, like what books I was going to recommend. And I said this one and she was like, “I don’t know, you know, it’s a little bit much”. Because she said it was very intense. And I’m like, “Okay, so that’s your opinion.”
Tara Scott 7:38
It is intense.
It is intense, for sure. It’s very intense. But so let’s start off by saying Emily calls this company called Extreme Encounters. And she pays thousands of dollars. And she takes this questionnaire like, I mean, off the page, you know that she takes this huge questionnaire about like everything she wants in this fantasy. You know, she’s gonna pay a shit ton of money to have it. So she wants to make sure she gets what she wants.
So, here’s what she wants. She wants her control to be taken away. Like she signed up for it. She wants to be a not so willing participant at first. That’s how the book starts off. She wants dirty talk, the cruder the better, and she wants somebody to bring her close to orgasm, but deny her that satisfaction. That’s yeah. She wants verbal humiliation. And then she wants strap-ons and spanking. And these are all things that she signed up for. And it’s very clear, like Meghan talks about consent throughout this whole book. And she’s very good writer about that, about having consent in her books. So Emily agrees upon this before she even like signs her name and pays the money. So here’s what I learned. Like when we were just talking about Sinclair, you know, there are kinks out there that may or may not be your cup of tea. And there’s a level of openness and acceptance when you read erotica, I think and consent is sexy, and so is kink. And it’s not for everybody, but you just kind of have to know that it’s okay. Like these things are okay.
Tara Scott 9:11
Yeah, I think this is a case too where it shows that consensual, dubious consent play can be sexy too, that you can even play with the concept of consent in a way that’s consensual, and that can be something really satisfying and fulfilling.
Right. Right. And so like, the whole thing is, you know, she gets she- it’s so funny because like they have a safe word. Like she basically kind of gets kidnapped at the beginning. And Nat whispers her safe word, which also happens to be mine, how weird is that? Unicorn! So-
I’m learning about you, I didn’t know this.
So she whispers “Unicorn”, so that Emily knows that she really isn’t getting attacked, that this is what she signed up for. And this is the start of her night. The Night Off. So what do we know? We know like Nat is the best of the best. She’s the the cream of the crop.
Tara Scott 10:08
Sooooo sweet. I think that was one of the things that I really loved about Nat, because so this was one of the first- it was probably within the the first ten lesbian romances that I ever read. And it was kind of like, “Whoa, okay. All right, here we are”. And I think the thing that I loved was kind of that dichotomy between who Nat is in, like, when she’s working, or when they’re having sex, because some of it does continue even after it’s not a paid relationship. And then who she is outside the bedroom, that there’s this like, super domineering, hunky incredible, and that, but then it’s like, “Hey, can I just like, make you an omelet with all your favorite ingredients?” Like so sweet and nurturing and lovely. And, again, that idea of like, we’re all complex, we all have different things that together make who we are.
Yeah. And during this whole book, you know, the relationship is so nice, because they started off completely stripped down, literally and figuratively, but I mean, just, you know, the whole, like, everything was out there, they knew their dark dirt, you know, deepest, darkest desires, you know, and when you build a relationship up from that, it’s gonna go a lot quicker, I think. And so they basically fall in love pretty quickly. But when the emotions come in, it’s completely believable. You know, it’s a great starter, not really starter book, maybe it’s a medium book of erotica that I would recommend to somebody, you know, and it includes like a cranky teenage sister that we have to deal with. And, and that’s actually a really great scene with the sister when she actually meets Nat for the first time.
Tara Scott 11:45
Yeah. It’s lovely.
So. So I- Yeah, so this book is, you know, it’s a solid read as BDSM. Love, Butch femme sex toys, anything you could want. Like, this is a solid read. And I really enjoyed it.
Tara Scott 11:59
Nice.I also recommend that.
Awesome. Cool. Well, what’s your first recommendation?
Tara Scott 12:04
So my first recommendation is Party favors by Jaime Clevenger. Have you ever read it?
I have not.
Tara Scott 12:11
Did you ever read Choose Your Own Adventure books when you were young?
Tara Scott 12:17
So Party Favors is a super sexy, choose your own adventure, but for grownups and just like those old Choose Your Own Adventure books, it’s written in the second person so that the reader is the main character. And so the premise is that you’ve taken a week long break from your girlfriend, you need a little bit of space, a little bit of perspective, but you’re meeting her- so her name is Janine, she told you to come to a fancy dress party. And because she’s German, you, well probably not you, you, you wouldn’t do this because you’re German. But I’m gonna guess most readers are not. So as the main character, you think that she’s talking about a costume party, except it’s a black tie event, and you show up to a black tie event in a Batman costume.
Which I totally would.
Tara Scott 13:08
This is the greatest thing ever. And so your first choice is a) you can face up to Jeanine and stay because you need a glass of champagne and your night can’t get any worse. Or b) you can leave the party with a wave of your cape and an ounce of dignity. And here’s the thing, it doesn’t matter what you choose. And that’s true of like most of the choices within the book until you get to the end of the branch. Almost no matter what you choose, you’re going to get laid. There is much sex in this. If you stay Janine gives you a hall pass for the night, and you agree to meet up in the morning to decide if you’re going to stay together and be exclusive or not.
And this was so much fun. No two encounters were the same. And understanding like I knew what I signed up for when I read this book, like it was very clear what the premise was going to be. So every time I met a new person, I was like, “Ooh, do I get to bang this one?” Like, it could be the party host, there was a local actress, there’s a member of the waitstaff, my best friend, even an executive from the place where I work, who I ran into is at a sex shop. And it’s just like, “Am I? Do I get to bang this person? Do I not?” I don’t know. And so there’s all kinds of like, There’s sweet and slow sex with lots of feelings. And there’s even sleeping with somebody that I’ve just met. And I’m about to get on stage with him at a drag show, which, you know, very fun. And some characters you have sex with them in more than one scene and the way that happens, it changes so that sometimes you’re topping them. Sometimes they’re topping you. And so I mean, if you like to read anything in a lesbian sex scene, you will find it in this book plus a Batman costume.
I mean, that sounds fantastic.
Tara Scott 14:47
Gonna have to read it, I’m gonna have to read it.
I think you should. It’s a great time. So Kris, what is your next book?
My next book is Harper Bliss, Seasons of Love.
Tara Scott 15:02
I liked that one.
Has anybody read that? Yeah it’s a good one it’s- I liked it because, well let’s talk about it. Okay, so I’m gonna try to do this again, we’re gonna try to read the blurb because I’m gonna stumble fourteen times.
Tara Scott 15:13
I believe in you.
I know. Me too. Go me. Is age really just a number? Alice McAllister is a successful solicitor who likes a quiet disciplined life, for sure. But when her business partner Miranda forces her to take a vacation at her holiday home in Portugal, the presence of Miranda’s daughter Joy turns Alice’s world upside down. Despite their age difference, Alice and Joy embarked on a fiery holiday romance until they have to return home to London. Will Alice be able to forget about Joy and what she has awakened in her? And how can she face Joy’s mother without a guilt- without guilt after such a passionate summer fling?So Alice goes on vacation. Joy shows up for a few days to unwind. So Joy, okay.
Tara Scott 15:59
And they unwind.
They do! Let me tell you. So Joy is 29 going on 16. I really felt like at the beginning of the book she’s very, not not really immature. But she really likes to tease Alice, you know, she knows that Alice is uncomfortable. So she likes to be naked. You know, she cuz you know, I grew up in Europe, everybody was naked. Like, our neighbor used to mow naked.
Tara Scott 16:28
Woman. Yes. So she’s used to like- topless. Okay, she wasn’t naked. But she had shorts on. And so like, like my, like, whenever we went to the beach, everybody was naked. And I’ve always been around naked people. Like, that sounds weird, but not really, not like my whole life. I’m just saying I grew up with it. And like, at some point, I even went around topless. And I think, like, once I hit puberty, something happened. Like, I just got really shy and like to this day, not a single person can actually say that they’ve seen my cleavage. I mean, it’s just one of those things.
Tara Scott 16:59
Were you back? Like, was your family living in the US at that point? Or were you- was your family still in Europe?
Um, yeah, I moved here when I was a teenager, a young teenager. So you know, everything happened at once. Moved back here, puberty.
I mean, North America is super puritanical.
I know. I know and seeing it, it happened. I fell victim to it. So she likes to go topless and Alice’s kind of uncomfortable about it. She finally you know, Joy finally says, “Hey, does this make it comfortable?” And she’s like, “Yes.” And I thought it was weird that she didn’t immediately ask because like, I wouldn’t like- even though it’s my house, I would still be like, “Hey, is it okay, that I’m topless?” So I thought you know, it was kind of like, I don’t know about this. But then Alice is extreme- they’re extreme opposites like Alice’s very. She’s 51 going on 80. So we have somebody who’s like, 29 going on 16 and 51 going on 80. And like, and when they finally do come together, you know It was such an interesting story. You know, I’m a Harper Bulls fan. I have been reading her for a very long time, since I started reading lesfic. It was funny, I looked through my Kindle and she was one of the first ones that I’ve had, or that I had on my Kindle.
So you know, the writing is smooth. You get to see both characters grow, you get to actually see Joy become- approach a relationship. She hasn’t really ever had a relationship before. And so Alice is finally understanding, “Hey, I like women”. And so they’re both kind of like starting this journey together on this new relationship and figuring things out and like, it’s great but Alice wants to keep it hidden. And Joy’s like, “No, I want to tell my mom.” Like, how do you tell your mom that you know, your best friend that you’re sleeping with her daughter, and you’ve known this family for a really long time? So-
Tara Scott 18:44
I don’t know.
Yeah, it’s a tough one.
Tara Scott 18:48
I’m trying to imagine even just like one of my friends telling me now, of course, in this scenario, my dad has to be dead or something like, “Hey, I’m deeply in love with your mother”. And I, I- don’t know how I would feel about that. I mean, I suppose you know, good for mom. But also like, that would be-
That’s a tough one.
Tara Scott 19:08
And thinking too about, like how old my kids are now. And my friends around. Yeah. If somebody came to me in 10, 15 years and was like, “Ah, so your daughter and I are deeply in love”. I’d be like, “Huh, I’m gonna deeply love stabbing you”.
That’s exactly right. And so, so like, the reaction that Miranda has is totally understandable. It’s believable. You know, you want the relationship to work, but also you understand that, you know, you sympathize with Miranda and you’re just like, I don’t know, like, I feel the same way. You know, but it’s such a well written book and the sex is great. It starts off you know, and it’s really hot and the love works itself in and it’s just it was such an enjoyable read. So I highly recommend it.
Tara Scott 19:55
That’s a great one. That’s a great pick.
Yeah, what about you? What is your next recommendation?
Tara Scott 20:01
Okay, so I feel like this is just like what a great coincidence because it is an Olympic story in addition to being an erotic-
Tara Scott 20:13
It is called Fire on the Ice by Tamsin Parker. Although in this book, they’re called the Snow and Ice games, which, to me screams somebody saying, “Please don’t sue me, internet. I’m just an independent author and I can’t afford to license the name Olympics.” Which is fair enough. Everybody knew it was fine. And so it opens with figure skater Maisie Harper. She’s known as Canada’s Ice Princess because she’s very, very icy. Everybody thinks she’s quite closed off and she’s not- like it’s she’s hard to build relationships with. But she is sitting at the bar in the Athletes Village, which would be pretty unusual for her. She’s not the bar type, except that she’s hoping to run into Blaise Bellamy who is speedskater from I think from the US. Yeah, it must be because she would run into-
Okay, fun fact. So where I live in Calgary, they have Olympic training facilities here because of the 88 Olympics. And so I do know that they all know each other. So yes, Blaze is American and they had had a fling four years prior at the last games. And Blaze is very happy to see Maisie at the bar, because her memories of that are equally fond. And that is why she says yes, Maisie basically says, “I think we should bang a lot during our three weeks here, and we shouldn’t bang other people.” And Blaze is polyamorous. And so she typically, even when she’s in a relationship, she might be romantically exclusive, but she is not sexually exclusive. But she’s like, “You know what, it’s three weeks and I really like Maisie and I’m down. That’s okay”.
And they kind of just I love seeing how in between events and in between everything, they would just kind of like find each other as often as they could. But Maisie doesn’t like to be in the spotlight. And Blaze feels like any publicity is good publicity. You know, she has this motto that she lives by, “If I can’t be victorious, I’d like to be notorious”. And so that’s kind of the like, can a relationship actually happen between people like this? Or is Blaze’s desire to be in the public eye going to be a problem for them? So I quite liked these characters a lot. Blaze is like, if you picture in your mind just this like roller derby badass fantasy girl. That’s basically what she is.
Tara Scott 22:41
Right? Right. Like total thrill seeker, whether it’s something that’s gonna end up with her the tabloids or it’s something in the bedroom, like, she’s just she’s all she’s an adrenaline junkie, kind of always on to the next thing. And Maisie is like every stereotype, I couldn’t remember the word stereotype. That’s cool. That’s fine.
Maisie is like every stereotype of polite Canadians. And she just keeps her head down. And she just wants- she wants a medal so bad. She’s never had one before. And so everyone thinks she’s an ice queen, because they never really get to see who she is. They don’t get to see her vulnerabilities or her fears or her passion. And Blaze is like the first person there to really take the time to see who she is. And so while like, there is a lot of sex in this book, and especially in the first half, which I thought was a little unusual. Like not unwelcome, but often, when it’s a full length novel, you’ll see it kind of like building to that whereas it’s like, “Oh, no, okay, the sexual chemistry is happening”. The next question is, are they compatible as humans? And so other things that I liked was that like, as thrill seeking as Blaze is and all that, like for me, that would have made her the way they the way they portrayed her, It would have made it an obvious choice for her to be the dominant person in the bedroom. But she’s not.
Oh! (delightful chuckling)
Tara Scott 24:06
So good, cause Maisie comes in and is basically just like, “I am going to tell you what is up and you are going to like it and that is how it is going to be,” and Blaze is like “Yes Ma’am, please and thank you”. It’s so good. And you know, she gets the kind of compliance from Blaze that would be hard to imagine from any of her other sexual partners, whether they’re men or women because she’s just like a gigantic like fuck you. I do what I want all the time.
And something else that I liked quite a lot because when I was reading it, I was a little bit nervous. I think I read this about I’m trying to get I think it came out about four or five years ago. And Blaze is not only polyamorous, but she’s bisexual. And so again, like as a bisexual reader, I was like, “Oh shit. Are we going to get a bunch of stereotypes about like slutty bisexual people?” And like there’s some people that use the word slut really positively and some people that use it really negatively. And it’s just, it didn’t, it didn’t happen, like I really loved that Blaze’s sexuality, her desires, her appetite. It’s celebrated and honored. And Maisie never brings it up as a negative and never makes her feel bad about it. And so when they get there happily ever after, I was afraid that Blaze was going to have to make a choice that wouldn’t be true to who she is as a person that she would have to make the kind of compromise that she would have to go against her own personal fundamental values. And she doesn’t. Like it, it is a happily ever after that we don’t see typically in romance. It’s the only time I’ve seen it. But I thought it was just perfect.
And for the person in the chat who asked what’s the name of the book, it’s called Fire on the Ice, and Tamsin Parker is the author. Honestly, I love all of Tamsin Parker’s FF books. She does one. The name completely escapes me. Oh, it’s called In her Court, which is not erotic, but is like super, super fun and takes place at an adult sleepaway camp. So if you just want like something fun to escape from the world- Hey, I did it. I stuck another recommendation in. I’m like the Russian doll of recommendations. I’m going to recommend this. And as a result, you’re gonna do this in this. Kris, what’s your next recommendation?
Well, I think this is one that we both can talk about. I threw away all my notes. I thought we were done. No we’re not done.
Tara Scott 26:42
Oh fuck it we’re done. No, I think we need to talk about the sex therapist next door.
Yes, we do. Yes we do.
This is by Meghan O’Brien, another book by Meghan O’Brien. And I feel like this has such back and forth. Like half the people loved it.
Tara Scott 27:04
And half the people were just like, “Oh, I can’t deal with it”. So we need to talk about this.
Tara Scott 27:09
I agree. I don’t think I’ve actually seen a more polarizing book than The Sex Therapist Next Door because people either love it, or they completely hate it. I fall in the love camp. I mean, I don’t. I don’t think I can say that it’s like 100% perfect book. But for me, it’s like a four and a half out of five.
Yeah, it’s, it certainly makes you question things. But at the same time, what I loved about it was you knew, I mean, that was another thing. You know, people talk about, you know, the characters, the two characters. Okay, let’s talk about the plot. For people who haven’t read this book or don’t know about this book. It’s exactly what it sounds like.
Tara Scott 27:51
Yeah, that is an on the nose title.
For sure, that sums it up right there. So Diana Kelly is the sex therapist next door to Jude I think, is Jude, yes. And Diana is 39 years old. And so she has a- she puts on a in a live in person? Is this a thing?
I have no idea if anyone knows please drop it in the chat thing.
I know. Like it’s like in person sex class, basically. And so where couples come in, I think she has like 16 people in the first class that she performs. It is real. Okay.
Fantastic. I was wondering the same thing, because I don’t think they’re available in Calgary.
In here. I know they’re not in the Midwest at all. Not that I’m aware of. Not that I’ve looked, but I just I thought it was fascinating. And so basically her assistant, which is also her ex lover, and best friend, Ava, falls on a ladder hurts or breaks her back. And so she’s trying to find somebody to fill in for Ava because she could lose out on, you know, thousands of dollars over the course of this six week class. And so she goes next door to her neighbor, who’s Jude, who’s 26 years old, and she’s hot and she has sex all the time. And they hear each other having sex through the walls because I guess their bedrooms are right next to each other.
And so she’s like, “Well, you know” She’s real shy. “Just like I don’t know how to say this. But will you be the stand in person for my sex class that’s coming up?” Because it was that day. Saturday, it was a Saturday, so Saturday night and here’s what I- Cunnilinguis 101. It’s like How to Eat Pussy 101, will you like be my subject and she’s like, “Hell yes. Okay. Sounds like a great Saturday night.” Because she has a crush on Diana. And Diana is emotionally unavailable. So nyway, so the whole consent thing is that like, she tells her in advance, like, “We’re gonna get into spanking, we’re gonna get into strap on sex. We’re gonna get into anal play. We’re gonna get into all these different things.” Like spells it out for her. And then there’s the consent. She’s like, “Yes, I’m down. Yes, I’m good with this.” She’s like, “Oh, I’m not too sure about this one, but let’s try it”. And so so it’s really, um, I thought it was great. I mean, like the whole thing, like the whole consent thing. And so there’s this buildup, where Jude is really starting to feel, since she already has like this crush on Diana. She feels this, like she could feel the emotions coming out every time they have sex. And Diana is like, cut off. She’s like, I had a really bad relationship. I cannot open myself up like that again, ever, ever. I’m emotionally unavailable to you. So don’t fall in love with me. And she’s like…
Tara Scott 30:36
Well, I think that’s part of why people don’t like it. Because frankly, Diana is a complete asshole to Jude at parts.
For sure, but she- Yeah, and the thing about it is she has mixed signals.
Tara Scott 30:48
Like in a session, she’s like, “Sweetheart, you’re so beautiful”. Like, everything, you know, she’s like, acting like her real- we say real self, but it’s her therapist self. And she’s like, giving Jude all the signals, you know, the “Hey, we’re good to go. Come on, let’s have a relationship”. But then like outside of class, she’s like, “Okay, see you later. Bye”.
Tara Scott 31:07
Yeah, she lays out the boundaries and then her behavior doesn’t actually align with what she’s laid out as the boundaries.
Yeah, and she falls back on it too. “Well, I already told you that we can’t- I already told you. I was straight up”. Yeah.
Tara Scott 31:20
But in terms of what’s good. So for me, I feel like this- So I don’t know who- how many folks here were at the session yesterday with the TLR team. But I think I said more than once that for myself, if I’m reading an erotic romance, or if I’m reading an erotica, I want every single sex scene to be doing some kind of work, to be doing some kind of heavy lifting. Like it has to be contributing to character development, it has to be contributing to story development. And so for me, this book, in that respect, ends up being kind of like a master class, because there are times when we join Diana and Jude and they’re already partway through an encounter, we don’t see the build up that leads to the sexual activity, we’re in there, because that’s what the story required.
Or there was even you know, there’s times where a scene breaks before everyone’s had their orgasms. And it’s like, “Wait, what? Where’s that pay off?” And it’s like, well, that’s not what the scene is meant to do right now. It is being used for story, therefore, it’s doing exactly what it needs to do. And I thought that was so interesting in a way that I don’t know if I’ve ever seen that before. I may have. I mean, I also have a notoriously not amazing memory. So if I read a book a decade ago, I’m definitely not gonna remember that. But it’s something that especially stood out for me because it defied my expectations and then reminded me of why I even have expectations around what sex should be doing in erotic romance. What works really well for you with this one?
You know, I liked- there are people out there like Diana. I mean, all of us to a certain extent, you know, we’re broken. And I feel like she was continually punishing herself, really, if you think about it, by not allowing herself to feel and to care, and to actually love and allow love back in her life. So I like that whole, like, “I’m such an asshole to you. But at the same time, I really want to have this affair, I want to have this relationship with you. But I don’t know how to do it. Because the last time I did it, it was really hard. And it was very abusive, and I don’t know how to get back there in my life”.
So I really, you know, as like we mentioned, you know, she was such a jerk to Jude, but at the same time, I mean, she was- I think, you know, there’s a whole push, sometimes when you’re in a relationship, you push people away, to see if they come back. And I don’t like it. And a lot of people do that. And it’s not necessarily wrong. It’s just what they know to do as a protection. And so I felt that in this book, I really did. And yeah, so I kind of liked how she got over that because-
Tara Scott 34:08
See, I disagree with you a little bit only the sense that I think she was pushing her away because it was the like, “I want to be the one in control of hurting my feelings”.
Tara Scott 34:19
I want it like- I’m going to end this so you- I’m going to hurt myself so you can’t be the one to hurt me. I want to get in there first. I’m going to end it now.
But do they really mean it when people do that? Do they really mean it?
Tara Scott 34:32
I an not a psychologist and I cannot speak for all people.
I’m not a therapist. I’m not a sex therapist. I play one-
Tara Scott 34:41
I am not a physiotherapist. So I mean have seen that kind of thing before and I think it just depends on like she’s been through a really rough experience and so it’s one of those like, I recognize that she’s an asshole to Jude, but I don’t- I personally don’t hold it against her. Now, would I be upset if somebody did it to me in real life? Well, yes, but I think that’s again that difference between reading versus actually experiencing.
Right. Now the one thing I did not like about this book was that they placed so much- Diana placed so much emphasis on their age gap. This is an age gap. I- both of mine, like all of mine have been age gaps. But, you know, I didn’t like it. That that was a big thing because 39 and 26 really isn’t that big of a difference. I mean, it is, but it’s not horrible. It’s not- it’s it’s- they’re adults, they’re still-
Tara Scott 35:39
Yeah, it could be more.
-prime. Yeah, it could be more. It could be like a Harper. It could be around I think, what was it a 51 and a 29. That’s a big age gap. Good luck on that.
I think she’s done 25 year age gaps, too in other books.
Tara Scott 35:56
That’s a lot.
Tara Scott 35:57
Yeah. It’s yeah, that’s when you really got to talk to your friend and be like, “What are you doing? Get your hand off my daughter.”
Tara Scott 36:08
So one other thing about this cause you probably read it, like in the- with your eyeballs and not listen to the audiobook.
Right. Right. I read it. Um, read it.
Tara Scott 36:18
I did listen to the audiobook. And it was narrated by Britney Powers, aka Britney Pope and holy shit.
Oh, really? Really?
Tara Scott 36:27
Yes. It’s so good. I probably should not have been listening to it on transit at the time. And because I did and I was like, “I gotta stop. This is not okay.”
I love it.
Tara Scott 36:38
“I am not okay”.
Eeeee, no one needs to know this. Yeah, I would say do not listen to it in public transit, or with friends and family around. But it’s a fabulous audio book. I really enjoyed it in that format. Yeah.
And I’m happy to hear that it’s Britney. That’s exciting.
So good, right?
Yes. So what about you? Are you gonna talk about one more
I have one or two more. So there haven’t been any questions really in the chat.
Tara Scott 37:17
A lot of comments and chatter. Karen – thank you, you are so sweet – shared that “Watching us talk and have so much fun is gonna make listening to the podcast even more fun in the future”. So I’m really glad to hear that. Honestly, you can ask us anything, whatever you want. We’re here. This is your time. And we’re-
10 minutes to ask us anything.
Tara Scott 37:37
So in the meantime, while you all think about that, I also am going to recommend a Harper Bliss story.
Oh, good. Good, good, good.
Tara Scott 37:46
And so she has a series, it’s called French Kissing. And it has, oh geez. I don’t even know how many volumes it is at this point. It’s like five or six of them or something like that. So I’m only gonna be talking about the first one, although I recommend it all in general. And so it is a serial lesbian erotic story, that’s like a soap opera. And so in the first season, which you buy as a collection now, was released, it was released in six parts. And each one of them were supposed to be an episode, which again, tying back to the idea of a soap opera, I just thought was super clever. I love that with the format. And they were released. I’m trying to reach back real far on the memory banks. I can’t remember they were like a week apart or a month apart. But like you had to take them in as individual episodes, you didn’t get the whole thing at once.
And so it takes place in Paris at a PR agency, which is kind of Barbier and Cyr and in that sort of where all the action happens. And so there’s Juliet and Claire, they are former lovers. They’re best friends. And they’re the ones who built this PR agency together. Definitely at a big cost to their personal lives because you don’t get to be a top tier agency of any kind without giving up a lot of your personal life. So Juliet’s been in a relationship with Nadia for about a decade but their relationship is very rocky at this point. Claire has not had a long term relationship for years but she’s had a lot of really fabulous one nightstands. So way to go, Claire, good for her. Go get it.
They have one employee Stephanie, who is kind of like the belle of the lesbian bar scene, and she’s very happy with that. Also, many one-night stands, probably a lot more than Claire. And again, go get it Stephanie, good for you. So Nadia, again, I know there’s a lot of character names here. So again, Nadia is married to Juliet. See, even I’m getting confused when I’m talking about it. It’s so much easier when you’re reading it because it’ll jump perspectives between different people. It’s super easy to keep track of when you’re reading it. But Juliet’s wife Nadia sets Claire up with Margot. Margot was a trauma surgeon from the hospital where she works. So again, we get not just PR agency we get a little bit of medical drama happening with the trauma surgeons. And you know, Claire’s really happy with her. She feels like she’s actually found the one woman who can really, you know, rein her in and Steph, as much as she loves the idea of being single, starts to question that when she’s assigned to work with- she’s like this high profile darling of French politics, Dominique Laroche.
I love Dominique Laroche. And that does not change as the series goes on. They’re probably my favorite couple of all the couples I just- uh! I love it so much. And so it’s written in the third person and the perspective shifts between Juliet, Nadia, Claire, Margo, and Steph. So we get to see what they’re all like together as a group, we get to see what they’re like when they’re paired off in couples, and we get to see what they’re like as individuals. The only thing that was disappointing for me in this particular volume is that we don’t get to see Dominique’s perspective. But where it worked out is that – pardon me – what what worked out for me there is that Dominique is able to talk about herself well enough that you still get to know who she is.
So I did read them one by one. And each time I was like, “Where is this next episode? I need it please”. So if you can, when you go to read it, I highly recommend read them like read one episode, put it down, walk away, do something for a while, come back to it because it just makes it that much sweeter. Like so much better to read it all like that because I did listen to the audiobook, and I listened to it all in one go. And it’s very good. I mean, it’s also Abby Creighton. So like come on. There’s a- like it’s a- there’s a lot of sex in it. And Abby Creighton reading it is even better.
The only thing I’ll say is that if you cannot handle cheating in stories, this is probably not going to be the one for you. But I found it like it’s fun. It’s sexy. It’s super angsty. It’s just- it is a great one.
Sounds like it.
Tara Scott 42:25
And in the chat, someone shared “There are quite a number of age gap couples out there that have successful-”
Tara Scott 42:33
This is separate, yes. To go back to your point that you’re making about age gap couples, there are quite a number of age gap couples out there that have successful very long term relationships, food for thought. Yes, absolutely. I think we see a ton of them in our reading community. I do think it’s interesting in books though, how you kind of never know- it’s either going to be completely like not a thing, not mentioned, perhaps glossed over at best or it’s like, “No-” Well, Diana and Diana is a perfect example that “No, I cannot possibly in a relationship with you. Because I will sully you with how old I am.” Which is like, “Are you fucking kidding me? You just had your whole hand up inside her in this class?”
Tara Scott 43:19
How is having a relationship, which is also again, also completely fine. Like, if she doesn’t want a relationship. I don’t care that she’s had her whole hand up inside her in a in a class but like, I liked- the thing I liked about Diana, which I know I’m- I’ve gone off my own recommendation back to your recommendation. I liked seeing her become honest with herself. Because I think that’s something that she wasn’t totally able to do at first, and it’s something that she had to grow towards and something that being with Jude helped her be able to do.
I agree. Yeah. And same thing in the other one as well. You know, in Harper’s, yeah.
Yes. Sheena your camera. Your camera came on. Do you have things to say about this,.
Are we done?
Tara Scott 44:08
That’s okay. Oh, good news, because I was literally about to say, that is all for this episode. Thank you so much, everyone for joining us whether you are live or you were listening to this in the future on your favorite podcast app. If you are listening on a podcast app and have enjoyed the show, please hit that subscribe button wherever you listen to podcasts and you’ll get notified whenever we release an episode. And if you’re here live and you’re not following us, please look up Queerly Recommended on your favorite podcast app. We would love to see you. And if you want to connect with us on your favorite social media sites. Just search for queerly recommended on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook or email us at email@example.com. Goodbye everybody.