S2 Ep3: Steamy love stories

We’re a bit early for Valentine’s Day, but each of us picked a love story to discuss this week.

Lauren went first and talked about The Ex Talk by Rachel Lynn Solomon because she just couldn’t hold her tea! Fun, vivacious dialogue and tons of red hot lovin’ was just what Lauren needed. She appreciated the feminist angle on this “faux love affair turning into the real thing” story line. Oh, and she drank a beer while recording, which made the episode SO much fun!

Aileen had a much more PG rated read with The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion. She loved the quirky, schedule-obsessed hero, and the innocent, light-hearted love that he develops for the girl who breaks all the rules. It reminded her of Eleanor Oliphant, another incredibly endearing character we recently covered on the podcast.

Alisa had the heaviest read this week with Normal People by Sally Rooney. Full of heartbreak and emotional ups and downs, this un-romanticized take on two people learning to love both themselves and each other stayed with Alisa (and all of us) long after she put it down.

Josie found her inner wild with Maria Vale’s The Last Wolf. The first book in the Legend of All Wolves series, Josie couldn’t find enough good things to say about it. Not usually into the whole werewolf thing, Josie went hog-wild for this series with its phenomenal characters, enchanting world-building, and compelling story line. Also, TONS of steamy sex.

The following transcript was translated by an AI program so unfortunately, we can’t vouch for its accuracy.

Aileen: [00:00:00] Wait, Lauren, you were just talking about us driving around and that reminded me. Do you remember the time it went to pick you up and you got in my car and shut the door and it fell off. Do you remember that? was that piece of shit car? It was my dad’s car. It was a two door Dodge goes to Dodge

Alisa: oh, remember flooring It on the highway and it wouldn’t go past, like what 40?

Aileen: It was like zero to 60 in five minutes.

Josie: Hello and welcome to fiction between friends, a podcast, dedicated to books and book lovers like us. I’m Josephine Angelini

Lauren: I’m Lauren Sanchez.

Alisa: I’m Alisa Hillfinger,

Aileen: and Aileen Calderon,

Josie: we’re four childhood friends from the suburbs of Massachusetts.

Lauren: I’ve always loved to read almost as much as we love to talk to each other.

Alisa: We started this podcast as a way to celebrate how a really good book can come into your life and change it.

Aileen: So if you’re looking for fun and engaging conversations about books, stick around.

Josie: This is fiction between friends. And we’re glad you’ve joined us.


Welcome back. This is episode three, season two. I’m Josephine Angelini and joining me are my dear friends. Aileen Calderon

Aileen: Hi.

Josie: Lauren Sanchez and Alyssa Hillfinger.

Alisa: Hi.

Josie: So, Alisa, I just, I have to say this, your dog, is your dog old or is he just one of those dogs that even as a puppy, he looked like an old dog.

Lauren: No,

Alisa: he’s both. He’s seven. So for a dog, he’s, you know, he’s technically a senior, he gets the senior vet treatment. Um, but he’s very gray. So he looks older than he is and he’s on a diet, we still kind of think he’s gaining weight, which one of two things. One is we’re in total denial about how many treats we give him, which is probably the truth.

The other option is that there’s something bad growing inside of him that is making him gain weight, which makes me feel really sad then I think about how many treats we do actually give him.

Josie: yeah.

Alisa: Yeah.

Lauren: So

Josie: anyway.

Lauren: read romance this week or what?

Josie: All right. Who do, who wants to go [00:02:00] first? Do we want to do our usual order or just Lauren? Cause you seem like You’re


Lauren: Oh, you want me to go? I’ll go first.

Okay. So I don’t know. Um, I read the ex talk by Rachel Lin, Solomon, and I requested it from the library. And I don’t remember where I heard about it or I dunno, I looked interesting, I guess. And it’s based in Seattle and it’s about, this young woman. She’s a millennial, but she works for a public radio station.

Who Puget sound. Did I say that? Right? Fugit okay. And, um, basically the station struggling a little bit and they’re brainstorming. There’s my cat meowing. Sorry. They’re brainstorming ideas. Like how can we, we need something to bring this alive, you know? So they somehow come up with, well, she blurts out.

She’s like on Tinder and Bumble and all that shit. And she’s like, we should have a show about, you know, Xs or relationships. So they come up with this show called the X talk where her nemesis in the studio, his name is Dominic UN [00:03:00] oh, by the way, her name is Shea Goldstein. So they’re supposed to, they decide the boss decides let’s pretend that you were together and now you’re not, which is a total lie. And that kind of goes against the whole journalism thing. Like lying is probably not the best thing to do on the radio.

Right. Amy,

what are you doing?

Josie: I know.

Aileen: I’m Sorry. Sorry. I could hear a

bed. Bedtime is going sideways downstairs and it’s loud

and shut the

Lauren: it’s your typical kind of like, um, let’s pretend we’re dating trope kind of book, but we’re not dating

Josie: Let’s pretend we’re dating until like, it’s the same thing with like bridge or there for the first bridge written book was all about like, let’s pretend to be in a relationship so that we can get other

people type of thing.

Lauren: opposite though. Let’s pretend we weren’t in a relationship.

Josie: right,

Lauren: So it’s, you know, okay. We know they fall in love. Okay. This is going to happen. We know that something bad’s going to happen, people are going to find out it’s a lie. Then they’re going to get back together. Okay. So when I’m reading this book, I’m like, [00:04:00] oh, okay.

It’s a millennial rom calm. Okay. I can do this. It’s cute. They’re bantering. What about the sex? I’m like, it’s not going to have sex, right. It has tons of sex. It is so steamy. I was feeling it. I was like, okay, I can

take this. The sex scenes were awesome.

Aileen: you want to read one for


Lauren: No, you know, I can’t, I cannot I’d have to like,

Josie: Okay, Lauren, when’s the first sex scene. When’s the first sexy though. Like, does it come in and act one, like the first 50 pages? Does it come in

Lauren: It comes somewhere in the middle. Maybe later in the book.

 Anyways, you should read it because if you, yeah, I don’t want to get too deep into that. But, um, I like good sex scene. I like slutty books. So this book, I was like, is it going to be slutty? And that, for me, it was slutty enough for me.


Josie: But that was there still a story? Was there still a plot that you find yourself following or

Lauren: Yeah. I mean,

Josie: so it’s like, not really.

Lauren: it was, it was, it was a fine book. It was [00:05:00] entertaining. Definitely a younger crowd. I liked reading them. I like NPR. So I liked reading a little bit, like getting sorta like this inside, look at it. I did not like the scene where everybody finds out, know, what’s going on because

made me really uncomfortable.

Maybe a little forced, but I did like the sex scenes

Alisa: Two thumbs up. Wow.

Lauren: look,

I’m telling ya. I’m a single lady. It’s been awhile.

Josie: no, but Lauren. Okay. So I gotta, I gotta know more about this book.

Lauren: Yeah. Ask questions. Cause

there’s not a whole lot to say about it. Other than that,

Josie: No, but you said that the banter back and forth was really good. And

Lauren: Yeah.

Josie: that I have a hard time doing in books is dialogue. Like for me, dialogue is the it’s it’s my weakest link.

I’d say. And in a book like this, where it’s there on a talk show, I mean, the dialogue has to be at a certain level where you reading it going. I can hear these characters. This is really fun. Was it laugh out loud or was it just okay?

Lauren: look, I am not a witty, like I don’t come up with responses super quick, you know?

Josie: Yeah.

Lauren: to me it was a little bit like how do [00:06:00] people do that? But it’s a book, you know, maybe a little forced, but even she even addresses that in the book. Somebody actually says, you guys are a little forest, so you need to go away on this weekend to get to know each other better.

Aileen: I have a question.

Why do we love predictable love stories? Because we do like romantic comedies know. Yes, yes I

do. Oh my God. A good rom com. Absolutely.

Lauren: I would recommend it though. I’d like you to read this and tell me what you

Aileen: I’ll read it.

Lauren: it’s a feminist read. There’s a L I don’t want to say anything. That’s gonna upset anybody.

Alisa: Go


Lauren: No,

just that, like, sometimes it’s super obvious. Like this is a feminist book, you know, like we’re

going to put it in your

face, but I appreciated it. I appreciate that because

that’s the way it should be.

I mean, we don’t

Aileen: what’s an example of

Lauren: like, I’m going to be, I’m going to give you a bad example because I don’t have the lingo here, but at one point her boss, something bad happens.

I can’t recall what and a better boss says, I know you’re still feeling fragile to the woman. And she’s like, what’s that like, that’s, that’s bullshit. Like

just cause I’m a woman, you’re going to say you know, [00:07:00] I’m not strong enough. Um, which I, I get like that would piss me off too. So I did appreciate that.

But sometimes it was kinda like,

Josie: it was making a point of being a feminist book

Lauren: yes,

Josie: a feminist

book. It was

Alisa: it was like,

using an adverb to tell you that it was a feminist book instead of letting you feel


Lauren: But I, actually really appreciate that. I’m glad that women are writing like that. And I’m glad that we’re

not just accepting shit like that anymore. So

Aileen: But no, but I totally get your point. A lot of things

nowadays are too heavy handed. Like there is a,

um, I mean, like I love romcoms, like movies and like th the art they’re the best, like, you know, they’re going to fall in love, you know, what’s going to happen.

Lauren: Right.

Aileen: aside from that, like, there are TV shows.

Now they’re targeting, like, I guess millennials and gen Z or whatever. And the storylines are all about the women being woke and like speaking out against the man and like everything, everything just becomes about what, how women are oppressed rather than there just being storylines. And it’d be being [00:08:00] organically woven into it.

It’s like so pointed and so heavy handed that you’re like, oh my God, I get it.

Josie: a

story and having women be people in it who have a voice who aren’t

Aileen: Yes.

Josie: around a man. They have to be like, I’m a woman dammit. And it’s like, okay. Okay.


Lauren: think it was exactly that it wasn’t that bad. I mean, it

was, I think she did a good job with it. I do,

Aileen: W what was your hesitation

with it. though? What was your hesitation with it


Did, did it not feel like it fit in with the story?

Lauren: No, it definitely did.

Alisa: Did it get in the way the sex

Lauren: the sex

was good because

this and I, and I’ve said this before, what about the Robin carnivals? Okay. Oh yeah. I did want to tell you guys this, I really appreciated they emphasize safe sex and also the the guy, the boy, because he’s what, 25

I’m so

old. He asked her multiple times, are you sure? You’re sure? You’re okay with this,

Alisa: Right. the consent aspect.

Lauren: Yes. Thank you. Alyssa consent consent.[00:09:00]

And I did appreciate that a lot.


to the author but you

know, it got starred reviews in Kirkus and publishers


Aileen: Vibrators are us definitely approved.

Lauren: did talk about the fun drawer. There was a fun

drawer in there and I was like, maybe I need a fun drawer.

Aileen: I think you do.

Lauren: No, I can’t see it. I couldn’t see myself having a fun drawer, but know, you never know. Give me another six months. We’ll talk.

Aileen: We’re gonna need so much editing.

Josie: I’ll

read it.

I’ll read it. I


Lauren: it was fun.

Aileen: I’ll read it.

Josie: book.

Lauren: yeah, it was


Josie: Alien. What book did you do this

Aileen: Okay. My book was like the

polar opposite of Lauren’s book

which is funny because she recommended it. It was called.

Lauren: I don’t remember. It’s like two days ago, right?

Aileen: It was in a flurry of


6,000 texts. I was like, what should I read? And you throw out a book, your mom had just read it. I think



Lauren: mom, but I did recommend that.

Aileen: Okay. Um, it’s called the Rosie project by Graham Simpson Simpson.

and it is the story of a man called, named [00:10:00] Don Tillman, who is a genetic scientist, who is neurodiverse, I think is probably the politically correct way to put it. He is on the spectrum. Um, he’s just a very unique kind of awkward individual. He reminded me a lot of Eleanor Alfano. Um, it was very similar, very similar character.

Like he’s just sort of socially awkward and doesn’t really know how to interact with people. Lives life like lives life very literally has rigid rules. Um, I’m going to read you like the beginning of the book, just to give you a sense of him. Like everything he says and does is just very like. Robotic and formulaic, and he lives life by rules that he sets and he will not deviate from these rules.

So, um, this is the opening of the book. I may have found a solution to the wife problem as with so many scientific breakthroughs. The answer was obvious in retrospect, but had it not been for a series of unscheduled events? It is unlikely. I would’ve discovered it. The sequence was initiated by genes insisting.

I give a lecture and Asperger’s syndrome that he had [00:11:00] previously agreed to deliver himself. The timing was extremely annoying. The preparation could be timeshare with lunch consumption, but I’m the designated put on the designated evening. I had scheduled 94 minutes to clean my bathroom. I was faced with a choice of three options, none of them satisfactory.

And then he lists out the different ways that he can make this work. So. He’s just very, like, he just goes through life in his own way. He doesn’t really, he has like three friends in the world, that’s it? Um, doesn’t really connect with many people, but he’s decided he’s at the age where he needs to find himself a wife.

So he decides the best way to find a wife is to devise a questionnaire with a series of questions, including asking a woman what her, what her weight is, how much she drinks, like how she likes to spend her time and give prospective women the questionnaire and have them fill it out. And then he will, you know, and analyze the results and decide, decide if the woman is worthy of him going on a date.

Alisa: Okay, can I interrupt here for a second? Do you remember in high school, when there was a fundraiser and it [00:12:00] was, it, it was some matchmaking, something, do you remember this? It was our senior year and we had to fill out these questions. It was exactly that it’s like we had to fill out these questionnaires about what our likes were, our dislikes, and then.

You paid however much money and they

matched you with a person in your grade, and then they

matched you with the person in the whole school who best fit your

profiles. It was some type of something.

And I think you could choose to do like friendship versus romance. and it was very heteronormative, you know,

Aileen: I don’t remember that at

Alisa: oh yeah,

Lauren: Of

course, of course it was heteronormative. It was 1993,

Alisa: But, but it definitely was on this basis of where the

checklist, can find a match.

Aileen: Which is kind of fascinating. It’s kind of what, I mean, I’ve never done online dating. I’ve been with someone for 20 years, so I wouldn’t even know how to do that, but I mean, I feel like it starts off with like

answering questions and what your interests are and stuff. So it’s yeah. Very

Alisa: Um,

Aileen: [00:13:00] this.

Josie: so weird. All

four, not none of us have

done online

Alisa: no, I will say that,

Aileen: know how to date now.

Alisa: um, when we did it in high school,

I was matched with my high school boy.

Aileen: Oh,

Alisa: Yeah,

Lauren: It was rigged.

Aileen: I know who looking at


Alisa: I know, but, but it just, it was really interesting anyway, me as also a science person, like I love this guy’s idea.

Aileen: I mean,

Alisa: I really do.

Aileen: And he’s a geneticist. So,

you know, he studies genes and whatever, whatever, whatever that means. So yeah, it’s like, you’re like, I get it on paper. That seems like a great idea. Like, you’re going to figure out what you have in common with somebody, what interests you share, like what you like about them. And then if everything’s a match, if they’re the exactly the person that you want on paper, then you should be able to fall in love and get married.

But we all know that’s not really the way the world works. So he’s working with his friend, Jean who is, um, I think it’s a psychology professor and, uh, gene [00:14:00] and his wife, Claudia had been married for many years and Don thinks they have this amazing marriage because it’s open and gene is allowed to go out and sleep with whoever he wants and. Jeanne wants to go sleep with a woman from like every country in the world who is constantly seeking out women from, from different countries to sleep with. Um, Don later finds out that Claudia really isn’t as into this, as he, as he thought he

Alisa: G shop.

Aileen: but so gene is the one giving him love advice, and going along with this. So Jean starts on this little adventure and actually has some women who fill out the questionnaire. Um, and then he meets this woman named Rosie and Rosie, you know, kind of like every love story. You’re like, I know what’s going to happen. Rosie is nothing like the woman that he’s looking for. Like, she sort of just flies by the seat of her pants.

She’s a free spirit. Um, but he somehow intrigued by her. And then at some point, Rosie lets him know that she wants to figure out who her biological father is. So he’s like, oh, we need to do the Rosie project. I’m going to help you figure out who your biological father is. [00:15:00] So they embark on this adventure to figure out who her father is, which involves getting DNA from various men who might be her father and testing it and seeing if it’s a match.

Um, so, you know, and eventually. fall in love. And you know, all of that, there’s zero sex because this man, you know, like he, his friend, Jean gives him a book on sex position. So at one point he and Rosie are about to have sex and he’s like, hold on. I need to get my book. And like runs off to get his book.

Studies is booked for like 20 minutes and then comes back and she’s like, yeah, no, this isn’t happening.

Lauren: so would you say that because

wasn’t any sex, is it worth reading?

Aileen: I mean, for you, Lauren, probably not

Alisa: I will say, my mom recommended this book to me. She read it and was very excited about it. And, and she always gets books out of the library. But for some reason she had a copy of like an actual copy of

this book and she gave it to

Lauren: must be,

Aileen: it’s re it’s re it’s a really cute book. It has very like, like [00:16:00] is very endearing. Like you immediately get who he is and, you know, everybody thinks he’s kind of strange, but at the same time, his quirks are very endearing. So,

Lauren: it sounds a little strange.

Aileen: Oh, he’s so strange. I’m trying to, I’m looking


seeing, like every time, anytime you meet someone, he like mentally calculates what their BMI is.

For some reason, that’s like an important fact that he needs to know about them. So it’s like, it’s a really cute and sweet and funny. And I mean, you know how it’s going to end up, but you’re kind of rooting for him the whole time and you want to see how he’s actually gonna pull off getting a real woman in the real world?

Josie: How’s the meat cute.

Aileen: Um,

Josie: it they stumble

into each other or is it different? Is it fun? Is it unique?

Aileen: I’m trying to remember. it feels like I read this months ago and I was like last week, um, what happens? No, G gene actually sets them up. Um, I’m trying like, so his friends sets them up, but I think he doesn’t necessarily think that they’re going to get together. Here’s some reason for setting them up.

So they get thrown together and

Lauren: Do you think that their relationship,

Aileen: know, cause I don’t remember.

Lauren: do you [00:17:00] think that their relationship

would last if like it was like a real,

Aileen: there are two more books in the series, so yes,

but they ended up, so he ends up, he ends up trying to change himself because he’s like, I need to act more normal. So at one point he watches all these like romantic comedies and he’s like, oh, this is how people in relationships interact. And he’s like, guess maybe I need to change the way I dress.

So he like puts forth all this effort to become the person that he thinks that she wants. And of course, like he does that. And she’s like, I liked how weird you were. It’s okay. You can be your weird self. Like she just accepts him for who he is. So it’s, it’s very sweet.

Josie: Are there any deep dark secrets or underlying

issues or skeletons in the closet?

Aileen: Kind of who our father is.

Isn’t revealed until the end. And that’s kind of a surprise.

Josie: But there’s no like threatening storyline. Is there like a, where you feel like their love could be

taken away from them? There’s nothing really. The stakes aren’t high is

Aileen: No, they’re not really high. It’s a very light, [00:18:00] light, light read. But I mean, I do like the whole questionnaire thing is, I dunno, kinda funny. Cause why doesn’t that work? Like there is, go ahead.

Lauren: I was just going to say, let’s make a questionnaire.

Aileen: The Lauren



Josie: You guys it’s called match.com. I mean,

seriously, this is,

Alisa: who have met.

Lauren: I

know, but it’s so.

swipe left swipe, right? I mean,

Aileen: that’s Tinder,

Alisa: Yeah, I

think there’s, there’s different variations, although

none of us are experts.

Aileen: one of my guy friends had Tinder when it first came out and I was like, Ooh, this is a fun game. I’m just swiping. And he’s like, what are you doing? That’s my life you’re playing with. I was like, oh, it’s so gamified. I just thought it was for fun.

But it does make you stop and think, like, what are your top qualities in a person? Like, what are you cause the person. And usually you’re like, who you think your ideal is? At least when you’re young. Like I thought I was going to marry like math, Matthew McConaughey type. I’m like tall blonde hair, blue eyes.

And you know, I’m married my Puerto Rican husband.[00:19:00]

Alisa: Yes.

Josie: I remember that day.

Aileen: I thought I

had a type. I never dated anybody who was that type though. Even I think.

Josie: You think like the whole formula of it, like the answer, this question that, that takes the soul out of it for you. How Lauren.

Lauren: I think it does. And I also feel like people are going to lie, especially men. I think women would tell the

truth. that just goes to show. I have very little trust in men right now.

Aileen: But I, but I think also there is like that the X factor, like there’s just, sometimes you’re just drawn to people and you don’t know why there’s no logical reason. Like, like, yeah, like there’s just, there’s, there’s

the attraction. Like, there’s something about them that you find appealing and you couldn’t describe what it is.

It’s just there.

Lauren: Yes. It’s very annoying.

Josie: I also think it has to do with where you’re at in your life.

Like I was, I had a girlfriend of mine once said to me, she said, you know what? At this point in my life, I could fall in love with anyone. She’s like, I’m just, that’s where I’m at right now. And this was somebody who went through. Tissues. It’s [00:20:00] like she went through dudes, like she was just confetti thrown that shit up in the air.

And when she finally settled down, she was like, I, you know, I could fall in love with anyone right now. If I, if he was a decent guy, I just put my mind to it, but I could learn to love

anyone. And I was like, actually, that’s, there’s something really beautiful about

Aileen: or

Josie: Like,

Alisa: Yeah.

Josie: no, no, no, no, because she was ready.

No, I mean, this girl had her choice, but like, she just was sort of, it was when she was ready to fall in love. If she met somebody who wasn’t completely fucked up, she was like, I had, I could learn to love all of his quirks, everything about him, the way that he looked. And I felt like there was something hugely optimistic about that.

And I,

I don’t know, for some reason it’s always stuck in the back of my head.

Aileen: but don’t you think it’s a little sad too, that you prioritize love over finding someone who you really connect.

Josie: Or that you prioritize yourself first, like is when you’re ready, when you’re capable of giving love to someone else that anybody could be worthy of it.

Lauren: [00:21:00] this is very deep.

Josie: I know, but I think, I think about it a lot.

Cause I write a lot, a lot of stories.

Lauren: I think about it to you guys. I don’t want to like interrupt to change the subject, but what to say about this book, know we can edit this into what I say, you

Josie: Okay. No, no. We can do

Lauren: this book, this book talks a lot about podcasts.

Aileen: It’s super relevant. Like, wait, are there like porn podcasts? Like X-rated

Alisa: Oh, probably

There’s dinosaur porn. There is going to

be porn podcasts.

Josie: Alyssa. How do you know that? How do you know that?

Alisa: because one of my friends happened to be scrolling through Amazon. And there was some like self-published dinosaur cave, cave woman with a T-Rex situation. And


Lauren: to stop.

Aileen: Wow.

Alisa: so I had to, um,

Lauren: sure. That’s really, for me.

Alisa: no, no, I went and I looked at ju I, I mean, I did not get the [00:22:00] book, but I had to go look at it and I was just like, you’ve, you’ve got to be kidding.

Josie: Tiny little arms.

Alisa: I know

the tiny little, I mean,

come on.

Aileen: I mean, people there’s something out there forever. Like at one point I was like, oh my God, like a porn pop-up book. It exists. And then, and then it was like, what about like upscale porn, like porn with like actually a good plot line and like as well shot. And there’s actually some woman who’s like making like quality


Now I haven’t

Lauren: go, go, go her.

Aileen: it. I’ll find out who she

is and said he sent you the info,

Alisa: yeah.

Lauren: No, no, no, no, no, it’s fine.

Aileen: She’s knitting by the way. So this,

Lauren: I am netting

I’m such,

Josie: knitting,

Alisa: Right. Well, I mean, as long as you cover all bases on your

questionnaire, then it’s fine.

Aileen: yeah, I’m actually looking to see what was

in his questionnaire. They don’t actually,

Lauren: Y I feel

offended that he would ask about somebody. Wait,

Aileen: Yeah. I mean, of course. Um, he also wants to know like if for an appointment, if they’re a [00:23:00] little early on time or late,

Alisa: Now, see, that is a very helpful thing to know. It is not a deal breaker for me, because if it were, I could not be married to my husband because he operates on his own concept of time. And I operate not on the same concept of time. I’m, I’m always either early or on time, and he’s just more casual about it.

Josie: Oh, that would drive me

Alisa: It does drive me nuts.

but, but now I understand it and I can, I can build it in, but, but it would have been helpful to know. I think it, we could have avoided some conflicts. Had I known his concept of time,

piece of a questionnaire might’ve been helpful.

Aileen: But would it have changed the end

Alisa: No, it wouldn’t.

Aileen: but most of the stuff is things that you learn by getting to

know someone

Alisa: which is part of the joy.

Aileen: Don is trying to skip that

whole portion, because he’s not good at getting to know people and he just wants them to put it on paper so he can look at it, examine it and be like, yes, you are the right specimen for me.

Josie: [00:24:00] So would you recommend the book alien?

Aileen: Yeah.

Like it was a, it was a fun read. It was like, Don is a very sweet, funny character and you’re, you’re rooting for him the whole time.

Josie: But did you get swept up in it where you

like, do you know how,

when you get swept up in a romance

sometimes and

Aileen: it’s, it’s,

a love story.


not a romance.

I think of a romance it’s having like

steamy love scenes. Like your book Lauren seems like maybe it was more romance. I love story is more just telling it, talking about a relationship and maybe not as steamy. I don’t know if there’s officially differentiation,

Lauren: sex scenes in my book. I mean, I was like,

Alisa: I feel like it needs a disclaimer, your book

needs some type of, you know, warning.

Aileen: actually books don’t have ratings, do they?

Josie: they?

have age ranges, but that’s

it. They don’t have reading.

Aileen: like X versus our


Lauren: this could be an interesting topic sometime.

Aileen: How about right now?

Lauren: Sure. Let’s throw it out there. So, um, what do you think about spoiler alert with books and movies and such, or like, I get it with [00:25:00] movies, but books.

Alisa: What do you mean.

Lauren: So

Josie: we Do spoilers?

Aileen: Do you want to start saying that

trigger warnings?

Josie: Oh, trigger warnings. I think that they’re very important. I think that they’re very important for certain books. Um, I have them in what

she found in the woods because there’s substance abuse. There’s violence against

women. There’s

Aileen: when did, people start needing trigger warnings? Cause we, we all went through life without a warning about when things were going to get difficult. You know what I mean? Like when did people

get so sensitive?

Lauren: there could be so many trigger warnings.

Alisa: Right. And how do you know, I, there are certain hot topic items, so drug abuse, sex abuse, suicide, um, mental illness, E I think there are broad categories that could be labeled, but I mean, it, we had a situation where had an emotionally fragile child at school? who went down a very bad spiral because of Oedipus and just the heaviness of reading, you know, but, uh, would anyone ever

think to put a trigger warning [00:26:00] on that?

Aileen: That’s the thing, like where do you draw the


Lauren: Yeah. So we had this conversation at work because books don’t always have trigger warnings and we don’t read all the books in the library, so we can’t necessarily warn everybody. Right. um, we have a foreign film club it came up that maybe we needed to watch the movies in advance the patrons, choose the movies and let people know the trigger warning.

So I was like,

Alisa: I think there has to be, I would

think that the advertising of the movie or book itself, that there might be something listed that says this, the themes in this movie contain this in this.

Lauren: And I also think that, um, patrons kind of ha if they know they’re sensitive to something, they kind of have to

be responsible for it. It’s kind

of like if you have an

Josie: Agreed


Lauren: you should probably read the

Aileen: but also

like when did all of society

become responsible for your sensitivities and your personal hardships?

Alisa: Um, well, I think this also goes back to the whole, um, [00:27:00] banned books scenario, right? It’s like almost taking it to the extreme of saying, well, you know, these things are too, too devastatingly, serious to have to deal with, and we don’t want to expose people to it. So we need to recommend that these books be taken off the shelves.

Josie: But that’s different. That’s other people choosing

Lauren: Hi.

Josie: this is more about self-governance like if I warn someone and say there’s drug abuse in this, if you’re not down with that, don’t

Alisa: Right. But, but

I think at the slippery slope into

wanting to protect air quotes around protect people from being exposed to

these ideas,

Aileen: Yeah. And I put up until this moment of time, like everyone would just decide for themselves, like

people knew what they were okay with. What they weren’t, they would read the description. They’d be like, yeah, I’m good with this. Or no, I’m not. And if something happened that they started to watch a movie and there was all of a sudden like rape scene, they’d be like, oh, I’m not cool.

This I’m going to turn it

Alisa: Although flowers in the attic, once you, I mean, you’re in that pretty far. And then

all of a sudden you’re like, oh,

Aileen: Yeah. But you can just

Lauren: I love how we [00:28:00] keep coming back

Alisa: I know.

Aileen: I know. I mean,


Josie: Here’s the thing I F I feel like, I feel like give people the information that they need to make their own choice. And that’s why I don’t think that I’m responsible to put a trigger warning on any of my books or that any author should be responsible for that. It’s a book, you know, you’ll it or don’t read it.

It’s up to you. But by allowing people the opportunity to choose, it’s sort of like, I don’t know. I feel like it doesn’t hurt me to do that in any way. I don’t feel personally responsible. Like I have to do it, but I feel like what if I

Alisa: Yeah.

Josie: there’s swearing in my book? Like there, we use the F word in my book.

I’m just giving you a heads up. It’s not, I’m not, embarrassed by that. And I don’t think that that should keep you from reading it. If you feel like you can handle the F word,

Alisa: Where would that be posted? Is that something in a description of the book? Is that something on the book to have some type


Josie: usually one of the front. So in the, you know, in the front there, all those pages that everybody

skips over to get to chapter one, I’m one of those, [00:29:00] I’m one of those,

Aileen: When did you start? When did you start adding trigger warnings? At what point did that become a thing?

Josie: first time it came up was with, um, my book, uh, snow lane,

Lauren: uh,

Josie: in it. It’s about, it’s about, you know, it’s kind of based on my growing up in Ashland and there is, you know,

Serious abuse that happens to small children in it.

Aileen: That book made me cry.

Alisa: It did it also made me picture a certain, I was like, what woods did you walk through to get from one side of town to the other?


Josie: We went across the street from my house. Do you

Alisa: but I can’t picture where that would connect to I’ve spatial


Josie: comes out on Salem in Rome, comes out on

Alisa: Does it

Josie: you know, right. Where, uh, uh, the Burley’s lived. That was the other side of it.

Alisa: interesting.

Aileen: So whose book are we talking about now?

Alisa: I read normal people and it fell into my lap because my college kid was reading it and she said, mom, this book is really good. I think [00:30:00] you would like it. Um, and then she said, it’s also very adult. And, and so, I mean, there’s a lot of sex in this book and it starts

Aileen: Also, you should watch the series. I watched the series. It’s very

Alisa: No, I’m not

interested in watching the series. Um, and, and it

is, and I wonder if that’s why Ella picked this up is because she knew she hadn’t started watching the series, but she knew that Hulu had a series for normal people. Um, and this is the second book by Sally Rooney It’s gotten great reviews.

Her first book conversations with friends, got good.

reviews. honestly, one of the things that drew me to it is the fact that it’s a third of the size of the Stephen King book from last year. That’s true. And I thought, oh, this is manageable. it covers two people, Marianne and Connell, C O N N E L L. And this takes place in. Right around Dublin. So some of the [00:31:00] language is very Irish and I think in the series, it’s, they’re true to that. it’s not American. Um, and you meet Marianne and Connell in their last year of what you assume to be high school and they go to a private school.

Um, I don’t know enough about the school systems to know if this is a, choice or if it’s like it all kids just go to schools where they wear uniforms. And, um, seems like a private school or is this a charter school or is this,

I don’t know,

Lauren: I know that, um, at least in England, a private school is like a


Josie: for us.

So private is public and public is private.


Alisa: Okay.

Josie: I don’t know why they do that.

Aileen: Or why we do that.

If we do it backwards.

Alisa: sure it’s

us doing it backwards. Uh, anyway, they’re both really, really smart, like crazy off, off the charts, smart in the honors classes. These two people, um, you know, they’re vying for,

you know, top spot in their class. [00:32:00] And Marianne is extraordinarily wealthy. Her father died when she was 13.

she has an older brother Allen and her mother is not often referenced by name. And then you have Connell whose mother Lorraine, and even he refers to her as Lorraine because well, Lorraine had him as a teenager.

Aileen: Why it calls me alien. Sometimes it’s funny. Funny.

Alisa: it is strange. Yeah, I don’t disagree. Um, but Lorraine is The housekeeper for Marianne. And so Connell will go to pick up his mother after school and be at Maryanne’s house and so when you first meet them, he is coming to pick up his mom and he’s like, mom, can you please hurry up?

And he’s very uncomfortable being there. And he’s standing in the kitchen and his hands are deep in his pockets. And, you know, he does.

Lauren: was

going to say something else.

Alisa: We

haven’t gotten to the sex part yet Lauren[00:33:00]

Aileen: She just can’t wait for your hands up where

we can see them.

Alisa: and Maryanne is sitting on the counter in her kitchen and she’s eating like Nutella from a jar and she’s willing to chit chat with him. She doesn’t really care. Um, but then as the conversation unfolds, you realize they don’t talk at school. They, you know, basically acknowledge that they won’t acknowledge each other at school.

And there is not going to be a recognition of any overlap of their lives. And certainly not that his mother works for her family. and yet. He’s really taken with her and it, it says, and it’s third person. So one of the things I really liked about this book, which I thought was interesting. Josie, when you were talking about writing dialogue is

none of this is like you’re in the middle of a conversation and, you know, you’re watching it ping pong back and forth.

It’s, a third person removed [00:34:00] description of what’s happening. And then their words of conversation will be sprinkled in so that, you know, what’s unfolding

Josie: Very very like two or three

Alisa: yes. Right. And it’s, it leaves you somewhat detached from what’s happening, which gives you an emotional distance from it. which I also liked because it made it more like a scene that’s playing out in front of you, that.

you could appreciate both sides of getting really wrapped up in. Some aspect of one character to be really emotionally involved and invested in what happens. Uh, I think it, it led to a better balance of understanding and rooting for both characters. you know, but when you first meet them, you know, on page two, Marianne, she exercises an open contempt for people in school.

She has no friends and spends her lunchtime alone reading novels. A lot of people really hate her.

and then

Aileen: Wait whose wait. Oh, it’s third

Alisa: third person, and then it says, Connell has heard she has a mental illness now or something it’s [00:35:00] true. She’s the smartest person in school. He dreads being left alone with her like this, but he also finds himself fantasizing about things he could say to impress her.

And so through this type of narrative, you start to learn about the quirks of their personality and the quirks of their relationships and how. He’s interested in her, but he could never admit that because he would just get ripped up heart

by the people at school. Um,

Aileen: Alyssa, as the book progresses, who are you rooting for? Like, do you find yourself kind of on one side or the other, or do you remain objective and just watching what happens?

Alisa: you remain pretty objective watching what happens.

So they pretty soon into it, you know, he comes back another day, they have more conversation. And then he, he starts coming back a little bit earlier to be able to spend a little bit more time there. And then at one point, I forget, honestly, if, if she initiates it or if he does, or maybe it just kind of happens, but they kiss and they’re like, oh, that’s, we’re not going to talk about [00:36:00] this, but we just kissed.

And then.

Lauren: That happened in my book too.

Alisa: And, and then she goes over, she walks over to his house and he opens the door to greet her and he looks around the street to make sure nobody’s watching and then invites her in. and then they have sex. And the way it’s described as in the one hand, he’s like, I, I can’t believe that I’m doing this with this person who I can’t own up to knowing at school.

Like I would never acknowledge her. And yet I’ve never been able to be more myself with any person. And I feel comfortable with her and he talks about, well, the narrative describes how it’s the first time he’s ever had sex and not felt ashamed or dirty, or like it was obligatory because of what was expected in his status at school.

Josie: So he’s popular. She’s not, but she’s the rich one

Alisa: Yes.

Josie: I was just about to ask you about [00:37:00] class because there’s

class and then there’s social standing and they’re

Alisa: Very different.

Aileen: So they both have different reasons why they don’t want to be associated with the other

Alisa: Well, she doesn’t care, but she can appreciate the distance that, that they have at school, at least in the beginning. So she also doesn’t like anyone. Uh, she legitimately does not like the people at school. She sees them as shallow And, narcissistic and.

dumb. but she sees how smart Connell is and how he does truly have so much to offer.

And so on the one hand, you’re kind of rooting for the two of them in this relationship while you’re also really frustrated with him for not being willing to own it in public. And it starts to wear on her that he won’t own it in public. And there’s. Right. So there’s a, um, a big dance. It’s called the Debs and it’s equivalent to our prom.

And even his mother says to him, so are you going to[00:38:00] invite Mary into the Debs? And he says, no, we’re not dating because they also don’t put a label on their relationship. They become best friends and they, they truly become deeply best friends. They won’t admit that they’re in love with each other, but that’s, what’s expressed, through their actions and their feelings, but none of this will ever be shared in public.

So he does not ask her to this dance. She becomes devastated. She dropped, literally stops going to school. And she only shows up to sit the exams at the very end, which of course she ACEs the equivalent. It seems like it’s the equivalent of like, you know, the M CAS or Regents or some type of Like.


Big state test. So she passes it. and the other thing that’s interesting is the way the book is written, each chapter is in chunks of time. So it’ll be, let’s see. So if I just flipped to any of them, six weeks later is where the next chapter picks up and then you find out what happened and there’s like a [00:39:00] flashback concept.

So you’re getting filled in, on all the missing information without having to read through the minutia of it happening, which I

really appreciate. It’s like,

Aileen: Did you read the ending first?

Lauren: I was going to say maybe, I mean, do you think it was the

Aileen: You did.

Lauren: to like fly through it or

Alisa: No, it’s definitely a device to move the story forward because it takes place over five years. This is chronicling their relationship over five years from their last year in high school, through their last year in college. Um, and so the next chapter starts with three months later and there are dates with it.

So six weeks later, April, 2011, three months later, November, 2011, the next one after that is three months later, February, 2012. So, so you’re able to keep track of time. And then, you know, some event will happen. Like she didn’t get asked to the dabs and she stops going to school and you’re like, oh my gosh, this is devastating.

What’s going to happen. And then you cut to three months later and you see where she is right now. And then there’s a little [00:40:00] bit of backfill as to how she got there. And you’re like,

oh, okay. So this is where we’re at. I now can, can pick things up.

Lauren: you, do you are the characters

likable? Cause I’m feeling

Alisa: they are



Aileen: both are,

they then they’re there. They’re both.

Alisa: they’re both likable. They’re both.


I also really like that the male character gets as much sensitivity and depth as the female character. And he’s really conflicted and flawed, but so is she, and they ebb and flow with who is emotionally successful in their life at the moment.

And, and sometimes it’s him and sometimes it’s her and at maybe three quarters of the way through the book, um, when they start to go away to school and their relationship is on again off again. So ultimately they end up at the same college. It’s a stretch for him. He’s at Trinity. He never thought he would be able to get in, but he’s super smart.

He wants to be a writer. She’s always encouraged him. And they [00:41:00] meet at a college party. Like they, they both go away to school after separating and not talking to each other. And then they meet up at a party and she is the girlfriend of the guy who invited Connell to the party


Aileen: the roles kind of a reverse,

Alisa: roles are absolutely reversed where she is surrounded by all these people.

And she’s holding court at conversation and, you know, everybody loves how quirky she is and how smart she is. And everyone’s really drawn to her and he is the odd guy out. and he’s, he’s uh, what do they call it? Status by association because he’s not wealthy and he doesn’t have the social status that almost everyone else there does.

And so this is now one of the first times where you see the tables turned and she’s the cool one inviting him in. And he sees how warm and welcoming and how good that feels to not be ignored. So their relationship goes off and on, off and on, they sleep together, but they’re not really together. And then they break up and go their separate ways, and then he has a girlfriend, but then it, so [00:42:00] there’s, there’s two parts to this that, that I wanted to point out. One is you start to feel really badly for her because you, you learned fairly quickly that her dad was abusive physically, and emotionally. And the mother allowed it. The mother blamed her for being abused and the brother perpetuates it physically and emotionally continuing to abuse his sister and the mother allows it.

And so a lot of her relationship choices are really bad. She, we follow her through two major relationships that are like horrifically


Aileen: It’s funny, I’m

replaying. Cause I watched the, like the series or whatever, and really liked it. And I’m replaying that as you’re talking and it seems like it followed the book pretty well. It’s a really interesting story about relationships and like,

Alisa: and coming to terms with the people you want to be with, but also at the same time coming to terms with [00:43:00] who you are and

what you want.

Aileen: why you, why you choose the people that you do

and why you avoid other people and why, you know, some people you pretend to be casually, even though you shouldn’t

Alisa: right, one of the things that I, I found really relatable was their inability to communicate clearly their feelings and what they wanted and how a lot of times that led to a breakup or it led to an obstacle that they couldn’t overcome to be together. So for example,

after the first year of being at school Connell realizes that he didn’t have enough money to stay in his apartment.

And what he had wanted was to be able to move in with Maryanne they’re now at this point, dating, but they have not established a title for their relationship. And leading up to the conversation that I’ll relay to you. He knows that what he wants to do is to ask her if it’s okay, if he stays with her for the summer.

Cause he stays over at her house all the time anyway, but they’re not officially in a relationship. So they go to this party and they wake up the next [00:44:00] morning and they’re in the kitchen having coffee. And eventually he said, Hey, listen, by the way, it looks like I won’t be able to pay rent up here. This summer.

Marianne looked up from her coffee and said, flatly, what? Yeah. He said, I’m going to have to move out of Nile’s place. When said Marianne pretty soon next week, maybe

her face hardened without displaying any particular emotion. Oh,

she said, you’ll be going home then. Looks like it. Yeah. He said, well, she said, you’ll be back in September, I assume.

And so like this conversations unfolding and he like, she’s responding to what he’s saying, but not responding in the way that he thought she would. And they start getting deeper and deeper into this. and then he says, well, and then it’s described his eyes were hurting and he closed them.

He couldn’t understand how this had happened, how he had let the discussion slip away like this. It was too late to say he wanted to stay with her. That was clear. But when had it become too late, it seemed to have happened immediately. He contemplated putting his face [00:45:00] down on the table and just crying like a child.

Instead he opened his eyes again. yeah.

He said, I’m not dropping out. Don’t worry. So you’ll only be gone three months. Yes. There was a long pause. I don’t know. He said, I guess you’ll want to see other people known will you, so they break up because she thinks, he’s saying, let’s see other people when really the whole point of this conversation was,

I don’t want to leave you.

Aileen: So they both suck at communicating and telling each other what they want and how they feel. You

just gotta be

Alisa: But how many times have you found yourself in a conversation where in your head you’re like, how did I let the discussion slip away like this,

Lauren: would you recommend this book to a friend to another teenager? Like your daughter’s age, or like, what do you think

Alisa: Um, I think I would it’s it definitely, it’s a love story, but it, it weighs on you because of the abuse that she experiences in the, way that she

tolerates the

 I mean his mom calls him out on it. She’s like, [00:46:00] you’re an ass. You are not good enough for her. And the mom tells her that too.

And, and I don’t, I don’t disagree with that. I think when I think back to the book though, I’m, I’m really disturbed by Marianne’s family situation and the abuse that she experienced, the abuse that she continued to experience that her mother and her brother perpetuated and continued,

Lauren: Well, I think that that’s why she allowed herself to be another relationships with

Alisa: and then the abusive

relationships that she got into, and even the descriptions of abuse. that were very public. I mean, she’d be at a dinner party and Jamie, one of the

boyfriends, I mean, he’s, he’s so bad to her.

And nobody does anything.

Aileen: Alyssa. Do you think your daughter saw the things in the book that we’re seeing? Like, did you talk to her about it? Like what was her

Alisa: I didn’t get to talk to her about it because I finished it the day that she was packing up to leave to go back to school. And so it’s, and she said, she said to me, mom, you have to [00:47:00] mail this book to me once you’re done talking about it because I, I want it. And she bought the other book, the conversations with friends, by the same author, I w I would be curious to have a conversation with Ella about it and see what her take is.

Um, really bothered by the dynamics of the relationships that Marianne was in. And I did find Connell to be a sympathetic character. I felt really badly for him. I don’t that doesn’t excuse his behavior, and I’m not saying that they should be together, he was going through some stuff.

Lauren: When, when her character has, she was in an abusive relationship, like that made me want to put the book down when she started talking about her ex-boyfriend

Josie: Yeah.

Lauren: treated. And I think if I was reading the book that you’re talking about, I would have put it down.

I, I don’t, that’s one thing. Talk about trigger. I don’t, I I’m not saying that that’s my history or anything, but I don’t like reading about women being

Alisa: I don’t, I don’t like any type of abuse or violence or, and I think that’s why I like . Romance love stories because

Josie: Alyssa? I have a book

for you. Then I have a book for you. [00:48:00] Oh my God. So I’m reading the all wolves series by Maria Valle. And the first book is, wait, wait, what the heck?

It’s called the last Wolf, which is weird because it starts with the last one, but it’s called the all wolves series. So,

Maria Valle, she’s wonderful. I, love her. This is really beautifully written and it’s got a great B storyline. they’re called.

They call themselves the pack and they’ve always been in the pack is like, Our wolves and they call themself wolves, but they also go into skin. So they’re humans, but they can turn into wolves

Lauren: I don’t mean to interrupt but

Alyssa had a fear of where

Alisa: Oh, yeah.

Lauren: long time. So I’m

Josie: Yeah.

Lauren: if this is, we should try one

Josie: trigger.

warning, trigger

Alisa: Josie said werewolf. I was like, I’m going to put my little grownup earmuffs on and I will

Josie: They’re not, but they’re not werewolf. They’re either wolves and it’s very much like even the way that she describes when they’re running as wolves, it’s like beautiful. It’s, there’s, there’s sort of envelops by nature and they’re running in the pack and they have this pack [00:49:00] hierarchy and they live their lives by it.

And it’s about their behaviors together. Anyway. So there’s this, there are with, if you’re a Wolf, there are three days of the year with the iron moon is what it’s called. And when you have to be a Wolf, like you’re, you just, you have no control over the change. And then there are things called shifters and they don’t have to become a Wolf during the iron moon.

And they can turn into a Wolf whenever they want. And shifters have always taken advantage vantage of the Wolf packs because as soon as guns were created, you know, a Wolf is like, I got no thumbs and they could get shot. And so the wolves have been decimated by shifters. Who’ve been taking, they always think that there’s like a gold treasure or there’s, they have treasure of some kind.

They haven’t wealth of some kind. And the pack usually does become strong. And when the pack becomes strong, when they’re human beings, they also funnel a lot of money into the

pack. And so this there, they have this huge track of land, um, upstate New York, right on the border of Canada. Um, just miles and miles where the [00:50:00] wolves run free, especially during the iron moon.

And this is all protected by all these layers of like lawyers and business people. And there’s like a hedge fund it’s really, really smartly laid out. But at any time it feels like the land could be taken away because it’s unimproved. And so they just want the land to be wild, but our government sort of has all of these incentives for you to improve your land.

Like you have to farm on it. And I, I have a particular connection to this because growing up on a farm, I remember we always had like this backfield where my dad, I remember one day and it’s cold and I don’t want to be planting corn. And I’m like, dad, why are we planting corn? It’s like, we don’t make that much money off of it.

We barely ever, we just give it away to friends basically. And he says, Josie, have to for tax reasons, or we’d never be able to keep this land. You have to keep a certain acreage of your land working soil, or you can’t be a farm. Like you can’t

keep that much land. And we had like raspberries, blueberries, strawberries, which were like our [00:51:00] cash crops and they don’t take up a lot of space.

So we absolutely had to plant corn in order to keep something like. Of the acres that we had a certain percentage of it was covered with a cash crop. it was just something that I couldn’t fathom. And he, my dad kept trying to explain it to me. I was like, but dad, we’ve had this land for a hundred years.

It belongs to our family. He says, if we don’t keep working it, we won’t be able to keep it. it’s fine. If you have a dump that covers miles and you’re just poisoning the water table, that’s great.

The government will let you keep that land. If you just let it run wild and free and clean, and nobody messes with the water sources, nobody’s taking anything from the ground. Nobody’s trying to bottle the water or do anything to it. The government goes, what the hell? like, this is unimproved land. You have to do something

Lauren: Kind of, does it make sense? Does it.

Josie: it doesn’t make any sense at all.

So there’s like all of these lobbyists that, that. In the second book, it’s all about, um, Elijah Sorenson, who’s their head lawyer. And he’s like this high [00:52:00] powered lawyer and he’s been off land for a long time and he’s an alpha and he hates it. He just wants to go home. And it’s like the loneliness that he feels in the separation from his pack.

It’s so beautiful. It’s just, Maria Valle really has set up such a rich and complicated world and there’s just such hot love.

Lauren: I was just going to say, can we get to the

love part?

Josie: It

is just So sexy. the first book, the first one is a love affair between like the lowest she’s, this girl Quicksilver, she’s a Wolf and she’s, at the absolute lowest of the low she’s like past omega.

She’s a cripple, she’s a runt. Um, she’s basically going to be the bond servant of the alphas of her Ashkelon. So there there’s like. There’s the head alpha. And then there are all these sub alphas that have age group echelons because the pack is so large. The great north pack is so large. So for the 14th echelon, which is hers, she’s going to be basically their bond servant because she’s crippled.

Whenever she changes into a Wolf, her tendon is too short on one [00:53:00] leg. So she’s basically three-legged and a human she’s fine she’s but when she changes, she has to basically get around on three legs a shifter. And he’s like sort of left on their land almost as if he’s been eviscerated.

And he, his mother was a Wolf and his father was a shifter and he sort of like, finagles it by the sub rule if he wins this fight, and if he joins up with her, he has protection from the pack. She takes him in. She’s basically like, this is my only chance to be a pair. And I won’t be basically the subservient, like with my belly and the dirt for the rest of my life.

This is my one shot. And so she takes care of him. She cleans them up and he’s like this giant Wolf when he changes, but he’s a crappy Wolf, but it’s like, she keeps saying it cause shifters have this thing against going to the dogs. Like they don’t ever want to be wolves and. He sort of like tortured by his father so that he wouldn’t change or change during the iron moon.

He was like chained to a fence. Like a dog would be with a [00:54:00] spike collar. And like, it’s very, like, he had like this really sad backstory and she kind like, she’s trying to get this crappy Wolf. Right. It’s just like, even the way you stand is terrible. Like there’s nothing his legs, splayed out. He’s like, you look like a pup anyway.

So she’s trying to teach him how to be a Wolf and he ends up winning the fight and then it turns out spoiler. But it turns out that he was planted there by his father to sort of inside information on the pack, then we learned that the great, great north is actually on this huge shale deposit and that’s what the shifters want.

And when the next iron moon comes, come in and they’re going to shoot all the wolves

they can find.

Lauren: stop there.

Josie: Yeah, it’s actually really,

of course he sort of has this big, huge change of heart and there’s like,

 the B storyline for it is so much more complicated than you normally see in a romance series.

And the writing itself is just really well done. It’s understated, written, beautifully described. And you really get this sense of the wild it’s like at this this great feeling of [00:55:00] like when you’re there running with the pack. And it’s very exciting. I don’t know. It’s just, it’s like that part of it is just as well developed and is just the right note written.

It’s not underwritten, it’s not overwritten. It’s not verbose. just right. you get the sense from book to book that every single love, because it, it always centers around a love story. The first one is between Um, silver and the shifter. And the second one is between, um, Elijah. Who’s an alpha and he falls in love with a human girl.

that’s like, never

Alisa: Did That happen

Josie: type of thing. No, that’s never supposed to happen. Like the pack will eviscerate her. If she even comes on their land like that, they’ll just tear human part.

Alisa: So clearly that has to happen. Some Wolf has to fall in love with some human And

Josie: Some Wolf has to fall in love with some human, and then there’s the next one is, um, an alpha and a shifter.

There’s like all different of. Like love stories that work out. So it’s never a formulaic. Oh yeah. This is the way that she sets up her love stories. [00:56:00] They each have their own thing that they go through and I really just fell in love with the series. I thought it was fantastic. And never been into the Wolf thing.

I’ve never been into that, that, that not even the vampire thing. Like even the vampire thing to me, it was like me, man. I, don’t know. Like I like it, but I don’t love it. And, but this, I loved and I was surprised

by it.

Lauren: it.

Josie: Yeah.

Lauren: think I’d like it. Cause I used to love, um, anything with supernatural.

Josie: Yeah. But the supernatural feels it does. It’s not like magic.

Lauren: Right,

Josie: like, it seems like the most natural thing in the world when they become wolves. And it just feels like. You’ll love it, Lauren, because it’s all great character work and it feels very much like this but beyond family that they’re always talking about.

Like more about responsibility and your position in the pack. Like if you’re the alpha you’re supposed to sacrifice yourself. And when there is conflict and you know, guns are brought onto the land, it’s the alphas who died because they died defending their pack. And it’s just beautiful. It feels like [00:57:00] this wonderful, little society that she’s created.

And it feels very truthy. You know, it feels like, like there’s all this Wolf behavior that, you know, if you look it up, you’re like, oh yeah, they do do that.


very true.

Lauren: of the

Alisa: I know, I just thought of that. Yeah.

Josie: Yeah.

Lauren: I

Josie: But anyway,

Lauren: it. I think I’d like it.

Josie: I loved it. loved it. And it was super, super steamy

Lauren: wonder

Josie: no,

Lauren: the audio. Do they have audio books? Because I might like

Josie: yeah, yeah. She has audio books.

Lauren: And can we talk a little bit more about the sex part?

Josie: the seismic.

Aileen: Oh, my God, you guys we’ve been on the phone for like over two


Josie: Oh My God. You’re right. family’s gonna think I disappeared.

Aileen: butt hurts.

Josie: Okay. Well, okay. So let’s, let’s wrap up. Let’s do our final thoughts. So Lauren, you went, you went first. What are your

final thoughts?

Lauren: recommend it. It’s I enjoyed it. I felt a little old

Josie: So it’s the X,

Lauren: the

Josie: X

Lauren: Rachel and Solomon. I’m not old, but I felt like, oh, I’m getting old, um, I really did enjoy it. I think it’s a [00:58:00] fun book to read. it’s contemporary was written in 2020. And I did really appreciate that. I appreciate that.

I appreciated that. She was really, um, thinking about how to, corporate,

like all gender, all sexualities.

Alisa: It was inclusive.

Lauren: yeah. you.

And the


Josie: And the sex is good. Alien

Aileen: I read the Rosie project by Graham Simpson. Um, it was very G-rated compared to all of your books. There were no sex scenes because the character was really not capable of having sex until the very, very end. And then you don’t really read about it. So if you just want a really sweet endearing, likable love story, that’s lighthearted, it will make you feel good.

Then I recommend it.

Josie: Alissa, your

Alisa: I read normal people by Sally Rooney. And although there were some very steamy sex scenes, um, it’s a very complicated story with flawed characters and a very flawed relationship that is chronicled over a series of five years [00:59:00] from when kids, they were in high school, up through their first year in college and, and learning about themselves, learning about each other.

Um, I, I think it’s a potentially divisive book just based on, you know, part of the conversation that we had here. Some, some people might, might really appreciate the personal struggles that, that the people are experiencing. Um, but it’s, it’s, it’s worth reading it and it’s a love story, but it’s one that will make you think.

Josie: And I read the last Wolf. Um, and a Wolf apart by Maria veil. That’s part of her all Wolf series and, uh, yeah, it’s awesome. And I don’t normally go for werewolf’s stories, but this was beautifully written, um, great story to it and wonderful, wonderful love stories. I fully, fully, fully recommend it. Okay.

You guys aliens falling asleep. She’s like,

Alisa: I know I have to go plan all my lessons

for tomorrow. I haven’t.

Aileen: I have to [01:00:00] watch I have to watch bad TV before I

go to bed.

Josie: You have to go eat what?

Lauren: urinate. Okay.

Alisa: you said eat something like you were hungry and hadn’t had dinner.

Go pee.


Aileen: ladies.

Josie: You’ve been listening to fiction between friends to find the show notes for this episode, or to subscribe and get new episodes delivered automatically. Visit fiction between friends.com. Also, if you happen to have a moment and you’ve liked what you’ve heard, please help support our podcast by leaving a review on apple podcasts.

We would be immensely grateful. Thank you for listening.

9 comments on “S2 Ep3: Steamy love stories

  1. Shauna says:

    You are so fun to listen to! I love all the laughter and good natured joking around. Such a variety of books this week! I don’t generally read a book for the romance but happily go along with it when they come along. I did hear someone mention Robyn Carr and I am currently listening to the Virgin River series because I love the TV show. (And honestly, I think the show is better 😉 ) still an enjoyable read.

    1. Josie says:

      Thanks Shauna!

      We love chatting with each other. I have 1,500 daily texts as proof! 🙂

  2. Aileen says:

    Ah, thanks! We have so much fun together, I’m glad we’re also fun to listen to. I didn’t realize how much those 3 make me laugh until I listened to a few of our episodes (I’m still not comfortable hearing my own voice though.) And I’m with you on the romance thing. I don’t seek it out as a genre but it’s always nice to bump into a good love story.

  3. Emma says:

    Aileen being the one with the least steamy book when the topic of the episode is literally “steamy romances”?? Unbelievable… I guess she just likes to keep you guys on your toes haha 😀
    Also I’m on holiday now and I am in desperate need of fun books and this episode is a perfect guide for me. I’m definitely going to the library tomorrow and making use of that membership card…

    About the trigger warnings:
    I think they’re really important and I always make sure to mention stuff like that to my friends when I recommend a book because many of them have been surprised with a triggering theme in books when they weren’t expecting it. Sometimes just restricting books based on age isn’t enough and I was certainly reading some stuff that I should not have known about when I was way too young because no one warned me or my mother about certain scenes in even Y.A. books.
    Thankfully nowadays there are a lot of websites that give warnings without necessarily spoiling the books, which is great. Also makes it possible to search for certain things or themes (which, the tagging system is one of my favourite things about fanfiction/literature sites like AO3 because I know exactly what I’ll get and I love having that option for published works too).

    And also on the topic of warnings: I don’t know what I was looking up about the books but I stumbled across a Christian parents help site rating the Starcrossed series and letting other parents know what possibly offending themes their kids would be reading about, noting the page numbers where characters would be swearing and stuff like that. It was kind of funny going through that list.

    Have a great day, I am looking forward to hearing from you again in two weeks!
    Love, Emma

    1. Josie says:

      I know– Aileen reading the most PG book? Astonishing!

      About Starcrossed getting a warning on a Christian site, I wonder what that’s about? I think there is one part where someone says “damn” and maybe they find that offensive. I, personally, do not and as they series continues and the characters age up (as well as the audience) the language will get a bit more salty. No F words, I don’t think that’s appropriate for YA. But let’s face it–a lot of people cuss. It’s just a simple truth.

      Have a great day, Emma. Thank you for listening and telling us your thoughts.

      1. Emma says:

        I think it was mostly that it was about the greek gods and not God with a capital G… They did however also talk a bit about the family structure of the Delos’ and how great it was that they were so supportive of each other, and about Jerry being a good father and role model, which was a adorable. Oh, and that kids were KISSING?? absolutely scandalous!! All in all I think it got a green light as long as you don’t let your kids join a polytheistic religion after reading haha

    2. Aileen says:

      It was totally accidental! I asked for recommendations and that was the one I got. Cute book, but Disney level steaminess.

      1. Alisa says:

        And as we mentioned in the podcast, I’m SURE there is a sexed up version of Disney if you are interested… there is a sexed up version of EVERYTHING. Yikes! LOL

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