We're Courtney and we're Sara and we're Bodice Tipplers, the podcast where we read the romance novels we used to steal off our grandmothers' nightstands (and then we drink about it.) Join us each episode as we examine the good, the bad, and the throbbing of vintage romances.
Danger Zone by Doreen Owens Malek
This is our first intentional entry in a little project we're doing - friend of the podcast Steve Ammidown posted this fascinating spread with a list of all the books Melinda Helfer, a Romantic Times editor, awarded five hearts in a review. Sixteen books out of ten thousand! Well, it turns out we'd already done two of them - Lightning that Lingers and The Windflower, both by Sharon and Todd Curtis (sometimes writing as Laura London.) Go check out those episodes, they're fantastic books! So every now and then going forward we're going to do one of these five heart books.
This is a mercenary book, but it's surprisingly gentle - there's that hostage situation, but nobody is seriously hurt and it doesn't feel incredibly perilous. There's later a bit of a threatening situation but it is also pretty low key. The author makes up some fake South American rebels but goes to real Northern Ireland in 1987, bold move! This is a delightful romantic suspense book for its time period.
Send No Flowers by Sandra Brown
He's Pierce, a hot guy with a secret (and it's not that he's part of the military industrial complex, he's proud of that part!) She's Alicia, a widowed mother of two who works in a romance novel boutique! Welcome to Send No Flowers by Sandra Brown - if you'd like to listen to our previous book by her way back in Episode 36, which believe you me is equally head shaking, try our episode on Fanta-C!
This book is an absolute roller coaster, and I don't just mean the bobsleds at Disneyland that these two are trying to dry hump on. He literally kidnaps her kids in the woods! Her best friend stole her fiancé! She very sensibly takes a huge promotion and never feels like a bad mom about it, which is so unexpected in a book like this that I spent the rest of the book waiting for the other shoe to drop! (The other shoe is that Pierce is extremely cagey because he may or may not have a disease. Whatever.) The content warning that I forgot to mention is that her kids are realistically awful to her and any parent is going to be wincing hard at it. Too close to home, Sandra.
Ben's Bakery and the Hannukah Miracle by Penelope Peters
He's Ben, a cinnamon roll who bakes cinnamon rolls! He's Adam, a hockey coach and a pain in the ass! It's our annual modern gay Hannukah book - chag sameach, y'all! This year we read Ben's Bakery and the Hannukah Miracle by Penelope Peters.
This one does have some serious religious gatekeeping - we mention it because it is really upsetting because this dude is not the catch he thinks he is to be such a damn asshole telling other people how to do their own damn religion right. Argh! (We liked Ben so much that we had absolutely zero time for this Adam guy.) Also, advanced moppet warning!
Mistletoe and Holly by Janet Dailey
He's Tagg, a Christmas-obsessed single dad! She's Leslie, a woman immobilized by a broken leg who cannot escape the holiday despite driving several states away and telling everybody she would prefer not to! He would probably be okay except that he's always "smirking" or "mocking" or whatevering his dialogue at her! For some reason his hair is very virile!
Warning: this book has intense levels of moppet. "My daddy will teach you to believe in Santa Claus!" which in another book would be hawwwt but in this one... There's also some pretty pushy sexual manipulation, when she says she wants to stop and he tries to pressure her and then freezes her out when that doesn't work. Ugh.
Also, I only just now realized that his name is Tagg as in "gift tag". I'mma go back up on this nice quiet private mountain with my cute dog and sexy furry green boots and have a drink. Happy holidays, y'all.
Till the End of Time by Suzanne Elizabeth
He's Scott, the dumbest fighter pilot to ever be trusted with a top secret time travel experiment! She's Rachel, a Civil War spy who has somehow never worn a corset! It's Till the End of Time, a 1994 time travel romance by Suzanne Elizabeth that has twenty whole reviews on Goodreads!
This is a silly book, so there isn't much to warn you about except that this man is incredibly stupid and that your tax dollars are being lit on fire, and you would not believe the terrible packing on display here. The book does (I mean this is a low bar but) understand that slavery is wrong and is entirely on the side of the abolitionists in it, but it does also fail the seriousness test in that upon time travelling and meeting enslaved people the hero just takes it in stride which is distressing.
So I couldn't remember everything when we were recording but these are the ten essentials you should always take when you go out in the wilderness OR WHEN YOU ARE TIME TRAVELING (even if it's a totally familiar trail - day hikers are the ones who get in trouble outdoors because they underplan!) On a routine hike you might not need any of them, but if the shit hits the fan you'll be glad you prepared - think about the worst that could reasonably happen that you could prepare for and pack for that. Usually that's a night out in the rough, a sudden weather change, or an injury anywhere between annoying and serious. Think none of that will happen to you? Then plan to take this stuff to help somebody else.
Navigation: map, compass, GPS, consider a PLB for real backcountry or backpacking trips - best practice is a paper map and compass as a backup, don't just rely on your phone! Light - a flashlight or headlamp can weigh next to nothing and you'll be extremely glad if you need it! Again, don't rely on your phone for this. Throw one in your suitcase too, I use mine a lot when I travel. Sun protection - hat, sunglasses, sunscreen, long sleeves, whatever you need. Best practice for looking hot your whole life. First aid - a simple kit including foot care and insect repellent can go in a sandwich bag at the bottom of your pack. It doesn't have to be elaborate, snakebite kits are nonsense, but you want to be able to stop bleeding, protect a blister, splint a limb, tame an allergic reaction, take a bee stinger out, that sort of thing. Leave the suture kit for people who know how to use one - if you do, you shouldn't be getting your first aid tips from a podcast about romance novels. (Pro tip, you're gonna want most of this this at Disney too!) Knife, and anything you might need to fix the rest of your gear. (So, if you have a tent, make sure you can temporarily fix a broken pole.) Roll of duct tape around a Sharpie is a good idea. A way to make fire - assume everything will be wet. No, you probably cannot do this with a bow drill in an emergency unless you've done it before. Shelter - can just be a space blanket, I have one in all my backpacks and my car's glovebox. Extra food - beyond what you're scheduled to need, you never know when you'll get stuck or encounter somebody in trouble. Extra water - same idea. A water filter, if you know there will be water sources, will work. Extra clothes - you can get wet, or the weather can change.
How many of these does our erstwhile Air Force captain take with him a hundred and fifty years into the past? Well, he has some sweatpants, some snacks, and a flashlight.
Greygallows by Barbara Michaels
Happy Halloween! He's Clare, a baron with a very expensive contractor's bill and a suspicious number of black armbands in his wardrobe. She's Lucy, a sheltered seventeen year old girl with a big inheritance and absolutely no friends anywhere. What a great combination! It's Greygallows by Barbara Michaels, who is also Elizabeth Peters and Barbara Mertz and probably a ton of other names - you may remember that we did an episode on her Devil May Care last year for Halloween, and that book has a guest appearance from the actual Christian devil! Old Scratch! The Father of Lies! The Prince of Darkness! This one, sadly, does not - but it's a delightful read and a great book for spooky season.
Fair warning, it includes some extremely realistic and therefore disturbing depictions of spousal abuse, most notably the scariest gaslighting I've seen in a book in a long time but also financial, emotional, and physical abuse with some attempted murder thrown in. It's not gratuitous at all - it's very well done and the heroine's legal helplessness under 19th century British law is definitely a major point of the book, but it is definitely going to hit too close to home for some people.
As a former twelve year old reading flea market romance books this is hands down my favorite of the romance book podcast. I am tickled every time I see a familiar title in the feed and enjoy looking at my old favs with adult eyes.
Lurv Hallmark Movies?… git IN here!
Hey! I’m as serious… or possibly slightly more than the next girl. But I too read books that were exciting, confusing and embarrassing from my local library. Those romance novels & etc. were … they were … Anyway let’s face it - there is A LOT to unpack here. Why not listen to these knowledgeable women do it while talking fast, getting lost, and telling on each other and our selves? I come to this podcast to giggle, say, “Oh, yeh, you get it” and get over myself. You may end up talking louder and faster - but that will wear off. If you want it to.
Courtney and Sara bring a terrific show all about the world of romance novels. While I must admit I'm not well versed in the topic they have great energy together and it's def a fun premise!