Episode 101: Romance

Angie, Ariel, and Annie on location at St Cloud Public Library

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Attention: you could win a FREE  romance audiobook!!  Leave a comment on our website! As a special thank you to our listeners, we have two free digital audiobook downloads for randomly selected commenters! We have copies of Because of Miss Bridgerton by Julia Quinn from HarperAudio (we discuss this series!), and The Black Witch (The Black Witch Chronicles #1) by Laurie Forest from Harlequin Audio.  Tell us about a favorite romance book, give us some ideas on new romance book suggestions, or other romance-reading ideas and you will be eligible to win!


Welcome, everyone, to Books and Beverages! This is our book group podcast, where we discuss different genres of books each week, while we sit in our comfy chairs and drink our beverages. And you are, of course, an important part of this book group. So if you do not already have a nice beverage please go get one, so you can join the experience of our book group.

This is a very inclusive book group. There are not “right” or “wrong” books to read and chat about for our book group. We love books, and want to talk about them – and we want you to share your books. All of us will take away at least a title or two that we want to read at the end of our time together!

Who is joining us this week? Our regular hosts Angie and Mary are here. This week our guest hosts are Ariel Kirst and Annie Larson.

This week we are discussing Romance books!

Want to win a free romance audiobook? Leave a comment on our website!As a special thank you to our listeners, we have two free digital audiobook downloads for randomly selected commenters! We have copies of Because of Miss Bridgerton by Julia Quinn from HarperAudio (we discuss this series!), and The Black Witch (The Black Witch Chronicles #1) by Laurie Forest from Harlequin Audio.  Tell us about a favorite romance book, give us some ideas on new romance book suggestions, or other romance-reading ideas and you will be eligible to win!




We have guests, we have our genre. We just need our beverages. Fortunately, we all came prepared with something to sip while we talk about our books. Each week we like to connect the theme of our books with our beverages. Each beverage will have a recipe or a link on our episode page, so you can try them yourself!  Obviously, feel free to sip your coffee as you listen; and everyone needs more water – whatever is right for you. Just join us in celebrating books, and discussing books!


Sweetheart Chocolate Martini


  • 1 teaspoon Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
  • 1 ounce, fluid Half-and-Half (We Used Fat Free)
  • 1-½ ounce, fluid Pinnacle Chocolate Vodka
  • 1 ounce, fluid Chocolate Liqueur
  • 1 ounce, fluid Creme De Cacao
  • 1 ounce, fluid Whipped Cream Topping (we Used Fat Free)
  • 1 ounce, weight Chocolate (to Shave Over Top)


Lavender Berry Rooibos White Tea, “From Field to Cup Organic Japanese Blueberry Flavored Matcha Green Tea Powder releases caffeine slowly into your system, offering a steady rise in that get-up-and-go feeling and a taste that is unmatched! That, paired with the rare amino acid L-Theanine, which actually promotes a state of relaxation and negates the side effects of caffeine, gives you truly clear headed energy that you won’t mind sipping on anytime! ”


This sangria is THEE drink to make this fall. It combines red wine, brandy, cinnamon, apple cider, citrus, and of course - sweet honeycrisp apples! sallysbakingaddiction.com

Honeycrisp Apple Sangria

  • 3 cinnamon sticks (plus more for garnish)
  • 2 honeycrisp apples, chopped
  • 1 orange, thinly sliced
  • 1 (750 ml) bottle red wine (I suggest a light-bodied Spanish variety)
  • 1 and 3/4 cups homemade apple cider or store-bought1
  • 1/2 cup brandy
  • 1/4 cup orange juice (or juice from 2 medium oranges)
  • juice from 1 lemon
  • club soda, to taste


Wedding Tea,Caffeinated Wedding Mutan White Tea With Notes of Vanilla and Citrus and a Touch of Rosebuds and Petals

  • Enjoy the Mixture of Vegetal Flavors from the White Tea, and the Marriage of the Sweet Creaminess of Vanilla with the Citrus Notes of Lemons
  • Tin Contains 20 Sachets
  • Wedding Tea Makes a Very Special Tea, No Matter the Occasion
  • Packaged in a Beautiful Tin – Makes a Lovely Wedding Reception Favor or Special Gift


Pineapple Orange Mimosas

Pineapple Orange Mimosas

Divide a bottle of champagne among 4 glasses. Stir together 1/4 cup pineapple juice and 1/4 cup orange juice; pour over the champagne. Top each mimosa with 1/2 tablespoon orange liqueur. Garnish with orange and pineapple wedges.




Genre Discussion

We love books, so it seems entirely appropriate to start off our book group with Romance books! Romance is an extremely popular genre – and probably much broader than you would general imagine! There can be romance elements to books in almost any type of book. We will have very long lists of different types of romance books on our webpage for this episode; but to give you a taste of how broad this genre is, all of these are, or can be, romance books: (This list is from Goodreads)

  • African American
  • Christian
  • Clean
  • Contemporary
  • Erotic
  • Fantasy
  • Fiction
  • Historical
  • Interracial
  • Lesbian
  • Men with men
  • Paranormal
  • Suspense
  • Science Fiction
  • Time travel
  • Western

What makes a romance book actually “romance” instead of a nice book with some romance in it? Well, the experts have an answer!

From Romance Writers of America: “Two basic elements comprise every romance novel: a central love story and an emotionally satisfying and optimistic ending.

  • A Central Love Story: The main plot centers around individuals falling in love and struggling to make the relationship work. A writer can include as many subplots as he/she wants as long as the love story is the main focus of the novel.
  • An Emotionally Satisfying and Optimistic Ending: In a romance, the lovers who risk and struggle for each other and their relationship are rewarded with emotional justice and unconditional love.”


When you are looking for some popular romance books, for yourself or for a patron, you might start off with a well-known author. Here is a list of the bestselling romance authors in the US:

  • Bestselling Authors
  • 1 Judith McNaught
  • 2 Julie Garwood
  • 3 Johanna Lindsey
  • 4 Nora Roberts
  • 5 Jude Deveraux
  • 6 Jane Austen
  • 7 Lisa Kleypas
  • 8 Julia Quinn
  • 9 Kathleen E. Woodiwiss
  • 10 Susan Elizabeth
  • 11 Linda Howard
  • 12 Christine Feehan
  • 13 Jayne Ann Krentz
  • 14 Kristen Ashley
  • 15 Amanda Quick
  • 16 Diana Gabaldon
  • 17 Mary Balogh
  • 18 Stephanie Laurens
  • 19 Debbie Macomber
  • 20 Kresley Cole


We have articles with suggested titles you might enjoy:


Our Book Suggestions

That is what the experts have to say, and we have more to contribute! Let’s get to the discussion! Book below are examples of the books we discussed; the pictures are links to Amazon. We encourage you to browse around other books by these authors. (Anything you buy after following these links will give us a small percentage of the purchase price from Amazon. Thanks!)


Calling It,(Book #1) by Jen Doyle “Baseball player Nathan Hawkins needs to get away from Chicago. After a near career-ending car accident and with paparazzi surrounding his penthouse, Nate can only think of one place to go: home. But when he finds his old apartment occupied by a half-naked woman wielding a baseball bat, he’s not sure what to think…except that maybe his luck has finally changed for the better.

Librarian Dorie Donelli never thought she’d get to meet her fantasy man in person—much less in her bathrobe. To her surprise, her nearly naked run-in with Nate leads to more unclothed encounters. But Dorie is sure their fling is only temporary. As long as she remembers he’ll be gone once his life gets back on track, she won’t get hurt. In the meantime, she throws herself into enjoying their three weeks together before he has to report for spring training and go back to his old life.

For Nate, being with Dorie is the only time in months that he finds himself smiling. Laughing. And he has no intention of letting that go. He might even be falling in love…if only Dorie will let him say the words. What they have isn’t just a dream, but the start of a dream come true.”


The Duchess Deal, by Tessa Dare ”

When girl meets Duke, their marriage breaks all the rules…

Since his return from war, the Duke of Ashbury’s to-do list has been short and anything but sweet: brooding, glowering, menacing London ne’er-do-wells by night. Now there’s a new item on the list. He needs an heir—which means he needs a wife. When Emma Gladstone, a vicar’s daughter turned seamstress, appears in his library wearing a wedding gown, he decides on the spot that she’ll do.

His terms are simple:

– They will be husband and wife by night only.

– No lights, no kissing. 

– No questions about his battle scars.

– Last, and most importantly… Once she’s pregnant with his heir, they need never share a bed again.

But Emma is no pushover. She has a few rules of her own:

– They will have dinner together every evening.

– With conversation.

– And unlimited teasing.

– Last, and most importantly… Once she’s seen the man beneath the scars, he can’t stop her from falling in love…


That Summer, by Lauren Willig “2009: When Julia Conley hears that she has inherited a house outside London from an unknown great-aunt, she assumes it’s a joke. She hasn’t been back to England since the car crash that killed her mother when she was six, an event she remembers only in her nightmares. But when she arrives at Herne Hill to sort through the house―with the help of her cousin Natasha and sexy antiques dealer Nicholas―bits of memory start coming back. And then she discovers a pre-Raphaelite painting, hidden behind the false back of an old wardrobe, and a window onto the house’s shrouded history begins to open…

1849: Imogen Grantham has spent nearly a decade trapped in a loveless marriage to a much older man, Arthur. The one bright spot in her life is her step-daughter, Evie, a high-spirited sixteen year old who is the closest thing to a child Imogen hopes to have. But everything changes when three young painters come to see Arthur’s collection of medieval artifacts, including Gavin Thorne, a quiet man with the unsettling ability to read Imogen better than anyone ever has. When Arthur hires Gavin to paint her portrait, none of them can guess what the hands of fate have set in motion.”


Alex and Eliza: A Love Story, by Melissa de la Cruz “1777. Albany, New York.

As battle cries of the American Revolution echo in the distance, servants flutter about preparing for one of New York society’s biggest events: the Schuylers’ grand ball. Descended from two of the oldest and most distinguished bloodlines in New York, the Schuylers are proud to be one of their fledgling country’s founding families, and even prouder still of their three daughters—Angelica, with her razor-sharp wit; Peggy, with her dazzling looks; and Eliza, whose beauty and charm rival those of both her sisters, though she’d rather be aiding the colonists’ cause than dressing up for some silly ball.
Still, Eliza can barely contain her excitement when she hears of the arrival of one Alexander Hamilton, a mysterious, rakish young colonel and General George Washington’s right-hand man. Though Alex has arrived as the bearer of bad news for the Schuylers, he can’t believe his luck—as an orphan, and a bastard one at that—to be in such esteemed company. And when Alex and Eliza meet that fateful night, so begins an epic love story that would forever change the course of American history.”


Wilde in Love: (Book 1)The Wildes of Lindow Castle, by Eloisa James “Lord Alaric Wilde, son of the Duke of Lindow, is the most celebrated man in England, revered for his dangerous adventures and rakish good looks. Arriving home from years abroad, he has no idea of his own celebrity until his boat is met by mobs of screaming ladies. Alaric escapes to his father’s castle, but just as he grasps that he’s not only famous but notorious, he encounters the very private, very witty, Miss Willa Ffynche.

Willa presents the façade of a serene young lady to the world. Her love of books and bawdy jokes is purely for the delight of her intimate friends. She wants nothing to do with a man whose private life is splashed over every newspaper.

Alaric has never met a woman he wanted for his own . . . until he meets Willa. He’s never lost a battle.

But a spirited woman like Willa isn’t going to make it easy. . . .”


The Hating Game, by Sally Thorne “Lucy Hutton and Joshua Templeman hate each other. Not dislike. Not begrudgingly tolerate. Hate. And they have no problem displaying their feelings through a series of ritualistic passive aggressive maneuvers as they sit across from each other, executive assistants to co-CEOs of a publishing company. Lucy can’t understand Joshua’s joyless, uptight, meticulous approach to his job. Joshua is clearly baffled by Lucy’s overly bright clothes, quirkiness, and Pollyanna attitude.

Now up for the same promotion, their battle of wills has come to a head and Lucy refuses to back down when their latest game could cost her her dream job…But the tension between Lucy and Joshua has also reached its boiling point, and Lucy is discovering that maybe she doesn’t hate Joshua. And maybe, he doesn’t hate her either. Or maybe this is just another game.”

The Secret History of the Pink Carnation, by Lauren Willig “Nothing goes right for Eloise. The one day she wears her new suede boots, it rains cats and dogs. When the subway stops short, she’s always the one thrown into some stranger’s lap. Plus, she’s had more than her share of misfortune in the way of love. In fact, ever since she realized romantic heroes are a thing of the past, she’s decided it’s time for a fresh start.

Setting off for England, Eloise is determined to finish her dissertation on that dashing pair of spies, the Scarlet Pimpernel and the Purple Gentian. But what she discovers is something the finest historians have missed: the secret history of the Pink Carnation—the most elusive spy of all time. As she works to unmask this obscure spy, Eloise stumbles across answers to all kinds of questions. Like how did the Pink Carnation save England from Napoleon? What became of the Scarlet Pimpernel and the Purple Gentian? And will Eloise Kelly escape her bad luck and find a living, breathing hero all her own?”

Moon Called (Mercy Thompson, Book 1), by Patricia Briggs “Mercy Thompson is a shapeshifter, and while she was raised by werewolves, she can never be one of them, especially after the pack ran her off for having a forbidden love affair. So she’s turned her talent for fixing cars into a business and now runs a one-woman mechanic shop in the Tri-Cities area of Washington State.

But Mercy’s two worlds are colliding. A half-starved teenage boy arrives at her shop looking for work, only to reveal that he’s a newly changed werewolf—on the run and desperately trying to control his animal instincts. Mercy asks her neighbor Adam Hauptman, the Alpha of the local werewolf pack, for assistance.

But Mercy’s act of kindness has unexpected consequences that leave her no choice but to seek help from those she once considered family—the werewolves who abandoned her…”

The Duke and I (Bridgertons #1), by Julia Quinn “Can there be any greater challenge to London’s Ambitious Mamas than an unmarried duke?—Lady Whistledown’s Society Papers, April 1813

By all accounts, Simon Basset is on the verge of proposing to his best friend’s sister—the lovely and almost-on-the-shelf—Daphne Bridgerton. But the two of them know the truth—it’s all an elaborate ruse to keep Simon free from marriage-minded society mothers. And as for Daphne, surely she will attract some worthy suitors now that it seems a duke has declared her desirable.

But as Daphne waltzes across ballroom after ballroom with Simon, it’s hard to remember that their courtship is a sham. Maybe it’s his devilish smile, certainly it’s the way his eyes seem to burn every time he looks at her . . . but somehow Daphne is falling for the dashing duke . . . for real! And now she must do the impossible and convince the handsome rogue that their clever little scheme deserves a slight alteration, and that nothing makes quite as much sense as falling in love.”

Highland Dragon Warrior (Dawn of the Highland Dragon Book 1), by Isabel Cooper “The war may be over, but so long as English magic controls the Highlands, not even a dragon laird can keep his clan safe. What Cathal MacAlasdair needs is a warrior fierce enough to risk everything, yet gifted enough to outwit an enemy more monster than man.

What he needs is Sophia.

Alchemist Sophia Metzger traveled to Loch Arach in search of knowledge. She never dreamed she’d learn to do battle, ride through the stars on the back of a dragon, or catch the eye of a Highland laird. But as her quest turns to sizzling chemistry and inescapable danger, she’ll soon discover the thrill of being caught in a dragon’s claws…”

Naked in Death (In Death, Book 1), by J.D. Robb “It is 2058, New York City. Technology now completely rules the world, but for New York Detective Eve Dallas, one irresistible impulse still rules the heart: passion…

Eve Dallas is a New York police lieutenant hunting for a ruthless killer. In over ten years on the force, she’s seen it all—and knows her survival depends on her instincts. And she’s going against every warning telling her not to get involved with Roarke, an Irish billionaire—and a suspect in Eve’s murder investigation. But passion and seduction have rules of their own, and it’s up to Eve to take a chance in the arms of a man she knows nothing about—except the addictive hunger of needing his touch.”


Dean and Castile fanfic from Fanfiction.net

Buffy the Vampire Slayer fanfic from Fanfiction.net


Thank you so much for joining us for this discussion! We will be back next Tuesday with another genre, more book group hosts, and all kinds of books to share and discuss. Be sure to subscribe to our podcast so you don’t miss a single episode! And if you want to hear more about the work we do in libraries – which is surprisingly fun! – subscribe to our podcast Linking Our Libraries.

Bring your book ideas, bring your beverages, and join us back here on Tuesday!


More Resources to check out!

Smart Bitches, Trashy Books – all of the romance, none of the bullshit “Smart Bitches Trashy Books began in 2005 as a community of romance readers eager to talk about which romance novels rocked their worlds, and which ones made them throw the book with as much velocity as possible. Since then our site has grown to include a community of incredibly smart and savvy romance readers, as well as folks who are curious about all those fuchsia books with the tangerine skies and turquoise ruffles they used to see in the drug stores.”

Lists from Goodreads:

  • African American “The African-American Romance genre promises sexy, emotional, heartfelt, and romantic stories that reflect the values and dreams of African-American culture.”
  • Christian “Also commonly referred to as inspirational romance, these books feature Christian characters and overt themes dealing with Christian faith. Characters behave according to Christian tenets, eschewing alcohol, profanity and lying, and any sexual content is hinted at or avoided entirely to instead focus on the more tender aspects of love and romance.” https://www.goodreads.com/genres/christian-romance
  • Clean Romance: Romance books without intimacy details or foul language. https://www.goodreads.com/genres/clean-romance
  • Contemporary Romance Romance with a contemporary setting. Contemporary romance is set after World War II. https://www.goodreads.com/genres/contemporary-romance
  • Erotic Romance Erotic romance takes the conventions of romance – a focus on a developing romantic relationship culminating in a optimistic ending – and infuses it with more graphic sexual content. Stories may have a single couple or they may explore triads and beyond. https://www.goodreads.com/genres/erotic-romance
  • Fantasy Romance Romantic fantasy is a subgenre of fantasy fiction, describing a fantasy story using many of the elements and conventions of the romance genre. One of the key features of romantic fantasy involves the focus on relationships, social, political, and romantic. Romantic fantasy has been published by both fantasy lines and romance lines.


  • Fiction Fiction is the telling of stories which are not real. More specifically, fiction is an imaginative form of narrative, one of the four basic rhetorical modes. … works of fiction need not be entirely imaginary and may include real people, places, and events. https://www.goodreads.com/genres/fiction
  • Historical romance (also historical novel) is a broad category of fiction in which the plot takes place in a setting located in the past. https://www.goodreads.com/genres/historical-romance
  • Interracial Romance relates to marriages, relationships, or dating between different races. In the 2000 census, there were 1.6 million interracial marriages in America. https://www.goodreads.com/genres/interracial-romance
  • Lesbian Romance “Romance genre focused on the romantic relationship between lesbian couples.” https://www.goodreads.com/genres/lesbian-romance
  • M/M Romance is fiction with an intimate relationship between two (or more) men at its center as the main focus of the plot. https://www.goodreads.com/genres/m-m-romance
  • Paranormal romance is a sub-genre of the romance novel related to paranormal fiction. Paranormal romance focuses on romance and includes elements beyond the range of scientific explanation, blending together themes from the genres of urban fantasy, traditional fantasy, science fiction, or horror. https://www.goodreads.com/genres/paranormal-romance
  • Romantic suspense is any genre romance that features a prominent mystery, suspense or thriller plot. https://www.goodreads.com/genres/romantic-suspense
  • Science Fiction Romance A subgenre of Romance, a futuristic form of romance. https://www.goodreads.com/genres/science-fiction-romance
  • Time-travel romances are a version of the classic “fish out of water” story. In most, the heroine is from the present day and travels into the past to meet the hero. In a smaller subset of these novels, the hero, who lives in the past, travels forward into his future to meet the heroine. A successful time-travel romance must have the characters react logically to their experience and should investigate some of the differences, both physical and mental, between the world the character normally inhabits and the one where they landed. https://www.goodreads.com/genres/time-travel-romance
  • Western romance refers to any genre romance set in the American West. Plots generally center around traditionally Western activities such as ranching and rodeo. A western romance can be either contemporary or historical set. https://www.goodreads.com/genres/western-romance




Harlequin Enterprises imprints: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harlequin_Enterprises#Harlequin_category_romance_imprints

  • Harlequin American Romance
  • Harlequin Bestselling Author Collection
  • Harlequin Blaze – erotica
  • Harlequin Desire – rich and successful protagonists
  • Harlequin Historicals – historical romance
  • Harlequin Intrigue – romantic suspense
  • Harlequin Medical Romance
  • Harlequin Nocturne – paranormal romance
  • Harlequin Presents – “alpha males, decadent glamour and jet-set lifestyles”
  • Harlequin Presents Extra – with additional erotica
  • Harlequin Romantic Suspense – also romantic suspense
  • Harlequin Showcase – novel series
  • Harlequin Special Edition – “features relatable characters”
  • Harlequin Superromance – “a strong emotional punch and a guaranteed happily ever after”





Mills and Boon imprints https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mills_%26_Boon#Imprints

  • Blaze: Very sexual novels featuring couples in contemporary romantic relationships.
  • By Request: Reissues of novels from the Modern or Romance series.
  • Cherish: Warm and emotional novels that focus on capturing the feeling of falling in love.
  • Desire: Sexual novels featuring couples in a contemporary setting with dramatic plots.
  • Historical: Romance mixed with historical fiction. (e.g. Romance in 1920s New York or 17th century England.) Formerly called Masquerade Historical Romance, Legacy of Love and Historical Romance.
  • Intrigue: Romance mixed with the suspense or thriller genre.
  • Modern: Novels focus on glamorous and ‘sophisticated’ passionate romance in international locations. Featuring intense relationships, often very sexual, often reflecting shared feelings and desires.
  • Medical Romance: Contemporary romances set against the background of the medical profession.
  • Nocturne: Paranormal romance imprint, mixing romance with genres such as horror, science fiction and fantasy.
  • Modern Tempted: Novels aimed at younger readers. Launched in 2013 to replace Riva which itself replaced Modern Heat.
  • Special Releases: Includes seasonal collections and reissue anthologies.
  • Spice: Erotic fiction imprint, featuring casual sex and bondage. The most explicit imprint published by Mills & Boon.
  • Vintage: Backlist titles from the Modern. Desire and Historical imprints published in e-book format.
  • American Romance: themed around classically American heroes such as cowboys. e-book only.
  • Historical Undone: shorter length historical editorial of greater sensuality in general than the Historical series. e-book only.
  • Kimani: African-American romances. e-book only.
  • Love Inspired: Inspirational romance. e-book only.
  • Love Inspired Suspense: Inspirational romance containing themes of intrigue or thriller titles. e-book only.
  • Love Inspired Historical: Inspirational romance containing historical themes and settings. e-book only.
  • Nocturne Cravings: shorter length titles dealing with darker and paranormal themes. e-book only.

Some from Wikipedia

  • Educational
  • Erotic
  • Historical
  • Metahistorical
  • Regency
  • Medical
  • Paranormal
  • Scientific
  • Planetary




Romance Writers of America (RWA) is a nonprofit trade association, with a membership of more than 10,000 romance writers and related industry professionals, whose mission is to advance the professional and common business interests of career-focused romance writers through networking and advocacy.


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