Ep 13: Bea & Leah Koch, The Ripped Bodice
On this episode we discuss ALL THE ROMANCE BOOKS with Bea & Leah Koch, owners of The Ripped Bodice—America’s only Romance bookstore. The Ripped Bodice is celebrating their one year anniversary this month!
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In which we feel real fancy, learn more about geography, and can’t stop asking for recommendations.
We’re drinking French 75s and feeling classy as fuck.
Bea is reading Murder on Black Swan Lane by Andrea Penrose (out June 27). And she recently finished An Extraordinary Union by Alyssa Cole, which she thinks will be a great gateway romance (out March 28) about a female spy posing as a slave. Fun fact, Alyssa Cole lives in Martinique, and Kim and Emma’s geography lessons continue.
Emma is reading Hot Dog Taste Test by Lisa Hanawalt—a graphic foodie memoir that is weird and delicious. She also just started Kim & Kim by Magdalene Visaggio, which is a comic about punk rock bounty hunters in space.
Kim is reading Love Is Love a graphic anthology written in response to the Orlando shooting curated by Marc Andreyko; an important, but difficult read. All proceeds for the book go to the victims, survivors, and families affected by the Orlando Pulse shooting. Which is to say, everyone should buy this book. She’s also reading The Book of Joan by Lidia Yuknavitch (out April 18) a futuristic space Joan of Arc story, which hits weirdly close to home in its political content.
We’re Excited About:
Bea and Leah have so many frontlist romance novels to tell you about:
An Extraordinary Union by Alyssa Cole (more than worth a second mention and out March 28)
First in the Frisky Beavers series is Prime Minister “and is basically about if Justin Trudeau weren’t married and liked kinky sex.”
The Thing About Love by Julie James (out April18)
Julie James will be making an appearance at Ripped Bodice on her author tour!
The Devil in Spring by Lisa Kleypas (#3 in The Ravenels series, with the kids of characters from her Wallflowers series)
Emma is excited for Tender by Sofia Samatar (writer of A Stranger in Olondria and out April 11 from Small Beer Press) and Next Year, for Sure by Zoey Leigh Peterson, which is the only book about polyamory she has read so she asked for more recs…
SIDETRACK: Polyamory Recommendations
Laid Bare by Lauren Dane (#1 in the Brown Family series)
Glutton for Pleasure by Alisha Rai
Back to frontlist…
Kim is looking forward to
The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
Whereas: Poems by Layli Long Soldier
The Mother of All Questions by Rebecca Solnit
Dear Ijeawele, or a Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Chapter I [19:00]
In which we discuss Bea & Leah’s Romance Origin Story, Talk Vaginal-Looking Covers, and Get ALL THE ROMANCE RECOMMENDATIONS
Bea loved historical fiction (and historical fashion) and introduced Leah to The Bridgertons series by Julia Quinn (which is great for people who want to test the waters of regency romance)
First in the series is The Duke and I
Leah ultimately came to love contemporary romances and became a hardcore romance fan with the help of Nora Roberts—The Bride Quartet series is one of her favorites
First in the series is Vision in White
Where to Start with Contemporary:
First, what level of heat are you looking for? Super graphic and dirty? Or cloaked in metaphor?
Not Quite As Dirty
It Had to Be You (Chicago Stars #1) by Susan Elizabeth Phillips. You know, the one with the boobs on the cover:
Heroine Complex by Sarah Kuhn (for geek fandom readers)
Really Dirty Recs
Beautiful Bastard (Beautiful Series #1) by Christina Lauren
Vampire Romance Recommendations (because we love Buffy)
Dark Lover (Black Dagger Brotherhood #1) by J.R. Ward (super dirty)
Nice Girls Don’t Have Fangs (Jane Jameson #1) by Molly Harper (funnier romance)
The Care and Feeding of Stray Vampires (Half Moon Hollow #1) by Molly Harper
Famous people make appearances as vampires—people like Dick Cheney
Witchbian Romances (because we love Willow)
Better Off Red by Rebekah Weatherspoon (Vampire Sorority Sisters #1) (lesbian vampire sorority)
Dance Upon the Air (Three Sisters Island Trilogy #1) by Nora Roberts
Dark Witch (Cousins O’Dwyer Trilogy #1) by Nora Roberts
Lunatic Fringe by Allison Moon (Kim rec: werewolf lesbian feminist)
Two Sexy Nonfic Picks
Girl Sex 101 by Allison Moon
Come As You Are by Emily Nagoski
Non-Paranormal Queer/Diverse Recs
Rebekah Weatherspoon (also has non-vampire lesbian romances)
For Real by Alexis Hall (author of some gorgeous MM romances)
The Prince’s Psalm by Eric Shaw Quinn (a Biblical gay romance)
First Position by Melissa Brayden (lesbian ballerinas)
I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson (MM YA)
Georgia Peaches and Other Forbidden Fruit by Jaye Robin Brown (FF YA)
The Soldier’s Scoundrel by Cat Sebastian (gay regency)
K.J. Charles (also writes gay regency, but they’re not all dukes)
Wanted, A Gentleman is one of her newer titles
The Spare and the Heir (Lords of Time #5) by Jenn LeBlanc (gay victorian)
LeBlanc is also a photographer and illustrates many of her romances with super hot photos.
Glutton for Pleasure by Alisha Rai (mentioned earlier as poly rec)
Trade Me by Courtney Milan (Cyclone #1) (contemporary romance with POC characters)
The Countess Conspiracy (Brothers Sinister #3) by Courtney Milan
Beverly Jenkins writes African American historicals
Breathless (Old West #2) is her newest release
Daughters of a Nation by Alyssa Cole, Piper Huguley, Lena Hart & more (an anthology of stories about black suffragettes)
Silk, Swords, and Surrender by Jeannie Lin
The Tang Dynasty series by Jeannie Lin (about the ancient Chinese Tang dynasty & recommended if you liked the Netflix show Marco Polo. This series is even better with intrigue and sword fighting)
Butterfly Swords is the first in the series
Chapter II [36:50]
In which we chat about The Ripped Bodice, the romance community, and what it means to be feminist.
-Fifty Shades of Gray, why they don’t sell it (it’s not a good representation of BDSM), and how they help customers find their next read after Fifty Shades
-Ripped Bodice looks like a very fancy lingerie dressing room (yes, they have a fainting couch). The store is separated into 5 Zones, which are decorated to reflect their genre: Historical, Contemporary, Paranormal, Erotica, and Everything Else
-Sidelines: bookish things, but also things that will appeal to romance readers like stuff about feminism. Solid rec for Juniper & Ivy’s nerdy wood laser cut pieces.
“Part of being a romance bookstore is being unapologetically feminist and sex positive”
Chapter III [48:35]
In which Bea goes hardcore practical for her Station Eleven pick, people are kinda boring (in a good way), and we talk sexy nonfiction.
Bea’s Station Eleven pick is Robert’s Rules of Order by Henry Robert. Leah is bringing “the most comprehensive survival guide [she] can find.”
Anne Boleyn, a King’s Obsession (one of Weir’s newest books out May 16)
Bookseller Confession: “Your tawdry thing that you think is super scandalous is really boring…”
The Dirtiest Romance You’ve Read
Olivia Cunning’s Sinners on Tour series
First in the series: Backstage Pass
J.R. Ward’s Black Dagger Brotherhood series
First in the series: Dark Lover
Self-published titles with god-awful covers and non-fiction i.e. Come As Your Are by Emily Nagoski and Playing Well with Others: Your Field Guide to Discovering, Exploring, and Navigating the Kink, Leather, and BDSM Communities by Lee Harrington and Mollena Williams
The Romance Books Every Bookseller Should Recommend
Daughters of a Nation by Alyssa Cole
Beyond Heaving Bosoms by Sarah Wendell and Candy Tan
Also, have more than two romances and don’t laugh (or sneer) at your customers who are buying romance novels. Come on.
LA Bookstore: Diesel
Childhood Bookstore: Women & Children First
Favorite Literary Media
Romance Twitter—follow all your favorite authors on Twitter
The Ripped Bodice can be found so many places on the internet
You can also sign up for the Ripped Bodice newsletter on their website—they’ve got events, recommendations, and a thing called Fitzwilliam’s Corner (that’s Fitzwilliam Waffles; he’s their dog, he is awesome, and he has his own Instagram).
You can find us on Twitter at @drunkbookseller and everywhere else as DrunkBooksellers (plural).
Kim tweets occasionally from @finaleofseem, but don’t expect too much.
We always have more content than we can fit into one hour and this time said content was extra interesting. So for all the people who read our show notes and/or subscribe to our newsletter, here are a few more recommendations from Bea & Leah
Romances That Are Library/Bookstore-Adjacent
Broken Resolutions (Lovestruck Librarians #1) by Olivia Dade
Taking the Heat by Victoria Dahl (Girls Night Out #4)
Rock Addiction by Nalini Singh (Rock Kiss #1) (librarian falls in love with a rockstar)
Romances About Publishing/Writing
The Hating Game by Sally Thorne (publishing romance)
Temptations of a Wallflower by Eva Leigh (#4 Wicked Quills of London) (historical where the woman writes erotica)
How to Woo a Reluctant Lady by Sabrina Jeffries (#3 Hellions of Halstead Hall) (main character writes gothics)