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!



This episode is sponsored by Books & Whatnot, the newsletter dedicated to books, bookselling, and bookish folk; check out the newsletter archive here. Follow Books & Whatnot on Twitter at @booksandwhatnot.

We now have an email newsletter! If you want to get our show notes delivered directly to your inbox—with all the books mentioned on the podcast and links back to the bookstore we’re interviewing PLUS GIFs—sign up HERE.


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.

We’re Reading

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.

Leah is reading Kiss Me That Way by Laura Trentham and Flirting with Disaster by Victoria Dahl.

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)

Full Mountie (#3 in the Frisky Beavers series) by Ainsley Booth & Sadie Haller (out April 4)

First in the Frisky Beavers series is Prime Minister “and is basically about if Justin Trudeau weren’t married and liked kinky sex.”

Ramona Blue by Julie Murphy (author of Dumplin’; out May 9)

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)

Maya Banks

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

Also mentioned: Julie James, whose newest book is The Thing About Love (mentioned earlier and out April 18) and Susan Elizabeth Phillips whose newest book is First Star I See Tonight

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

Nora Roberts

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

Side note: Send us a pic of your favorite vaginal cover (via email or Twitter)! Like this:

Non-Paranormal Queer/Diverse Recs

Rebekah Weatherspoon (also has non-vampire lesbian romances)

For Real by Alexis Hall (author of some gorgeous MM romances)

Damon Suede writes super hot romances, which are frequently about firemen; his newest title is Lickety Split (out March 17)

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

Originally posted by l231

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.”

Originally posted by batesmotel

On a desert island, Leah is bringing Happy Ever After Nora Roberts (#4 in the Bride Quartet) and Bea is bringing A Week to Be Wicked by Tessa Dare.

On their Wild adventure, Bea would bring one of Alison Weir’s “crazy tudor histories” and Leah would bring The Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L. Konigsburg

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

Impossible Handsell

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.

Originally posted by yourreactiongifs

Favorite Bookstores

LA Bookstore: Diesel

Childhood Bookstore: Women & Children First

Not-Yet-Open Bookstores: The Queens Bookshop and Books Are Magic

European Bookstores: Persephone Books (London) and Shakespeare & Co. (Paris)

Favorite Literary Media

The romance/life blog Smart Bitches, Trashy Books and their podcast Smart Podcast, Trashy Books

Book Riot

Girls at Library

Heroes and Heartbreakers

Romance Twitter—follow all your favorite authors on Twitter

Epilogue [1:02:20]

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).

Emma tweets @thebibliot and writes bookish things for Book Riot.

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)


Subscribe to Our Newsletter