Episode #09 – Transcript

The Lawrence Browne Affair Transcript

Kay: Hello, and welcome to the Sisterhood of the Traveling Paperbacks, a cheerful and irreverent book club podcast all about genre fiction, fandom, and the things that make us happy.

[Malt Shop Bop by Kevin Macleod plays]

Chelsea: Welcome back to episode nine of Sisterhood of the Traveling Paperbacks. This week we are talking about The Lawrence Browne Affair. But as always, we will first talk about what we are currently reading and then end the show with what we have coming up in the future. My name is Chelsea.

Claire: I’m Claire.

Kay: And I’m Kay.

Chelsea: Alright, and to start off with what we’re currently reading well. [laughs] I just finished a one night livetweet rage binge of an absolutely awful young adult book which I will give zero seconds of airtime except to say that it was a trash fire and you can scroll back through my twitter and find that entire, basically, quick read of the book. It features a lot of doxxing and stalking and victim-blaming and really icky stuff. So it’s real gross. And after that I immediately switched over to Bloodlines. [laughs]

Kay: Yay! By Claudia Gray?

Chelsea: By Claudia Gray. Yeah, mmhmm, which I’m listening to on audio. Which is the complete opposite of the young adult book in that it is fantastic and beautiful and intriguing and political. And it is about Leia, Princess Leia, Senator Organa, in-between kind of the finish of the original trilogy and A New Hope. So, in that kind of gap we see what happens to her —

Kay: Between the original trilogy and The Force Awakens.

Chelsea: Yes. Did I say…?

Kay: You said A New Hope. [laughs]

Chelsea: Oh goddammit, between The Force Awakens. It’s wonderful. It’s very on the nose. A lot of these political dealings and the debates between the separatists and those who would like to return is just, it’s just. Yeah.

Kay: I don’t think she knew quite how timely it was going to be when she was writing it, but thank you, Claudia Gray!

Chelsea: Yeah. Like, it’s really hard. There’s a particular character who collects artifacts from the Empire. And his whole thing is that it’s not that he’s super into the Empire that was, he was just really intrigued by what the Empire could’ve been if somebody super evil hadn’t taken over. But Leia’s like, yeah, bro, that’s definitely not how that works. Because you can’t have the Empire without somebody evil taking it over. That’s fascism. You can’t establish a fascist state without getting a fascist leader. Surprise!

Kay: [singsongs] Surprise!

Claire: Yup!

Chelsea: Anyway! That particularly, like, yeah. So. But it’s great, it’s. You know. It’s hittingn closer to home than I thought it would. But it’s wonderful. And especially on audio it is, I thoroughly enjoy it. So. That’s what I’m reading. Claire, what do you got going?

Claire: Right. So, um, I have a couple of audiobooks on the go at the moment. Actually, I say a couple and I mean three. I really, really like audiobooks.

Kay: Same.

Chelsea: Same.

Claire: I’ve recently, um, I used to have a really long commute and I’ve recently done like a cull of the audiobooks of the podcasts that I listen to on a regular basis because it was getting out of hand and now that I don’t, now that I work from home and I don’t have a commute any more I had to like, I knew that I couldn’t keep as many podcasts on, like, the regular commitment list. So I had to cull and it was tragic. And now I’ve listened to all my podcasts and the other day I needed to cook a meal or dye my hair or whatever and I was out of podcasts so now I have three audiobooks on the go. Because obviously I do. Um. So I am, I just started The Stars are Legion by Kameron Hurley, which is weird, delightful lesbians in space space opera. And when I say delightful I mean very violent, and like —

Kay: I was gonna say, isn’t there a lot of body horror in that?

Chelsea: Gross.

Claire: Yeah. Well, I just, I meant the writing is delightful.

Chelsea: Yeah.

Claire: Anyway. Speaking of, like, delightful things that are in fact, you know, very violent and horrible, I’m also listening to Born a Crime, which is the autobiography by Trevor Noah about growing up in South Africa and how, like, when he was born it was actually illegal for white people and people of color to have children together or be in relationships together and how like in the first few years of his life he was technically a crime. And I’ve just got into the bit where his mother had to throw him out of a moving bus because the minibus drivers were threatening to, like kidnap them and rape her children. So that was great. But it’s, like, it’s really well written and Trevor Noah’s reading it so, like it’s really, really entertaining. But at the same time it’s, like, a really violent time in history, you know, like right at the end of apartheid, and that’s a really violent time in history particularly for people of color in South Africa that had been, like, built up against each other by white people to, ya know, make sure that they basically stayed quiet and didn’t take over even though they were the majority of people in South Africa. So, like, it’s just fascinating. But it’s tough to listen to.

Kay: Awful.

Claire: It’s so incredibly different and it really it really brings home privilege in a way that you, like, you know, his mother tells him to run and he just runs, because, like I’ve always known if my mother tells me to run I just run, there was no, you know, there was no questioning it for him, there’s no what’s going on? Whereas I’ve never had to run from anything and my parents have never had to tell me to run from anything and what? And um, yeah. It’s weird to read, but it’s certainly very interesting. And the other thing I’m listening to is Freedom Is a Constant Struggle, which is interviews and articles with and by Angela Y. Davis which.

Chelsea: That’s a great collection.

Claire: Which is political and timely and great.

Chelsea: Alright, Kay. What about you?

Kay: Reading all the things as per usual. I literally just started The Hate U Give, which I’m very, very excited to dig into.

Chelsea: It’s so good. It’s so good.

Kay: And I’m doing that on audio, I know, and it has a really great narrator. I usually listen to audiobooks on double speed and I’m only listening to this at 1.25, so that tells you how much I’m enjoying the narrator.

Claire: I normally listen at 1.25 and I listened to The Collapsing Empire on, like, normal speed. Which is to tell you how much I was like —

Chelsea: Oh my god, that would kill me. I listen to my books at at least 2.5 if not 3. I would die at regular speed. I would die. I would. Oh my god. I could not do it. Props to you.

Kay: Yeah, I can’t do regular speed. It drives me bananas.

Chelsea: I feel like they’re literally talking through molasses.

Claire: I can’t do more than 1.25 anyway. I can’t do more than that, I guess maybe second language. I don’t understand it otherwise. And, like, I’m so used to Wil Wheaton’s voice anyway from various things, like I watch his boardgame show on YouTube a lot. That’s one of my I will stop everything and watch it when it comes out. So you know. I was just, you know, I this is weird. Because, you know, his voice sounds funny at 1.25 speed. So.

Chelsea: Anyway. All the things. So The Hate U Give is wonderful.

Kay: All the things. The Hate U Give. I also just finished an e-galley of The Names They Gave Us by Emery Lord, which is a contemporary YA. I’ve never read any of her other books, but I’m definitely gonna check them out now. It was really good. It’s, I feel like the blurb was maybe misleading, but it’s basically the story of this, she’s a rising senior in high school and her mom has been in remission from breast cancer since her freshman year. And just as the school year is letting out for the summer her mom’s cancer is back. She’s having a double mastectomy.

Claire: Oh, no.

Kay: She’s gonna start chemo over the summer. It’s really good, though. So instead of spending the summer helping out with the weekly summer church camps that their parents run, because her dad is a pastor, her mom wants her to have a ‘normal’ summer and sends her to be a counselor at the camp across the lake from where they are that they call the hippie camp. But it’s actually, I don’t want to say it’s a camp for ‘troubled youth,’ but it’s basically a camp for troubled youth. And it’s lovely and the ensemble of characters is wonderful and very diverse. And I thought it had some of the most beautiful, clean prose I have ever read in YA. I loved it a lot.

Chelsea: Oh, wow. That’s awesome.

Kay: It’s really great. And then I do just wanna shout out, I was putting together a fic rec list for someone and I reread — because I can’t [laughs] I can’t rec things to people without accidentally rereading at least one thing and I don’t think I’ve actually recced anything by copperbadge on the podcast before.

Chelsea: Not that I can recall.

Claire: I mean, you’ve recommended copperbadge as, like, an entire body of work before for sure.

Kay: Literally read anything by this fanfic author. Copperbadge is amazing and has posted several million words of amazing fanfiction on the internet over the last decade in all of the fandoms. But this one is called Brothers in Arms and it’s basically almost immediately post-Winter Soldier. The summary is ‘Bucky Barnes gets a tune-up, a new pet, and a home.’

Chelsea: Awwww.

Kay: And I just. That’s all you need to know.

Chelsea: My heart! It hurts!

Kay: It’s so wonderful. You should go read it. It’s only, like, 10k.

Claire: Is this new?

Kay: It’s not. It’s a couple years old. He wrote it, like, almost right after —

Claire: [indignant] How did I not know about this?

Kay: I don’t know.

Claire: What!

Kay: It’s kind of a character meditation on Bucky and Tony. And copperbadge’s Tony is my favorite fandom Tony.

Chelsea: Seconded. Hard seconded.

Kay: Really good, really good.

Chelsea: And I love Tony.

Kay: But anyway. That’s most of what I’ve been reading. There’s obviously more things, but those are the things I really recommend everyone check out.

Chelsea: That’s fair.

[Malt Shop Bop by Kevin MacLeod plays]

Chelsea: Alright, well in that case let’s go ahead and talk about the book for this episode. We read The Lawrence Browne Affair by Cat Sebastian. This is a male/male Regency romance?

Kay: I actually didn’t check. It’s historical, I’m not sure if it’s Regency.

Chelsea: Technically? I dunno. I mean, it’s definitely historical fiction, but I don’t know if it’s considered Regency.

Claire: I feel like people tend to call historical romance like Regency romance in general.

Kay: I don’t know that it was in the Regency period, though. So.

Chelsea: Yeah, I don’t know if it’s technically.

Claire: It has lords. It’s Regency. Whatever.

Kay: That’s not how that works.

Claire: I’m sorry.

Chelsea: Oh, well. Well, it okay. It’s a male/male romance about Lawrence Browne who is deemed ‘the Mad Earl of Radnor’ and he lives reclusively in a crumbling estate and he wants nothing to do with people. He considers himself to be a progenitor of madness. He comes from a bloodline of a father and brother who also ‘went mad.’ Until one day a new secretary shows up to help get his life in order, Georgie Turner. Spoiler alert: Georgie Turner is also a con man and a swindler who originally comes to basically thrift the earl of whatever he can to get out of some trouble with some dangerous people he knows in the city. But, as is wont to happen, they fall in love. And it’s adorable.

Claire: Yes.

Chelsea: And Georgie helps the earl realize that he might not be as insane as he thinks. And the book touches really well on found family and actual family and mental illness and it’s wonderful.

Claire: It’s so good.

Kay: I liked it a lot.

Chelsea: Or at least that’s how I felt about it. Ladies? I loved this book.

Claire: It’s delightful.

Kay: This is the first historical male/male I have ever read. I don’t read a ton of male/male romance, but a lot of people are like ‘well, I don’t want to read about depressing things’ and I’m like, okay, but LGBTQ+ people have had fulfilling relationships throughout history. And here we have a wonderful fluffy, not totally fluffy, but lovely relationship between two men in a historical period. It was wonderful.

Chelsea: Right. This is the kind of romance we want to see. Mean that like. Yes, there are problems, nothing is perfect, but also they can be flirty and happy and have a happy ending and balance the two out just like straight romance. Because that’s how romance works. And that’s how life works.

Claire: I mean, I’ve read, I’ve read a few straight historical romances and that, that book felt very much in the same way except one of the obstacles to overcome happens to be the fact that Radnor has been told his entire life, Lawrence has been told his entire life, including by his father who’s, like, the worst, that, that being attracted to men is sinful and terrible and all that —

Chelsea: [laughs] I’m so sorry, Claire, but there’s that line where he talks about how his father would rail against sodomy, comparing it to being Catholic and French, and I highlighted it and I was like ‘oh no, Claire!’


Chelsea: Claire just got compared to a sodomite for being French, poor Claire.

Claire: But it’s hilarious, because —

Chelsea: I know it’s very historically and culturally accurate, but I was like — oh no!

Claire: His father is railing against the gays, the Catholics, and the French. And it’s like, I have no problems with the gays, the Catholics, or the French. So —

Kay: I was like, I literally know so many Evangelicals who would still rail against the Catholics, the French, and sodomites, soooooo.

Chelsea: I was immediately, like, no! Claire’s French! This is gonna be so on the nose. Oh, Lord. But that’s the thing. Lawrence is coming from a history of homophobia, basically. Verbal abuse.

Kay: Physical abuse.

Chelsea: And repressed homophobia, internalized homophobia. Whereas Georgie is coming from a, very much so, an upbringing of ‘hey man, you do you.’ Which —

Claire: He’s coming from an upbringing of as long as you have something to eat and you’re not starving it’s pretty much okay. I really like the comparison that you see when you’re in his point of view where it’s like ‘well, you know, I have like stolen money from people, like, literally, so you know, one thing to have sex with some guy who wants to have sex with me isn’t bad.’

Chelsea: On the scale of sin, so to speak.

Claire: You know, like compared to stealing money.

Chelsea: So I loved Georgie. I loved George Turner so much.

Claire: Loved Georgie.

Chelsea: My thing about Georgie is that he knows how to be the best kind of partner to somebody who deals with anxiety and social anxiety.

Kay: [screeches] Yes.

Chelsea: The pitfalls that can come with that and it’s handled so beautifully in this book. That gave me just all the warm fuzzies, like times a million, ’cause it was so good.

Kay: And the way that he acts like that’s just what you should do, where a lot of people who are partners or family members or friends of those of us who have severe anxiety kind of just, are like, ‘you need to just suck it up’ and like that kind of attitude. Whereas Georgie is like, ‘I’m going to do everything to make your environment as comfortable as I can. I’m going to try and keep things from changing because I know that that helps you to deal with your anxiety.’ I’m just like, you’re just so lovely!

Chelsea: And it’s that great balance, because at the same time, Georgie doesn’t just let him stay in his — he’s like ‘okay, we need to get this house fixed, but I know that loud noises affect your anxiety, so we’re gonna soundproof your room so you have a place to go.’ So it’s that balance of not just letting Lawrence be that recluse he’s used to being and completely stay shut away so that he doesn’t trigger his anxiety. He’s able to strike that balance and through that is able to kind of help Lawrence overcome some of those triggers and start to work on recognizing that having anxiety doesn’t make you crazy.

Kay: And I liked that he had severe sensory perception problems, and I don’t know if she was writing it as an extension of the way his anxiety manifested or as something else. Perhaps he was on the autism spectrum, because I thought he maybe did read a little like that.

Chelsea: I got that several times.

Kay: But I loved the scene where he finds the clothes? And Georgie had taken his old clothes to the tailor and so the cuts were the same and they were just a little nicer, but that way the things that he was wearing would fit and feel the same? Which is really important for people with sensory processing issues.

Chelsea: Sensory processing, yeah. And there are several times where Lawrence mentions he wants to do the things that people think are right, but he doesn’t understand how and why people do the things they do and how they know how to do the things they do. Which, not boiling down anyone on the autism spectrum to a single set of identifiers, but that is a trait that can be common amongst those who identify on the spectrum, is the inability to recognize social cues and how and why other people follow those social cues. So while it’s not made explicit, I too thought that there was some of that in the representation that the earl has. And so. I dunno. Just all of that combined with him being perceived as kind of this local mad scientist shut-in maybe-witch devil worshiper?

Claire: Which, like, at the end when you figure out why that’s a thing, when you figure out why? It’s just.

Kay: She didn’t want people to bother him!

Chelsea: Which like. Aw.

Claire: Which, one of his servants who he’s, like, legitimately wondering why she hasn’t left because this is, you know, this is a servant who’s been abused, including raped, by, like, his brother, and so he’s like, why isn’t she leaving this house? She can leave?

Chelsea: Why is she still here?

Claire: She can leave. So that’s something, like, that’s something that would be triggering for her or that’s, you know, that’s a place of trauma for her, why isn’t she leaving? And, you know, he has her wellbeing in mind the whole time. When he hears she’s one of the only two servants left he’s like of all people why her? That he wouldn’t have thought she would stay.

Kay: Which, it’s not like all of her motives are pure, because she is also using his estate as a smuggling den. But that’s just kind of what you do.

Claire: But that’s okay, because Cornwall?

Chelsea: And I like that that’s her justification. She’s like, guys, we live in Cornwall. Of course there’s gonna be secret smuggling going on on the property.

Kay: Of course.

Chelsea: Duh.

Claire: I love that at the very end, at the very end, Radnor says to Georgie, she doesn’t need to tell people I’m mad to, like, get them away from my house or from the stables or whatever. It’s Cornwall. There’s gonna be smuggling.


Chelsea: Yeah, the back and forth. I will admit that I was, hm. I was not super cool with that just as a general, like, rooting for Larwence. You don’t go just telling people he’s a devil worshipper and telling people he’s sacrificing shit for magic just to hide your smuggling ring. That’s not cool. Not cool. Man.

Claire: I thought the thing with the baby’s caul was a bit weird. Because it turns out at the end she stole it to give to her nephew, her son who’s in the Navy. Because as a ward against drowning. And I was like, if that’s a thing that people know about then why didn’t she, like, ask for the thing? So weird.

Chelsea: Yeah, why wouldn’t you just be like yeah, I would prefer that my nephew or son not drown. Can I have your caul? Or can I pay you for that caul?

Claire: I don’t know, is it because they’re not friends? I don’t know.

Chelsea: My thing is, Lawrence has a lot of money and he doesn’t really seem to care much what happens with it. So you could probably just ask him for some money to buy a caul. To give to your son on the ocean that will somehow keep him from drowning.

Claire: But she doesn’t want money from him. He’s tried to give her money to set her up and to set up her son and she didn’t want it. And it’s like, well, you’re allowed to process that however way you want.

Chelsea: That’s fair.

Claire: But. But I just like that, one of the ways we establish, like, who is a good guy in quote, in the book, is the way that they take care of Lawrence, you know? Not just Georgie and not just Sally, but also, like, um, his friend who he’s been writing to? Who, you know, his scientific friend he’s been writing to who turned out to be a woman!

Chelsea: Yeah!

Claire: She’s super smart and she fixes everything for him.

Kay: I love Lady Standish.

CLaire: She’s like how can I help you? You know, she’s like how can I help you?

Kay: Also he has a therapy dog! He has a therapy dog!

Chelsea: Yeah, it’s super great.

Claire: So great.

Chelsea: Barnabus, his giant therapy dog.

Kay: [whispers] So great. So great.

Claire: His giant therapy dog who’s also his wingman.

Chelsea: [laughs] Yeah.

CLaire: His giant therapy dog who’s also like oh you wanna sleep with that guy? I’ll just sleep in his bed so he has no room and he’ll go sleep in yours.

Chelsea: The guy who rescued Georgie from the giant water trench? That whole scene was just. I am such a sucker for any Regency romance rain-based scenes. I just can’t help it.

Kay: Can we talk about the sexy bits for a second?

Chelsea: [gasps] Can we please?!

Kay: All of them were so great!

Claire: Yes, please.

Chelsea: They’re so good.

Kay: From their very first encounter it’s like, I mean, this is great, Cat Sebastian. I will take all of this, please and thank you!

Chelsea: All of it. All of it! The kissing was really good in this book and kissing is not usually something in a romance book that I think is great. Because there’s a limited range of ways to, like, make kissing —

Kay: Describe that?

Chelsea: — attractive on a page. But I thought Cat Sebastian did a, a bang up job, pun intended.

Claire: Heyyy.

[Kay laughs, makes rimshot sound]

Chelsea: Working blue, guys, working blue. What can I say? When he gives him a bunch of jewelry at Christmas time and then they get it on and it’s so hot? It’s so good! Oh my god, it’s so good.

Claire: I loved that, because in a way it was, you know, Lawrence realizes that there’s something going on with Georgie and he doesn’t realize the full extent of it, but he’s like kind of figured out that Georgie is a thief because he knows things a secretary wouldn’t know and also he’s told him that he wasn’t a gentleman. So he’s, like, I’ve figured it out, you know, maybe I don’t, okay, you clearly don’t want to steal from me cause you’re telling me to hide my signet ring.

Chelsea: You’re telling me to hide my shit so you don’t steal it, yeah.

Claire: He’s all so I’ll just give you some other random jewelry so you don’t have to bother about it. Here, you wanted money and you don’t want to steal it, I’ll just give you some shit that I don’t want and you know in the middle of that Georgie is like, okay, well, this is great because I didn’t want to swindle you and now I don’t have to and oh, this piece is great, is it by this person? Oooh!

Chelsea: Yeah. Oh, man.

Claire: He, like, cares so much about, like, how he’s, you know, uh, he cares so much about, like his fashion and —

Kay: He’s a dandy and I like that.

Chelsea: Well, and there is something that is really hot about the different power dynamics when you have a male/male relationship and you have physical forbearances and strengths that are different than you would in, like, a het romance, necessarily.

Kay: And there was a severe size difference between these guys.

Claire: But I also really liked that you had so many different power differences between them that it didn’t feel, like imbalanced at all. Like, he’s really enormous and that’s kind of hot, but also, like, when he comes —

Kay: Georgie sure can take care of himself.

Chelsea: Georgie’s, like, a little scrappy. He’s a little scrappy guy. It was great.

Claire: And of course Georgie is a lot more comfortable with, like, social interactions and with his sexuality and so that’s a slight different power imbalance between them and it’s very much…

Kay: They both have their strengths. I love that this did not go straight for ‘we’re immediately going to have anal sex the first time we hook up.’

Chelsea: Yeah.

Kay: Because a few of the male/male romances, like, that’s not the be-all and end-all of gay sex. I think it’s maybe the fourth or fifth love scene in this book before that even comes up as a thing they might be interested in doing. A+. Yes.

Claire: Yeah, it’s after they’ve said that they love each other for sure.

Kay: Mmhmm.

Chelsea: Which is great, because there are lots of diverse ways of showing physical affection in a gay relationship just like there are in lots of other relationships. Which is a theme, if you’re not quite picking up on it, yet.

Claire: But this is funny to me to hear that because, uh, I think this is the first male/male romance that I read that was an actual published book and not fanfic and it’s, like, in fanfic it’s so rarely goes straight to that, you know? In fanfic it’s very often, particularly, maybe in the pairings that I like to read, where, like, being friends for ages or being enemies for ages. It’s just not a thing that happens, straight away. And so yeah. It would’ve seemed very strange to me if it had.

Chelsea: This felt, when I was reading it, had a very fanfiction pacing. To good effect! I thought that was, like a plus in its column.

Kay: Yeah, I thought the pacing in this overall was just really well done. I felt like all of the little reveals were separated out a really perfect chunk of time inbetween each thing. Oh, great, I’m learning something new here, something new here. Here’s this change. Which is really hard! Sometimes I’ll read a historical romance and I feel like the pacing is really uneven. There’s not a lot happening for the first third and then it’s kind of racing to the end, or things will wrap up really fast in the last ten, fifteen percent. And I thought this did not do that which I really appreciated.

Chelsea: I agree. Sometimes, for some reason, romance books can make me feel a little anxious. And I think it’s because there’s that one big thing that each character has that is gonna, that they’re gonna have to have the talk about and it’s usually very heavily alluded to and hinted at and it’s supposed to create the tension, but for me that just makes me really anxious. [laughs] But this has, this kind of takes that same tension and breaks it up into smaller bits throughoout the book so we’re getting those smaller reveals and we’re getting the information that satisfies those reveals. Like you were saying Kay, it’s nice paying, it feels like it evenly flowed and I feel like it just really gives space to love these characters. To love Lawrence and to love Georgie and to love how their love cements together. I just thought it was great. And they do that really sexy thing where he’s like, ‘I’m gonna stand her and I wanna kiss you, but I’m not gonna do anything. So if you wanna kiss me, my lips are ready for kissing.’ And I’m just like oh, it’s my favorite trope. Scene. THing that happens. It’s so good.

Kay: One of the things, one of the big things in romance is you have the romances and the conflict between the hero and heroine is either very internally or externally motivated, and I have a large preference for there are external motivations keeping them apart. Because I think if it’s almost entirely internal things that are keeping them motivated, it’s a lot harder to keep the action of the story going and you just, it takes a very different kind of writer, that there aren’t that many of, to do the internally motivated romance well. And I thought this actually did a really good balance of both. Which you almost never see.

Chelsea: Yeah, there’s this really nice kind of, it’s nice because I feel like in a lot of these books there’s this idea that Lawrence had that he’s adopted that he is crazy. And I feel like in a lot of romance books he’d have that idea and we’d spend most of the book fighting that idea in him and convincing him to kind of come around. But in this book we reach that point about half of the way through. And Lawrence says yeah, you know what, maybe I’m not crazy. And we can move on from that point and then we can talk about other things and kind of other things can develop in that and I just felt like that was a nice change of pace in a plot point that I wasn’t necessarily expecting.

Claire: And it’s the same, actually, internalized homophobia where he’s like I can’t do this it’s bad blah blah blah, that kind of uh, he’s kind of accepted, you know, he’s kind of accepted halfway through that next to his father and his brother have done this is not hurting anybody and it’s making him feel safe.

Chelsea: And it’s totally fine.

Claire: And it’s totally fine! And, you know, the mix, you’ve got the mix of the internal and external because there’s some internal stuff with Georgie, like he doesn’t want to betray Lawrence, but he doesn’t want to steal from him, and he’s also got this, like, I must make sure that my family is safe and yeah. You could very easily have something where it’s like, up to the very end of the book a tug of war between, like, their internal grapplings and at the ned Lawrence just says I have money and will pay off Mattie Brewster and your family will be fine! And that woulda been, ya know, that woulda been such a poorer book.

Chelsea: Yeah.

Claire: I kind of expected that and I’m so glad that it wasn’t.

Chelsea: Yeah. I want to read the novella about Georgie and that old lady he didn’t swindle. I wanna read that book.

Kay: By the way, Cat Sebastian’s first book was about Georgie’s brother.

Chelsea: Oh!

Kay: And the guy he’s living with in this one. And the next book, which I definitely immediately pre-ordered after I finished this one.

Chelsea: Natch.

Kay: It’s Lord Courtenay’s romance with Julian Medlock.

Claire: What?!

Chelsea: [singsongs] It’s gonna be so good!

Kay: So that’s gonna be delightful.

Claire: Enemies to lovers?

Kay: The Ruin of a Rake.

Claire: Oh my god, enemies to lovers.

Kay: So, that comes out in July and I know I will be reading that. [laughs]

Claire: I just bought the first book immediately. [laughs]

Kay: Yeah, I checked it out from my library immediately.

Chelsea: Yeah, it’s gonna be. Oh, by the way, her covers are A+. Cat Sebastian’s covers are A+. They’re great. Steamy.

Kay: I was kind of sad he didn’t have the beard on the cover in this.

Chelsea: He does a little bit! It’s, like, a tiny one. It’s like a little tiny one. He’s got a little ginger beard in there, it’s cute. Oh man. Alright, any favorite parts? Any not favorite parts? Anything major?

Kay: There wasn’t really anything I hated about this book.

Claire: No, I loved it.

Kay: There weren’t really any aspects I didn’t like.

Chelsea: Yeah.

Kay: Which, I usually have some kind of quibble.

Claire: So also, Cat Sebastian is delightful on twitter, you guys should totally follow her.

Chelsea: Yeah, she’s wonderful. I started following her as soon as I finished it.

Claire: Um, favorite lines? So you’ve already mentioned one of my candidates for favorite line which is when he has the sentence about his father railing against the sodomites, Catholics, and the French.


Claire: But my other one is, like, really early on, i think 15% in the book and it’s Georgie kind of reflecting on things as he’s just started working with Lawrence on his, like, contraptions. By the way, Lawrence is just inventing the telegraph, low-key ya know. No big deal. Whatever. Um, but he says, ‘For one reckless moment he thought maybe honest work wouldn’t be such a bad idea after all, but no. If a man were born in the gutter, honest work couldn’t take him far enough away from it. He would always be able to smell the stink of the gutter waiting for him with one month’s missed rent, one costly doctor’s visit. Georgie wanted to be safer than that. He needed to be safer than that.’ And like, I read that first line and I bookmarked it cause it was funny and then I read the rest of it and was like, well, shit Cat Sebastian. Well played.

Kay: Meditation on poverty and, like, there is so much greatness in this book.

Claire: And at the end he has this conversation with his sister where he’s like, you can wallow in like guilt if you like about swindling rich dudes, but like, you did, you did what you had to do and like now you can make a decision with your new circumstances in place, which are different, and, like, don’t punish yourself for what you had to do to not die like all our friends from when we were growing up. [laughs] It was just like oh, oh no. So sad. Please be happy now forever.

Chelsea: Done. Checkmark.

Claire: And they’re gonna build a new house. So that they don’t all have terrible memories.

Chelsea: I love the Grey Gardens vibe that their house had going on, though. Dilapidated welat thing. I mean, i wouldn’t want to live init, but. What’s your favorite part, Kay?

Kay: Oh, God. There’s so many good ones! I highlighted so many, just like, one-liners in this. I think my favorite was probably…okay, I’m gonna do two, but they’re both really short.

Chelsea: That’s fine.

Kay: So the first one’s, this is Georgie, internally, ‘It was as if after a quarter of a century of blithely not giving a damn about anybody, he had accrued a surplus of damns to give.’ Which I thought was so lovely. And the other one is, ‘Then Radnor flashed him one of his rare smiles, and Georgie felt simultaneously like he had been given a precious gift and like he had been hit in the head with a shovel.’

Claire: Yes!

Chelsea: Aw.

Kay: Which, you know that feeling. [laughs] You know that feeling.

Chelsea: It’s so good. That’s so good. Oh, man.

Kay: There love is just so pure!

Chelsea: It’s so good, you guys.

Kay: Precious cinnamon rolls, too good for this world, too pure.

Chelsea: My precious anxiety babies.

Claire: This moment, you know this moment when you love someone and they do something that’s, like, entirely them, you know? Like, it’s fucking typical. And they do it and you’r elike oh my god, I love this nerd so fricking much. I thought that was conveyed really, really well in this book. And that’s just —

Kay: I love how they just hopelessly adore each other.

Chelsea: They just love each other so much. And they tell each other so openly and her just unable to not be in love with each other.

Claire: And when, like, when Simon has just shown up, Simon is Lawrence’s kind-of adoptive son, and he’s just shown up for a holiday and Georgie’s had to badger Lawrence to come down and not be horrible to his adoptive kid, and, and —

Chelsea: I know that line you’re talking about Claire.

Claire: Lawrence comes down and he’s like wearing this, like, really proper clothes and like at some point he calls Georgie by his first name, by mistake, when they’re talking, and, and he can see Georgie’s face kind of doing something weird, and then he’s like, well, I’ll try to, like, be proper, but I’m not gonna like hide how I feel about him, that’d be nonsense.

Chelsea: Yes. It’s so good.

Kay: And Georgie spends that whole scene just trying not to like stare at Lawrence which I really appreciated. [laughs]

Claire: Which was kind of halfway between, like —

Kay: Like, I already thought you were hot, but now you shaved and you’re in proper clothes and I’m having an issue here.

Chelsea: I’m having an issue being around your eight-year-old son. Who’s causing me some concern.

Claire: I dunno, I just feel like there’s such a, there’s never a threat. It’s so happy. THere’s never a threatening moment.

Chelsea: No, and there’s a scene right before that where Georgie is talking to Lawrence trying to get him to come down. And he says, ‘Meet your son. Know him. Let him know you. Let him love you Lawrence. I know it’s hard, but you know it’s the right thing.’ And I’m just. Like.

[Kay fake cries]

Chelsea: And I’m dying. You can see how much Georgie loves Lawrence and knows that Simon will love Lawrence. And knows what it’s like to have a shit dad.

Kay: And when he tells him he’s going to be a wonderful father?!

Chelsea: I am dying. I am dying.

Kay: Just. We love their love, guys, if you can’t tell from this flailing conversation.

Claire: I’m just so relieved cause like so many, so many straight romance novels that I’ve read have like this shitty ohmygod the girl’s gonna be kidnapped and like then he’s gonna have to save her and blah blah blah and just, like, can they not just fall in love without having someone be threatened, or can the threat not be something that they are, like, managing? Like Georgie is managing —

Kay: In fairness, Georgie is kidnapped and Lawrence has to save him. In this. [laughs]

Claire: He’s not, like, kidnapped, he gives himself up. He decided that’s his plan, which is stupid.

Kay: He gave himself up and then he was kidnapped after he left the prison. So. [laughs] I know what you mean.

Chelsea: I think that some romances are just really heavy on the banter, and this one has banter, but some romances are so banter-heavy that they just feel really sassy? And this one felt very cute.

Kay: Which I do love me some sassy romance, but.

Chelsea: And this one wasn’t sass-free, but I felt like this one was much sweeter at times and I just really appreciated it. Their love is just so good, guys.

Kay: What was your favorite part, though, Chelsea?

Chelsea: Oh, yes. We haven’t talked about it yet, but I know Kay mentioned it on twitter. The dedication to this book is just, like, top notch, A+.

Kay: [squeaks] It’s so great!

Chelsea: So, I’m just gonna read it because it’s wonderful. ‘This book grew out of stories I had been telling my children about an inventor who had a giant dog and an anxiety disorder that closely mirrored mine. I probably don’t need to explain that I told my kids these stories to teach them and maybe remind myself that love and life are possible even when every fiber of your being wants to be in a pillow fort. This book is for everyone who needs that reminder, from my pillow fort to yours.’ Um. Yeah. And it’s just, like, you know. As somebody who knows that pillow fort, and knows what that feels like, I just, like, opening the ebook and reading that first thing. [sighs]

Kay: I was immediately here for it after reading that dedication.

Chelsea: Yeah. I was like, Cat knows what’s up. Cat Sebastian knows, like, what’s up. If this is gonna be a book about anxiety, like, I’m gonna be here for this.

Claire: It made me want to build a pillow fort.

Chelsea: But that, I just thought that was. It may not be part of the book proper, but it really set the tone for Cat and the content and character of this book and how well that was going to play out. So. A+. A+ from all of our respective pillow forts. Okay, well, do we have any other final thoughts or things we wanted to say about the book?

Kay: Mostly I’m just super pleased that both of the historical romances we read dealt so well with mental illness.

Chelsea: Yes. Affirmative.

Kay: And also found family feels. Like, kudos to us for picking these books, and kudos to Tessa Dare and Cat Sebastian for being generally awesome.

Clairee: It’s just, it’s just so generally delightful. I don’t think there’s anything I didn’t like about it? Like, I’m five stars-ing this.

Chelsea: I would say this is probably among the favorites we’ve read, so far, for the podcast for me.

Kay: Yeah.

Claire: Definitely.

Kay: And it was new to all of us.

[Malt Shop Bop by Kevin Macleod plays]

Chelsea: So, okay.

Kay: Great picking, Chelsea!

Claire: Yeah!

Chelsea: Aw, thanks guys. Thanks, guys. ‘Cause it totally was done beforehand. Without any support from you two. At all. Whatsoever. Even a little bit. [whispers] That’s a lie. Which is exactly how it happened. Um, okay. So the next book we’re gonna be reading is called Last Call at the Nightshade Lounge by Paul Krueger. Is that how we’re saying that? Krueger?

Kay: Mmhmm.

Chelsea: Okay. This is an urban fantasy with an Asian-American female narrator, basically Bailey Chen is back home. She doesn’t have a job. She’s out of college with no parental support. Things with her boyfriend aren’t necessarily great. But he introduces her to a group of bartenders who are also monster fighters. So by night she’s slinging cocktails, and also fighting soulsucking hellbeasts. And, uh, I’m here. For all of those things together. This was Kay’s pick, we haven’t really done any urban fantasy. Especially urban fantasy with non-white dude narrators. So.

Kay: Also, it’s set in Chicago, which I always enjoy.

Chelsea: It is set in Chicago. I did not mention that. But yes. It’s also gonna be about cocktails and what sound to be pretty awesome monsters. So that, we’ll be coming back in a couple weeks to talk about it. Until then —

Kay: By the way, Paul Krueger is great follow on twitter. I haven’t read this book, yet, but I’m a big fan of him as a human being.

Chelsea: Oh, cool. Always a solid endorsement. A twitter follow for you guys to add. What do we have going on in the future, guys? Anybody have anything good? Claire? Wanna start us off?

Claire: Well, I just uh, put out, uh, last night, my uh Hugo Award reading project. Um, so.

Chelsea: Woohoo!

Claire: Talking about the things that I’m planning on reading for these Hugo Awards which, you know. List just came out. It’s wonderful. We’re gonna record another episode to talk about it. So you’ll get to hear more from us, but I’ve already done a video running down what I’m planning to and what I’m not planning to read.

Chelsea: Sweet! What about you, Kay?

Kay: Got a couple new Book Riot pieces since the last time we chatted. I don’t know if I mentioned last time, but I did a fancast of John Scalzi’s newest book.

Chelsea: [singsongs] And it’s so good!

Kay: Which I had a lot of fun doing, so that’s John Scalzi’s The Collapsing Empire, which is the first in his new space opera series. Wil Wheaton did the audio. I had a lot of fun being like, there’s no white people in this book, I’m just gonna fancast no white people.

Chelsea: Hashtag Dev Patel in everything forever, for life, for always.

Kay: [happy sigh] No one left me any nasty comments so far.

Chelsea: Really?!

Kay: Which I was really shocked by. So, like, kudos internet on not being a dick.

Claire: Especially cause Scalzi retweeted it or something?

Kay: And then I have another one coming up that I wrote, like, in celebration of hockey playoffs because I’m that person. So Stanley Cup finals, um, are gonna be soon, Stanley Cup playoffs start this coming week as we record. So I think it’s the twelfth of April would be the first games. And I put together a recommendation of a couple of hockey romances for people to read to get you through the playoffs if you’re stressed out.

Chelsea: Are those all original fic romances?

Kay: Mmhmm. Yep.

Chelsea: Just checking. Just curious.

Kay: They’re so, they’re all really lovely. Um, and then I have my just standard Trek Rec a Day project which you probably have heard about by now if you are listening to this podcast.

Claire: It’s just amazing.

Chelsea: Woohoo!

Kay: But I’m doing a Star Trek fanfiction rec every day for at least 365 days. We are past the 240 mark right now.

Chelsea: It’s gonna be rad. And you have plenty! So that’s always a bonus.

Kay: And I just realized I had more than 365 in my planning document cause I misnumbered some stuff, so I might actually make it all the way until the show’s premiere daily recs, but we might just cut that at 365. We’ll see.

Chelsea: Stay tuned for the final decision on that one. Alright, well then, I guess the only thing I have going on is we’re just about wrapped up with the Booktube SFF awards.

Kay: Woo!

Chelsea: Woohoo! May is our last month for readalongs so I will make sure the Goodreads is in the show notes. We read an adult, a young adult, a short work and a graphic work. Sometimes we double up on the shorts and graphics depending, but we’re reading a lot of good stuff. We are reading The Obelisk Gate and we are reading Descender and Saga and some super rad short fiction by Brandon Sanderson if that is, uh, your jam. It is not my jam, but if that’s your jam you go right on ahead. Um, but yeah.

[Kay laughs]

Claire: I was going to say, I was surprised that you called short fiction by Brandon Sanderson super read because it didn’t seem like your sort of thing.

Chelsea: No, it’s not. But also I’m not gonna like throw hate on one of the most popular authors in sff.

Kay: Can he write short fiction?

Chelsea: Yes.

Kay: That’s an actual question. That’s not, like. I was like, ‘short’ scare quotes, or…?

Claire: No, he’s written short —

Chelsea: Basically he writes a lot of short fiction that takes place in the universe that he’s created.

Kay: Ooookay.

Chelsea: So.

Kay: That’s cool.

Chelsea: He writes a lot of short fiction and, like, lore and background stuff into short fiction. He occasionally writes other stuff. Like, I have read all of his books, I actually loved the Mistborn books. I’m okay with The Way of Kings. I’ll keep reading them because it’s just one of those things where, like, I mean, I feel like it’s one of those stay on top of it —

Kay: I mean, I don’t really read epic fantasy. I’m not really familiar with his oeuvre.

Claire: I read Mistborn, but I could not stick with The Way of Kings. And I don’t like, I don’t mind long books, but it was too much for me.

Kay: They’re fucking long.

Chelsea: They’re just huge. And I listen to ’em on audio, which, again, I think definitely helps because you don’t have to carry around those giant physical objects with you.

[Kay laughs]

Claire: Like, one part of it is they’re a thousnad pages, ya know, like.

Chelsea: Oh, yeah. Each one’s a thousand pages. But I guess my thing is —

Kay: That’s a trilogy.

Chelsea: Oh, no, it’s like a twelve it’s gonna be like a ten book thing.

Kay: No, no. When a book is a thousand pages long, I’m like, ‘You should’ve written that as a trilogy.’ Which I know is not how people feel about epic fantasy, but like. That’s three books!

Chelsea: That’s the thing. He could not do that. This is gonna be like a twelve book, thousand page thing. It’s gonna be huge.

Claire: He can’t do that because after, at the middle of that thousand page book I still didn’t know why I should care about any of the characters.

Chelsea: Oh. meh. I didn’t hate it that much, I just had a hard time focusing for a thousand pages of anything.

Claire: I’ve not really been meh on a Sanderson book before. I’ve either really liked them or been like why. So.

Chelsea: I mean, I got halfway through Words of Radiance. I just think it’s tough, because I find myself in that struggle of, like, I don’t want to read a thousand page book that has a bunch of cliffhangers at the end. If I’m not gonna remember it by the time the next book comes out. But I also don’t want to wait thirty years of my life and then have fifty hundred million thousand pages of this SFF series to read. So like. Whatever. I don’t know. Jury’s still out on whetehr or not i’ll actually read it. But I will give, I think he’s gotten enough people past the gates of the genre that I’m not willing to just totally —

Kay: Yeah.

Chelsea: — hate as fervently as I know some people who most definitely do. Um. But yeah.

Kay: Those books were never gonna be For Me, but I’m here for people bringing new readers into SFF, so.

Chelsea: Yeah, man, so like I said, if that’s your jam, if Sanderson is your thing, that is totally cool. I can dig that. It’s just not my personal cup of tea. But yeah, anyway. Join us for the last month of the SFF Booktube Awards, and then we’ll be having our live show and final, uh, judges voting release thing probably at the beginning of June.

Kay: Nice.

Chelsea: But that’s about all I’ve got. So I guess we will just go ahead and say goodbye. Join us in a couple of weeks for Last Call at the Nightshade Lounge by Paul Krueger and, uh, we’ll talk to you guys then. Bye!

Claire: Bye!

Kay: Bye!

Chelsea: You’ve been listening to Sisterhood of the Traveling Paperbacks, a podcast made by three online besties and all-around lady nerds. Channel art provided by Claire Rousseau. Music credits to ‘Malt Shop Bop’ by Kevin MacLeod. You can get in touch with the sisterhood at, @PaperbacksPod on Twitter, or at our website You can reach Kay @kaytaylorrea on Twitter, Claire @ClaireRousseau, and Chelsea @anoutlawlife. Additional credits, show notes, and transcripts will be available on our website. Thank you so much for listening. [Double speed] No paperbacks were harmed in the making of this program.

Chelsea: Cheers to happy gay lovers finding happiness and love together. Cause that wasn’t a redundant sentence at all!


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