Jen’s lifelong romance habit began in 7th grade when she found a bag of remaindered romance novels in her grandmother’s basement. Jen reviews romance for The Book Queen, Kirkus, and whoever follows her on Twitter. Jen not only teaches middle school English, but she also teaches graduate students how to be middle school English teachers. It’s all very meta. She lives in Chicago with her husband, son, and two cats. She’s ridiculously proud of the fact that she makes an honest living talking about books all day.
Recent episodes featuring Jen Prokop
It’s February and it’s winter and it’s grey and dark and we’re all just looking for some books that are quick, dirty and delicious. Or, at least, Sarah & Jen are. If you are, too, this is the week for you!We love having you with us! — subscribe on your favorite podcasting platform and like/review the podcast if you’re so inclined!Next week, we’re reading the Queen of Dirty Talk! Sarah and Jen both love Tessa Bailey — so we’ll be talking about our two favorites of her books, Asking for Trouble (Sarah’s) and Protecting What’s His (Jen’s). Find them at: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Apple Books, or Kobo.Show Notes- Sarah had boozy brunch with the RITA Writer’s Room—Nisha Sharma, LaQuette, Adriana Herrera, Andie Christopher, Alexis Daria, and Joanna Shupe (Sierra Simone & Tracey Livesay weren't there). You should maybe check out this awesome video of them in all their slow motion glory.- Jen didn’t know what ASMR is either.- Valentine’s Day is Go Week for Sarah. Jen wrote about Galentine’s Day for Kirkus. But one thing we can all agree on: Anna Karenina isn’t a fucking romance. Getting hit by a train does not qualify!- The 2 for 1 rule: in a male/female romance, she comes twice for every time he comes.- If you’re in Chicago, you can see Fated Mates Live at Spring Fling, and at KissCon, it’ll be a podcast ménage special with us, the Wicked Wallflowers, and Heaving Bosoms podcast.- What will Craven Day 2021 bring? Stay tuned.- Sarah’s friend Rachel Hawkins told Sarah to read A Heart of Blood and Ashes by Milla Vane, which is a pen name for Meljean Brook, author of The Iron Duke. Is there danger banging? Yes. Is there vengeance banging? Also yes.- Jen read and loved White Out by Adriana Anders, which is a romantic suspense novel that takes place in Antarctica. It’s cold, but they still manage to danger bang.- Speaking of Danger Banging, Jen’s favorite is in the first of the Kinky Bank Robbers series by Annika Martin. It's honestly more like heat-stroke banging.- Jen and Sarah don’t think a quick and dirty read has to be InstaLust, but it does have to get right to the inciting incident.- Sarah recommends London Hale (a pen name for authors Ellis Lee and Brighton Walsh) as a reliable quick and dirty read. Start with The DILF (if you're ok with taboo) or Talk Dirty To Me (if you'd prefer something a bit further left on the Simone Scale).- Adopt don’t shop when it comes to real pet stores.- Breastfeed if you can and if you want to, but if you can’t that’s fine, too. Even if you live in Fucking Berkeley. Or the Berkeley of Brooklyn.- Some other of our favorite quick and dirty reads that are mostly in space: Grace Goodwin’s Interstellar Brides and Ruby Dixon’s Ice Planet Barbarians. But if you’re reading the Ice Planet Barbarians,please listen to our friend Dani’s Ice Planet Pod. It’s great.- More space romances: Laurann Donner’s New Species series, or Cavas, the one that appeared recently on the USA Today Bestseller list (not the New York Times, Jen misspoke) is one from the Vorge Series. Cynthia Sax has a whole cyborg series. Jen also really liked The Grabbed series by Lolita Lopez.- What we're trying to say is that these books are the romance equivalent of The Fast and the Furious series--which is the pinnacle of Jen's favorite movie genre, "Handsome men blow things up." - Finally, check out Brill Harper’s alphamallow series. But Jen’s favorite was Altogether, which is very, very hot. Yum. This Mr. Plow is not quite as hot; unless your name is Marge, of course.- Buy buttons and stickers from Kelly and t-shirts and totes from Jordandene.
Amanda and Jenn are joined by Sarah MacLean and Jen Prokop of the Fated Mates podcast in this romance special episode! This episode is sponsored by Book Marks, a customizable journal to record your reading life, Sourcebooks, and Two Lines Press. Subscribe to the podcast via RSS, Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or Stitcher. QUESTIONS 1. Hello! I love your show. I’m looking for a fantastic romp. I love light, hilarious reads like Tessa Dare and the book I’m currently reading, My Fake Rake, which is utterly brilliant. I also love a SFF romp, like How Rory Thorne Destroyed the Multiverse and Jodi Taylor’s books. That’s the mental place I’m in. Can you recommend some great romps, in any genre? Thank you! 2. I love listening to your show and have found so many great books at your suggestion. I finally got to read Red, White, and Royal Blue over my holiday break and i loved it. I would love another book like this one. -Heidi 3. I’ve been in a bit of romance reading slump. I love the genre, but keep ending up with books that annoy the hell out of me. Things that frustrate me: years and years of pining, finally moving on, just to go right back to the person they pined after; power imbalances between characters (no boss/subordinate stuff, and I especially can’t stand when someone falls in love with their damn therapist); super-alpha dudes (I like a lot of Kristen Ashley’s female characters, but I want to bury most of her men alive). I prefer contemporary romance – I can’t get into historical stuff, and for some reason, I just don’t care for any royalty related stuff either. Books/authors I’ve really enjoyed are Alisha Rai’s The Right Swipe and Forbidden Hearts series, Alexa Martin’s Playbook series, Jasmine Guillory, Yolanda Wallace, Zoey Castile’s Happy Ending’s Series, Penny Reid, and Helen Hoang. I’m interested in m/m, m/f, f/f, or any other variation, so it doesn’t have to be only hetero romance. I prefer more comedic/lighter stuff to heavy drama, but don’t mind some seriousness and my favorite tropes involve forbidden love, friends to lovers, and in a m/f romance, dudes who absolutely worship their ladies. Thanks! -Desiree 4. Hi! I recently found your podcast and I love it. Thanks for sharing your insights and expanding my reading horizons. I’m looking for a sexy book. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a romance or have descriptions of sex in it, but I would like something with a sexy vibe/feel to it. I know this is a bit of a vague request, and I’m having a hard time nailing down what exactly I’m looking for, so let me share some of my preferences:– I tend to read and enjoy a lot of literary fiction. I also like SFF and have recently started reading romance (but haven’t found anything yet in that genre that scratches this itch).– I’m a little tired of the very young woman/older man trope, but will go back to it if you feel strongly about your recommendation. Same with the virgin trope.– I can do spooky but not gory.– I have no preference on when the book was published. So I’m kind of asking: What is the sexiest book you’ve read? I know this might not elicit the same response to my request, but maybe it’s a good starting point. Thanks for all you do! Keep up the good work!-Nan BOOKS DISCUSSED The Worst Best Man by Mia Sosa Chilling Effect by Valerie Valdes What Happens in Scotland by Jennifer McQuiston One Fine Duke by Lenora Bell Carry On by Rainbow Rowell How To Be a Movie Star by TJ Klune (tw: discussion of suicidal thoughts & depression) American Dreamer by Adriana Herrera Band Sinister by KJ Charles Take the Lead by Alexis Daria Pride, Prejudice, and Other Flavors by Sonali Dev (tw: discussion of rape & assault, racism & police encounters, fears around disability, miscarriage and difficulties with pregnancy) Scoring Off the Field by Naima Simone Wrong Bed, Right Roommate by Rebecca Brooks One and Only by Jenny Holiday Priest by Sierra Simone Written on the Body by Jeanette Winterson The Vegas Top Guns series by Katie Porter Dark Needs at Night’s Edge by Kresley Cole
This week, it’s one of Sarah’s favorites, and by an author Jen has never read! Lorraine Heath is a master of the historical, and this one is near-perfect. It’s complex and nuanced and it has an infidelity plot and THERE IS SO MUCH ANGST! We love having you with us! — subscribe on your favorite podcasting platform and like/review the podcast if you’re so inclined!In two weeks, we’re reading the Queen of Dirty Talk! Sarah and Jen both love Tessa Bailey — so we’ll be talking about our two favorites of her books, Asking for Trouble (Sarah’s) and Protecting What’s His (Jen’s). Find them at: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Apple Books, or Kobo.Show NotesTurns out Sarah and Jen aren't the only people who think these Apple keyboards are trash--after winning a 2020 Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay, Taika Waititi had quite a bit to say on the subject.Tom Beer is one of Jen's editors at Kirkus, and you should follow him on Twitter.You can read The Smith College Sophian on line, and we'll link to the interview with Sarah onces it goes live.We have Leslie Knope from Parks & Recreation to thank for the glory that is Galentine's Day. Read Jen's column about some books that celebrate women's friendship.A few years ago during #RomBkLove, Shantastic/@bardsong wrote a great piece about disability in romance. You can also check out the blog, Sense and Disability by @Callalily.Kate Reading is an amazing audiobook narrator, she's the one who narrates Lord of Scoundrels.Fridging is a word from comics that is when women characters are killed to motivate a male character, but can be used to describe any time a less powerful or privileged character is used as a plot device. Flat Stanley is a character in children's books, but flat characters you might remember from English class.Harry and Meghan are still taking money from the Duchy of Cornwall.Jen said she was going to go back and read the other books in the trilogy, and they are bundled together on Amazon for $10.The Bechdel Test is a pretty simple way of judging how inclusive movies are of women characters; it's limited but powerful. Jen wrote about external and internal conflict in romance, but we also talked about it on the Priest episode -- and we are always unpacking the way conflict works in romance.Dialogue tags get a bad rap, famously Elmore Leonard claimed that writers should only use "said" and "asked." In this part of the discussion, Sarah mentioned her friend Barry Lyga, a YA author.Jen thinks these three are codependent.Cheating is the third rail of romance. It is. There are some lists on Goodreads of romances that have cheating, but it's complicated and difficult. One Jen read recently was I Want You Back by Lorelei James, but the cheating happened in the past. If you're interested in reading another book about someone who discovers the other family, Jen recommends Silver Sparrow by Tayari Jones.Next time, we'll be reading Tessa Bailey, The Queen of Dirty Talk. Sarah's choice is Asking for Trouble, and a secondary text is the first one of that same series, Protecting What's His.Buy stickers and buttons from Kelly and t-shirts from Jordan.We are experimenting with some voice to text transcripts, so here's the first one for this episode.
We promised we’d get to the rest of our Holiday AMA questions eventually, and Sarah’s on deadline, so this seemed like the perfect week to do it! Join us for a freewheeling hour during which Sarah cannot remember Tessa Thompson’s name, we talk about how much we’d like to meet Sandra Brown, and how romance really does have something for everyone, including an entire series about romance during power outages.Also, we forgot to mention that Tuesday was Derek Craven Day! Lots of fun was had by all goofballs who joined us on the Internet to celebrate, and Lisa Kleypas herself even got involved! If you haven’t read Dreaming of You, you can get it for $2.99 right now in ebook! Also, do not miss this incredible Craven Day thread on Twitter from Steve Ammindown and the Browne Pop Culture Library. And if you want Derek Craven t-shirts? Those exist now!Next week, the book is in and we’re back in business! Lorraine Heath’s Waking Up With the Duke is our next read—a book that blooded Sarah. Get it at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Apple Books, or Kobo.Full Show Notes @ FATEDMATES.NETQuestion 1: Weird but true: the more specific the request, the more likely we are to come up with a recommendation. So if you just need "enemies to lovers" and you've already read Her Best Worst Mistake, or "friends to lovers" and you've already read Scoring Off the Field, then you just need to google it.Question 2: Who are we fancasting? These beautiful people: Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Henry Cavill, Tessa Thompson, and Tom Hardy. Also, listening to Henry Cavill and Tom Hardy grunt is one of our favorite things.Question 3: Who do we want to have lunch or tea with? Kresley Cole, obviously! Sarah said Joanna Lindsey. Jen says Julie Garwood. We'd both love to meet Sandra Brown. Jen still can't believe the people she's met, and hopes she was cool like Yolanda.Question 4: Do we have recommendation for lesbian and f/f romance? Is it more difficult to find? Check out Bold Strokes Books. strands of f/f, and others have different roots. We will keep looking for some history of f/f romance and link to them if we find one. But in the meantime, YA author, critic, and expert Malinda Lo wrote about "The Invisible Lesbian" in YA, and it's right on point and worth your time. But we do have lots of great f/f romances that we love in the photo array below.Question 5: What about steampunk? Is that ever coming back? We don't know! But all we can do is recommend these ones we do know. Sorry!Question 6: What is like Harry Potter for grown-ups? Burn For Me by Illona Andrews (Jen also liked the Kate Daniels series). That's it. That's the answer.Question 7: Books with power outages? Read this Naima Simone series called Blackout Billionares.Question 8: How to get started with reviewing and NetGalley? You should look at lists that big reviewing clearinghouses make--Kirkus (Jen writes that one!), Booklist, and PW. Just trying to look at some of these lists will give you a sense of what books will be coming out. The Book Queen is keeping a list of 2020 new releaes. But Estelle from Forever Romance wrote a great piece about how to get started with NetGalley.Question 9: Looking for hardcore enemies to lovers with kids in the mix. Jen recommends Wait For It by Molly O'Keefe. Lord of Scoundrels is great for this, too!Quesiton 10: Books that made us literally laugh out loud. Jen recommends I Think I Might Love You by Christina C Jones. Sarah recommends It Takes Two by Jenny Holiday. Christina has a huge backlist, and Jenny's newest book, Mermaid Inn, came out last week.Question 11: Looking for books with a heist plot and polyamory. Jen thinks Katrina Jackson has cornered the market on this request and we have all been blessed by it.Quesiton 12: A question if there are any romances with a Muslim hero and heroine with on-page sex. Jen couldn't think of any, but asked author Farah Heron. Farah also couldn't think of one, but we do recommend her book The Chai Factor.Quesiton 13: Jackie from Elyria Ohio (where Jen went to high school!) is looking for historical with a murder and a twist. We recommend Kelly Bowen and Sarah's book No Good Duke Goes Unpunished.Quesiton 14: Sarah is looking for books with virgin heroes--but hot!Question 15: A book with a grovel so unconvincing that the character has to do it again. Oh, we have suggestions but also you should check out Jen's treatise on groveling.Quesiton 16: What are some museums we love? Sarah talked about these in England: The Museum of London, The Foundling Museum, The Soane's Museum, and The British Library. She also loves the Museum of Sex in New York, and the Isabella Gardner Museum in Boston. Jen doesn't research, but in Chicago, she recommends The Art Institute and the National Museum of Mexican Art. If you're ever in Cleveland, the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame is so cool, and in Houston, check out the most meditative place Jen has ever been, The Rothko Chapel.(when this aired in Feb 2020, the chapel was temporarily closed for renovations! Please check the website).
Next week was supposed to be the deep dive of Lorraine Heath, but Sarah has a book due, so we’re putting it on hold—but stay tuned, because we’ve definitely got something coming! Waking Up With the Duke will definitely be the next read, though: Get it at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Apple Books, or Kobo.Show NotesIf you're looking for a real cool summer sleepaway camp, check out Camp Kupagani. They'll pick your kid up at O'Hare!You can order girl scout cookies online now. Good luck to all of us.If you're in Chicago, I guess you could go to Navy Pier; But if you're in Peru, you should definitely go to Machu Picchu.That American Dirt story is real wild. This review by Myriam Gurba is amazing, and Vox has you covered with an entire explainer. Remezcla has better recommendations for books about the border.If you want to know what makes something a category romance, Love in Panels has a very good explainer. Also, if you're interested in Harlequin covers now, Jen interviewed Tony Horvath for Kirkus. He's the creative director in charge of all of Harlequin series romance.Buying old category romances is easy. Check out ThriftBooks for the best prices and best shipping (Amazon charges for individual items from sellers), but also Better World Books. And if you're lucky enough, local thrift stores and used book stores. For more recent remaindered books, try Book Outlet.We mentioned so many category series today. Check out this blog by Steve Imes with all the category series names and dates, and FictionDB for listings of books by series.Sandra Brown wrote as Erin St. Claire and also Rachel Ryan. She was an 80s powerhouse who still writes romantic suspense. The book Sarah mentioned was Honor Bound, but Jen was thinking of a similar book called Hawk O'Toole's Hostage. Ope.Jen reread and reviewed several of her first category romances for the Book Queen. The one about Pink Satin compares the book to the Harvey Weinstein case. It's honestly shocking how little has changed for women in the workplace.White Satin was an early Iris Johansen about figure skating, but that author is also for being the book that inspired the "Who Did it Better on a Horse" post. And at the end of the episode, Sarah mentions that she had a house for sale if you're on the market, BECAUSE IT'S REALLY A MANSION.Brad Pitt is old and still working because of the patriarchy.Deep Tracks is the name of an XM radio station that plays B sides and less popular songs, which is very on brand for the books in this episode.Maybe you'd like to read those goodreads reviews for The Lady and the Dragon.Jen loved Barbara Boswell. She was a fan of the Brady/Ramsey series where a bunch of sisters married a bunch of brothers. And then this one that is Brady Bunch fanfic. Eight is enough, I swear! Was this all Roe v. Wade blowback?You actually can still get Harlequin subscriptions, but the best current Romance subscription is definitely the Bawdy Bookworms box.In Demon Lover, the heroine thinks the hero is a coyote, but he's really an undercover DEA agent. Jen asked the Smart Bitches to help her find it in 2018, when it was available as an eBook, but it isn't anymore! All you need to know is that these 80s covers celebrated the Tom Selleck mustache in a big way.Warrior was last in the McKenzie-Blackthorn series by Elizabeth Lowell. Light a candle for Utah, who never got his book. Ao3 needs to get on it! #JusticeForUtahVirginity is a construct! Also, here's where the hymen is in case you need to know.Sarah's on deadline, so who knows what's going to happen next week. Buy some stickers, buttons, or t-shirts to tide yourself over while we figure it out.Please check out the photo array below for books we referenced. You may remember that we recorded an entire episode on category romances with Andie Christopher, but Jen screwed up the recording. By then, we moved on with Andie to cinnamon rolls. But Andie recommended Driven by Fate by Tessa Bailey, and Jen talked about Every Road to You by Phyllis Bourne. Sarah proably talked about Hot Touch, but Jen can't really remember...we'll just think of that episode as the one that got away.
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Stats
Episode Count
70
Podcast Count
3
Total Airtime
3 days, 2 hours