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Special Edition - The Charm Offensive by Alison Cochrun

We had the great pleasure of sitting down with Alison Cochrun to talk about her very buzzy book, The Charm Offensive .  If you'd like to purchase a copy, please consider buying from Alison's local independent bookstore, Vintage Books!  At this time there are signed copies available! Dev Deshpande has always believed in fairy tales. So it’s no wonder then that he’s spent his career crafting them on the long-running reality dating show Ever After. As the most successful producer in the franchise’s history, Dev always scripts the perfect love story for his contestants, even as his own love life crashes and burns. But then the show casts disgraced tech wunderkind Charlie Winshaw as its star. Charlie is far from the romantic Prince Charming Ever After expects. He doesn’t believe in true love, and only agreed to the show as a last-ditch effort to rehabilitate his image. In front of the cameras, he’s a stiff, anxious mess with no idea how to date twenty women on national television. B

Episode 3: "The Flame and the Flower"



Buckle up, buttercup – we’re doing this. This is happening. This episode we cover “The Flame and the Flower”, Kathleen Woodiwiss’ 1972 steaming pile of crap. This is the face that launched a thousand shits; the first bodice ripper. And it is awful.  And we are furious at it.

This book contains intense scenes of sexual assault (the worst kind, it thinks it’s a ravishment but believe me, it’s stone cold rape.) It’s also got emotional abuse and some truly weird expressions of racism. Also it’s boring as hell Seriously, do not read it if you’re triggered by anything like that because this book is FULL OF IT and also terrible, so honestly don’t read it in general. Just listen to us drip scorn on it, you’ll be better off.


What should you read instead of this bullshit?  I have a few suggestions:

Gone With the Wind, by Margaret Mitchell

OKAY HEAR ME OUT.  Yes, this book is probably more responsible than anything besides, like, The Birth of a Nation for a LOT OF SHIT, promoting the Lost Cause romantic racist monument poison.  And yes, this book has AWFUL depictions of enslaved people (but unlike The Flame and the Flower it doesn't utterly delete them, so there's that.)  But it's still a crackerjack read, y'all, and I would be seriously remiss if I didn't mention it here.  Scarlett O'Hara is one of the great female literary characters OF ALL TIME.  Plus my college roommate worked at the Margaret Mitchell House when we were living together and I can tell you so much gossip.  So if you want to read a far, far better romance about a woman who's on again and off again with a guy who's kind of a dick and also there are plantation houses, this is the OG.  Just know that it's bound in blood and make sure you read some other stuff too.


Through the Storm, by Beverly Jenkins
Beverly Jenkins is an amazing African American author who writes in several romance genres, including historical.  (I KNOW, ballsy, right?)  She's got a lot of books set during Reconstruction; I picked this one to highlight because the main female character was formerly enslaved but really you can't go wrong with her.






A Free Man of Color, by Barbara Hambly
This isn't a romance (it's the first in a series of mysteries) but it's a really well researched look into the large community of free people of color in New Orleans in the 1850's, transitioning from French to American control.  Also I take any possible chance to rep my girl Barbara, who's one of my favorite authors notwithstanding that Star Wars ghost fucking book she wrote.  (Oh who am I kidding; I like her all the more for that.)

I also made a playlist to express my feelings about The Flame and the Flower.





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