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Episode 56 - Banner O'Brien by Linda Lael Miller

Banner O'Brien is the worst possible lady doctor in 19th century Washington State, which I guess also makes her the best lady doctor around (but no, she is not good at this doctoring thing.)  Adam Corbin is the biggest assholes in 19th century Washington State and he does have plenty of competition.  They yell.  They slap.  They do it, a lot.  They keep truly amazing secrets from each other.  It's a ride! This book has some pretty serious content warnings - a pretty awful abusive relationship in the past, lots of slapping, disciplinary spanking, racist language and portrayals of racist attitudes towards indigenous and Asian people (the book doesn't condone it but does use some ill-considered words.)  Family gaslighting!  Secret leprosy!  (Yes I did say secret leprosy, keep up.)  It's got a lot going on, but it's one of those "turned up to 11" books where none of this seems particularly realistic.

Episode 5: "Captive Passions"

“Every normal man must be tempted, at times, to spit on his hands, hoist the black flag, and begin slitting throats.”  - H.L. Mencken

"Every normal woman must be tempted, all the fucking time, to spit on her hands, hoist the black flag, and start cuttin' they dicks off." - Sara and Courtney

That's right, babe - we're reading a pirate bookCaptive Passions, by Fern Michaels.  It's available in a modern edition with a dumbass boring cover, but you're going to want to get a vintage copy because that booty shorts outfit up there IS DIRECTLY FROM THE BOOK.  SHE WEARS THIS IN THE BOOK.  SHE MAKES IT HERSELF.  IT IS AMAZING.

Sirena, foot stamping sword waving hellion, takes her sister's place as wife to the virile Regan van der Rhys, Dutch colonizer of Java.  By day she is his quiet pious wife, but by night she sinks all his shipping and taunts him with her tawniness and her thighs.  It's 1977 and thighs are very in.  Buckles are swashed.  Also there is a lot of nutmeg.

Warning: it has some extreme violent rape content - committed by the villain, not the romantic interest, but you may want to skip twenty pages or so in the beginning and then later when a different villain drugs and rapes the protagonist. There’s also a “ravishing” - the woman does consent before sex begins. It’s all very High Drama. Also expect some truly criminal failures to research anything nautical whatsoever in this book all about ships.

Expect this to come up any time there's a boat in a book - I am intense about this nautical shit. - Sara

So since nutmeg is the real romantic lead of this book, we made frosted nutmeg logs!  (Everybody wants to frost somebody's nutmeg log in Captive Passions.)  The recipe I started with was okay in general but flunked particulars, so I've rewritten it to improve its ass.

Fiddly Little Fucking Cookies:
For the cookies:
3 c flour
1 tsp nutmeg - Fresh ground, please.  Do not come at me with that jar of greyish brown dust from your meemaw's kitchen.  Go to Penzey's, it will change your life.
1 c butter, softened
¾ c sugar
1 egg
2 tsp vanilla - Real vanilla.  Come on, if it's worth doing it's worth doing right.
2 tsp rum - I guess you could use rum flavored extract but don't front, you have rum around the house right now because you're drinking all that egg nog with extra nog.

Cream the butter and sugar together, throw in the other liquid shit, then gradually add the dry ingredients. It should kind of come together as a heavy cold angry mass.  Throw that shit in the fridge covered for at least an hour.

Preheat your oven to 350 and start cussing.  Take out this dough a handful at a time, warm it up between your hands, and start rolling snakes like you're in kindergarten again - you want to roll with your hands snakes that are about half an inch in diameter and then cut them into 2 or 3 inch "logs".  Pretend you're cutting off some 17th century colonizer's dick.  Arrange these on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper - they aren't going to spread so you can put them close together.  You may have to do these in batches because they're little fiddly fucking cookies.

Maybe this is just my oven but the instructions that had you baking these for like 15 minutes were woefully inadequate.  It took at least 25 to get a little browning on them.  So I guess just watch them hard - you want a little bit of browning but only a little bit, like on the bottom.  Take them out and cool them on a rack.

3 Tablespoons soft butter - AND I MEAN SOFT.  Not "counter softened in your freezing December kitchen", "counter softened on the part of the counter that's on top of the dishwasher".  Not melted at all but soft.
At least a tablespoon rum, I ended up adding more like three but then it was... very boozy.  I may have eaten a lot of icing.
½ tsp vanilla
2½ - 3½ cups powdered sugar
2-3 tbsp half and half/cream
a good bit of grated nutmeg - enough to taste like something and not just be decor.  Like you should be getting high off this shit in your apron.  You deserve a reward for making these little fuckers.

Put the butter and vanilla in your mixer and start adding the powdered sugar a little at a time so you don't have a huge mess to clean up.  It's going to seem like it's never going to look like frosting but suddenly it will come together - if it looks close add the cream and it may just suddenly be frosting.  I ended up using about 3 cups of powdered sugar, it just kind of depends on your liquid content and the phase of the moon and shit.

Now what I should have done at this point is drag out the pastry bag and pipe these, maybe even color the frosting brown to be "logs".  More work up front but easier process.  What definitely does not work is applying the frosting one at a time to these little fuckers and then raking a fork along them to make them look more like bark; that is way too fiddly.  Fuck.  That.  Shit.  It works just fine to squish some frosting on each cookie with a spoon, lay them all out in whatever you're taking them where you're going to, and sprinkle the nutmeg on them.  They're easy to fuck up when fresh but the icing does dry down harder, so after a bit you don't have to be quite as nice to them.

Hey we got a musical guest!

We're trying something new this time and delighting your ears with something besides our outrageously maladaptive accents: we got a musical act to promise not to sue us if we played their music on our podcast!  Sheshanties is a ladies' shanty crew and their recent album, Futtock Shrouds, is available on Amazon, via their website, or streaming on Spotify.

We played Whiskey Johnny, but Hog-Eye Man is also appropriate for our purposes.


  1. Ladies! I listened to your podcast about the flame and the Flower and I loved it! I'm African American and I admit that I was rolling my eyes when you guys talked about the scenes in Charleston, NC. Truly this country needs to have a collective come to Jesus moment about how to talk about >>>Slavery<<< . sigh. Apart from that I didn't even know that Kathleen E. Woodiwiss was basically the "Mother" of the Bodice Ripper Romances. I learned something and I was thoroughly entertained. Additionally, I was very jealous that you ladies have created a podcast about something I have loved doing for years, reading romance novels. I've been looking for ideas for podcast for a while now and either I'm alone in my specific weirdness or I can't get people to commit to recording. I adore your format and banter. So funny. I started taking my mothers discarded romance books at the age of 16. My mom purchased 5 or 6 books at a time. She would normally buy young adult books for me, so I had no interest in her stash at 12 or 13. Thank God! But High school, woosh! I tore the covers of the books because, duh? but I read dozens and dozens. Regency romances, Contemporary romances, paranormal romances. So many of those books are soo problematic today, e.g. "Whitney, my Love", The Hero's are complete Assholes (and sometimes I miss that) but wow did I enjoy reading every word! LOL After a long hiatus from only Mary Balogh books, I have started trying to find someone similar, sexy/regency but with very deep character story lines, and I've started reading an author of "clean romances", Mary Kingswood. I know that this wouldn't necessarily be what you guys would cover on the cast but she has a book called "The Chaperon" that I can only describe as batsh@#t crazy. I couldn't put it down. The weirdest, everything but the kitchen sink, romance book I've ever read. Hope you take a look at it. I can't wait to listen to your thoughts on Sandra Kitt, one of my favs. Please don't stop, you have a new fan.

  2. Forgot to add, I really enjoy your honesty when you are talking about the books and how problematic some elements are. Please continue to be candid and open, sometimes other podcast try to be too diplomatic about crappy tropes and misogynoir and rape. It's not always fun to talk about but i don't think we should ignore it. Sometimes people can get really defensive when you are critiquing their favorite writer so, don't get scurrd . LOL You can love someone and still critique them, at least that's what my family says at holiday gatherings LOL. Love the "You can't do that with a Boat!" rant.


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