Why does Mackenzie get heart emoji eyes every time she sees a book with love at first sight in it while Lily wants to gouge her eyes out? In the inaugural Trope Talk episode, insta-love books are front and center, and the hot takes are abound. This episode does have a few short places with spoilers, so be sure to check out the timestamps below. Spoiler timestamps: This episode contains spoilers of The Wedding Date by Jasmine Guillory (29:44-32:00), November 9 by Colleen Hoover (35:16-37:55), and The Happily Ever After Playlist by Abby Jimenez (47:16-52:19). Major episode timestamps: Introduction (0:00), Housekeeping (1:24), Introduction to Trope Talk Topic (2:23), Choosing Insta-Love as the First Trope (5:50), Discussion of Insta-Love In Real Life (10:09), Discussion of Amatonormativity (17:49), Explanation of Ze/Zir Pronouns (20:29), Return to Discussion of Amatonormativity (22:30), Introduction to Insta-Love Tropes in Book (27:33), LIGHT SPOILERS (First 20% of the Book): Discussion of Jasmine Guillory's The Wedding Date (29:44), SPOILERS: Discussion of November 9 by Colleen Hoover (33:58), Discussion of 28 Summers by Elin Hildebrand (37:55), Brief Mention of The Idea of You by Robinne Lee (43:34), Brief Mention of It Ends With Us by Colleen Hoover (44:07), SPOILERS: Discussion of The Happily Ever After Playlist by Abby Jimenez (45:09), Discussion of One Day in December by Josie Silver (52:19), Discussion of Things You Save in a Fire by Katherine Center (55:47), Conclusion (58:58). You can get full show notes and episode transcriptions on the Bad Bitch Book Club website: http://badbitchbookclub.com/podcast. Give us a five-star rating wherever you get your podcasts, and say hi to us at @F2LPodcast on Twitter and Instagram. You can also join the private F2L Facebook group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/292095932008569/.
If you want to support Bad Bitch Book Club's initiatives (including this podcast), become a Patreon member: https://www.patreon.com/badbitchbookclub. Buy all books mentioned on Friends to Lovers: https://bookshop.org/lists/friends-to-lovers-podcast. Friends to Lovers is a Bad Bitch Book Club podcast hosted by BBBC founder Mackenzie Newcomb and writer, editor, and bestie Lily Herman. Each week, they use books as a jumping off point to talk about sex, relationships, dating, love, romance, and more. Podcast logo by MKW Creative Co. (https://mkwcreative.co/) and music by Eliza Rose Vera (http://www.elizarosevera.com).
Minimizing Marriage: Marriage, Morality, and the Law by Elizabeth Brake
The Wedding Date by Jasmine Guillory
The Proposal by Jasmine Guillory
The Wedding Party by Jasmine Guillory
Royal Holiday by Jasmine Guillory
Party of Two by Jasmine Guillory
November 9 by Colleen Hoover
It Ends With Us by Colleen Hoover
28 Summers by Elin Hildebrand
The Idea of You by Robinne Lee
The Friend Zone by Abby Jimenez
The Happily Ever After Playlist by Abby Jimenez
One Day in December by Josie Silver
Things You Save in a Fire by Katherine Center
5 Ways Amatonormativity Sets Harmful Relationship Norms For Us All by Michon Neal (Everyday Feminism, 2016)
There’s a Word for the Assumption That Everybody Should Be in a Relationship by Drake Baer (The Cut, 2017)
Lily Herman: Welcome back to Friends to Lovers, a podcast where we use books as a jumping off point to talk about sex, relationships, dating, love, romance, and more. Friends to Lovers is part of the Bad Bitch Book Club network, and you can learn more at badbitchbookclub.com/podcast.
Mackenzie Newcomb: Hi everybody. I'm Mackenzie. I'm the founder of Bad Bitch Book Club, an influencer marketing expert, wine blogger as of recently, and a retired relationship blogger.
Lily Herman: And I'm Lily Herman, a writer, editor, member of the Saoirse Ronan stan club, and one of Mackenzie's best friends.
Mackenzie Newcomb: Of the 10% of people in the world who can pronounce Saoirse Ronan's name right.
Lily Herman: I have looked at every interview that includes her. I've learned how to spell it without having to look it up. Like that's how much of a stan of Saoirse Ronan and her work I am. She just, you know what I love? Saoirse knows her lane. She stays in it. She thrives in it, and she's also still liberal and progressive and all this shit. So love Saoirse. I just pray to God she never does anything problematic ever, cause she's like the only celebrity I'm like, I will protect her. I do love Saoirse.
Mackenzie Newcomb: So maybe we should do a little housekeeping, shall we?
Lily Herman: Oh yes. Our usual brief housekeeping note: This is a reminder that you can find our show notes for every episode, including every book we talk about, atbadbitchbookclub.com/podcast. And we also include transcriptions of our episodes, so definitely check those out. You can also join our Patreon at patreon.com/badbitchbookclub. You can follow us on social media at @F2LPodcast, and that's two as in the number 2, and you can join the Friends to Lovers Podcast Facebook group. Lastly, follow Bad Bitch Book Club itself on instagram badbitch.bookclub and on Twitter at @badbtchbookclub. But there is no "I" in "bitch," because Twitter has those pesky character limits.
Mackenzie Newcomb: We're not censoring shit. It's just Twitter. And there's character limits.
Lily Herman: Every episode we're just like, fucking Twitter. So yes, Lord help us.
Introduction to Trope Talk Topic (2:23)
Mackenzie Newcomb: So today we are talking about tropes, and for those you who don't know what a trope is, it's essentially a theme in a romance novel. According to Merriam Webster dictionary, a trope is as a figure of speech in storytelling, a trope is just that a conceptual figure of speech, a storytelling shorthand. So some of the most popular romance novel tropes are friends to lovers—that's where we got our podcast name.
Lily Herman: Yes, yes, yes.
Mackenzie Newcomb: Enemies to lovers, insta-love, which is what we're talking about today. What are some other popular ones?
Lily Herman: Well, there's fake relationship where two people are kind of forced through various, you know, reasons to pretend they're in a romantic relationship. It's also sometimes called fake dating. There's forced proximity, which is two people are kind of stuck together through some sort of means. This is like two people who hate each other are stuck on a road trip. Like those types of books. There's marriage of convenience where characters are told they need to marry. For some reason, this is really popular in historical romance in particular, because I feel like you can get away with more in historical claiming that two characters need to get married.
Mackenzie Newcomb: You can totally get away with more. There's also normal person, famous person. Is there a name for that or is it just normal person, famous person?
Lily Herman: It depends. It's usually like under the umbrella of celebrity romance, but people use different words for it. Yeah.
Mackenzie Newcomb: I really fuck with that, except we're going to talk about one that we don't like today. It was like made for me.
Choosing Insta-Love as the First Trope (5:50)
Lily Herman: So I think what's funny about this episode. I'll preface by saying is that Mackenzie and I have opposing views per the title of this episode on insta-love as a trope, but we actually dislike a lot of the same insta-love books and are okay with some of the same other insta-love books. So this is like just hilarious to me that I disagree with a lot of people on insta-love. And then we also therefore disagree on books, like if we think certain books are good, but then you and I are kind of in sync on a good number of the insta-love books. We both read, we have the same book opinions on them, whether good or bad.
Mackenzie Newcomb: Absolutely. Absolutely. And there's definitely some variations with them, which we'll get into and you'll notice about why we think that certain books are bad. Like we may hate the same book, but we hate it for different reasons. And I think at its core, I like insta-love because, as a concept, a lot more than you do as a concept, but we like good books I mean, we hate bad books.
Lily Herman: We're just like, we have the final say on book opinions here! And everyone—no I'm kidding, everyone's entitled to whatever they want to think though. We do tend to agree, or I think we both look at books in similar ways to a certain extent of how we think about like, if a book is "good" or "bad," or problematic or unproblematic. To preface everything here, every season of Friends to Lovers—God-willing, there'll be more seasons—we're going to have a recurring episode that's called Trope Talk, where we dive a little bit more into a particular romance trope. I feel like these episodes are going to have hot takes on hot takes because we both have opinions. People in general who read romance or any book that has romantic elements in it, I feel like tend to have very strong opinions and preferences for what tropes they like reading or don't like reading. So that's what we're diving into today.
Lily Herman: So when we were putting the first season of this podcast together, I was thinking about what our first Trope Talk episode should be. And the idea of taking on insta-love or love at first sight immediately came to mind because I rarely like insta-love-themed books, but I also think it's one of the harder common romance tropes to get right. And it often doesn't feel believable to me, which we'll get into in a second. The funny thing, of course, is that Mackenzie loves books with insta-love themes and seeks them out actively and is very excited to read them and talk about them. So I think first and foremost, we need to take a second to talk about our definitions of insta-love versus something like instant attraction or what I call instant intrigue, to be a little more inclusive. Are they the same things? Are they two different things? Mack, what do you think of insta-love versus instant intrigue, attraction, whatever.
Mackenzie Newcomb: So I would say even with different tropes like enemies to lovers, for example, there usually is some instant intrigue that usually is just quickly brushed off to the side because one of the characters does something awful so that the other character, they can never get over. So I think part of insta-love is that instant attraction or intrigue, but it's not the whole thing. So insta-love is when two characters fall in love head over heels with each other all in with nothing more than an initial conversation or a look in the eye. This is different from instant attraction, which is just kind of lust. But I think the initial feeling is very much the same. The difference between the two is the outcome and the trajectory of the story. So the rumors are true: I do love insta-love. And I think this goes back to something that we talked about earlier on the podcast, which is that romance novels—and I believe this is a quote from you, Lily, that I'm probably gonna butcher—show us, they're a reflection of how we love and how we want to be loved. Right? So of course the number one reason I connect with it so strongly is because I fell in insta-love. So my husband and I met through a love at first sight kind of situation. I had never met him in my life, but the second I saw him, I knew at the very least we had to make out. And by the first hour of our first date, I was texting every friend in my contact list being like, "Oh my God guys, I found my husband." Meanwhile, I'm 22. So please keep that in mind. I'm like, "I found my husband, I'm definitely marrying this guy. We are going to be together for ever."
Lily Herman: I remember too, the first time we ever met in person to get brunch, I just remember we had just met in person. You'd moved to New York six months prior and you're like, "Yeah, me and my boyfriend live together. We're going to get married. Okay, moving on next topic of discussion." I was like, "Okay, this bitch is either nuts or they're very in love. Like great, awesome." That was like, literally my introduction to your relationship was you just kind of declaring your feelings and just being very upfront about it.
Mackenzie Newcomb: Oh yeah. We were so zero to 100. We moved in together after six months of dating at the age of 22, right out of college. No one tried to stop us. We very much had an insta-love kind of relationship. But I think it's worth mentioning that I'm kind of an all-in person in general, right? I've had many flings like that in my life where you lock eyes and you just know that it's on. I also really love a whirlwind romance that has a 0% chance of lasting both in my personal life, I love a vacation romance and in books. So I, like I said, I think we generally like to see our own life reflected in the books we read. And prior to meeting Ben, most of my romantic experiences were really hardcore, swept-off-your-feet kind of affairs. We're talking surprise trips to Europe with a man you've met twice kind of spontaneous and really bad, just like all these books. So even though I have totally been a particiapnt in what Lily will probably describe as unhealthy epic love, y insta-love experience has been overwhelmingly positive and no one has had to go to therapy yet.
Lily Herman: Excellent.
Mackenzie Newcomb: So that's why I like insta-love. And I also think it's fun to read about.
Lily Herman: I feel very differently as Mackenzie knows.
Discussion of Insta-Love In Real Life (10:09)
Lily Herman: Okay. So what we're going to talk, I think, more broadly about, the idea of insta-love in real life or the term I like to call "epic love" and then also a new academic term for everyone, which is amatonormativity, which we'll get into, but I think we'll start there and then kind of funnel our way into books specifically, or like insta-love tropes in romance books and kind of what goes right and wrong with them. But yeah, so I think overall, I think I'm someone who just has—I'm a disgruntled person who has lots of agitation with lots of different people in my life, not just from romantically, but otherwise.
Mackenzie Newcomb: It's true!
Lily Herman: I'm just like very grumpy all the time. I think I partially went to Wesleyan and would choose to go to Wesleyan again because I'm a disgruntled person and Wesleyan is perfect for disgruntled people. So other places, other colleges would have been too upbeat for my taste. But I think overarchingly my issue with insta-love as well as how it manifests in real life, in addition to themes in art like books or TV or film, is that it can quickly become,— it's something that I've coined as a term "epic love, "which can turn really toxic. So I think it's the idea in books, for instance, where authors really want characters to be entirely consumed by their love to the point of being really unhealthy or downright dangerous about how they do that. And it's sort of also this idea that everything in their world revolves around this transcendent, other-worldly love story. So if we back up to real life, I think a lot about this because my friends, a lot of my friends are going through this is people thinking that their relationships are superior or reaching a new level of worthiness because they have a cute story or they've like gone through some shit. It doesn't make it an inherently better relationship or a worse one. It's just kind of a different path. But I think when it comes to things like insta-love, often even in real life, sometimes we often see couples in our own lives or maybe we were even in a relationship like this ourselves where there's a lot of like manufactured, fake drama to make it more interesting or to create obstacles to overcome. So essentially I think those can exist in all different types of relationships, not just this sort of insta-love, instant connection thing. But I think that that idea of "I have found this person, I've zeroed in on them, we are each other's everything" can quickly turn very, very toxic and is usually used as an excuse why people need to put up with more shit than they should. That's my initial opening little bit there. I have so many thoughts, but Mack, what is your thinking as I'm railing against like epic love and people's transcendent love stories?
Mackenzie Newcomb: Yeah. I mean, I agree with you. I definitely think that insta-love can be toxic. And I think people that have meet-cute relationship stories tend to feel really like they need to be protective of it and that they need to hold onto it. And I have definitely had more than a few friends who have had a difficult time settling for a romantic relationship that didn't start with a meet-cute. But I think that that's changing a little bit with all the dating apps and everything. I think they're much more socially acceptable now. So people expect less, like they're not going to be a guy in a bookshop.
Lily Herman: I think it's always like this weird thing of how our ideas of what's cute more. So like I met a former boyfriend of mine on Tinder and it's just like, we had no problem being like, we met on Tinder, like that's the end of that story. But I feel like some other people try to almost nowadays create more to that. Then there needs to be like, "We met on Tinder. We then went on 87 dates in 87 days. We did dah, dah, dah." And you're just like, okay, but y'all seem terrible together. Like, why do you need this whole story? Or I just feel like everyone's looking for what sounds cute. Even if the meeting wasn't cute. There's always like—you hear nowadays, people are like, "But we met in high school, but we didn't know each other at all! And then we met years later!" And we're not saying that everyone who has a story like that is inherently in like a bad or unhealthy relationship. But I think there's a lot of cases where it quickly turns to, you know, because we have this "history," I'm giving it my all, we're not going to break up, but it's like, y'all fucking hate each other and fight every day. And like, don't agree on anything. Why is the story—this story like epically knowing each other and our paths crossing—why is that more important than your current happiness or your ability to be in this successful relationship? Just kind of what always trips me up in talking to people.
Mackenzie Newcomb: You remember when dating apps first started to gain traction and popularity, people would lie about where they actually met?
Lily Herman: Oh, 100%. And that's a literal episode of How I Met Your Mother is Ted faking a whole story.
Mackenzie Newcomb: One of my really good friends from home, she met her ex-boyfriend who she was with for quite a long time—and they actually had one of those kinds of toxic, ppic love stories—she had met him on Tinder, but she told us all they met at the gym. Like girl, that's your meet-cute? That's your romantic meet-cute you just came up with? That's not cute.
Lily Herman: Just also when I go to the gym, I want everyone to leave me alone. I put my headphones in, I go to the last treadmill, elliptical, weight apparatus, whatever, like away from people. I don't want to talk. I don't even want to talk if we want to chit-chat about fitness, like I'm there to get my shit done and then get the fuck out.
Mackenzie Newcomb: Yes, their story was that he was waiting for the treadmill she was on. I was like, that would piss me the fuck off. I don't want it.
Lily Herman: Are there only like three treadmills at your gym? 'Cause every gym has open treadmills. I'm sorry. That's just improbable .
Mackenzie Newcomb: But they met on Tinder, but that was their story of choice! That's just really...a choice. Go on. Go on though. I will say though, as someone who had a meet-cute—I met my fiance in summer school, right after graduation, there was 12 people in the class, the class was called Sex and Society, it was a sociology class—I fell in love at first sight. I have journal entries to prove it. I referred to my attraction to Ben before we had spoken as "a magnetic energy I could not ignore." I uplifted my entire life. I had been applying to jobs in California, looking for apartments, had a plan for over a year to move there with my friends, decided not to do that for a man, which, you know, in retrospect I could see why my friends were mad at me. And we said I love you after one month. We've never been toxic, but I also don't want people to feel like they should hold their relationship to that standard because it is just kind of those one in a million things that not like, just because you don't have that doesn't mean your relationship isn't valuable.
Lily Herman: Oh yeah. Big time. And it's, I think it's just like everyone going on their own path, but also not judging other people's paths. You know what I'm saying? Like every relationship and every person is different and the idea that we're all kind of aiming to have this all-encompassing love and this person that's everything and every facet of our life always. And we have to, on top of that, you know, meet in this cute way and have this like epic story. That's just a lot of pressure to put on anyone in terms in any facet of life. That's just so much to aim for. I feel like in life and I feel like, which we'll get into in a second, that's where I think a lot of books kind of put this additional pressure on people, whether authors are aiming for that or not, for that to be kind of the standard or the norm, which I also wanted to bring into this discussion.
Discussion of Amatonormativity (17:49)
Lily Herman: As I said, there's this word in academia called amatonormativity. It comes from the Latin word, amatus, which means to love. It's actually, if you take Latin, it's one of the first verbs you probably have to conjugate cause it's a very easy one, but that's beside the point. I just wanted to go down a slight memory lane thing here. But anyway, amatonormativity was a term that was coined by Arizona State University professor of philosophy Elizabeth Brake in the mid-2010s. And she defined it as "the widespread assumption that everyone is better off in an exclusive romantic, long-term coupled relationship and that everyone is seeking such a relationship." And for those who are interested, we'll link to it in the show notes, but she has a book called Minimizing Marriage, Marriage Morality, and the Law. So basically the idea is everyone's looking for love, that's an assumption. Everyone wants it to be with only one person forever for the rest of their lives and, and it's exclusive and there's no other kind of way to get around that. And I think that's where some of also these other kind of toxic ideas come off of that very basic premise that that's what we should all want or the assumption that that's what we all want. I'd say too, along with that, of course, like Mack is talking about her personal life and then "I'm like, I did a bunch of research."
Mackenzie Newcomb: I'm like, "The only person I researched is me." Sorry everyone!
Lily Herman: Isn't that what therapy is though? You researching yourself.
Mackenzie Newcomb: I don't know! Never been. I should probably go.
Lily Herman: So then Michon Neal who goes by ze/zir pronouns, has an excellent piece in the publication Everyday Feminism titled "5 Ways Amatonormativity Sets Harmful Relationship Norms for Us All," which again, I'll link to, but basically this article points out how love is often referred to as a "addiction" and how fucked up it is that that's seen as a good thing. And another quote from the article is "a romance is depicted as competitive, exclusive, jealous, restricting and controlling, ownership, all-consuming, and normal." And I thought that was a good point of kind of how we see this all the time in romance books or like romance-adjacent books of "we have this all-consuming love, isn't that beautiful?" Or "it's like an addiction" and you're like, wait a second. When you're taking a step back, you're like, that's not necessarily a good thing. If we actually slither back for a second? Anyway, that's where I'll cut off and let you talk.
Explanation of Ze/Zir Pronouns (20:29)
Mackenzie Newcomb: First and foremost, can you explain ze/zir pronouns for those who don't know what that means?
Lily Herman: Yeah. So essentially there are lots of different types of pronouns. Wwe live in a world where obviously we're all talking about how there's long been this gender binary; you're either a man or a woman. When in reality, there are people who identify as gender, non-binary, genderqueer, gender nonconforming, and there's different theories on or different definitions of how those are all different. But the idea is that the traditional sense of being a man or a woman doesn't necessarily feel completely accurate for certain people in identifying themselves. And it's important that people are able to decide how they themselves want to identify and how they also want to express that identification, whether that's through clothes or hair or actions, whatever it is. So ze/zir is one of themthat's sort of meant to be gender neutral. Some people who are genderqueer, gender nonconforming, et cetera, might use they/them, even though they're obviously a singular person, it's just a preference that I think it's just important that we really go out of our way to respect the pronouns that people want used. And obviously people's pronouns can change. People's gender identities can change. All of that is again a spectrum and it's fluid and there's nothing wrong with changing it. The only big thing is obviously making sure you let people know wha works for you pronouns-wise.
Mackenzie Newcomb: So ze/zir kind of like a synonym for they/them?
Lily Herman: Yeah, it could be they/them or even, yeah, like basically how we would identify in terms of like the singular self. Yeah. And again, they/them now is even in an "approved by the Academy" sort of way of talking about a singular person. And that's why also in journalism, you'll see a lot of reporters when they're talking to someone who doesn't use traditional, he/him, she/ her pronouns will say, "So-and-so, who identifies using X pronouns," just so they can explain why there may be switching to something different than what is traditionally expected.
Return to Discussion of Amatonormativity (22:30)
Mackenzie Newcomb: Thank you for that for our listeners, and definitely not me who had no idea what that meant, but I want to go back to what you said about it being or what Michon said about it, being all-consuming and exclusive, competitive, all of that. So I think that actually one of those things is what I like about insta-love. And it's not that I think it should be all-consuming. Cause I think we've discussed this offline, but one of the things I hate about insta-love is when people have the audacity to uproot each other's lives in a way that is super destructive, which one of the books that we're gonna talk about a little bit later does exactly that—The Happily Ever After Playlist by Abby Jimenez. But the thing that I like about it is that when something is, you're all in, right off the bat, you know exactly where you stand with someone. And somewhere where I struggled when I was in the dating world is the apathy that came with dating. People would time their text responses to kind of always keep you on your toes. You never really know where you stand. It makes you feel super insecure. And so the thing that I like about insta-love or, you know, falling in love at first sight is you never have to second-guess where you stand or how that person sees you, at least not in the beginning where I feel like everything is at its most fragile. But of course, jealous, restrictive, controlling ownership, all those are very bad things. But I do think that the initial all-consuming aspect of it isn't necessarily a bad thing, as long as you're able to transition that from honeymoon period to every day.
Lily Herman: I'd say too, what's interesting to think about is if a lot of like, fuckboy behavior that we see—and also like women and gender nonconforming people can also exhibit kind of what we think of as fuckboy behavior—but I also wonder how much of it too, is, are society's real in general, real disregard for polyamory or any kind of form of non-monogamy. Cause if we were in a society where people could feel like they could be more honest, I wonder how much of that would happen. Of course, there's also just a lot of norms, for instance, straight men around like, "keep your hoe-tation open, fuck around, ike you're not a real man if you're settling down too early," like blah blah blah. I think that adds to it, which again, all of these are like socialized behaviors and ideas that we get. These are socially constructed. These are not how the world works, so to speak. Yeah. I wonder how much behavior is due to pressure to "settle down," or to find someone where they have to be—we hear this all the time—"my person" or "my best friend." There's a lot of social scientists nowadays who are talking about the fact that with this idea that we all need to find one person who we rely on for all of our emotional needs, our sexual needs, our romantic needs, our parenting needs, like that one person's supposed to do that is a fuck ton of pressure. And that that's not necessarily how life has to look or how it does look for a lot of people. And I think that's also a major theme of, for instance, the book Big Friendship, which was a best seller this summer, by Aminatou Sow and Ann Friedman, is the idea that friendships can be these big, powerful, important things. And why do we assume that only like romantic relationships need to fill that?
Mackenzie Newcomb: No, I think that that's really sweet and there is even in my happy relationship, there is definitely that pressure to be all those things. And sometimes you just can't. And I know, especially like in the beginning, when you first move in with a partner, if that's your jam, if that's your shit, it's hard to distinguish what moments are, you're just being roommates and what moments are we're on a date of sorts, right? It's really hard to distinguish that. And I will say a friend of Bad Bitch Book Club, Chelsea Fagan always says that you should—and she's the founder of The Financial Diet—that your partner should never be your best friend. And it drives her nuts when people refer to their partner as their best friend.
Lily Herman: I fuck with this so hard. Chelsea Fagan, coming in with a great take.
Mackenzie Newcomb: Chelsea has given us some love on the TFD YouTube channel, so I feel like I need to really give her the credit where it's due, and she's the first person that ever made me really think critically of this. And so I always tried to make sure that, you know, I had other friendships going on that were best friendships other than my fiance. And I will say up until quarantine when we literally could not see anyone else, he was not my best friend. Now, unfortunately we've kind of gone into best friend territory, but I think that might be Stockholm syndrome.
Lily Herman: There's a lot in quarantine that has blurred lines for people. You've got like couples that were dating for a month moving in together. You've got people who have a bunch of friends now not able to physically hang out with their friends every day. So it's like, okay, I guess my partner is now the person I'm going to gossip and watch Real Housewives with because no one can come over and do that with me.
Mackenzie Newcomb: Exactly. It's way too much pressure on relationships, pandemics going to pandemic. All right, I'm ranting moving on.
Introduction to Insta-Love Tropes in Book (27:33)
Lily Herman: So, okay. I want us to switch over to books and writing and how all of these different, you know, good parts of kind of insta-love or like when instant attraction or instant intrigue turns into insta-love. There's good stuff. There's bad stuff. How does this all connect to books since this is primarily a book-related podcast.
Mackenzie Newcomb: We are. We never get into relationship stuff, but we do, but not enough. So I think it's okay in this case.
Lily Herman: So here we are. So I think more of like a writing craft note, the reason I think insta-love is such a hard trope to write—to the point where, when we talked to Sarah MacLean last week, she told us, "I haven't written an insta-love book and she's written a dozen-plus books, but she's like, "Haven't touched insta-love, don't know if I will." But the reason is that I think it's hard for authors to figure out what to do if their characters get together too quickly. And I was actually thinking about this. So my mom always jokes that couples are only interesting in real life when they're getting together or breaking up.
Mackenzie Newcomb: That's hilarious! Your mom!
Lily Herman: What's hilarious too is I used to do work with Mackenzie's dad. And I remember once we were on a business trip for something, and this was two and a half years ago from when this podcast will be. And your dad was like, "I like Mackenzie and Ben cause they have zero drama. I don't know what the hell is going on with them. Like they seem good." He was basically praising the fact that y'all are like a "boring couple" with like zero drama.
Mackenzie Newcomb: So boring.
Lily Herman: Yeah. So, and I think similarly though, with books, that becomes a problem, right? Like in a lot of books with insta-love trope themes, you're either going to have like a super boring book because the couple gets together and then they're just kind of together for the rest of the book and then there's some maybe like very superficial "obstacles" that get in the way but aren't particularly threatening to the couple, or the author has to take that toxic drama up to an 11 because they brought the characters together by page 50 and now they don't know what to do for another 300 pages. So there's just like a lot of bullshit and fuckery and like utter clownery that has to go on because you know, the coming-together has happened too fast in terms of the book.
LIGHT SPOILERS (First 20% of the Book): Discussion of Jasmine Guillory's The Wedding Date (29:44)
Mackenzie Newcomb: Okay. Okay. That's fair. I will say one book that does a good job at being neither of those things—and I know you're not the biggest fan—but is The Wedding Date by Jasmine Guillory. So spoilers, I'll put them in the show notes at exactly the time, but just assume to go 30 seconds ahead. So they meet on an elevator. He makes her his wedding date instantly, essentially they have an amazing time, but their problem, the reason they're unable to work it out, is because they live seven hours away from each other. Now that is a really reasonable obstacle to have in your love at first sight experience without being super toxic. And they did have some toxicity in that relationship, I will say, but I don't think that their core problem and the reason why, you know, cause every romance novel, they have to have a problem. There has to be a climax or else, like Lily said, it's going to be really boring. But I think that there's was a really realistic one. She had a super demanding job. She was the chief of staff for the mayor of Berkeley. He had a super demanding job. He was a doctor. They lived in different sides of California. That's an obstacle that is legitimate that you have to get over.
Lily Herman: It's funny you bring up Jasmine Guillory's books because I've read the first three out of the five that are currently published as of this recording. And I just feel like her books get boring for me. Because in that first book, for instance—and we'll just continue the spoiler. We'll just spoil it for a little bit here. Just keep skipping ahead.
Mackenzie Newcomb: We're gonna be on our spoiler grind for a few minutes, just accept it.
Lily Herman: I'll like try not to spoil as much as possible. But also The Wedding Date's been out for a couple of years and was a bestseller.
Mackenzie Newcomb: Oh, and I'm spoiling the fuck out of the next book.
Lily Herman: So I think the problem with The Wedding Date, for instance, and keep in mind, I read it almost almost a year ago, so it's been a while, but I remember thinking, is this book literally going to be two people flying to each other's respective locations, fucking a lot and it kind of weirdly fading to black a bunch, and then them eating pizza or like sushi or whatever? Is that going to be the book? And the answer was yes. Now, and I wrote this in a review of The Wedding Party, which is Jasmine Guillory's third book, I wouldn't necessarily say that that is a problem, right? That's not a problematic premise or issue. That is a preference thing. And we all have books that we love where we kind of know that the predictability factor, right? I've read—what is it?—17 of Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plum series' books. That shit is the same every book, but I love it. It's cozy. I know what's going to happen. I love the characters. She started writing that series in 1994 and now we in the 2020s. So Janet, who's in her seventies now, created the same book, the same construction of those books. And I still love to read them. I don't read them like binge-reading them 10 at a time. But if I need something cozy and predictable, where I love the characters, that's what I'm gonna read. So if you love Jasmine Guillory, cause you're like, I just want characters who just go to each other's houses, have some good sex, and then like eat some good food, do you, girl. That's the important thing. There's a difference between maybe not preferring certain things in a book or liking things over others versus like liking a problematic book. Whereas like Jasmine Guillory, her books are not problematic. They are just very particular in what you're going to get with them. You either love it or you hate it or you're just indifferent about it. I'm sort of like, that's dope. Happy for them. Good for them. She's not an author that I necessarily race to get her books because you kind of know what's going to happen. I have more, like I said, to read and I already kind of know what the formula is probably going to be. But again, I haven't read them. And some people have said, "Oh no, like Royal Holiday and Party of Two are different," but you know. But anyway, I'm going into those two books with an assumption because the first three were a certain way. And again it's going to be a surprise if they are not that certain way.
Mackenzie Newcomb: I'm not gonna spoil Royal Holiday, but it is different. I didn't like it, but it's different for sure. It's vacation love, who doesn't—I fuck with the vacation love and a mature romance.
SPOILERS: Discussion of November 9 by Colleen Hoover (33:58)
Mackenzie Newcomb: Now let's talk about the book that we both don't vibe with and is kind of the big epic love book.
Lily Herman: Oh my goodness. Do you want to say what it is?
Mackenzie Newcomb: The book is November 9th by Colleen Hoover and we're sorry, we're sorry to all its fans, but we also want to send you a voucher for your first therapy session because this book is fucked up.
Lily Herman: So I guess the general premise of November 9th is, I don't know if it's a nine or ninth cause it's just November and the number nine, but saying November nine, sounds like very strange. So November 9th or nine, whenever you've decided, essentially is the story of two people, they're young, they're in their teens, they meet, they have this kind of like meet cute and then essentially kind of almost fall in love. Yeah. The first day they're hanging out together, but one of them is about to go fly across the country for college. The other one's staying in the state. And essentially the story follows this thing where they say "we have a rule we're going to meet up on the same day, November 9th, every year but not talk the rest of the year and just see each other that one day," which is literally the plot of the book turned film One Day featuring Anne Hathaway and who was the lead in that? I can't remember, but the male lead. But anyway, it was like, that's where I want to end my thought.
Mackenzie Newcomb: Okay, listen, and this is some extreme spoilers. I think the concept of November 9th is a cute concept. And I know this to be a fact, because I read a book that had a very similar concept just a month later. But, and please note that I will spoil this entire book for you. Like I'm telling you the end right now. So you have been warned. My issue with November 9th is not the fact that they met up every year for five years. My issue is that the male love interest burned her house down. Like, that's a problem for me. That's my problem.
Lily Herman: I think it's the idea that that's romantic, you know, like, "Oh, we both have these like interconnected, tragic paths. And that makes our love even deeper."
Mackenzie Newcomb: Like, no! That's insane!
Lily Herman: That's where I get very—exactly. That's where I get very like, I'm sorry, the fuck? But this book has what, like over a 4.0 on Goodreads, like Colleen Hoover's books have hundreds of thousands of readers. I read it. I was like, you know, going into my first Colleen Hoover book I'd ever read. I read it months and months and months ago. I was like, I'm sorry, I'm supposed to believe that a couple where they've both gone through a lot of trauma in their lives that then happens to be connected to one another is a good reason to start a relationship? And I take issue where I'm kind of eye-rolling at the whole epic love that we don't talk the rest of the year and then meet up once a year. I'm like, well, what is that? Other than to have a good story for your coupledom, you know, that's where my issue with that is with that particular book and how it's set up. But I think this idea that their love is like so transcendent or their connection is so transcendent that they could overcome the fact that they were both very fucked up people and need a decades' worth of therapy to even like go about their lives separately, let alone together, is where I just get very stressed.
Mackenzie Newcomb: Well, yeah, but he's fucked up because I mean, she's fucked up because he set her house on fire. She's fucked up because he burned a third of her—.
Lily Herman: Well she already had a lot of like dad stuff that was an issue before.
Mackenzie Newcomb: Yeah but not as big of an issue as the fact that she has had most of her body burned and that she has crippling insecurity as a result of these burns that destroyed her career as a child actor. And then he has the audacity to essentially stalk her, make her fall in love with him, gaslight her, make her fall in love with him by overtly sexualizing her. I'm pretty sure his opening line to her, it was like, "You've got a nice ass," something like that, literally like that. And so I have a problem with the characters in that story, but I don't have a problem with this story. And I'm going to go into that.
Lily Herman: Yes, go for it. Make your case Mackenzie.
Discussion of 28 Summers by Elin Hildebrand (37:55)
Mackenzie Newcomb: Right? That same month I read a much healthier version of the same concept, which is Elin Hildebrand's 2020 summer release, which is called 28 Summers. And in 28 Summers, our main characters, Mallory and Jake, have the same time, next year relationship, except instead of November 9th, where they meet at the age of 19 nd the whole concept is it will go until they're 23 or 24, this never has an end date and it goes on for three decades. And okay, is their relationship the best? No, definitely not. There's absolutely a balance of power that is just not there. One person clearly has all the cards in their hand and the other person is at their beck and call for three decades. And that is obviously very terrible. However, I will say it was a very interesting book. It was fun to read and I think it was framed not in a way that was aspirational or like "this is a love story that you should aspire to." But what Elin Hildebrand does really well is she shows the two sides of infidelity that it's not always a cut and dry case that cheating is evil and those who cheat are evil and that it's actually multidimensional and complex and there can be a lot to it. And so even though this relationship, both these people need to go to therapy. There's no question about it, I do think that this book was a better version of the same time, next year concept, because it was not framed as this love story that you should strive to, which I really do think November 9th was meant to; it was like a love story, despite all odds. This is not that; this is two people that love each other, but cannot make their relationship work and then meet up once a year. So bad? Sure. Better? Definitely.
Lily Herman: Yeah I think my thing is questioning the whole idea of why—and I'm not saying that I have an exact answer to this, but why do we as readers versus people think of this idea of same time, different year concept, why do we think that that's super romantic? When in reality, as you're saying, it's like, bitch, you're seeing each other once a year. You don't actually know this person. Well, like I don't care how deep your "connection" is. Like you see them for a couple hours once a year. That's not going to tell you the full story of who a person is, but we find that super romantic that like we can each set a reminder in our Google Cal and meet up. I don't know. I think that that's kind of where I'm always like interested is why do we think that's romantic? Cause obviously writers also want to explore concepts that readers find interesting. So what does it say about us as a society? But I don't necessarily know if I have the answer, but I'm just kind of posing the question of, why is that a trope that we really, really enjoy or what are we trying to get? What's the amatonormative theme that we're going for or the underlying shit that we're not necessarily dealing with? Is it that we like the idea that we're on someone's hook or that someone's on our hook for that long? Whether it's yeah, like five years or 30 years. It's definitely, this is also because How I Met Your MohTher seems to be like a recurring theme within the themes of this podcast. There is an episode about being on the hook that guest stars, Carrie Underwood in that show. But it's all about how we're all on someone's hook and someone's always on our hook, but yeah, but I think there's sort of an interesting question there. Like, are we using the same day, same time different or different year, different day concept as a way to not commit to other people because we have this sort of back-burner thing where, you know, it's super intense.? It's like, course can be intense if you only see someone once a year. When I see friends who I get to see, but I see them once a year, of course we're going to catch up and have this really great convo and like really get into it and chit chat because we're running out of time to have that time together. So I wonder, yeah. That's where I'm posing the question, which if any listener wants to go into like a little bit of like an existential crisis over that, like please feel free.
Mackenzie Newcomb: Yeah, definitely. That's why I think it works better. I think that's why it worked better for Elin's book. Cause it's—I hate the term, but it's women's fiction as opposed to romance because when it is a romance novel, it obviously romanticizes this concept, which in many cases is very unhealthy and not something that your normal person should strive to. I will admit, I'm definitely one of those people who would have the same time, next year kind of situation. I think there's a lot of people who really live for the best story that they can create with their own life. And if you can find yourself in one of these situations organically, I think I would have been one of the people to run with them. However, there has been a few instances of that. I met a guy when I was 16 or 17 at a Tony Robbins conference. Oh my God. I can't believe I'm saying this on air. And four years later, he came to visit me. He lived in Oregon, Portland, and I was living in Boston. He came to visit me in Boston and it was a nightmare come to life. It was straight out of a Colleen Hoover novel. It was truly, and I mean truly, the worst experience ever. The attraction's not there four years later, it's no longer a good fit. You spent all these years romanticizing the person in your head only to find out that they are really not like that person that you wanted them to be. There's way too much room for your imagination to run wild.
Brief Mention of The Idea of You by Robinne Lee (43:34)
Lily Herman: Yeah. You fall in love with the idea or the concept, not the person. If You have 364 days to create some version of something and then it only takes one day to ruin it. I used to do this in my youth too. I mean, I think we, a lot of us do have kind of romanticizing the idea of something, the idea of you, if you will. Another book.
Mackenzie Newcomb: An amazing book.
Brief Mention of It Ends With Us by Colleen Hoover (44:07)
Lily Herman: Also insta-love themes or instant attraction themes. But that's by Robinne Lee. I'm thinking on this. I also just think too, so I haven't read—Colleen Hoover is like 20-some odd books or whatever,, quickly approaching two dozen, if she hasn't already passed the two dozen mark, I think that's actually like an ongoing issue that I've always had with her writing and the books I've read is even the ones I've enjoyed. There's always been some element of this epic, transcendent love story that's sort of an underlying current. So It Ends With Us, which is, I think her second, most popular book, I really liked the themes of it. And at the same time, so I'd say like my real love for certain aspects of it is also lives in the same space as like some of the aspects where I'm like, of course we have this like side epic but tragic love story where I'm like, these people just need to go to a shit ton of therapy and deal with their shit and then figure out if they want to be together. So there's like a lot of that that goes on that I think I always struggle with. And again, I haven't read all of her books, so I can't, you know, I don't want to make any assumptions about every Colleen Hoover book; that would be unfair. I think that's where I always trip up with reading her stuff. And I know we were talking to our Bad Bitches in Love subgroup, which is the romance subgroup for Bad Bitch Book Club, and people had a variety of opinions on her work. Some people love it. Some people were saying I really loved it until I kind of thought of these issues. But I think it is sort of like an interesting thought experiment about why we really enjoy certain tropes and certain storylines or plots especially if they have problematic undertones.
SPOILERS: Discussion of The Happily Ever After Playlist by Abby Jimenez (45:09)
Lily Herman: So we want to talk about a book that everyone loves and we did not like, including everyone in Bad Bitch Book Club, and then me and Mackenzie are like, are we just reading a completely different book? The book that we, I think both struggled with—I've struggled with both of her books—is Abby Jimenez's is The Happily Ever After Playlist, which came out in 2020. And there's gonna be spoilers. So I'll just, again, spoiler. Spoiler alerts.
Mackenzie Newcomb: This is just a spoiler episode.
Lily Herman: So, okay. Just to set this up for people who don't know the book before we get into spoilers in like 30 seconds, The Happily Ever After Playlist is the second book in this kind of two-book duet of sorts. The first book, The Friend Zone, which was Abby Jimenez's debut, follows a woman who is dealing with—she's really just an angry person and also dealing with infertility issues and kind of a lot of reproductive health issues and her sort of love story with a guy, who kind of comes into her life randomly, whatever. The second book deals with her best friend who dealt with a devastating loss in her love life and many years later is trying to love again and through a series of hijinx-y rom-com-y means, comes to meet a guy who ends up being an up-and-coming singer-songwriter, musical artist, who is starting to really hit it big. And so the book The Happily Ever After Playlist kind of documents their insta-love, very heavy insta-love story, where the two of them have to overcome her issues of course dealing with love and loss, his issues with being on the road and becoming this rising celebrity. And the other big important thing I think to note is that Abby Jimenez has talked about the fact that she wrote The Happily Ever After Playlist, her second book, first. And then when she went to publishers or editors or whoever, they were the ones who then said, "Hey, I'm actually really curious about Sloan, the main character, her best friend, who's kind of a background character in this book. Why don't you write her story first and then get to Sloan's story?" So that's just also for those who didn't know.
Mackenzie Newcomb: Oh, that's interesting. I actually did not know that.
Lily Herman: She talked about it in like an Instagram Live or answering Instagram questions at one point, or maybe somewhere on Instagram, she's talked about it. That's like the side context. So this book, here's the thing with both of Abby Jimenez's books, and she only has two. I started out okay with them and then they both quickly went downhill for me. Like the first, like, even Mackenzie, you read it—.
Mackenzie Newcomb: My interest was very peaked because everyone loved this book.
Lily Herman: And I did not like this book at all. And so Mackenzie read it. And I remember you texted me at like 20% and you're like, this is actually okay.
Mackenzie Newcomb: Yeah, I was told it was a really good audiobook and the actors were pretty good, but that's where it ends for me. I thought that at first I was like, okay, I loved the concept and this isn't a big spoiler, cause it happens in the beginning of the book, but the man's dog essentially finds him his woman. I have a dog, I love, I love a meet-cute. I was like, I'm here for this. How adorable. And I thought that the initial banter was really good.
Lily Herman: I thought the exact same thing when I started reading it.
Mackenzie Newcomb: And then it happens. Then they met in real life.
Lily Herman: I'd say this book, I kind of knew like as soon as I got to the 15-20% mark, I was like, Abby Jimenez has gone through the trajectory of a relationship that would take a lot of other authors 200 pages. She's done it in like 50 pages, like what the fuck is she going to do for the other like 300 pages of this book? And then sure enough—.
Mackenzie Newcomb: Set a house on fire.
Lily Herman: So as we were saying with the whole authors with insta-love, either make the mistake of like making it super boring for most of the book, or just feel like they need to like keep ratcheting up the drama cause there's nothing else to do in terms of making the relationship come together. She really went the latter route.
Mackenzie Newcomb: She did.
Lily Herman: There's just, it gets very unhealthy. You have these two people who are destined to be together. We need to get—like literally I think Sloan at one point runs her physical health into the ground as well as her mental health to be with this man, because I need to, and it's like, why in the fuck do you need to do this to like be with? Mm I, is this romantic? Like that is not romantic. That is like terrible for your health and any person who is putting you through that, even if some of the reasons are out of their control, like that needs to be revisited. So I think that's where I started to really lose the plot personally, on that one.
Mackenzie Newcomb: Absolutely. And Sloan, she's fine. The main character, the main female love interest. She's nice and stuff. I liked the way she was described. She's a tatted up curvy chick. I hate when people just use the word curvy to describe a woman's body, but it's fine. But the problem here for me was the male love interest. The singer, the male love interest, was the problem for me. And the reason he was the problem for me—and this goes back to what I was saying earlier about the audacity—he just really had some nerve, this guy. This woman, she's been mourning, grieving for some time. She's finally starting to adapt to being a "normal" human again, and then this guy comes and he just rocks her world, gaslights the shit out of her, lies to her about a bunch of stuff. And yet we're supposed to love them together. I don't see how I'm supposed to love them together.
Lily Herman: Well, the whole idea was that like, but he did it out of love, but he didn't tell her that he had his tour date coming up or that they want to extend his tour. Or like, it's supposed to be romantic that he doesn't communicate cause he's trying to save her the agita, and I'm like, bitch, she's going to find out either way when you're not fucking home. So like I just feel like there was this—and again, it makes more sense knowing that it was kind of her debut book that she wrote, even though it wasn't the debut that was published—it runs into this very common, newer published author issue of like, "Oh fuck, I got them together super fucking quickly. Shit. Okay. Um, what can we do to like, keep the drama going?"
Mackenzie Newcomb: Lindsay Lohan, you need to come in here and fuck some shit up!
Lily Herman: But I think that's just a book where, when I talk to people and I've had a lot of conversations with people about, it will really start leaning on a lot of, again, the amatonormative ideas of "but they meant they're meant to be together!" It's like, just cause she likes his songs, they're meant to be together cause she like listens to his music. So do a bunch of other people apparently. Does that mean those? You know, it's like you kind of go on this whole trip. If you're somebody who's read that book and loved it, we're obviously not here to say like your opinion on it sucks, but I think revisit why you liked it or why you found what these people were doing romantic. Pull apart some of the big moments in that book, because you'll quickly find that there's just problematic elements. There was some real problematic stuff in Abby Jimenez's first book, but dealing with some of the storylines that were more specific to that book, I struggled with this one and it's one of those books where I am so perplexed why it's as highly regarded as it is. And it was to the point where I was like, did I just straight up read a different book than everyone else?
Mackenzie Newcomb: Right? I actually feel fine that we're dragging two books that are so popular because at least they already have over a 4.0 on Goodreads. People are going to read them no matter what we say, they might even read them because of what we say. But it just, it didn't do it for me. And in both cases, it's a toxic male leads situation. I think I need to like both characters equally for me to like this. And this guy just wasn't.
Discussion of One Day in December by Josie Silver (52:19)
Mackenzie Newcomb: But I want to I want to transition a little bit into the insta-love books that we do like.
Lily Herman: Oh, we have some hot takes too. I know.
Mackenzie Newcomb: Yes. And we have some that we both likes. There's two books that we both liked that I definitely liked to bring up. I'm going to argue with it on this one. The first I know the first one I'm going to have different thoughts on or if it's insta-love or not.
Lily Herman: Okay. Okay. Yes, yes, yes. Okay.
Mackenzie Newcomb: So the first book that I think some stuff insta-love at its best is One Day in December by Josie Silver. So the main character Laurie sees a man through a bus window, falls completely and totally in love with him at first sight, she talks about him for months and months. She can't bring herself to go on dates with other men, but she's love with this guy that she saw through a window, only for him to show up a few months later as her best friend's boyfriend. And he recognized her too at that moment. So just thinking about this book makes me want to cry cause you just really feel for all of the characters in this story. But I also think it really captures what it really means to lock eyes with someone, see someone instantly and just feel this like such intense magnetic feeling and attraction that you feel like you really can't let go of. That's all-consuming perhaps and in this situation a little bit unhealthily. So that's just kinda how I felt about my husband when I first met him. And I can only imagine how I would have felt if he turned out to be my best friend's boyfriend. I think it truly would be unbearable. And I don't think I would have been able to be around them despite the fact that if that had happened, we still, we would not have had any prior relationship and it would be completely ridiculous as it was in this case for Laurie to be upset about her friend's boyfriend.
Lily Herman: I think too, what's interesting about this book is, so I don't even know if I categorize it as insta-love necessarily. I think it's instant attraction and instant intrigue or like an instant moment of connection or whatever you want to call it. But I think what's actually really beautiful about this book, because I really love One Day in December, is it almost explores the idea of creating this fiction in your head and then what happens when it comes crashing into reality. And part of that creation that she made up in her head is that he's single, which like, she never thought through what if this man isn't single? What if also he's dating someone who I consider like a sister to me? So I think that's a really interesting part of this book, but a huge part of this book is they're not together physically. They are not in the same place, they're going about their lives. And I think what's really, really, really stunning about One Day in December is it's kind of about how you can have this moment, but it's just a moment in time and you kind of move on from it, you know? And they go about and do other things and what not. And eventually after a lot of like other shit goes down separately in their lives, they're then able to kind of reconcile what that original moment was or what they felt or like what they've been through together over the years. I love shit that takes place over several years, but isn't necessarily like a same time, different year sort of sitch. I like that this is sort of more organic in terms of, they go long periods of time in the book not seeing each other, not talking, and kind of dealing with other stuff. So I do love it. They don't get together like page three, you know, like it's not that type of insta-love book.
Mackenzie Newcomb: It's funny because, I love the love at first sight books that all the issues they have to go through are before they can truly be together as opposed to them already being together and then the issues come, because I don't know, that's just my preference. That's just how I like it.
Discussion of Things You Save in a Fire by Katherine Center (55:47)
Mackenzie Newcomb: But another book I think does an excellent job portraying a healthy insta-love story is Things You Save in a Fire by Katherine Center, which is one we talked about in episode one. So we're not going to go too far into describing it. This is the one about the firefighter, the firefighter book. But essentially she locks eyes of the man that she works with and it's full-on game over for both of them in that minute, although they can't really be together in that moment because they work together as firefighters and they need to kind of figure out how that can even happen, whether or not they can actually acknowledge their feelings, but even towards the, they both acknowledged it was fully love at first sight locked eyes, I'm in love with you, loved you since that very moment. And again, all the issues happen before they can actually be together and a little bit once they're already together. But I think it's a good example.
Lily Herman: Oh yeah. It's definitely about Cassie, the main character, working through her shit because she has this instant attraction, but she has to then fight a bunch of her own, for instance, like prejudices or other kind of really traumatic things that have happened in her life. She's got this really, really rundown relationship with her mom whom she's living with when the book kicks off. So I think it's interesting in that it's like one of few insta-love books that did not bother me because it's not necessarily them getting together is still the main part of how their relationship is portrayed in this book; it's kind of the slow coming together of two people who kind of sense whatever it is, but aren't rushing into it or aren't doing like toxic, terrible things to make it happen. They just have a lot of obstacles both in terms of themselves and then in terms of their actual environment and then have to like sort through it slowly but surely.
Mackenzie Newcomb: Yes. And I like that personally. So that's what I like. So based on these two books, I think it's clear that I like my insta-love adversity before they actually get together. Seems like Lily agrees if she does fuck with insta-love; it's because of the same situation. And I think it's really funny that we both view this concept, this construct, if you will, very differently, the idea of love at first sight and insta-love, but we both agree which books are good, which books are trash. It comes down to the characters.
Lily Herman: I think it's characters and then I think it is a good question that, as an author, if you want to do insta-love, it's like, well, fuck, I got these people together within 20 minutes of reading, essentially, what am I going to do for the next, like three to four hours for a reader? How am I going to keep them entertained? And I think because couples are boring when they're together and it's almost a good thing to be kind of boring when you're in a real relationship. But when it comes to, if you're reading about a relationship, that's not necessarily the most entertaining. I hope this episode in general, like even if you do or don't agree with me or Mackenzie, and I feel like I in particular have my hottest of hot takes on this shit, I do hope it helps people maybe like think more critically about how they maybe view romance and love, eeven just outside of insta-love or love at first sight. What are some tropes or things that you think are really romantic and now maybe you're sitting there, you're like, well, fuck, maybe this isn't the healthiest idea for me to buy into.
Lily Herman: Well, so we're going to skip our usual "What We're Reading," et cetera cause this has been an extra long episode of us just going on and on and on. So I think we're going to wrap it up. Thank you so much to everyone who has listened today and listened to all of our thoughts and what not. So next week we have a little bit of a different episode. We're doing a midseason Q&A. We asked the Bad Bitch Book Club to send any questions they had about just what the Bad Bitch Book Club is or how Mackenzie runs it on top of everything else she does. We got a bunch of questions about different book recommendations, as well as our reading habits. So that will be next week and it will be reading book recommendations abound. So if that's what you're looking for and you also, for whatever reason, want to know more about us, that is the episode to check out.
Mackenzie Newcomb: Yeah. So please make sure to give us a five-star rating on iTunes. Write us a note, leave a nice review. Tell us how good our book recommendations are or tell us our takes our trash, but still give us five stars. You can follow us at @F2LPodcast on Instagram and Twitter.
Lily Herman: Ideally, we don't know if it's still suspended by now.
Mackenzie Newcomb: And you can follow the Bad Bitch Book Club at badbitch.bookclub on Instagram. We are badbitchbookclub.com/podcast, and you can join the Friends to Lovers Facebook group. Aittle thirst moment: If you want to follow me, I am at @mackinstyle on all platforms. And if you want to follow Lily, you can find her at—.
Lily Herman: @lkherman on Twitter and @lilykherman on Instagram.
Mackenzie Newcomb: Thank you all for listening, and we hope you have a great day.
Lily Herman: We'll see y'all soon!