Listen on Apple | Stitcher | Spotify

Bethany Bennett admitted that she collects best friends. After this episode, I am going to count myself as one of them! We talk about how the writer of a leprechaun alien story turned into the author of these wonderful, steamy historical romances. She also shares novel ways to burying bodies and we talk about how romance books helped heal her after an abusive marriage. So this episode comes with a major content warning, so please take care.

This is an epic conversation about women reclaiming their pleasure through romance novels and writing Regency romance. Plus I learn what a French letter is! (Hint: And it’s not a French person with something to say.) 

Connect with Bethany online:

Twitter: https://twitter.com/bethanyromance

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/BethanyBennettHistoricalRomance

Facebook reader group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/bethanybennettshive

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/19789823.Bethany_Bennett

Bookbub: https://www.bookbub.com/profile/bethany-bennett

And grab a copy of Any Rogue Will Do on Amazon!

 Transcript

Elle
Bethany Bennett grew up in a small fishing village in Alaska, where required learning included life skills like cold water survival, along with several other subjects that are utterly useless as a romance writer, I don’t know about that. Eventually settling in the northwest with her real life hero and two children, she enjoys Mountain Views from the comfort of her sofa, wearing a tremendous amount of flannel, me too, and drinking more coffee than her doctor deems wise. Welcome, Bethany, to Steen scenes. Thank you so much for being here.

Bethany
Oh, thank you for being here. You know, it’s kind of funny when you laughed, like, I don’t know about that. I thought, well, I knew where the heat centers are in the body now.

Elle
I mean, I can totally see that if you’re doing some sort of like freezing in a cabin, and they have to cuddle naked for warmth.

Bethany
I mean, the fact that your groin is actually a heat center of your body is really useful information in that format. I may have to use that.

Elle
I mean, truly, I feel like I feel like I don’t know enough about that shit. You know, and I’m always googling stuff that it’s like if the FBI is looking at my search result like, I’m booked. There’s a murder. me like wave at them and go Hi, oh agent has assigned to me. I hope you enjoy your job. Best Place to bury bodies. That’s Let’s ask Google. Yeah.

Bethany
Oh, well, what’s great is the conversations between my bestie Knight who’s also a writer and we have actually decided, like, we have the whole thing planned out neither of us write mysteries, or thrillers or romance, even romantic suspense. So really, this is pretty much information. But we’ve decided that if you’re looking from like a radar kind of thing from from a, an airplane looking for fresh graves, what you really need is you really need to actually bury them like standing up, which means a whole lot more digging on your narrower hole. It’s a narrower hole that does not look like a grave. That’s and so we have like a whole plan. And our husband’s worried about we have a whole plan.

Elle
Well, thank you for that. But now I don’t want to bury the bodies. Nice. You don’t learn anything on a podcast? Right? We are nothing if not servicy. So if your best friend is right, or is this like best friend from like, grade school, or is this like, later in life? Best fun?

Bethany
No, I have. I’m one of those people that I collect best friends. Like I don’t have just one bestie You know, there’s there’s those and I do see those people like this is my best friend. And they are like they’re the only best friend and they have a crown. And that’s it like they’re it. And I’m like, I don’t know how to do that. I have I have my bestie from from high school. So I’ll check in with her all the time. Marco Polo is a wonderful app that we just like we can video chat back and forth. And, and then but my bestie this one. She’s my writing bestie and I met her actually the first night of the historical romance retreat in Spokane that really like kicked my butt into gear. As far as writing goes. She bounced up to me. I was standing there in the middle in a really awkward group of other women who were like, Hi, I’m here alone. And we’re all looking at each other going. Oh, yeah. So how are you? Where are you from? I was it was super, super awkward. And then here comes this fantastic woman who bounces up and she’s wearing a Regency style police over her jeans and T shirt that is covered in black octopuses are occupy is an octopus or occupy I have no idea. But basically she’s covered in the crackin. And she bounces up and she says I don’t know anyone here. And I looked at her and she had red lipstick all over her hate. And I said well then as your new best friend, I tell you got to fix this. Like here. I just fixed her. And we have just been inseparable ever since.

Elle
That’s actually a great story. Tell me why the retreat kicked your button to gear writing wise, had you written a book? Is that where you would like embarking on your first book? Or tell me about this?

Bethany
Well, okay, so I the first time I remember thinking, I’m going to write a book. I was like in second grade and it was about a leprechaun who was actually an alien and was his UFO like, spaceship was my mother’s China. It was very, very second grade and it was very weird but I remember being so proud of like dividing up the chapters into our dividing up the paragraphs into chapter headings. And that’s like the earliest memory I have. But and of recent and recently a friend from high school so she said, You know you always said she messaged me like last week and she goes you always said that you were going to write and here you are doing it. And I was like, I can’t believe I was actually like verbal about it in junior high in high school, but apparently I was so it’s kind of It always in the back of my head. But I, I wrote my first Regency that God Willing will never see the light of day. I was like, you know, and I was super uncomfortable with sex and yet fascinated by it. And so it was very, very chaste and very, like, I think that there’s a, there were euphemisms used for when the, for when she like, she walks in and he sees her and he gets a heart. And like, it was like, all of his blood headed south was basically like the equivalent of the statement, the entire book. And, um, and so it was, so it’s always kind of been this thing. But I wrote another, that was a contemporary that also God Willing would ever see the light of day. And it was a series of three that I wrote when I was in my early 20s. And, again, I wasn’t comfortable putting sex on the page, and it just didn’t feel right. And I wasn’t like me as a writer yet. And, and I because honestly, it came down to fear, it came down to that, that that internalized misogyny that we carry, so often as women growing up, you know, in this culture that, that like there’s something writing about sex is dirty, or writing about, you know, that there’s something to be ashamed of somehow. And, and so it’s just, like, brutally awkward and uncomfortable. And I was afraid of, and I had this thing in my head going, Oh, my gosh, my mother’s gonna read this. And so I was just like, I was just kind of that that fear held me captive for years and years and years.

37 was the year of Fuck it. I mean, I was like, I finally got to the point where I was old enough to be like, I don’t care. This is me. Fantastic. And so that coordinated or coincided rather with, with me going to this historical romance retreat in Spokane. And it is it is this gorgeous event. I mean, like, it’s, like 200 readers, that are all passionate about the historical romance genre, people trussed up, there’s all sorts, it’s just it’s it, they are my nerds, they are my people. I absolutely love it. And, but that was the first time and I was going there, too. Because I got, I had the chance to meet Louisa James. Okay. And because she was this, like, she was very, very, her writing was very pivotal in my past. And so I had surrounded myself basically, in this, this event with all of these readers. And it’s really hard to feel like the weird one. Because you want to write historical romance when you’re surrounded by people who are who are just, like passionate about the genre, and they’re in costume. And they’re sitting there and it’s like, official tea time. And I love that I love it. You know, and you’re like, wow, I’m not alone.

Elle
So, at that point,you were there as a writer, not a reader, or I guess you were there as both as a fan of the the, you know, Eloise James and the writers there and the books but also as a writer too.

Bethany
While I was there as a reader at that point, and I had this idea, I had this one scene, which ended up being like the balcony scene at any verb will do when he goes on to her under her skirt. And out on the back at their engagement ball. It’s a masquerade ball, because the big dude and I had to have a skirt that was big enough to you know, accommodate a big Regency is really bad for that. So they’re a masquerade. And so she has these, like, massive, massive skirts that are like, if you’ve ever seen that meme, or that woman in, you know, in late 18th century dress, where they said when you need to smuggle a widescreen TV out of your out of out of your friend’s house, you know, like, it’s a dress like that. And, and so I had the scene in my head, but I didn’t know who they were, or what, like, why they were there beyond the obvious. And and so I was talking about I had certain elements of it were really, really clear in my head, like her white knuckling the ball straight of the of the balcony, you know, and having to stand there and pretend that everything was okay as she was coming. And like I had like certain elements of that scene in my head. And so I was at lunch or tea or something with this group of lovely ladies and, and the woman that’s now you know, my critique partner on bestie. And Ma, they’d asked, like, do you ever want to write one Do you ever because so many of our readership actually really does want to write too. And I was like, Well, I have this scene. And so I told them about it. And everyone’s like, I would read the hell out of that book, write it. And, and that was the first really like encouragement that I received. And so and then, of course, my my friend or she, she writes, she writes is definitely chase but she is she’s agented. She’s on submission. And she’s so she was so funny because she goes and shoves. First, the first author, we come across a path tell her about the sea. But it ended up just being one of those situations where I know there was a lot going on in that week for me of like being like, wow, I’m not alone. And I’m not the only person that thinks that this would be a fun scene. And I’m not like, like, maybe I need to do this. And so she shoves me in front of this author who’s lovely. She writes, medieval for for Harlequin, historical, and her name is Nicole lock. And she, and so I’m babbling about the same, right, like, I have no clue of like a pitch or an elevator pitch or anything, right? I’m just like, well, I love that.

Elle
I know that very well.

Bethany
Yeah. and bless her because she stood there for all of it. And then she leans over, and she put her hand on top of mine, and she looked me dead in the eyes. And she said, Are you serious about this? And it was the first time anyone had ever asked me that. And it was the first time I ever had to own it out loud. And I said, Yeah, yeah. And she said, Okay, then write your See, and figure out who they are. And connect with me on Facebook, and we will message back and forth and I’ll help you through this. And she did my God. Amazing, so generous, so incredibly generous with her time. And with her time and her attention. And her I mean, she is anything I know about craft I learned from Nicole and her shoving books in my hands basically across the distance, but through the entire drafting of an earful. Do she and I checked in via messenger at 830 every night. What’s your word count? How are you doing? Are you writing kicker button here, like, you know, every single night. And so we ended up being like writing accountability partners through the whole thing. And then when I was like, I wrote a book, she was like, yeah, you wrote a draft. Talk about the hard truth, right? Let’s talk about POV. And let’s talk about show versus tell. And let’s talk. And then I just got to edit the hell out of it and learn like really basic craft stuff for the next like year and a half basically, until I thought that it was ready for other eyes. And, and how the rest is history. Like I entered it into two, rW a writing contests. And I tied for first place on one of them. And I came in third as a finalist and the other but the one where I came at third was, that’s where I got my agent from. And so and my agent is just like phenomenal. She’s absolutely amazing.

Elle
Very full. Yeah. And you submitted so you’re a publisher. You didn’t self publish?

Bethany
No, no, I’m traditionally published, I am traditionally published. Yeah. Part of that is just because I look at in my critique group that we have. She, there’s one, there’s one lovely self pub her she publishes is Catherine Stein. And she does really, really cool like steampunk stuff. And, and so I see what cat does, right? I see everything she has to do. And I’m like, I just want to write kissing books. Like oh my gosh, the amount of work to be an indie author is absolutely just mind blowing. Yeah. And, and so I guess you could say that, like, at my core, I was like, I was wanting to be lazy about it. I was wanting to just focus on, you know, just writing. But, but even even being traditionally published, there’s nothing lazy about it. It’s just Yeah.

Elle
You know, and I don’t think it’s lazy. I mean, I think part of it is like steampunk, for example. Like, there were just certain, you know, there are just certain genres within the genre, let’s say or do you know, that are actually really hard to find publishers for? You know, because the topic is so niche, like, I think steampunk is one of those, it’s like, super niche that publishers are just like, you know what I mean? And they’ll be well if it was Regency, or Well, if it was this, or Well, if it was that and you know, and I think that, you know, as a writer, sometimes you’re just like, Yeah, no, I can’t write that. And so I want to write this thing. And and you know, and the publisher is because it’s not, you know, in Vogue, the publishers just don’t touch it.

Bethany
Exactly. They have to sink. Yeah, money into it and kind of be guaranteed of a payback. Yeah. So, yeah, so there’s a certain element where I’m lucky that I write Regency, I have a pitch coming up, where I’m at the stage of the writing of this, this last series where I’m just finished the draft for book three of my misfits of Mayfair. And so now once I’m through the editorial phases, like the the developmental edits for book Three, that’s when I can actually pitch to and give my give my editor like first pick basically of the next series and so I have a couple different options but one of them is Victorian and so I’m going to kind of see how Grand Central forever feels about Victorian. They think if they think that there’s enough of a readership now for Victorian because Regency has for so long just been a staple. And, and so it is, it is kind of an easy sell on that sense. But yeah, so we shall see.

Elle
I have a question about Regency because I don’t read a lot of historical I should read more because I enjoy them but I write contemporary so I tend to read contemporary it are all the regencies like sex on the page smarty smart first or are there some that are closed the door because the ones I’ve always read have been very, here we go. doors wide open? Come on in, you know, and so I’m just kind of curious if there if there are any that are closed door?

Bethany
Oh, absolutely. Yes. Okay. There are apps and and even with sex on the page, there are varying degrees of you know, like I actually I’m reading some are a parish, how to survive or scandal is a new release that’s coming out soon. And she’s one of my forever. My grand central forever publishing sisters. So I scored an arc. And she’s phenomenally talented. This is her debut. She’s phenomenally talented. But it’s really kind of funny how she handled the sex scene. The first sex scene was, you know, a really great description really, I mean, she’s, the woman can write. But when like, basically she comes, and then the door closes. And I was like, that’s an interesting choice. You know? So it’s I think that there are varying degrees no matter what. And so but there are there are those that write more chased, I hate the word like clean. I just because it implies that what I write is dirty, and it’s not dirty. It’s Yeah,

Elle
Reclaim the word dirty. You can reclaim the word dirty.

Bethany
reclaim the word there. Yeah, so it’s I but there, especially I think there was there was more of a market for Regencies especially were more chaist back in the 80s and 90s. Right? You had like faucet and safe net. And these other publishers that there’s we’re basically like, Fade to black. Most of them were just fade to black, which I think is why my mother was okay with me reading them, you know, because I picked up my first book. My first romance novel was an early engagement by Barbara Metzger.

Elle
I love that you remember that. How old were you?

Bethany
I was in fourth grade.

Elle
Amazing.

Bethany
And I was absolutely fascinated. I’d never I’d never even seen Pride and Prejudice. I’m your fourth grade. You don’t know you don’t know who died. Right? You know, and so. And so I had never, I’d never seen anything like this, this concept of balls and gowns and carriages. And you know, what the hell was a Corvette? And like, I just had no clue. Right? It was all new. And, and it’s kind of it’s an ugly duckling story, which is really, really kind of close to my heart just because I my awkward phase lasted till I was 27. Okay, I make straight up. So I, so I love I love. I love an ugly duckling story. And so it really just hit all the notes. And after that I was that kid that as long as I stayed within those certain publishers, who basically kept the steam level super low. My mom was fine with me reading them. And, and so I, I would go and I would go into use bookstores and I would just look for the publishers emblem. I didn’t follow authors. I didn’t read the blurbs, nothing. I just had my card or a box or a bag or whatever. And I would just start at the A’s and pull every single segment or Regency segment Regency or Fawcett Regency that I could find, oh my god, that’s fascinating. And I would just and I and I would just walk out with these massive halls of books, and I would just devour them. And that lasted well. I mean, that was just like my forever love was so historicals kind of have a real place for me because that’s where I began. And, and I think I like the structure. I like the structure of like, society for good or evil. No matter how you may like it. There, there were definite consequences to actions there were definite. There are societal expectations and finding ways to achieve happiness and, and create change within those barriers. Looking back, that’s kind of what I think where the fascination was to was. I liked because I was a military brat I. At the time when I was in fourth grade, we were living in Guam. I was I was literally on the other on the opposite side of the world from any family and any friends and this was before the internet. And before, you know, so the concept of like, calling someone was a really big deal, because it was super expensive, right? There were international rates, there was no like, free evening minutes.

Elle
There was no WhatsApp.

Bethany
there was no and so. And so I had just had three years at the last duty station where it was like, first and second, third grade. And so I actually had made friends, you know, and I just had to leave everything behind. And so I think I liked idea. I think that part of what appealed to me, but besides just the otherness of horses and carriages and lords and ladies, you know, I think that there was an element of structure, and you’re entering this known world, you know, London and the ton and high society. And that, that that was a world that I could revisit, and it may be new people, but it was a really reliable world that I could go and revisit. And, you know, even though I’ve never been to London, it is on my bucket list. But you know, I could I was in fourth or fifth grade, and I could talk about Hyde Park and I could talk about, you know, gum thirst for ISIS. I could talk about all places. You know, I knew what Alma because this was this world that I was able to visit that was always there, and always reliable and always the same. And I think that as a military brat, that was something I needed.

Elle
Yeah. Yeah. And so I’m kind of curious what you know, apart from it being sort of reliable, because you know, what made you stick with romance, as opposed to say, Agatha Christie, because I know I found actually a lot of solace. And Agatha Christie’s work when I was a kid. Oddly, I don’t know murder and mayhem is like DNA, apparently. So what was it about romance that you decided that that was where you were going to sort of find your, you know, your people?

Bethany
You know, I think maybe a little bit of, you know, my mom reads, reads cozy mysteries. My mom reads fairies. She doesn’t like anything, you know, hardcore. She’s very much a cozy person. And she jokes because she’s like, well, there’s nothing interesting in a romance. Like, it’s just, you know, I was like, Yeah, I know, someone has to die for you to care.

Elle
So, no, there’s also Sidney Sheldon and Daniel Steele, you know, I used to read all that shit when I was a kid.

Bethany
So yeah, but they were a little bit too, like, you know, I mean, my mother was definitely a gatekeeper when I was reading at that age. And those, those gatekeeping tendencies are still present today, even though I’m in my 40s. And so she’s a little bit horrified at what I write, but she’s a lot horrified at what I write, there was an entire conversation about if I pray and ask God if it’s okay, for before I actually open my laptop. And and say, Oh, yes, yes. All of the Yes. All of the Yes. She was we there are three girls on my family. And she was going good. Don’t get me wrong. I love my mom. But she really was perfectly situated to be a mother of teenage girls during the purity movement of the 90s. I’m just saying, like, Wow, she was perfect. So yeah, there’s a certain element there of honor, it

Elle
It took you a while to feel comfortable writing?

Bethany
Yeah, there was always that feeling of like, like, Oh my gosh, my mother’s gonna read this. And then I finally started writing and Eric will do and I was like, my mother’s never gonna read this. You kidding me? And so it was very liberating. And then she actually went and did I mean, but I had to have I in her copy, there’s actually there’s a list of pages to avoid. And there’s, and as I’m like, going through and I’m writing down what pages like for her to not read because she asked me to do this, so that she could read the book without without the dirty parts, right, as what she said. And so, so that’s why I actually I have a sales graphic. That’s like five stars. Really great. Except for the smart, direct quote from my mother. And, and I just cracked it cracked me up and so I hadn’t sales graphic. And I’m like, you didn’t even read this, Mom. Come on. I think it’s really great with the smut but thank you.

Elle
I bet she did read the smut. See, I would love to know she actually did, but she claimed she didn’t. And I have a feeling she probably maybe enjoyed.

Bethany
But she feels like she has to be like, Oh, that’s bad. Like there’s just yet any societal expectations and when you’re? Yes,

Elle
Right, right. Right. Right.

Bethany
I would love it. If one day she actually admitted that she did and that she actually give me feedback on that. Besides just like, I can’t read that. So, I think that would be great. But honestly, she’s gonna be last Helen book too if she actually reads book to Western girl comes out the end of June. And there’s a section in there that I absolutely frickin love. And I was really tempted to actually give it to you for this podcast. Except that it it’s a major pivotal plot point. Oh, it’s kind of a spoiler. Okay, it was a total spoiler. And I was like, Oh, I want to talk about it’s so bad. It’s like, I’m like, No, I’ll just talk about the other one that I really loved in in any article too, because, yeah,

Elle
What did you love about it? Like, just like, generally, what was it? Yes, that was okay. I

Bethany
I love it. Because Fee is the heroine of that book and she’s a complete and total badass. And part of Okay, not part of her journey, her arc is her reclaiming femininity. That means in the way that she dresses in a way that she thinks of herself in the way that she carries herself and definitely in the bedroom. Because she has been living as her brother for the last 10 years. It’s a girl and pants story. It’s not a, it’s not a situation where like, you know, she, she wants to be, you know, in, you know, her brother for whatever or she wants to be, you know, like, he’s kind of you always get this where it’s like a short period with her and pants and, and that was always kind of the use of the trope. But this was a shoe it was for safety. It was for safety reasons. So she has to persuade her brother who died and basically she’s, they’re twins. And she, thankfully, she just naturally is built in the way that she’s able to successfully impersonate a man. And, and I also wanted to write a heroine who was completely without curves. My first heroine is is she’s, she’s lush. And I loved the way that Ethan just adores Lottie and just thinks her body is just blows his mind, right. But I also wanted to explore like, the opposite end of that spectrum, right? where, like, if you’re a woman, especially during the Regency, when my curves was good, yeah, you know, curves were lovely. And that was kind of their standard duty involve curves. Well, now basically, she’s built like, one of the runway models that you see now, you know, in New York Fashion Week, zero curves, and everything is straight lines, and everything is bony, and everything is like she’s that she doesn’t carry fat on her frame. That’s just the way she’s built. And, and so I really wanted to explore that we’re like, take that, and put it into a time when they wanted to have cars, they wanted to have breasts, they wanted to have hips, and they wanted to have all these things and how, as a woman, how do you feel? How do you feel about your body? And, and as a man loving? Who was felt like that, when your society around you has expectations of the opposite? You know, how does that work? And so I kind of wanted to explore that a little bit. And I have a friend who has felt like that, and she was my sensitivity reader for like, I was like, this is your body basically. So and she was fantastic. She was really, really wonderful, very open, blunt conversations about like, you know, the first time you get naked with a guy, what do you cover first? Like, what are you most uncomfortable with? What do you You know? And so, it was fantastic to have that, that kind of support from friend. And But anyways, sorry, big long answer to a simple question. This scene she is, at this point, they have been sexually involved. She knows that she loves him. He said that he loves her. He he but she she overhear something and realize is that a lot of what he’s been saying, doesn’t jive with what to what he’s been telling her. And basically on his side, like he’s just desperately trying to fix everything. And but he’s because now that he knows, I mean, they’ve been friends for years, but now he knows that she’s a woman. And so he’s now been sucked into this concept of like, well, she’s a woman, so I’m not gonna bother her with that. And so she realizes that that’s what he’s been doing. And she realizes that everything else is going on. And she basically she goes, and she rocks his world. He’s hanging with balls on purpose. And essentially just gives them the finger she walks away. Oh, it’s a first time that I have ever written me if you can’t call it a hate sex scene because it’s not hate sex, but it’s super pissed off angry sex. But he has no idea. For her. It’s this like deliberate calculation of like, Fuck this. I am going to take control of this. I get to choose when I say goodbye. I get to choose how I say goodbye. This is for me, not you. And she makes sure she gets off and she walks and honestly, it’s just like And it’s such a different dynamic than what I’m used to, right? It’s such a different dynamic, but every time I go back and read it, I’m like, Damn, I love her. Like, I just, yeah,

Elle
I love it. Excellent. So I’m curious, you know, what, now that you’re kind of comfortable riding the seat, like, what, what got you over the hump to become comfortable to write them?

Unknown Speaker
I really think it was like, it was I turned 37 it was the year if I get, I mean, I just really, I finally got tired. You know, I’ve really got tired of even thinking about what someone else thought. Even like, and beyond thinking about it, but then worrying about it. And then on top of that, like changing yourself to accommodate their opinion. You know, so much, so much of being a woman involved involve this feeling of like, you’re looking around you and seeing all the ways that you’re failing, you know, like, failing as a mom, because you’re not the like the Instagram mom, and you’re failing as the, you know, as a woman, because you have, you know, a couple extra pounds beyond what they tell you is the perfect amount for your, you know, like BMI can suck it like, like they have this whole like it is super bombarded all the time with feeling like we need to change.

Elle
It is extraordinary how often we fail isn’t it?

Bethany
It really, really is even though it’s not necessarily failure, is it? No, it’s not individuality.

Elle
It’s really extraordinary how often we fail, you know, like the what are the ones that really get to me is like, sort of like, you know, 10 things that you’re you’re folding your sheets wrong. I know what I mean, like, I bet you don’t know how dirty your bathroom really is. I mean, it’s something new for me to worry about. Thank you. Great.

So I’m scrubbing my grout well enough. Thanks for telling me that. I’m putting not only are we not cleaning our bathrooms like like not only are we shamed for maybe not cleaning our bathrooms on the daily, but then if we do do it on the daily, we’re shamed because I bet you don’t know where that dirt is really hiding. It’s really kind of mind blowing. I don’t see, like, I don’t see articles about like, Guys like cutting your grass wrong. Right?

Bethany
Yeah. And then you have, and then you always have the counter article. That is like, set aside the scrub brush and go outside and play with your kids in the sunshine, because these are the golden years. And you shouldn’t have to worry about the condition of your house. Because parenting is more important than I’m like.

Unknown Speaker
Ah,

Unknown Speaker
actually, it’s

Elle
Clean your bathroom more thoroughly faster, so that you can go out and play with your kids so that you don’t miss it.

Bethany
And then make sure that you’re also meeting your deadlines at work, because who needs sleep?

Elle
Exactly. You should be working because you are a woman and you can do everything, right.

Bethany
Yes, it’s a little freaking exhausting, man. It’s a little exhausting thing.

Elle
And so and then they’re like, oh, but you shouldn’t be reading or writing smut now. Should you? Well, Jesus Christ, we need something.

Bethany
Like, you can do anything you want, but only do this.

Elle
Unless you like look at the magazines that are like you’re doing sex all wrong.

Bethany
And you have to wonder too. Like do you remember those old Cosmos was like 13 tricks for a better blow job and I’m like, Dude, it’s really not that complicated. I mean, like, how much are you having to stretch for writing material if like every every, every month that’s some new trick to do to his knob. I’m like really? I mean, it’s kind of kind of straightforward. There are there are some really enthusiasm is the only thing you need really truly the only thing you need everything else is negotiable.

Elle
It’s funny because I you know I spent some time working in women’s magazines and they actually did you know preying on insecurities and the you know on the front cover at the checkout line. Really did sell tickets sell tickets, sell sell magazines sell like it was what moved a magazine that and like Oprah on the cover, but it was you know, there were certain things that would sell the magazine and one of that was preying on women’s insecurities, you know, and how to get a tighter button three days and that really it was really kind of the formula was really kind of horrible really hard. Yeah, he is a good word. It was it was really it was really disgusting. And part of the reason why I got out because I felt like you know I was working in beauty and fat and fitness and a little bit of fashion but God me and fashion did not get along. And it was to the point where it was like we were like telling women to do dangerous things. Oh, in in person. To have this, you know, this sort of like, you know, this, this, this weird perfection that you know, and perfection is different in everybody’s minds, yet the industry sort of forces into a sort of perfection mold that you have to be buffed and glossed and you know, no grades and this size and this weight and this bra size and all of that. And most of it is, is comes, you know, actually just kind of like, you know, comes out of like male fantasy, it’s out of a male’s brain, you know, this is what the guy says is perfect. And, and it’s not. Okay, tangent, Sorry.

Bethany
I completely agree, I completely agree. And I think that maybe that’s why romance still holds a segment in so many areas where it because it is it’s the audacity to explore pleasure from a female gaze, it’s the audacity to reclaim our sexuality. And, you know, to be in in that, and I think that’s probably why I love that scene in western IRL was because it’s about her, you know, you’re angry. And she’s like, I want one last memory that I know for sure. I know exactly what the fuck is happening. Right? She makes it and she walks. And I think that there’s a certain like there is there’s, there’s, you know, the audacity to actually claim your sexuality to actually pursue pleasure. And yes, there’s a big, there’s a massive factor in romance of these are two people that are coming together, like whatever gender or whatever, like, these are two people or more, that are coming together, that are experiencing pleasure and looking for pleasure and giving pleasure and receiving and being open and honest. And that’s all really wonderful and beautiful. But I think there’s also that certain element of where you have to acknowledge that this, especially if you’re in a historical format, the heroine blaming her right, to decide with reclaiming her right, to make sure that she is getting what she needs out of it. Right. And, and so yeah, I mean, that scene may not hit readers. All of them may be like, Oh, my gosh, like using sex as a weapon. And as a general rule, no, I don’t condone using sex as a weapon. In that particular instance, though, I think. And so. And so yeah, I think that’s probably why I, why I really like I love that scene. But it is the like, the details of it. If we were to actually read it, it would totally be a spoiler. And I’m sorry, you’re talking about something I’m like, and I didn’t give it to you to read. You can’t read it.

Elle
This does hit a really great point. And because generations of women in general, and I’m saying my generation, I think I’m a little bit older than you, your generation. You know, even like you, they’re like maybe not until like my daughter’s generation, maybe they’re just starting to kind of come out of that. But the idea of claiming women’s pleasure is huge, because for so long, women were taught that the sex was not about our pleasure. It was it was not about a woman’s pleasure. It was about a man’s pleasure. And you know, how these how to get him off? Yes. To get him off, how to give him the best blow job, how to, like there was never, you know, you know, like porn, if you’re looking at porn. I mean, porn was made for the male gaze like women. Aren’t those women? They’re not having a good time. Yeah, a lot of they’re interchangeable. You know, I mean, that’s not what’s gonna make her feel good, you know, not saying she doesn’t want to be there. I’m just saying that it is really about what is going to give the man pleasure, and not necessarily about a women a woman’s sexual pleasure, because that’s what our society said, for a very long time. And it’s only just now starting to open up to female pleasure, really only just now, and this is how many years after the women’s movement. Right? Yes. You know, how many years after the free love of the hippies because even that was probably it was still about male, you know, male pleasure. Exactly. It really was. So yeah, I’m I this this always gets my this always like, lights me on fire. Yes, it’s something that I could go out and go on and on about as well. Yeah. I do. I do feel like that’s why people you know, that’s why mainstream media kind of denigrates romance. That’s why, you know, the New York Times Book Review refuses to review it. Like there’s just this sense that like, you know, it’s this sort of like, well, that’s just a thing that checks like,

Bethany
Yes, exactly. And, and bored housewives. Because, you know, board house. That’s what that’s what they that’s what they like for housewives. Like the concept they’re being that they’re a housewife. Yeah, there. Yeah. Yeah.

Elle
Like I are also bored, because that has that they don’t have an active and imaginative sex life which could which is likely or could be or probably for this from the truth. Exactly, you know, because part of what we we are giving to readers is fantasy. And fantasy is actually very integral to having a healthy, active and happy sex life. Absolutely. You know, so. So the work fuels that for women, so it’s not that these are Oh, poor, these Oh, poor women who need to read romance novels to get off. No, this is actually a very healthy, a very healthy thing for them to do.

Bethany
Yeah, absolutely. Yes. And, and yeah, but I think that there’s just the there are so many layers, there are so many layers to unpack now, because even just the concept of like, bored housewife. I mean, do you want to be a housewife? Fantastic. Okay, great. I’d be working out of the home. Okay. Great. Do you want to work in the home? Okay, great. No, that’s, and we do have that freedom now. But they still their default is bored housewife, like shove you back in this box? Yep. And so yeah, we Yeah, I think so I think that if you’re a part of romance landia, you know, but if you’re outside of romance landia, I think that there’s still a lot of waking up that needs to happen as to the work that the genre is doing.

Elle
I agree. I completely agree. And given the fact that it is like a billion dollar industry, the fact that it is perpetually ignored. You know, they don’t ignore billion dollar industries, generally speaking, and yet, this is one that is constantly sort of shoved aside. And then the den just kind of like, you know, the clothes that like close the door, talk about close the door, they close the door on the industry, like it doesn’t even exist. Exactly. It’s kind of shocking. It’s kind of shocking. Okay, so to you, what makes a sex scene good?

Bethany
For me, it has to be the emotional connection. I am very much of just an emotional reader. I don’t necessarily I mean, like, there’s obviously there’s different types of erotica and things like that, you know, and stuff, but some of it is just complete and total pure fantasy, and it’s body parts. And it’s not necessarily the emotional connection between the people, I, I, for me, I have the emotional connection in order to not be bored, because let’s let me let’s be real, there’s only so many ways that have and sloppy work together. And I need to know, why should I care about people doing this together? Right. And so for me, it’s the emotion, which is why if I’m sitting down to writing, to write a sex scene, I have to have a dialogue first. Like, that’s what starts it for me, I have to have a piece of dialogue. And that piece of dialogue gets me into their head gets me into, you know, whatever it is, the scene that we’re going to read today is I, I knew that I wanted them to actually be like, maybe some people could twist it, and say, it’s a little bit profane thing, like the words of the the Church of England, you know, during sex, but I wanted him to be using the vows that they would actually be saying, like, during sex. And so that, that was dialogue that I had. And I had the piece of dialogue when, like when he actually like, really sees her breasts for the first time. And he’s like, it’s just like, the normal response to, you know. And so those were the pieces of dialogue that I had for that, for that scene. And so I think that, when I’m writing of that, I have to have the dialogue able to get into the moment, because otherwise, they have sex. And I’m not one of those writers that, you know, puts in caps, and, you know, inserts that you insert sex here, like going with a story. I, I’m very linear when I’m writing and so I have to be able to be like, Alright, wherever I’m at, whether that means that I am driving and dictating or if that means I’m in the middle of a coffee shop, and like if someone you know, looks over my shoulder, well, then they’re going to get an eyeful, aren’t they? They should probably respect people’s privacy.

Elle
You’re the second interview this week that said that, well, you shouldn’t be you should give people their privacy. Before we dive into your sex scene, I did want to ask you this and because I saw this that you threw up on it, which by the way, you are like the queen of social media, I think you’re so good on there, and I’m like always, and I suck and I’m just like, oh my god, I want to do what she does. I’m so bad at social media. Um, but you would really In an Instagram post about romance novels playing, that you are working on an article about how romance novels played a role in your journey out of domestic violence. And I wondered, can you just talk about that for a minute? Because Sure, I was like, wow, that’s, that’s really big stuff. What was that role? How did? How did they bring you out?

Bethany
Well, I’m, as I’ve mentioned before, I came from this very, like, conservative Christian background. And don’t get me wrong, God and I are good. You know, but, but I am very much I am now very separate from that conservative side of things. And growing up, you know, the concept of chastity and that you had to be a virgin when you got married, and you had to be, you know, all of these things. And so I think that it does it grooms women to be to be vulnerable to considerations? Yep, I’m trying to be I’m trying to be polite, because I don’t want to offend conservative Christians who may be listening. But at the same time, this was my personal experience. And I can only speak to my own personal experience. But in my case, I made the mistake of marrying my high school, my high school sweetheart, who was a like, a legitimate psychopath. And I’m not saying that like, oh, he was crazy. I mean, like, I sat many, many, many therapy sessions and, and just watched him completely hijack the session. And because the, the therapist is completely fascinated by simply how twisted he is. Well, he’s a legitimate psychopath. And I didn’t have any tools to identify that beforehand. So I ended up in a situation where he told me straight up that I was property. And he could do whatever he wanted. And it was my job to basically be the receptacle. And that was on the second day of our marriage. So this started, like, like, we took our vows, and it went very bad very fast. And I went to the women that I trusted that were older women, right? And it was a Bible study group. And I went to these older women, and I was like, This is not right, right. Yeah. And what I was basically told the exact exact words were, you know, love what you can love about him and pray for the rest? And which is,

Elle
That’s not helpful. I mean, I imagine that they would probably experience something very similar in their own life, that would be the only you know what I mean? Like, that’s how it perpetuates. Right?

Bethany
It is how it perpetuates and, and as I as I stayed, and I got worse and worse and worse. And, and until this abuse as my normal. It was mental, it was all it was physical. He didn’t ever, like, curl up his fist and punch me. But there was a lot of sexual assault. A lot of I’m not thinking about you anyway, your opinion doesn’t count. A lot of like, just straight up just doesn’t care. Like I was a thing. And I was an object, and some really brutal, awful things. And I had to have, like, I had to have reconstructive surgery to fix some of the scarring. It was a bad situation, it was a very, very bad situation. And whenever I would go to try to try to talk to someone and be like, this isn’t because public, we were so syrupy, sweet. I mean, so syrup for the perfect couple of public, and everyone. And so when, like, when things finally came out, and things finally ended, I, like no one believed me at first. And they’re still like my ex in laws. If anyone asks why the marriage ended, it was because I wasn’t forgiving enough. Um, wow. And so it was abusive, and he had a dysfunctional zipper that sucker just would not stay up. And so, you know, like 13 affairs in two years. And so he had major problems. And that absolutely rolled into our marriage and created a horrific situation. And, honestly, it was like, the mindset was that it was better to be abused and praying about it. And I, so there was a whole crapload that you have to like, dig out from that, right. But at the time, me here, I had been I had been a romance reader for ever at that point, right. I’m this was in my early 20s. And I picked up my first romance novel when I was in fourth grade. So but I had never actually actively looked for sex on the page and at the time, I could only read historicals. Because the last thing I wanted was to actually get about, like, contemporary people together and weren’t getting, like, pummeled and redid, like objects and, or Paul, right? Like, I didn’t want to read about other people that I could bump into on the street being happy and actually getting it right. And so I had to, I had to my historicals. And at the time, my marriage, I didn’t, I didn’t want to read the I mean, like I, I was still conditioned to believe that like the sex on the page was like kooky, right. But again, I every time you would read it, like, that’s not what I recognized, that wasn’t my life. And so I did, I was at the time, I was very much sticking to my good old, reliable, chaste historicals. And once again, complete and total escapism. Once I got through my divorce, and I was a single mom, and I was, you know, it was a mess. It was the first time I realized that, like, I had no idea what actual intimacy was supposed to look like, Oh, I had no idea what, like what sex is supposed to be. I can look at and say, I don’t think he’s supposed to, like, rape you when you know, you’ve just given birth two days before and you’re held together by stitches? I don’t think it’s actually supposed to happen. Right? But what you like, but what does that actually what’s my other alternative? Like? I, I’ve never been the kind of personality that goes, like, picks up a dude in a bar. Right? I’ve never been that person. And so I was like, like, very few options are available to me.

Elle
Bringing, you’re bringing things to women in your circle women that you should trust women. And they’re actually saying, Well, no, this is normal when No, this is not normal, like weird. So where do you figure out what normal is?

Bethany
I turned to romance novels. And at the time, I still could not read contemporary. And so I went to Alright, I’m gonna go to sex on the page type historicals. And so that’s where that’s where Louisa James. She was, she was at that point for several years. So there was a backlist. And she has a really approachable way with her with her characters being very real and very flawed. But still, and they make mistakes, but they handle them. And, and which you know, of course is just writing, but at the time, it was very revolutionary for me. And that’s when I actually started deliberately looking for sex on the page deliberately trying to figure out what is the supposed to look like? And that’s where we ended up. That’s, in many ways, read historical romance novels, with explicit sex on the page. Were my tutorial of what I should expect. I should expect I got and I wasn’t necessarily I wasn’t cool. Like, you know, rapey pirates. I stumbled into a few of those. And I was like, This is too familiar. No, thank you. Um, and so, yeah, you that that was like my school room, where I was trying to figure out and I think was doing a lot of, I learned a lot of the things that most people, you know, when they’re dating in high school, and you know, they they make mistakes of the guy that is a loser, and you have the guy that’s like, at the time crawling out all the things, right? I didn’t have any. I had married my high school sweetheart, I’d married him young. And I didn’t have any experience beyond him. Right. And so this was actually like my way to kind of peek into that. Learning in a safe way.

Elle
That extraordinary,

Bethany
Like, no one was touching me. Yeah, I had complete control over when I closed the book, I have complete control over what I was going to skip, like, it was a safe thing.

Elle
You could learn at your own pace, kind of.

Bethany
I could learn at my own pace. I could choose my own format I could choose and that’s when I really started discovering like, because when you’re in that, and you don’t really have sexual fantasies, right. There’s a very much a disconnect for me at least there was very much a disconnect between my body and what’s happened to my body. Right. You know, I I spent goodness I spent years there was one place back home and Kodiak that’s called Abercrombie point. And in Fort Abercrombie, and it’s absolutely beautiful. And it’s the most lovely place in the world for me. And in my mind, I would go and I would sit on the point. And whatever was happening to my body was whatever was happening to my body and I didn’t have to be there. I had control. That was the only way I could control was to retreat in my head to go sit on Abercrombie point. And watch the whales in the water. And watch the puffins in their with their funky little bodies and little wings and listen to the listen to the waves and have the breeze on my face. And I completely escaped.

Elle
Yeah, disassociation.

Bethany
Yeah, complete and total disassociation. And so we’re then when you’re out of that situation, you have to rebuild and reconnect with your body. Yeah, yeah, absolutely. I just have to actually figure out like, like, Am I capable, like actually climaxing with another person, you know, am I capable of you know, and especially when, because of the damaged area that was that was affected, like, it actually, like physically affected my clitoris. And so you know, because of all the scar tissue and everything. And so, like it was, it was a real journey. It was absolutely a journey. And and I think that also, you know, if there’s any, that is, if this is sounding familiar to anyone, yeah. I say I urge people to go to the hotline.org. It’s www.hotline.org. It’s the National Domestic Violence Hotline. The reason I say national versus going to your local is you don’t have to worry about talking to someone on the hotline that you’re gonna run into in the middle of Walmart next week. Right. And especially when you’re in a small town, like, because even though we he was in the military, we were we were moving around, we’d like we’re still in a small town, it was just near an Air Force Base. And so there is like, there’s this almost incestuous ness about small towns where like, everyone knows everyone, everyone’s day to day, everyone’s. And so it’s, you know, I remember the first time where I was like, holy, holy crap, like, that was rape. Like, and actually attach a label to it. I remember the first time that happened, and I remember very clearly going, but I can’t walk into the police station, because his sister works there, walking into the hospital, because his mother works there. She’s an RN, there. And, and I was like, 19, or 20, and traumatized and didn’t know that I could walk in and be like, I need to make a report. And that woman’s is not in the room. You know, I didn’t know that I could walk into the hospital and be like, I need to be seen. And that woman does not see my file. Like, I didn’t know that I have that agency that I have that ability that I have that right. Because you’re traumatized. You know. And so I, I really, really encourage people to, if they’re in the situation to understand that they, they’re so much better on the other side. Yeah, it’s scary as fuck going to the other side. Yeah, but it is so worth it.

Elle
Yeah. But once you get through.

Bethany
And therapy.

Elle
And therapy and romance novels.

Bethany
And hold the men in your life to the standard of what you see in romance novels, like those, the good the health ones, yeah, I’ll see ones. Yeah. You know, cuz Yeah, I mean, there’s, we have wonderful, lovely, inky dark corners in our genre. But the but yeah, as far as like, the healthy relationships that you see, when if you would not accept a hero in your romance novel, to be a cheater, or to hit his hit the heroine or any of that, if you would not accept that from a fictional man, then why are you accepting it from a real guy, right, you know, hold the men in your life accountable to the same standard that you do your fictional men.

Elle
And I think, you know, you can probably speak to this, when you do get out you do find a network of women who are going to be there to hold you up and support you. Yes, they might not be the ones from your current, you know, from your current situation or your current world. But when you do get to that other side, there is going to be a whole lot of women with their arms open.

Bethany
Yes. And can I just say that it is so it is so one? Because it’s funny, like that article hasn’t been published anywhere yet. my publicist has it, she’s placing it, you know, I don’t know where it’s gonna end up. But I made that one post on Instagram. And you’re the second podcast that I said, Hey, can we talk about this? And that is absolutely wonderful. For so many years, I mean, like, it’s, it’s been, it’s been years and years and years and years, and I’ve had years and years of therapy, and I’ve had, you know, since since these events, but my life is good. Now. My husband is an absolute fantastic man. I have two beautiful kids. I’m like, yeah, life is good. Okay. And there’s hope and healing, but therapy on the other side. But I realized No, on my personal like my personal Facebook page over the years, like during Domestic Violence Awareness Month, like I would or I would see a post that really resonated in this era. And I would I would share it. And there it was crickets as far as interaction goes. And I realized that like, no, like, what what the people that were on that page wanted was they wanted painting Bethany, they wanted Beth, they wanted the Bethany That was funny. And that shared about her cats and told, you know, wacky parenting stories. And you know, that’s what they wanted me. For me. They didn’t want the domestic violence survivor, Bethany. And it was, it was disheartening. I mean, I still shared it. But there was every time after those first few times, you know, I would realize that, like, one’s gonna like, but it’s a matter of like, I’m not actually sharing it for them. I’m sharing it for me. Yeah. And I’m sharing it for someone who may need to see it.

Elle
Sort of the thing to even though it was crickets, I think that there were probably a lot of women that, you know, it really sort of touched them in a certain way. And they need it, like you said, they needed to see it, but maybe they can’t be as forthcoming with like a like, or a you know, because there is, you know, I mean, you live through it, there is that sort of insidiousness of the spouse that might be, you know, checking up on things or controlling certain that you do note, I you know, so I think I think that in a way I do kind of give people maybe a little bit more grace than they deserve. But you don’t know what’s on the other end.

Bethany
Yeah, you don’t know what’s on the other end. And so, but I love the fact that romance, romance saves the day. I’ve had I’ve had that you’re the second podcaster has like, hey, this important conversation, can we have this conversation? And I’m like, thank you. Yes, it’s it’s really, it’s, it’s lovely to to see it. I mean, sometimes you kind of look back and you’re like, oh, that ended up being used for good, like your experiences become, you know, something that you can share, maybe help someone else. Right. And, but normally you are looking back and seeing and connecting the dots and realizing that Okay, there was maybe some impact. Yeah, but it’s really cool. To be able to see it in real time to actually be having these conversations in about and about women’s sexuality. And the fact is that I mean, the numbers for sexual assault are absolutely mind bogglingly horrifying. Yep. And so too many listeners identify with at least part of what I’m talking about.

Elle
Yeah, absolutely. I mean, at the time, I was afraid of sex. Afraid of it. Absolutely. Right. And, and this is, like, when I was older, you know, because of experiences that I had had, you know, so I think that, um, you know, this is an important conversation, women’s sexuality is an important conversation. You know, I mean, I think, you know, you know, our desires, and our needs are important. And also our safety is important. You know, there’s so much to it, it’s so layered, and I’m so grateful that you’re open about it, so that people can sort of like have have the benefit of what you’ve experienced, and to help them either go through it or just to help people sort of understand like, what what it is that’s happened and why it’s important to talk about.

Bethany
Yeah, and for me, that’s why it’s important to write it. Yes. Because that is very much why I put sex on the page. That is very much why, like every sex scene that I write, it isn’t just because like, this is hot, you know, I mean, that’s definitely an element of like, This is fun. And this is hot, and this is titillating. And this is whatever. And this is a, you know, an aspect of their relationship and all of that, but I tried very hard to write the scenes that I needed to be reading back then. Yes. And so. Yeah, that’s that, which I think is why the dialogue because I’m such a verbal person. I mean, like, like an hour into this. We haven’t even actually read the newsflash spoiler alert, I’m a verbal person. But, but I think that because I’m a verbal person. Talking in bed is a big deal for me. Right? laughing in bed is a big deal for me. Being comfortable to be entirely yourself and loved entirely as yourself is a big deal. You know, I have been hurt directly because of like, how much I talk you know, I mean, like, it’s funny the things that therapy cannot erase all of it. They do give it does give you perspective, but I heard over and over and over that why would any man want to touch you? All you have to do is open your big fat fucking mouth and no one would ever want to touch you again. Oh, and I gotta tell ya, like that leaves a mark. Yeah. And so I think that there are elements where like when I’m writing, some, a lot of times these scenes are just one big middle finger.

Oh yeah? She’s gonna talk to talk to the entire fucking thing and you can’t do anything about it.

Elle
And you know what? It’s gonna be good. It’s gonna be good. Yeah, know, it’s funny because I, you know, I came to terms with a lot through writing, writing sex with my with myself and my own comfort level, you know, with sex and my body and you know what was weird and what or what I thought was weird. And is this weird and, you know, all of that I really feel like writing through it actually really helped me. Mm hmm. You know, and so and reading it of course, too. But for me, it was really it was really the act of writing and being able to sort of like really get comfortable with it through that. Absolutely. Although it still takes me forever to write my scenes, but that’s another conversation. I’m just kind of curious because you met Elissa James, did you ever tell her about how much of an impact her work had? Because I haven’t met her but I’ve seen her on documentaries and stuff. And it seems like the type. She seems like the type of person that would just absolutely like, embrace you and be lovely.

Bethany
She is the classiest lady. Yes. She is absolutely the classiest lady. And you know, actually, I didn’t tell her my husband did. Oh my god, the last, the last eight of the historical romance retreat. They have a big Regency ball. Everyone is in costume. There’s like period dancing, there’s food. It’s amazing. It’s just this phenomenal experience. And my because this was just in Spokane, my husband went with me. And so he was he was in you know, he was in costume. And he was he dressed up. I was like, well, I’ll try to kind of keep it and he goes, No, no. Do this. If you’re gonna do this, do it right. phoof me up. That’s exactly what is up foof me. All right. You’re gonna get lace cuffs and you’re gonna have a lace trim cravat, and we’re gonna do this. We’re going to do it right. It was fantastic. So he is just He’s the best. And yes, like that exist. But he marched right up to Alabama, James. And thank you for writing books that kept my wife believing in love until I could get here to prove to her that love is real. Oh my god. I’m about to cry. And yeah, wow. He did it. I didn’t do it.

Elle
He did. Wow. Wow, what was her reaction? I she she was like,

Bethany
A little bit like buckled I think like, Wow, it was at you know, like, I’m just standing here trying to get a petit foue you know, like, I didn’t expect that. But she was she was incredibly gracious and incredibly lovely. And I think she said something along the lines of well, you know, like, well, well, it’s your job now to keep that going. You know, and and then he stood there and talked fishing with her husband. It was great.

Elle
Oh wonder Oh my God. That’s wild.

Yeah. But it’s really funny because I, apparently Eloisa James, like I’ve talked to I’ve met Julia Quinn and she’s lovely. I’ve met Kathy Maxwell. And she’s lovely. I’ve met like, I’ve had the chance to meet so many incredible authors that I just respect the hell out of and. And it’s always a thrill and it’s always a joy. But there’s something about Eloisa which makes a complete and total ass myself. Every time. I’ve discovered I can do it in multiple formats. It’s not just in person in email, I make an asset myself an email to It’s wonderful. I’m like, okay, I just need to accept that this is the person that I’m always going to be a dork over Always.

Always. That’s excellent though. I love it. Love it. There are people in my life. I’m like that with too. I’m like, just go away. Let’s dig into your steamy scene. Okay, any rogue will do. set this up for us. Okay, so, at this point,

Bethany
They’ve already been intimate in several ways, but they have not actually had full on pnb. Okay. This is the night after, or this is the night of their engagement ball where she has finally told them that this relationship is actually real, because like, up until now, this has been a fake relationship. And he’s made it very clear that like, he’s all in if she is, and she’s finally said, you know, like it he’s like, so mean you’re actually gonna marry him? And she’s like, I think so. Like, I mean, because it which the dialogue works, but two of them, you know, I’m sure that someone would actually want a little bit more of a romantic, whatever. But for her, she was like, Yeah, I think so. And so, he, this is actually after he’s gone under her dress and eating are out on balcony. That’s a fun scene. And then, and then, basically she’s like, come and do that again. And, you know, I’ll let my maid I’ll have my maid who’s Her name is darling. And she’s absolutely wonderful. And she’s kind of a fan favorite. You know, I’ll have I’ll have darling, let you in. And so she is, she knows he’s coming, she knows they’re finally going to actually have full sex. in her mind, like she’s finally accepted that she’s gonna marry him and that, how she feels she isn’t ready to put the big l l label on it yet, but she’s finally after that, like, they’re gonna make a life. And she’s emotionally she’s there now. And he’s been there for a while. And so yeah, that’s what the setup is, is they’re in her bedroom. And her maid, you know, drew her a bath. He comes in, in the bath. And this was where I had to have like, that. Her joking about him being him blaspheming when he sees her breasts for the first time, because like I said, they’ve messed around, but it’s has never been like full on naked and seeing each other in their in their altogether.

Elle
Right? They kind of get in clinches, like out like like in places where you can’t just just disrobe or someone can walk in at any point or whatever, you know, like, you know, this was

Bethany
actually this is actually really their first time of like, you and me and we have all night.

Elle
Like we can lock the door. Yeah, all right. Cool. Okay, so darling is just I just read want to read this little bit. It’s not very long. The first little bit that that I that I that sort of struck me and darling has just drawn the bath and. And okay, so I’m just gonna read this. After pinning her hair up, she sank into the tub in front of the fire a lot. He closed her eyes and took a deep breath, filling her senses with citrus scented air. Hot water soothed her muscles, dragging that heavy dress around all night had been a far more physical experience than the average evening entertainment and her neck ached from the weight of the wig. I kind of really loved this setup. And the fact that a woman would be exhausted from her clothes. Yes. And I was like, Oh my god, how much did it work? particular detail you

Bethany
You can thank Eloisa James. Because at that, at that ball, she was wearing this kind of gown with that kind of wig. And she was like, this week is gonna kill me like this wig is gonna fall off in someone’s food in the middle of the day. I have it pinned all to hell and back, but like, this wig is gonna kill me and my neck is killing me under the weight of it. She had this fantastic towering wig. And so I had it’s funny the lung details that you pull from life into your writing. I’ve never read. I’ve never worn a giant towering wig.

Elle
But it just really drew me in because I was like, Oh my god, she isn’t just drawing a bath because she wants to sort of you know, fit up as but it is because physically she is actually exhausted because she’s been dragging around this huge ass outfit. And now she’s about to like have monkey socks like go mentally preparing herself to rejuvenate I think she might need a snack.

Okay, so we’re gonna we’re gonna jump down a bit. And now he’s sort of Ethan has just seen her breasts for the first time which are lush. Let me see where are we? Yes, okay. They stared at each other for a heartbeat. If only he could always look at her as he did now unrealistic but a fine goal. At last he reached her mouth and she welcomed him tunneling one hand into his hair as if to anchor him to her. His hands traveled a deliberate path down her back over her hips, and grasped her firmly were her thighs creased under her bottom. A gasp escaped when he lifted her off her feet, wrapping her thighs around his hips to carry her toward the bad. Everywhere he touched a trail of pebbled goose flesh followed sensation and desire tangled with a ribbon of joy. coursing through her the way he looked at her quieted any lingering nerves. Ethan didn’t try to be proper or restrained thank God because neither did she. She wanted the man who looked her into Passionate climax while under her skirt on the balcony and cornered her for heated heated kisses in the servant hallway. All right, this was super sexy and I kind of loved how you split us back and forth in and out of the sex sexy bits like like speeding it up slowing it down speeding it up slowing it down the pacing of it was really I mean it was I mean it was lush like her bras. And I was kind of curious like how how aware are you when you write this of the pacing.

Bethany
In the actual scene itself, I think it just ends up being kind of organic. Okay. the pacing of scenes I tend to go like up and down and up and down and up and down like scenes themselves. But where it’s like super happy and then like you know where it’s like back to reality we plummet but I in this one I it was more about like her it’s her interiority you know where she was at emotionally and she’s connecting all of the dots. I’m Laurie has a character is very structured lot. He has a character she likes order she likes and so for her to allow her to just kind of submit to since she had to get there. Like she was never going to be the type of the type of heroine who just threw herself in and went Yeah, this is fun. You know, I’m like that books 303 that’s the heroine she’s just like this feels good let’s do it. But Lottie was body like, roll. She that’s that’s how she cope. So she had to there had to be that, that back and forth within her of deliberately making choices and connecting the dots before she finally felt safe enough to just trust him to carry her through it.

Elle
Okay. All right. Next part. This was wonderful. This part I love this part. It was like unwrapping the best present in the world with layers of clothing coming off his large frame the edge of the bed dipped as he removed his boots and breaches the shifting lines of heavy muscles on his back and arms in Thrall to her. His body differed from hers in so many ways and she ached to explore every glorious inch. With one hand she pushed him to his back across the bed thing crawl to top him skin to skin she spread her fingers over the ridges and planes finding the spots that made his breath catch. With both hands, he’s settled her legs on either side of his hips pushing as hardness against her he paused against her center. You show you what and rather wait till after the wedding. She reached for the bowl by the bed and handed him her the French letter your Scottish who needs official ceremonies anyway? Didn’t your country used to hand fast? Now show me how this works. We’ve been known to play fast and loose with the formalities. But I had to ask you hit a noise. Sorry kid you Scottish? I mean I can’t. Right now I guess. He made a noise deep in his throat when she stroked him. The silky smooth hardness of his body was fascinating. Her giggles began when he tied the ribbon around the base of his erection darlings earlier teasing came to mind and Lottie finally understood and other short laughed escaped is as a snort and lobby club they hand over her mouth to stifle the sound raising about youth and said sardonically. It’s heartening that you aren’t intimidated by what we’re about to do last. How she gasped. How could I be scared when you remember is tied up like a little girl’s pigtails. She leaned forward burying her face in his chest trying desperately to contain our giggles and answering chuckle rumbled under her cheek. If you’re going to laugh at least humor me by calling it a cock and not my member we we aren’t meeting for tea time last is a cock. The body part under discussion remained hard and ready between them. recovering from the absurdity of seeing a satin rubber around ribbon around it. She stroked him again and felt the arousal within her flare when she repeated the word. I love your cock. It’s a beautiful caulk, especially with it’s pretty blue ribbon. But she would not say that for fear of collapsing with mercy. This was so funny and so sexy all at the same time. But I have to ask you about the ribbon. I was like, is this a Regency cock ring?

Bethany
No, no, it’s how they kept the French letter on. Oh, it was it was a sheath. It was a she

Elle
Oh, I took that theory like literally like the like the French had something to say about. They sent a letter

Bethany
Okay, so history. So a French letter was a sheath. It was Basically, it was like sheep intestine. That’s why I had to soak it. So it was soft, right. And the main reason why they did it was actually to prevent venereal disease, but it has the fun, you know, it blocks the sperm and therefore, you know, it’s it’s an early version of what we would call a condom. Well, and there’s some back and forth to like, if they actually call them condoms at that point, how condoms were named. That’s a it’s a whole Google thing. Again, hi to the agent, that special agent who is who is in charge of like, monitoring my Google searches. But um, my, they did call them they call them French letters, because it was a whole concept was I actually I’ve read somewhere, but in France, they call them they call them English letters. Oh, it was this whole like, oh, we’re protecting ourselves. Now. We’re parcels from you, you know. And because during the war, obviously, you know, the men were getting their jollies somewhere. And so it was about trying to make sure that they didn’t just like spread the pox everywhere, right. And so it was about venereal disease diseases, but it’s a sheath, made out of very thin like intestinal material. And you have to keep that sucker on there. So and so there’s like a little gusset on the bottom, and it’s like a drawstring satin bow that you tie around the base of your cock. Oh my god, I thought that that would just like for a woman who had never seen one before and had this is the first time and she’s just kind of like an analytical person anyways, so she’s gonna notice the details. And I remember writing this and I was actually in the car. We were in the middle of a road trip and we were driving through and I was like, in the dark and I just started snort laughing. My husband’s like, are you entertaining yourselves with your imaginary friends again? Yes, I am. They’re awesome. Because she’s just like, she was just cackling I was not intending. It’s not my plan. Like for the scene. It just sort of happened.

Elle
Oh, it was fantastic. And I didn’t even know what the hell of French looked like I literally was like, I don’t know why the French are writing them But okay, cuz the ribbon thing is fantastic. And I was over here thinking it was like a Regency era sex toy. I was like, Oh, fascinating. It was even more fascinating than I thought it was. Okay, now that I’m completely ashamed.

Drawing the mass of her hair aside, Ethan please open wet kisses along her neck and rolled them over last to sensation Lottie stop thinking and simply felt with their fingers intertwined. He pinned her hands overhead and trapped her in his gaze just as effectively, sparks built tingling upper inner thighs to the point where their bodies joined. Then spiraling up her abdomen, like embers caught in the wind. Oh my God, this was such a beautiful just like that. That was just so gorgeous. Oh, thank you. And I loved I loved the the sort of the balance that you got between just the beauty of the writing and the eroticism, of the writing, I thought and how they were able to sort of intertwine so well. And I actually really just loved this. I mean, I’m like, holding out this scene, like anytime I feel stuck. Like this is kind of like one of the scenes I’m going to be pulling out. Oh, that’s awesome. Yeah. Look at and kind of dissect like, okay, like, you’re like, how do you okay, how do you do this again?

Just because I love the way that they’re so firmly intertwined. And it’s just, it’s actually just it’s so gorgeous to read. I think I read this. I don’t even know how many times I read this. To pull the bits out. It was like a number of times. I’m just reading and rereading it because it was so beautiful and hard to and hard to whittle down. Alright, like I could read this whole thing, but no, but I could. Very last little bit. That vibration of his chuckle rumbled under her ear, borrowing her nose and the side of his neck. she breathed him in contentment turned her bones to jelly. And she left the gentle brush of his fingers down her spine. Well, her. I’ll never get tired of touching you love. she murmured sleepily. Then don’t stop. I was like, Okay, this is probably the most romantic sex scene I’ve ever read. Oh, wow. Yeah, it’s absolutely beautiful. And it’s so you know, you know again I’m kind of coming to this in the I don’t know what At what point in the book is this? It must be pretty pretty far if they’re if it’s the night before their wedding night.

Bethany
Well, yeah, it’s it’s basically this is well, it’s not before their wedding night. It’s what’s before their wedding night, but not the night before. Oh, it’s all night after this all hell breaks loose. So probably about 70% of the book maybe? Or some of the book. Okay, if I had to guess I don’t know if

Elle
But I mean, it’s still a good chunk of the book has gone by and I just felt like the characters were so finely drawn, that I felt like I knew them and it wasn’t like jumping into a scene and with You know, with the exception of, you know, the French thing, the French letter thing, guy, like jumping into a scene and being like, I don’t know, these characters What the hell is going on? You know, like there was none of that it was like there was it was so it was so clear who they were, what they were like, what their connection was how they felt about each other, just in this scene that was really kind of extraordinary to read.

Bethany
Thank you. That means a lot. Thank you.

Elle
It was it was beautiful. It’s absolutely beautiful. So next up for you, is The Misfits of Mayfair. Now Miss Western Earle second book, too, and the Misfits of Mayfair trilogy, which comes out in June so it should already be out by this by the time this this goes.

Bethany
Oh, cool. Okay. Yeah, cuz Yeah, June 29. is when it drops. So it’s right at the end of June. And yeah, that is that is Calvin story, Kal story where you’re, he’s like the best friend, and I never will do. And he was kind of a reader favorite. They’re like, Oh, my gosh, I can’t wait for Cal story. I’m like, well, then Lucky you. You don’t have to wait.

Elle
Because of the trilogy. Did you know who’s like did you? Or were you kind of like by the seat of your pants with us? Or did you have an idea of it was going to be a trilogy who was going to be about

Bethany
once Cal came on the page early on. And he comes on very early. He’s in the first scene. Okay. I was like, okay, you’re the next hero. Like you’re just because I kept having to rein him in. Okay. I mean, he’s been, I mean, he’s just a walking snark fest anyway, but like, I just kept having to rein him in. I’m like, dude, like, can it you get a book is okay, you can show like, You’re next. Okay, fine. So there was no like, I mean, it was funny, I actually read something somewhere where they’re talking about if you’re, if you’re writing a trilogy, then like, you have to make sure that you want to read the last one. And so like, take the most popular character and put the put them at the end. So in some ways, it was just by the seat of my pants. And at the very, very end of any, it made the very end. It’s like the last three pages, though. It’s in the epilogue, there’s a guy that’s on the page. For people that haven’t read it. I don’t want to spoil them. I don’t want to spoil it. But there’s, he’s on the page, like a page. Like literally like, just like a page. But he started talking. And he again, he was, like, funny as hell, and really, really loud in my head. And now Oh, oh, you’re the hero for Book Three. And so what I ended up with was actually every hero and heroine in the trilogy is either discussed or active in the first book.

Elle
So did you sell the trilogy when you when you sold it? Or did you sell book one? Okay.

Bethany
It was a three book deal. Okay, three book deal. That’s it. And so, oh, and because this, this podcast will probably be live in June, is relevant information. Any work we’ll do is going to be a Kindle monthly deal. And which of course means that the other formats will will definitely match. But it’ll be only be $1.99 for the entire month of June. Oh, so.

Elle
So the book that we’re talking about? It’s on sale for 99? Oh, remind me to do a social post because I don’t know if this will be out in time for that. Yeah. For all of my that come out till July. Okay. All of you. Luckily backlog for a while there, I was not backlogged. And then my day job got really busy. And so I moved at like an every other week schedule for the podcast. And now I’ve got a good a good backlog of interviews again. So I might go back to the weekly release. Now that my day job is kind of calming down again. The day jobs call me capital. Juggling, it has got to just be so hard. It is fun. Yeah. Yeah, it’s not my favorite thing. But yeah, um, so I’m not entirely sure when this will go out. But I don’t think we’ll make it for June. So if you don’t mind me, I’ll totally do a social media post about about it, though, because it’s a really wonderful, wonderful book, and people should buy it. Well, thank you, along with the second one and the third. And we have a by then there’ll be like, no waiting, and they could just dive into the second one. Well, I mean, that’s sort of the great thing, right? Is like So does this mean you’re a plotter or a pantser? Because I didn’t ask that before. Um, you know, I

Bethany
what I usually tell people like the example I usually give I am the dad who’s on the road trip and who’s lost and refuses to ask for directions. I like I know where I’m going, but I have no idea we’re having getting there. I love it. So I’m like halfway between a plotter and a pantser.

Elle
There were right there with you. Okay, so Bethany, where can readers find you on the internet?

Bethany
My website is Bethany Bennett author.com I am Beth writes kissing books on Instagram and honestly I’ve really love Instagram the most I have to admit I love Instagram

Elle
That’s where you live

Bethany
That’s that’s kind of where I like to live. Twitter if you are a diehard Twitter person you can find me at Bethany romance. And I, I do pop in over there but I don’t I don’t share as much personal stuff. I don’t you know, whereas Instagram is really trying to get to know me.

Elle
You’re great on IG. I will say that you I love your Instagram posts.

Bethany
That’s definitely that’s definitely the format where I’m like, this is me. Do you like coffee? Do you like cats? Do you like kissing books? If so, you’re in the right place.

Elle
Are you TikTok?

Bethany
I’m not on tik tok and my daughter is big on tik tok. She has like 20,000 followers. Oh my god. Yeah. And part of me was like, teach me Your ways. And part of me is like, No, I can’t like I just can’t, I can’t handle one more platform. You can find me Bethany historical romance on Facebook, I have a page there. And I also have a private reader group that’s called the hive. That’s the beehive. And so you can find me there and join there. The Hive is still really small. It’s just like my little intimate reader group is still very small, but they get the fun stuff. Like all they get all the news first. They got, you know, live reading that I’m working on, they get things like that. That’s what that’s what they get, basically, for putting up with my crap, they get

Elle
So you you read some of the stuff that you’re working on before it’s edited and stuff you’ll bring in they’re so brave. Yeah.

Bethany
This is probably gonna completely change by the time it actually hits the thing.

Elle
I love that idea, though. That’s really brave. I always wonder like, what am I gonna do for a live if I go like, if I do a live? What do I do for and that is actually a very brave thing to do. And I might, I might try that. I don’t

Bethany
Yeah, like for Christmas, we did like an ugly sweater party that was just like a big Zoom Room where everyone showed up. And and I and I read the first chapter of any Western girl because this was back at Christmas time. And so you know, broke had only been out for like three months. And so I read the first the first chapter of Western IRL at that point. And I were like the most ridiculous sweater you’ve ever seen in your entire life. And I jingled every time I moved. It was really fun. Excellent. So yeah, so there’s, there’s that that little group, and with the promo I’m doing, like a giveaway type of thing that’s just for my hive members. And what I did was because I tried to kind of put sensory elements into the books, you know, you try to really like let them let the reader be there. And as a result, and I also have an editor who’s like, what do they smell like? So I, I ended up I thought, Well, okay, I actually made little fumes that are. It’s hobo oil, beeswax, central oils, that are each heroines scent, oh, how fabulous. And I’m doing a little giveaway that’s just for and it’s just like, it’s each, they’re just little perfumes. And I mean, you can always like order more, and you know, then you end up paying for whatever, like if we, if you like, totally fall in love with it. But my sister is an aroma therapist. And so we went, we got to work in the kitchen and made little sample. Little tubs like the little cosmetic samplers that are like point one, seven ounces or something. And so it’s a little sample of all of the all of the heroines and their sense. And, and that’s kind of like a giveaway that I’m doing for my hive members that that’s just for just for them. And it’s just for this, this release. And my, my publicist really liked the idea. So she’s taking 50 sets, and she’s giving them to reviewers that are like, like, first come first serve kind of thing, like as a thank you gift from me. But otherwise, the other 100 sets that I have are all going to go to hive members. So I do have I tried to stay active on the social media platforms. But I also try and trying to limit the number of social media platforms.

Elle
It’s a lot. It’s It really is. It’s a lot. Yeah. turned into a full time job. And it very easily, very, very easily. So yeah, I think thank you so much for being here. It was such a treat to talk to you. Well, thank you for having me. I’m sorry. I ended up being so long, but it was an absolute joy to talk to you. Oh, no, it was totally worth it. I’m I’m not really I don’t worry about time so much. So we weren’t sitting here going well, I don’t know what to say. What do you want to say? I don’t know what to say there are definitely very few awkward pauses. You can come back any time. So we should do this again.

Bethany
I appreciate that. I’m looking forward to it. And maybe next time we could do see where our Fee is a total badass. Yeah, by that point, it’s not a spoiler.

Elle
Yes. Yes. Yes, you have to come back to do that. Yeah, we Have a plan guys. Awesome. Thank you.

Bethany
Thank you for having me.