Ep #202


This week Meka and Melinda, aka Melinka, continue our Friends to Lovers theme with special guest author Mina Waheed and introduce the F2L spinoff trope “My Ex’s Mom”


> MEKA WHITE (she/her) is the voice behind BookAbility.me where she writes about her adventures in reading romance and being visually impaired. Meka loves pushing books and can’t wait to share her favorites with you. When she’s not reading, Meka also enjoys singing and exploring the Pacific Northwest with her guide dog, Treble. You can follow Meka on Twitter @Mektastic

> MELINDA UTENDORF (she/her) was that child reading Baby-Sitters Club and Sweet Valley High books with a flashlight until 2 a.m. and checking out stacks of books from the library every week. After getting sick of ‘important’ books in her English degree classes, she turned to romance and HEAs and hasn’t looked back since. Melinda spends her time doing puzzles, listening to podcasts, and helping as admin for @RomanceSparksJoy. When she’s not busy with all of that, she’s a freelance editor or talking about books as @MelindaEdits


MINA WAHEED (she/her) Mina grew up on TV and K-pop like many in her generation, and is a romance reviewer, sensitivity reader, and occasional writer. You can visit Mina’s website at https://minawaheed.carrd.co/ or follow her on Twitter @RomanceMina



NOTE: These notes include affiliate links to Bookshop.org and Amazon.com to support the RBP transcript project

NOTE: This episode was recorded in late July during the coronavirus pandemic of 2020

> “Melinka” is Meka and Melinda’s cute portmanteau

> Have you read a romance where the female MC ditches the guy for the mom? Will someone please write us this romance? Pretty please?!

> Do you have an ideal friends to lovers equation? Do they have to be friends from childhood? Or are adult friends better? Or do you just go with the flow?


> Title: Wrong to Need You (Forbidden Hearts #2)

Author: Alisha Rai

Relation to theme: Friends to lovers

Representation: South Asian author, bi MC, autistic MC, Asian MCs

Content Warnings: wrongfully accused of arson (past), sibling death (past), spouse death (past)

Bookshop: https://bookshop.org/lists/hosts-meka-melinda-s-recs

Kindle: https://amzn.to/3bVav26

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/34217566-wrong-to-need-you

> RELATED: Here’s Corey Alexander’s list of recommended autism rep in romance

Link: https://coreysbookcorner.wordpress.com/2019/04/25/recs-for-autistic-representation-in-books-and-stories/

> Title: Wanna Bet?

Author: Talia Hibbert

Relation to theme: Friends to lovers

Representation: Black author, autistic author, queer author, Black MC, Asian MC

Content Warnings: parental neglect and abandonment, parental death, alcohol dependence

Bookshop: unavailable

Kindle: https://amzn.to/2ZxbMre

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/39835958-wanna-bet

> RELATED: Here’s Corey Alexander’s interview with author Talia Hibbert from 2018

Link: https://coreysbookcorner.wordpress.com/2018/09/20/interview-with-talia-hibbert/

> Title: Graham’s Delicacies

Author: Mina Waheed

Relation to theme: Friends to lovers

Representation: Muslim author, queer author, queer MCs

Content Warnings: parental death, misgendering that’s challenged on page

Bookshop: not available

Kindle: https://amzn.to/3kkoSQL

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/43498882-graham-s-delicacies

> RELATED: Here’s Corey Alexander’s interview with Mina Waheed from 2019

Link: https://coreysbookcorner.wordpress.com/2019/03/07/interview-with-em-ali/

> Title: Soft on Soft

Author: Mina Waheed

Relation to theme: Friends to lovers

Representation: Muslim author, queer author, queer MCs

Content Warnings: anxiety, panic attacks

Bookshop: not available

Kindle: https://amzn.to/3bWbijr

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/41207417-soft-on-soft

> RELATED: Here’s Corey Alexander’s interview with June & Selena, the MCs from Soft on Soft

Link: https://coreysbookcorner.wordpress.com/2018/09/07/character-interview-with-june-and-selena-from-soft-on-soft/

> Title: Jericho Candelario’s Gay Debut

Author: R. Cooper

Relation to theme: Friends to lovers

Representation: Queer MCs

Content Warnings: parent’s alcoholism, references to parental mental illness, references to parental queer antagonism, self medication through use of valium

Bookshop: unavailable

Kindle: https://amzn.to/2FB0pYl

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/40367605-jericho-candelario-s-gay-debut

> Also mentioned Hottie Scotty and Mr. Porter, also by R. Cooper, but not Friends to Lovers

Bookshop: unavailable

Kindle: https://amzn.to/33vo3xF

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/30758552-hottie-scotty-and-mr-porter

> Title: Like Lovers Do

Author: Tracey Livesay

Relation to theme: Friends to lovers

Representation: Black author, Black MCs

Content Warnings: evil ex, racism

Bookshop: https://bookshop.org/lists/hosts-meka-melinda-s-recs

Kindle: https://amzn.to/2Ro245V

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/52167727-like-lovers-do

> RELATED: Tracey Livesay also recently appeared on the Fated Mates podcast where they discussed Friends to Lovers

Link: https://fatedmates.net/episodes/tag/Tracey+livesay

> Title: “Echo of Silence” (Wild Embrace: A Psy-Changeling Collection)

Author: Nalini Singh

Relation to theme: Friends to lovers

Representation: Asian author

Content Warnings: tbd

Bookshop: https://bookshop.org/lists/hosts-meka-melinda-s-recs

Kindle: https://amzn.to/3iBwoWX

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/28008158-wild-embrace

> This month’s Melinka shout-out is #RomanceClass and the new YouTube web series “Hello Ever After” which they debuted over the summer 

Link: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCkDe6gOJNwjxPjfnCMVS8iA

Link: https://twitter.com/romanceclassbks

> What are your #InclusiveRomance Friends to Lovers favorites? Tag us @RomBkPod or share with us in the comments

Happy Reading!


Music: “Lift Off” by Jahzzar

From the Free Music Archive

CC BY-SA 3.0


MEKA [00:00:02] Hi, everybody. Welcome back to RomBkPod: Inclusively Yours. And season two! And we are starting it off with, well, continuing with our theme this month, which is Friends to Lovers. And I have my wonderful, fabulous co-host, Melinda. 

MELINDA [00:00:22] Hello. 

MEKA [00:00:23] Hey! And with us, we have a fabulous, fabulous guest. We have Mina Waheed. Hi, Mina. 

MINA [00:00:31] Salaam alaikum. Hi. 

MEKA [00:00:34] I’m just so glad. We’re so, so glad that you’re here. Thank you so much for joining us. 

MINA [00:00:38] Thank you for having me. 

MEKA [00:00:40] So I want to kind of dig in to this trope of friends, of friends to lovers. And so I’m going to pose this question for for all of us to have a discussion. What is it about this trope that makes it so different? You know what makes it so appealing? And I’m going to toss it to…I’m going to toss it to you first, Melinda. 

MELINDA [00:01:07] Actually, I like friends to lovers because it is comforting. It is comforting because, what is better than a friend? Like, everybody loves that nice and comfortable friend. But then you spice it up with some lovers. Like, I don’t know. There’s nothing better than that. Like a little friends to lovers. And then you get that little spiciness that…I don’t know. I just, it’s so nice and comfortable. 

MEKA [00:01:42] Yeah, it’s a very comforting, it’s a very comforting thing. And how about you, Mina? 

MINA [00:01:46] I agree a lot with Melinda said, because it is very comforting to sort of, like, see this person you’ve known for a long time or like a brief time–depends on the kind of friendship you’ve had–to see them in a new…not different light, but a new light. It’s like, like it feels very digging into something you already like and you just liking it more and more, and it’s like a person and I feel like it’s just comforting. That’s a great word, Melinda. Thank you so much for using it because I’m going to use the entire time now. 

[00:02:20] <laughter> 

MELINDA [00:02:23] But what’s better than that, that moment that an author gives you? Like when that light turns on like that, friend to lovers light…when all of a sudden that light bulb, you know, when all of a sudden, they get that, that moment when that light bulb goes from friends to lovers? Oh, it’s so…It’s beautiful. 

MINA [00:02:47] It’s gorgeous, yeah I agree. It’s like, we know coming into the book that it’s gonna be friends lovers. So, we’re like, “haha, your friends and you’re gonna kiss.” It’s like we’re reading it and you’re like, “ha-ha, jokes on you! You’re going to end up happily ever after together.” And it’s like, we’re excited for them, but they have no clue. The poor, poor bastards, they have no idea. I’m so sorry. 

MEKA [00:03:13] No, it’s OK. You could say that. 

MINA [00:03:16] The poor bastards have no idea what’s coming to them. And we’re just like,”<laugh> yes, go on.” But then it happens to you in real life and you’re like, “oh, my God, I’m the poor bastard.”. 

[00:03:26] <laughter> 

MEKA [00:03:32] I just want to talk about this for a second because I feel like I feel like I’m on the opposite spectrum here. I love friends to lovers. It is one of my favorite tropes. But I love it, I love it because out of out of like all the guys that I’ve dated, there’s only ever been one of them that I still was like we started out as friends, we dated, we broke up, and then we were still able to be friends. And so, I read the friends to lovers trope because I am definitely afraid that a friend is gonna be like, “you know, Meka, I like you a whole lot,” and I’m just commitment-phobic and would be like, “no! We are keeping our friendship. You’re gonna keep it in your pants or not. But we’re still going to be friends. And that’s, that’s how it’s going to work.” And so, and so, for me, it’s just kind of like, oh, there’s a situation in this book where it actually where it actually is going to work out. And the beauty of this right now is that my window was open and someone was walking under it as I just yelled out of it, “you’re gonna keep it in your pants!” 

[00:04:39] <laughter>. 

MEKA [00:04:39] But I just, I just always I would rather date a stranger because then, someone that is not my friend, because then when, when we inevitably break up, I will… 

MINA [00:04:52] Inevitably? Wow, you’re so hopeful. 

[00:04:52] <laughter> 

MINA [00:04:59] Like it’s inevitable, “we are going to break up.” 

MEKA [00:05:02] We have when we when we break up, I will, I will be able to be like, “OK, well you’re not we don’t have to have a friend breakup or anything like that. We, we can just go on our merry ways and hopefully I can still talk to your moms,” because everyone’s parents I’ve ever, when I’ve ever dated someone, their parents have always been the great ones and I just wanted to be like, “well, I don’t like you, but can I just keep your mom? She’s awesome.” So… 

MINA [00:05:25] Oh, the moms would love to keep to the life you like. Yeah. There are so many moms I miss right now because I’ve let go of those people in my life. I miss those moms, though, and their cooking.

MEKA [00:05:38] Exactly, exactly. So that’s my that’s my, that’s my motto: ditch the dude, keep the mom. Through. 

MINA [00:05:46] True. Very true. 

MEKA [00:05:48] Melinda had no idea I was so jaded. 

MELINDA [00:05:50] Um, no. I want to read those romances about ditch the dude, keep the mom. 

MINA [00:05:55] Falling in love with the mom!

MELINDA [00:05:57] Oh my God. Where is that? 

MINA [00:05:59]  Falling in Love with My Ex’s Mom: coming to you in 2021. 

MEKA [00:06:00] Yes! 

[00:06:00] <laughter> 

MEKA [00:06:07] Someone write this. 

MINA [00:06:08] Maybe it should be my next sapphic romance. Falling in love with my ex’s mom because she makes me good food. 

[00:06:13] <laughter> 

MINA [00:06:13] That’s, that’s the [inaudible]. 

MELINDA [00:06:16] OK, you see I’m OK with this. I have zero issues with that. 

MINA [00:06:21] I got one buyer already. Great, this is great news. Who knew I would walk into this podcast and come out with an idea for a book. 

MEKA [00:06:30] See, look at that. I am glad we could be a part of this. 

MELINDA [00:06:35] You’ll be in the acknowledgments. 

[00:06:38] <laughter>. 

MEKA [00:06:39] So who’s…at what point when you’re reading friends to lovers, how…is there a length of time that the friendship that you find it sweeter? So do you find it sweeter if it’s like, you know, they’ve been friends since childhood? Or, you know, there’s a length of time it all matter to you? Or what do you need to see that makes it? That makes you believe that they will be able to move from one, you know, from one place to the other. Starting out as friends and eventually ending up like as lovers?

MELINDA [00:07:10] I don’t think it matters. I think that, Meka, I would think that you are like some chemistry person, because every time you have a conversation, you have like this formula that you want. And I’m like, well, whatever the author wants I will read. I am basically more like whatever works, works like it’s more like, you know, some mystery that is, you know, alchemical and just, whatever works. I don’t know. It’s just so mysterious. 

MINA [00:07:43] It should be a Mystery, Unsolved. Romance to the lovers: what makes it work? Like other. 

MEKA [00:07:49] And I’m really crappy at math. So, you know.

MINA [00:07:51] Oh, me too. Me too. I’m so bad at math. It’s hilarious.

MELINDA [00:07:55] Do you have like some like specific formula that you like? Meka or Mina either one of you. 

MINA [00:08:02] I’ll let Meka go first because, you know, maybe you’ll have some wisdom for us. 

MEKA [00:08:08] I don’t know if I have any wisdom but… 

[00:08:11] <laughter>. 

MEKA [00:08:11] OK. I want, if I’m reading friends to lovers, I really need to be convinced of their friendship before there’s, and it’s not enough, It’s not enough for me to read a book and it start out that we’re just supposed to believe that they are friends. You know, I need I need a little history there or something to submit in my mind that that this would not. Absolutely. Would not have worked as like a one-night stand book or, you know, as like strangers meeting kind of book. But I really need to see some of that friendship in there and to see how their friendship functions before I can believe that they are going to that they are friends enough to be able to move on to the lovers part. So I kind of think that, like the child, the ones where they’re friends since childhood seemed to work especially well for me because, you know, if you’ve been friends with someone since childhood, like they have seen all your shit. Like they’ve seen you when you were great, they’ve seen you when you are not so great, and you’ve seen them at their best and at their worst. And a foundation like that, moving on to like adulthood and all of the things that happen when you’re an adult and the different stages of your life, I just I just really love like the childhood sweethearts, the childhood sweethearts one because I just I just like to see, you know, when they start sharing, like, childhood memories with each other or maybe they both went through like something really difficult and they were both able to make it on the other side of that, you know, I just I just like to see that foundation. 

MINA [00:09:57] That’s really cute. I’ve been trying to think of what I like about friends to lovers and when you mentioned about person knowing me from a long, long, long time and I just thought, that’s not friends to lovers, that’s friends to enemies. Eventually I feel that person for knowing so much about me. And also, because, like my friendships, I’ve always been a bit rocky. But I think what you what you said about that is very, very true, because not having that person knows you so much. I can be so great. But also, like, be very interesting, like, OK. You’ve known them since you were kids. But how will you and a relationship change or not change you? How would you react with that kind of person? How would the main characters in a book deal with that? I like that a lot. I also think I like friendships that start in the middle and the beginning of the book like they need for the first time and they become friends and then be good. But that means a lot of slow burn. Like the book needs to be at least a three-book series, like the same couple and all books, or at least for the book to be like really long and for the slow burn to be agonizingly slow. Look, I think I need that personally because I, I wouldn’t buy it if, as you said, like they just met and like, “oh, we best friends and we’re gonna date now.” I was like, “when did you become friends?” Like, it takes me three years minimum to call someone friend. So, I don’t like. 

MELINDA [00:11:27] Wow, look at that. You just blew my mind. 

MEKA [00:11:31] Mine too. 

MINA [00:11:33] It’s like, it’s very hard to admit that someone is a friend to me because first that this is going to be too much information. But like it’s a friendship itself is a very sensitive, important relationship. And someone’s life, like… 

MELINDA [00:11:52] It is! 

MINA [00:11:52] I wouldn’t want anyone just call me their friend and I wouldn’t call anyone my friend. Like, I have acquaintances, I have colleagues, I have even family members that are not my friends, you know? So, yeah. And I think it brings a lot into what kind of like a like a sexual identity the characters have. Like sometimes I love reading friends to lovers, if like there’s an asexual character or the character is exploring their attraction to people and they go to the person they trust the most, their best friend or like someone who, who they really like as a friend, and it just hits me so hard when that thing happens, when they’re like, I don’t trust anyone but you. I wouldn’t want to do anything but look with someone else, like, just I’m just like, aww, OK. I love this. 

MELINDA [00:12:42] That’s a really good point, though. I hadn’t thought about that. That’s a really good point. 

MINA [00:12:48] Yeah. Like, because I’m demisexual and like it plays a lot into my own personal life. And in books I’m always thinking about, OK, like is it how is their friendship going to change or not change? Because something that a lot of “just friends,” notions and books that I really don’t care for I want to say. Because there’s more things as, “just friends” and then there’s more, like, more than friends. It’s kind of like a bit insults me because like. What do you mean? Friendship is not as important as relationships or romantic relationship? Because, like, sometimes friendship is even more important than a romantic relationship. As Meka said earlier, like, I wouldn’t want to lose a friend, I would gladly lose the boyfriend or ex-girlfriend or whatever and keep their mom. And like I would never, ever lose a friend like that would be so heartbreaking. What a worst heartbreak than a romantic heartbreak like. 

MELINDA [00:13:44] Yeah, we’re all on the same page with that. I can definitely agree with that. 

MINA [00:13:48] Like friends, friendship break ups are the worst. And I would do anything to like have my friends around. But if it was like a romantic situation, I’d be like, “OK, I guess this is the end. We disagree on Oreo flavors, so this is goodbye. Blocked.” 

MEKA [00:14:04] Not block. 

MINA [00:14:08] Actually, I’m very casual when I block. I’m like, “no offense, but you hate mustard, so bye.” “You hate pickles? Goodbye.”

MEKA [00:14:18] Well, having blocked someone over, over Beyonce, over how they felt about Beyonce I completely understand. 

MINA [00:14:26] It’s totally important, if they’re [inaudible] Beyonce, it is the slightest bit weird or like, you know, some people come off as disrespectful towards Beyonce. And I’m just like, “oh, you did not just say that. Goodbye. Don’t ever talk to me.” 

MEKA [00:14:39] You can catch this block. So, my next question. This is so fun. I love this so much. So my next question is just when you’re reading. Like when we’re reading friends to lovers, is there something that clicks where you’re like, oh, now there…now it’s all in place. You know, now they’ve moved from, from like the friend category to the lovers category, you know, to the relationship to the romantic relationship stage. Is there something? Is it like a scene or do you think that it tends to happen in your mind, like more organically and where you’re just reading it and all of a sudden you could not think of, you know, you could not think of these protagonists as anything but being in a romantic relationship? So, I hope that makes sense. I’m going to toss this at you first, Mina. 

MINA [00:15:37] Oh, me. Is there a moment where I think, oh, they’re lovers? I was thinking about the mom thing. Oh, they met each other’s parents. Is it for life? 

MEKA [00:15:50] Yes. 

MINA [00:15:51] Oh, I was. I also think about, like, sexual chemistry if the book has it. The book has, like, you know, that tension. 

MELINDA [00:16:01] A lot of times with friends to lovers, when you say sexual chemistry a lot of times. It’s like that moment when they like have that sexual chemistry and they’re like, holy crap. They, they have that, and they’re like, “Oh, my god. I have that moment of seeing them as a sexual being for that first time.” And they’re all like, “Oh, my god, I can’t believe that we’re having this.” As opposed to, you know, “I’ve always loved this person as a friend. And now they’re a sexual person and oh, holy crap. We can’t go back.” 

MINA [00:16:37] Yeah, that’s interesting to me because I, like, in my culture we don’t like we don’t have physical contact with men. Women don’t have physical contact with men. We hardly even talk to them alone one on one. So, I always think, like when I had guy friends, I would think, hmmm, would I date this man? Like, it just I would like this person is my friend. But would I date him? I don’t think I’ve ever had that moment of like, oh, sexual chemistry happened between us because that’s something that’s just not part of the, part of the equation for me. Or, like, I think for a lot of women here in the Middle East, like, look, I don’t, I don’t think we think with that kind of part of our body. 

MELINDA [00:17:24] Right. It would be a completely different thing for, for your culture. That would be a completely different effect for you guys then. 

MINA [00:17:30] But when I read Western books like American books like British, you know. 

MELINDA [00:17:35] Right, right. 

MINA [00:17:37] There is always this moment of, like, they kissed? Whether it’s like drunk or whether they did it on purpose or to, like, fool someone into thinking they’re dating, whether they’re not, you know, fake dating for life. And I will always go like, wow, they could do that! Wow, you could kiss her, like, your friend? You’re not scared at all of, like, ruining everything. So, like, I like that moment when they, like, act on their attraction or a comfort, maybe like, “this person that I really like, like, I wouldn’t mind holding their hand for the rest of my life.” And I just love that. I love when it’s integrated into the story, like explain it properly. I’m not even doing a good job. 

MELINDA [00:18:21] No, I just see that it’s different for, you know, whatever culture that you come from. I think that we all relate to the books differently. And so, I think that so whatever it would be for me and what I think would be that moment would be different for what that moment would be for you. So, I just think that’s really interesting to look at it in a different way, which had not occurred to me before, even though I read, you know, different books from different cultures. So, that’s really interesting to think about. 

MINA [00:18:52] Yeah. What’s the moment that, like, hooks you onto the friends to lovers? Like, is it like the first touch or like first kiss or even like meeting the parents or like cooking together. Oh my god, I need to read a book like that. I need it. 

MELINDA [00:19:08] I love when they cook together. It’s the best. 

MEKA [00:19:11] Oh gosh. And they’re just doing these tasks, these different tasks together and… 

MINA [00:19:16] So hungry for love. 

MELINDA [00:19:19] And just like so sweet. Yeah, I love that. Yep, I’m with that. 

MEKA [00:19:23] The thing for me I think is when, when it really clicks in my head is, I love it when people are protective of each other. 

MINA [00:19:33] Oh yes. 

MEKA [00:19:34] And, and when they show that, when they show that side of that protectiveness, you know, I’m just like, “Yes, I’m sold.” You know, like just hook me up! And when they are just doing like what we might consider as mundane things together. So, you know, or going on…I really like books that feature friends going on dates together. And then. 

MINA [00:19:59] Yeah. 

MEKA [00:20:00] And then they’re like, “The light spilled over her hair. And all of a sudden it just wasn’t just her hair. It was the embodiment of everything he ever wanted in his entire life.” 

MINA [00:20:11] Yes! Yes! 

[00:20:11] <laughter> 

MEKA [00:20:18] Or, you know, like, “When she heard him laugh it wasn’t just any old laugh. It was this roving, booming laugh that just wrapped around her senses and squeezed them tightly, and she was so happy about it. And I love him. I love him so much.”. 

MINA [00:20:33] Write that book right now.

MEKA [00:20:35] I’m just like, OK. 

[00:20:37] <laughter>. 

MINA [00:20:37] Write it. I demand you write it. 

[00:20:38] <laughter> 

MEKA [00:20:40] So I like to see them, like, just go and then when they’re in that, like, slippery slide, that’s when they think that it can be controlled. Like, “Oh I can control my feelings. I’m good. I got this. All right. Go into a party, doesn’t mean anything. Go to a party with my friend. Oh damn.”. 

MINA [00:20:58] That reminds me. 

MEKA [00:20:58] “Keep these feelings to myself.”

MINA [00:21:04] That reminds me, I really like situations with the family. Like, “Please come to me to this Thanksgiving dinner that I really would not like to go to alone.” Like, they don’t even want a big date or anything, but like, “I’m bringing along this friend who everyone thinks I should date, but I don’t personally think we should date because we’re such good friends. And why would I want to ruin that friendship?” Anyways, they go to the thing together and like some rude aunt or uncle, probably, you know, like said something awful and the friend defends them and like and I just let go of a sigh because this was beautiful thing ever. Someone defending my honor. Very Medieval of me, but yes, I would love that. 

MEKA [00:21:51] I’m right there with you. For me, it could be a stranger. A stranger can come defend my honor. But then you have to leave, like, “Take me with you because we’re leaving. We’re leaving. I need I need I need a way out that I have to call Uber to leave my family, and then and then I’m dumping you.” All right, so…on to my next question. We’re going to talk about some books. So, I’m going to let our guests go first. Mina, what are some of your favorite friends to lovers books?

MINA [00:22:21] I also love second chance friendship romance. Like, does makes sense? Like, “we were friends a long time ago, something happened, and we have to stop being friends, and then we’re reconnect in the future.” But, like, “we’ve always kind of like has romantic feelings for each other but things stood in the way.” And that book is, for me is Wrong to Need You by Alisha Rai. 

MELINDA [00:22:43] Oh! 

MINA [00:22:44] Exactly. That is exactly that. 

MELINDA [00:22:47] Oh, my god. 

MEKA [00:22:48] I’ve been meaning to read this book. I know I need to. 

MINA [00:22:52] Oh, my god. Please hang up right now. 

MEKA [00:22:53] OK, bye!

MELINDA [00:22:54] Oh, it’s so angsty, it’s so good. 

MINA [00:22:59] It’s so good. It’s like, I can’t stop thinking about it good. It’s like, as I said, it’s like second chance friendship, romance, friendship, romance. So, where they used to be friends and then she marries his brother and then the spoiler to say the brother passes away. And then the Jackson, the guy, the hero, he has to go away for some personal reasons. I don’t want to talk too much because I don’t remember that well and because, um, yeah. Anyway, so and then Sadia, the heroine, has a lot of lingering feelings about that. Like there are some moments that I don’t really want to talk about because it’s just so good to read them between them. But it’s like their friendship to lovers is like decades old. It’s like, “Yes, I’ve known you since you were young. I’ve loved you since you were young and we were young,” and they’re similar ages. I think she’s older than him, too. Yeah. And when they reconnect in the future, in the present time, is just so good because you get to see them as like kind of like functioning adults or like, like them. But there are still something they need to learn about each other because of the whole gap in their life. I think it was like 10 years. 

MELINDA [00:24:15] It’s soapy and angsty and just so good and mental health rep. 

MINA [00:24:21] And really there’s a scene in the car that I sweat about sometimes. Yes, it’s very sexy. I think Alisha Rai did such an amazing job with the series that I think is one of my all-time favorite romance series because it just has drama, has comedy, not a lot of comedy, it’s not a rom-com. It’s mostly like but like, yeah, this, this book…

MELINDA [00:24:45] It’s excellent. That series. Yeah. It’s definitely like superb. All three books are excellent. 

MINA [00:24:52] Yeah, I did that. That year of reading these books was like the best year. I will never recover from that. Like, it was the it was the greatest thing I’ve ever read. It kind of like hooked me onto Alisha Rai’s writing and brand basically. I just wanted, yeah, more please! Don’t ever let me go. And so, yeah. I have another one. Similarly, I will die because I love this book so much. Wanna Bet? By Talia Hibbert. 

MEKA [00:25:19] Right. Yes. 

MELINDA [00:25:22] I knew you were going to bring her up because you love her so much. 

MINA [00:25:26] My friend is Talia Hibbert’s lover. 

MELINDA [00:25:30] Yes. 

MINA [00:25:30] So, if her boyfriend allows, I will become her girlfriend in a second. I can’t, I can’t. She knows this. 

[00:25:35] <laughter>. 

MINA [00:25:39] We DM. 

MEKA [00:25:41] It’s such a great book. And if there is ever…I just need you to know that I’m like, I never really, when I read books, I don’t self-insert, like, you know, sometimes people are like, “who’s who…which character are you in a book?” And I don’t, I don’t really do that. But if I were, I would definitely be Jasmine. 

MINA [00:26:04] I think we would all love to be Jasmine. 

MEKA [00:26:07] Like, I definitely have her, like, commitment fears and her, like, how she was like, “OK. Oh, god you like me? WTF?”

[00:26:15] <laughter> 

MINA [00:26:19] Personally, I would love to be Rahul because Jasmine is such a catch. I love her. Her brand of chaotic is just…love to fall in love with that someday. So, Wanna Bet? is about two friends who have known each other for seven years. We all know this, but like dear listeners, if if this is the first time you hear about Wanna Bet? by Talia Hibbert, go buy it. Basically, they meet, they met seven years ago in university. And from the first meeting, which is told from Rahul’s point of view, he’s always thought of Jasmine as a goddess. Basically, she is the, she is the end game for him. She is the love of his life. But because, as Meka said, Jasmine has a lot of commitment issues, which I think are resolved so beautifully in the book. I actually like cry thinking about that book sometimes I’m just, like, I love it so much. It’s, like, it’s one of those books that gives the heroine so much space to change and grow. And as a friend, Rahul’s relationship with Jasmine, some people say they don’t like friends to lovers because, oh, he’s always looked at her as, you know, like a romantic partner. But that’s not the case for Rahul because while he does think of her as a romantic, but then he, he thinks literally like once in his life forever. And they have to cope with that. Like, how are your emotional and, like, emotional problems are going to get in the way of us being together for life, like friends and lovers, like that should be the trope’s name: friends and lovers. 

[00:27:59] <laughter>

MINA [00:28:00] So, yeah. Wanna Bet? is one of those books that explores friendship and romance so beautifully. And so…can I say the H word? 

MELINDA [00:28:10] Yes. 

MEKA [00:28:11] I would go for it. 

MINA [00:28:12] It’s so horny! 

[00:28:13] <laughter>

MINA [00:28:16] This book is so horny. You will become horny. And I, I’m sorry for that but you will. 

[00:28:21] <laughter> 

MEKA [00:28:25] So, I am, I am pre-resolved Jasmine issues, I am pre-resolved commitment issues person, but Jasmine does resolve them. 

MINA [00:28:36] Yes. 

MEKA [00:28:37] And it takes a lot of I like that book out because it you know, I mean, I like romance and all of its forms, like even when it’s like just super escapist and, you know, like the end doesn’t you know, you don’t really have to do a whole lot of work to get to the end, like when a kiss kind of resolves it. I like that, but what I really like about this one is that they both had to do some work. 

MINA [00:29:00] Yes. And I love how Rahul’s work is shown in flashbacks like also like in the current timeline. But I feel like the current, though, there are two timelines, like the friendship, beginnings and middle and like seven years’ worth of friendship. And then there’s the present where, you know, the plot happens. They’re roommates and there’s a lot of unresolved sexual tension and the whole like daddy mommy issues. They have they have the both quick mommy issues. He has that issues. She has mommy issues. It’s like, well, whose progress was so impressive to me because it didn’t, like, outshine Jasmine. Like in a way, some books focus so much on the hero’s own change and development that I’m like, “OK, but shouldn’t he come as a fully formed, perfect guy?” I don’t care about that. Like, I want to see her flourish and be happy. 

MEKA [00:29:54] Amen. 

MINA [00:29:54] I’m biased. In M/F romances, I’m very biased towards women. I’m just like, um… 

MEKA [00:30:00] Same. 

MINA [00:30:00] Yeah, I’m just up for that changes when I’m reading, like transwomen or like transmen and I’m always on the side, I’m, I’m very biased towards the characters,lLike, if they’re soft or they’re chaotic and they need my help, that’s going to be my, my character. And Jasmine was definitely that. Oh, I love Rahul. I mean I’m a…can I say the S word? 

[00:30:25] <laughter>

MEKA [00:30:25] Yes. 

MINA [00:30:25] I’m a slut for Rahul. 

[00:30:29] <laughter>

MEKA [00:30:29] Oh my goodness. Oh, you crack me up. 

MINA [00:30:34] I’m sorry, I’m asking a lot of, “can I say that word?”

[00:30:36] <laughter>

MINA [00:30:38] Some people don’t like to say words that like which is shocking because I am foul-mouthed.

MEKA [00:30:45] We got you, we got you. Don’t worry. Alright, Melinda! 

MELINDA [00:30:51] I have some excellent recs here. So, we did a not great job of introducing Mina in that she is also an author. 

MEKA [00:31:03] And I’m sorry, I’m terrible. 

MELINDA [00:31:05] No, no, I meant so. I forgot to mention. So, she wrote two deliciously soft books, the aptly named Soft on Soft and Graham’s Delicacies. And Soft and Soft is about a queer as hell. Wait no, Graham’s Delicacies is about a queer as hell bakery, and thinking about it made me think of this other book because they’re both about these, like super soft…oh my gosh. Mina’s books are just really soft and sweet. Like, all of her characters are just soft, like they’re just soft. 

[00:31:49] <laughter> 

MEKA [00:31:52] Are they like getting a hug? Like, you know, you all read something and it’s like drinking hot chocolate and getting a hug? 

MINA [00:31:58] I should copyright the word soft. That would give me a Romancelandia…

[00:31:58] <laughter>

MEKA [00:32:02] Oh, no! 

[00:32:02] <laughter>. 

MELINDA [00:32:02] Yes! 

[00:32:06] That will be the drama. 

MELINDA [00:32:06] Yes. 

MINA [00:32:06] Some unknown Middle Eastern author wants us to stop using the word soft. And then everyone will write books with soft characters. And I will win! 

MEKA [00:32:16] There would be a whole soft anthology coming out. 

MINA [00:32:18] I will win because, guys, I wanted that. I wanted you to stop writing your alpha males and giving me some softer males, OK! 

[00:32:26] <laughter> 

MELINDA [00:32:27] I think we would all win there. I mean, come on. 

[00:32:30] I know, I know. I would be like, you owe me that…everyone owes me a win. 

MELINDA [00:32:35] Yeah, her character are just incredibly soft and they’re like just a big hug. And Soft on Soft, she’s got June and Selena who are just like just cuddly and they have the best cats and anxiety and it’s ridiculously great. And then in Graham’s Delicacies it’s like there’s these three couples and they’re all just soft as hell and I love it. But so, Graham’s Delicacies reminded me of this other book called Jericho Candelario’s Gay Debut by R. Cooper because it’s this queer bakery, and it’s just fun. 

MINA [00:33:21] I love that one. 

MELINDA [00:33:22] It’s so…it’s just so soft. I, that’s just my word to describe certain books and it’s just, Jericho has like spent his whole life taking care of his family. And it’s just this like great big teddy bear. And I just want to be like, give him a great big hug. And he has this like super sweet, supportive teen niece who just really wants him to be happy. And then Lincoln has this bakery and Jericho, they’ve known each other for a long time and they’re friends. And it’s super sweet to see their evolution from like friends to lovers. Like, Jericho just goes to visit them at the bakery and doesn’t like really know what he’s doing. And it’s just adorable and they’re both older. So, they’re like mid to late thirties, which I always love to see. Older characters… 

MINA [00:34:15] There’s also fat representation that I really like in that book. Like, I think Jericho. 

MELINDA [00:34:23] Yeah! 

MELINDA [00:34:23] Or is it Lin… 

MELINDA [00:34:23] No, no, no. It’s Jericho. 

MINA [00:34:25] Jericho. Yeah. I really like the fat representation in that book. It was it was very comforting. I loved that. 

MELINDA [00:34:32] Yeah. It was very I just loved that it was one of the sweetest. It was adorable. I definitely recommend that one super great friends to lovers. And then this next…oh, go ahead. 

MINA [00:34:46] Fun thing about R. Cooper’s writing is that they kind of like inspired me to like write my slice of life books because… 

MELINDA [00:34:56] What! 

MINA [00:34:56] It’s very hard for me to, like, come up with, like a beginning middle, and then like the dramatic breakup. And because I love to read. I just hate writing it because I’m awful. But I loved reading Cooper’s contemporary short. They’re so delicious. It’s like 100 pages or even less sometimes like 60 pages. And you’re just like smacked in the face with how good it is. Like the writing is amazing. The characters are fully formed and like flawed and gorgeous. And the way some scene, you just have to read it a hundred times, just like I understand they went from fucking to kissing and like falling in love with the prose itself. I just, I love R. Cooper’s writing so much. Like, every time they release a new contemporary, I’m like, “I would like to eat it.” 

MELINDA [00:35:48] I like slice of life a lot sometimes. 

MINA [00:35:50] Yeah, me too. 

MEKA [00:35:51] I don’t know that I’ve, I don’t know that I’ve read a slice of life book. 

MELINDA [00:35:55] When it’s…when I’m overwhelmed with life, which is like all of 2020. 

MEKA [00:36:01] I mean… 

MINA [00:36:02] You just want a slice of it. You just want a slice of it. You don’t want the whole cake. 

MELINDA [00:36:05] Right. I mean, that’s all I want to do is just read just a slice of life, of someone else’s life, not mine. And it’s just, I don’t know…R Cooper does a great job of that. I would highly recommend. I think you would really like it, Meka. 

MINA [00:36:23] Yeah, I would recommend other books by R. Cooper, too. I liked Hottie Scotty and Mr. Porter. 

MELINDA [00:36:32] Yes! I read that. 

MINA [00:36:34] It’s not friends to lovers per say. They are, however, like members of the same community. Very good. Very, very good. I love that book. It’s like one of my comfort reads. I read it whenever I’m sad, which is a lot. So yeah, I think I’ve heard quite a few of theirs. 

MEKA [00:36:51] Awesome. And Melinda, did you have any other ones? 

MELINDA [00:36:53] I have one other one that I absolutely have to recommend it because, holy crap. So, Tracey Livesay is just an author that I really like. But her next book, well, I think it just came out recently. This episode will be out in September. So, yeah, it’ll have just come out at the end of August. Like Lovers Do, it’s her next book in her, um, book two in her Girls Trip series. And this book. Oh, my gosh. I love it so much. It features Nik and Ben and this, it’s this group of women who they’ve been friends since college, and they go on a trip every year. But, Nik, is this, like, ridiculously brilliant ortho surgeon in her final year of residency. And she lives with her friend Ben. And Ben, is this, like, super rich. He comes from like super rich family. And his family was like this, like ridiculously rich family doctors. But he didn’t want anything to do with them because he was, like, grossed out by their behavior. He’s like, whatever, and he went into personal finance. So. I don’t know. The author just painted this like ridiculously wonderful picture of their friendship, like right at the beginning of their book. And like, there’s just perfect opening scene of their friendship where it establishes their relationship so well, like she comes home from school and he had cook dinner for them both. And it’s like the super clear but casual scene where it’s clear that he does this all the time. She comes home and they sit down and watch House Hunters together. And it’s such a beautifully put together scene that struck me because it was so crystal clear how their friendship has been for like the last like four years of her residency. And like, it just has stuck with me since I read this book because I was like it was such a perfect way to, like, show their friendship. And like Mina, you were saying before, like where they need to be, like whether or not their friendship and been, like, established since they were children or whatever or where it should be like a three book series or whatever, but like the way she managed to put that together and show their friendship in such a clear way. It was it just really struck me. Oh! The whole thing is beautiful. I love the book. It was perfect and she managed to make hammock sex. They had sex in a hammock, and it was hot, like, this whole book is perfect. I can’t even. Everyone needs to buy it. 

MINA [00:39:40] I like that. 

MEKA [00:39:42] I’m gonna have to read that I I’ve heard Tracy Livesay on a podcast, and she was amazing. So, um, I know we’re getting close to time, so I want to throw in another quick title and then get our… I know that you had a YouTuber that you wanted to mention, Melinda. So, this would not be a RomBkPod episode without me giving a paranormal romance title. And I can’t remember the title, so it will definitely be in this show notes. 

MELINDA [00:40:15] Oh, gosh. 

MEKA [00:40:16] I’m sure that Melinda knows that. So, I have to just bring up Nalini Singh again. And it’s a short story. 

MINA [00:40:22] Yes! 

MEKA [00:40:22] In one of her anthologies, and it is with Stefan and Tazia? You know what I’m talking about? The one where they’re like the undersea station and he’s a tella…he has that thing where he blinks out of from one place to the other place, and they go topside. 

MINA [00:40:41] I’ve never read these books, but I agree. 

[00:40:42] <laughter> 

MEKA [00:40:42] Nobody knows?! 

MELINDA [00:40:42] Wild. No, no, no. It’s Wild Embrace. 

MEKA [00:40:48] Oh, good. OK. Thank you. And I…it’s one of my favorites because It was one of those moments where I read, I read it and it was like, “OK, OK, OK, OK, this is good. Loving this. Loving this. Oh, shit, they love each other?” You know. 

[00:41:09] <laughter> 

MEKA [00:41:09] And I just wasn’t. It just eased so lit into love that before I knew it, like I was like, oh yeah. I guess everything that they really did do was, was friendly, even if some, sometimes it was more of like a begrudging or “I don’t really understand you” kind of friendship. 

MINA [00:41:29] I love friendship. I actually wanted to like drop in a rec that was like that, but… 

MEKA [00:41:35] So, it was just it was just like, you know, I read it and I’m like, “yeah, yeah. Oh, oh, oh.” They love each other. Oh, and they’ve been in love for a while. Where have I been? I’ve just been so in the moment here and oh! Then I read it again like, oh well of course they love each other, you know? 

[00:41:54] <laughter>

MINA [00:41:56] I love that woman. 

MEKA [00:41:58] So I just wanted to drop, I just wanted to drop that in there because I just feel like I just need to find a paranormal romance title for literally every episode. 

MELINDA [00:42:05] The title is, is actually Echo of Silence. And it’s in the anthology Wild Embrace. Just to clarify. 

MEKA [00:42:11] All right. 

MINA [00:42:12] I got it open on Amazon here. 

MELINDA [00:42:13] Yeah, I had to clarify.

MEKA [00:42:16] Thank you. And Melinda do you have a shout out for this week? 

MELINDA [00:42:23] I do so. And I know I’ve talked about Romance Class before, which is the awesome group on Twitter that is amazing, that does some, um, the writing out of all the Philippines that we love. I love a ton of their titles, but they’ve been doing this amazing YouTube web series. I cannot get enough of them. And I highly recommend that people watch it because I think they’re on like their fifth or sixth episode. I love it so much. It is called Hello, Ever After, and I love it. It’s on YouTube and we’ll put the link in the show notes. I just love it. It’s so cute. I think it’s like a half hour per episode, but it’s literally just the cutest thing. And they’ve been producing it over like I think over the last six weeks or so. It’s basically like two people in quarantine, like, talking to each other on video screens, but they’re produced by Romance Class. I cry at least once an episode because they’re so sweet and I’m not a crier. Like, they’re just the cutest things ever. They’re seriously getting me through. I love them so much. I highly recommend them. I just love Romance Class. They’re doing some great things, producing some great books and some great videos to get us through. 

MEKA [00:43:54] That’s so awesome. Thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you. All right. What an action packed, laugh filled, book filled, fun filled episode, which I’m almost thinking that we should just title it: Ditch the Guy, Keep the Mom. 

[00:44:16] <laughter> 

MINA [00:44:16] Ditch the guy, keep the mom!

MEKA [00:44:16]  Mina. Mina, you are so fun and delightful. Thank you so much for being our guest and for talking about this trope with us. It’s been a delight to have you here. 

MINA [00:44:28] Thank you so much for having me. It was such a good time. Honestly, I don’t think I have laughed as much as I left the past few months ago. 

MINA [00:44:38] Yeah. 

MEKA [00:44:40] Well, I’m so glad. And Melinda. Thank you. 

MELINDA [00:44:44] As always, we’re awesome. 

MEKA [00:44:47] Oh, you’re so fun. And, um, and everyone just keep listening in. We’re going to be doing this friends to lovers trope also known as unpacking Meka dating issues. And we will, at least Melinda and I will see you guys later on, so we’ll see all of you later on. So, thank you so, so much for tuning in. 

MELINDA [00:45:11] We hope you have enjoyed this episode of RomBkPod: Inclusively Yours. If you’d like weekly recommendations for inclusive romance, please take a moment to subscribe. You can also follow us on Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest at RomBkPod. That’s R-O-M-B-K-P-O-D. Thank you for joining us. And until next time, happy reading.