We’re doing a giveaway!

To celebrate reaching 1000 followers on Instagram (how did we even get to be that fancy?!?!?) we’re hosting a giveaway. As a “thank you!” we’re giving away three bundles of three books to three winners (three is our magic number, after all).

Historical Romance Bundle
  1. Historical Romance bundle: The Duchess Deal by Tessa Dare, An Heiress to Remember by Maya Rodale, An Extraordinary Union by Alyssa Cole
  1. Contemporary Romance bundle: Finding Joy by Adriana Herrera, Love Hard by Nalini Singh, Hate Crush by Angelina M. Lopez
  1. Bananas Romance bundle: Soulless by Gail Carriger, Some Like it Plaid by Angela Quarles, Ice Planet Barbarians by Ruby Dixon (or another Ruby Dixon of your choice)

To win:

Click this link and submit the entry form. That’s it! We’d love it if you’d follow us on Instagram if you aren’t already, but we’re most excited to spread the smut. #ReadRomance

The Fine Print:

No purchase necessary. Winners must live in the United States and be 18 years of age or older. Closed to entry Friday, August 7, 2020 at 11:59 p.m. EDT. One entry per person. Winners will be announced Monday, August 10, 2020. Giveaway sponsored exclusively by The Smut Report, which will select one winner at random for each of the three packages. Packages including paperback books will be mailed to winners; winner of ebook package will receive ebooks by electronic transfer. All entry forms will be deleted when the giveaway is completed. The giveaway is not sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with Instagram or WordPress or any authors or publishers of books shown.

Let's Talk Tropes

Let’s Talk Tropes: Best Friend’s Sibling

This week we’re doing a bit of housekeeping by focusing only on the Best Friend’s Sibling trope. What that means is, Erin read a bunch of books and wrote a bunch of reviews, but we all keep reading new books and writing reviews, so a little binge is in order. Why not use a little theme week for a trope Erin finds it hard to resist?

To begin, all of the Smut Reporters share their thoughts on Best Friend’s Sibling…

Bottom line: Do you like the Best Friend’s Sibling Trope?

Erin: I am a total sucker for this trope, even though it’s usually ridiculously predictably tropey. More so for the men being besties than for the women being besties. Much more drama that way.

Holly: I can take it or leave it. It’s not a trope I actively seek out, but I’ll happily read a book that features it.

Ingrid: I have a serious soft spot for it…selectively.

What do you think is fun about the trope?

Erin: It’s an excellent melting pot for a scoop of angst (I shouldn’t! But I want to!), a splash of seduction (Let’s succumb to this burning desire!), a pinch of sneaking around (Sibling can’t find out!), and a healthy dose of she’s-worth-fighting-for (not gonna lie, I need it sometimes).

Holly: I do really like it when protagonists already know each other when the book begins. What’s fun about the Best Friend’s Sibling is that they know each other already – but they get to know each other in a completely different way.

Ingrid: I love that there’s a “forbidden” element without necessarily being too…angsty. The ones I like are often rom com, and I love the whole “seeing a whole new person in someone you’ve known your whole life” thing.

What do you find problematic about the trope?

Erin: Some authors are able to create a less problematic dynamic of “Let’s not mess up important relationships with someone we both care about,” but most of the time, this trope involves mad caveman behavior on the part of the sibling, especially if it’s a man/man friend pairing. Independence, good judgement, control – they all get in the mix with caveman sibling behavior.

Holly: There are two popular iterations of this trope: the best friend’s yummy older brother who I’ve been crushing on forever, and the best friend’s pesky younger sister who is suddenly hot. The second one is more problematic for me, mainly because the best friend / older brother also gets involved and is weirdly overprotective of his sister. Bro, if your friend is too lame to date your sister, maybe he’s too lame to be your friend. Just sayin’.

Ingrid: Obviously you walk a fine problematic line of possessiveness. Ideally, the sibling should end up being really happy their two favorite people are hooking up, and those are often just…yummy. However, I absolutely detest when the older brother is a clunky, irrational caveman about the whole thing or when the hero acts like the heroine is someone who needs to be protected from her own urges. That’s gross.

Does the trope work better in a specific sub-genre or time period?

Erin: Given that the primary conflict in this trope tends to be that the sibling (brother) won’t approve, it’s a bit easier to stomach without having wayward thoughts of “wrong!” in historical romance, given that women’s rights and social understandings of equality have evolved in Western civilization over the past couple centuries. On the other hand, having a contemporary sister lay into her brother about his caveman behavior can be pretty entertaining.

Holly: Thinking about this in terms of the problematic side of things, the overprotective brother works better for me in historical romance – it feels less gross caveman and more about acknowledging the economic insecurities of unmarried women. 

Ingrid: Historical certainly takes the edge off the caveman approach, but I have enjoyed it in a historical and a contemporary context.

What’s one book you loved that features this trope? What’s so great about this book and the way it handles the trope?

Erin: I don’t know! 

Holly: Being Hospitable by Meka James. This is a sexy f/f novella where a young woman moves in with / seduces her older brother’s best friend. There’s definitely the dynamic of “Oh, yeah, you’re still the pesky young’un” that allows the characters to banter and play with the boundaries between them, but the brother is not an impediment. In fact, the heroines worry about it for a hot minute, and then Charley calls up her brother (alone – she wants to stand on her own two feet in her relationship with her family), tells him she’s dating his best friend, and…that’s the end of it. 

Ingrid: Charming as Puck, by Pippa Grant. This is the first Pippa I ever read, and I absolutely adored the way she executed the whole thing. Humorous perfection.

Wrap Up

July Wrap Up: Our Favorite Smut This Month

Happy Friday! If you’re looking for something to read this weekend (summer staycation, anyone?) here are our favorites this month.

Erin’s Choice: Boyfriend Material by Alexis Hall

Erin is STILL gushing about this book. Someone else please read it so she stops texting Holly and Ingrid all the time to talk about it.

Ingrid’s Choice: A Good Man by Rosanna Leo

The TL;DR version of Ingrid’s review of this book: she loved it and can’t wait for the next book in the series.

Holly’s Choice: Hate Crush by Angelina M. Lopez

This book is sexy, emotional, and suspenseful, and might have convinced Holly to care about wine making.

Honorable Mentions: The Care and Feeding of Waspish Widows by Olivia Waite and Daring and the Duke by Sarah MacLean and Letters and Lies by Colleen L. Donnolly and actually we read a lot of really excellent books this month and it was really difficult for us to each pick one.

Other Posts:

Coming Soon…

Here’s some of what we’ll be reading in August:

Author Spotlight

Author Spotlight: Pippa Grant

Looking for a new author? Here’s everything you need to know about Pippa Grant, author of Charming as Puck, Humbugged, and Flirting with the Frenemy. You may also recognize her style under the pen name “Jaime Farrell.”

What She Writes:

Contemporary romantic comedy with minimal angst, a heavy dose of absurdity, healthy love stories, and panty-melting love scenes.

What Makes Her Unique:

Pippa Grant weaves tight-knit communities and friend groups from which her multiple series springs with hilarity eternal. She also tends to turn macho contemporary rom-com heroes on their heads after they meet badass heroines.

Writing Style:

She primarily writes alternating 1st person POV. Characters are described through their personalities; you won’t see elaborate or superficial character descriptions.

Her Books in GIF Form:

Why We Love Her:

These books are plain fun and easy to read. Also, she doesn’t shy away from normal awkward behavior and feelings, which is funny. There are multiple entry points for her different series, but you’ll find Easter eggs and cameos from old friends if you keep reading.

She Might Not Be For You If:

You really enjoy an angsty read. Or super domineering heroes.

Notable Quotation: 

“If men are pigs, his body is the bacon, and god help me, I love a good piece of bacon.”

The Pilot and the Puck Up

Content Warnings:

There aren’t a lot of warnings with Pippa Grant, but her characters do tend to be white and privileged.

The Bottom Line:

If you’re having a bad week, read Pippa. If you need to restore your faith in humans, read Pippa. If you’re lonely and missing your friends during this insane pandemic, read Pippa. Basically, if you want to feel good…READ PIPPA.

Start With:

Flirting with the Frenemy (Bro Code #1). Check out her full suggested reading order here.

My First Smut

My First Smut: Time for a Stay-Cation

My First Smut is a recurring feature where we talk about our formative smut experiences. These short confessionals may include such details as: What book did you read? How old were you? Were there other people involved? What made the experience special? What role does smut play in your life?

This week, romance author Willa J. Brand talks about reading Gone with the Wind for the first time.

First romance novel you read:

My first (and still one of my favourites) – Gone with the Wind.

How old were you?

I was an early teen I believe.

How’d you get your hands on the book?

I snagged it in our local library. My mother was a librarian, so I had access to almost any books I wanted from an early age.

What was the reading experience like?

It was love at first read, of course. Scarlett is such a volatile character, I remember ranting to my family about her antics. I’m also a huge fan of the classics, Jane Eyre is front and centre on my home bookshelf. I have become quite an eclectic reader, loving everything from Tolkien to Nora Roberts, but Katie Scarlett will always have a special appeal for me.

What made the experience special?

I had such a visceral reaction to the characters, I think Scarlett was one of the first characters who I could never quite predict. I also went from loving to hating her several times through the course of the novel. It was such a roller coaster!

What role does smut play in your life?

For me, romance novels were my brain vacation. I have a bachelors degree, and I am now a busy mom of four kids ages six and under. In high school , university, and now as a mom, whenever I don’t have the capacity for a “heavy” type read, romances are my escape. I crave reading like I crave chocolate, and even when my brain is tired, a good romance is the perfect stay-cation!


Willa J. Brand is a pen name for my alter ego, and although she is much more creative than I am in my daily life, we share many of the same interests.

I am a wife, mother of four children and three angels, and lover of the outdoors. I have been an avid reader from an early age and lover of all forms of literature since before I can remember. Busy as life is helping out on our family farm and caring for children, I craved some kind of creative outlet, and writing was a natural fit for me.

I love all animals and enjoy working with cattle and spending time with my horses and dogs. In more recent years I have found a love for chickens that I never knew I had, and my flock is constantly growing!

My recent novel, Refuge, is now live on Amazon, and I am eager to hear from my readers.

Please feel free to reach out via the CONTACT portion of my site, or via Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram.

Thank you and happy reading!

Thanks to Willa for sharing! We look forward to checking Refuge – watch this space for a review coming soon!

Have an early smut experience you’d like to share with us? If you’d like to see your story featured, send us an email or fill out our questionnaire and we’ll post it in an upcoming week.