Jami Albright is a born and raised Texas girl and is the multiple award-winning author of the “Brides on the Run” series and the “Small Town Royalty” series, which are fun, sexy, snarky, laugh-out-loud rom-coms. She is also a wife, mother, an actress, comedian, and a devout fan of something called the Houston Texans. I’m not sure what that is, but I always love hanging out with Jami anyway. She makes me laugh and she absolutely blew up my TBR list with her “Best Of” Trope recommendations.
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Episode Sponsor: Books2Read Pocket Garden
Books2Read has curated a selection of feel-good springtime reads from across the publishing spectrum. From humorous fiction to romantic comedies, heart-warming literature, to feel-good nonfiction. There’s even a selection of “happy pocket garden covers” because just looking at those beautiful covers will make you feel the spring sunshine on your face.
Books discussed in this episode:
The Hating Game by Sally Thorne (Jami recommends this one in audio)
Outlander by Diana Gabaldon
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
99 Percent Mine by Sally Thorne
Red White and Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston
Wild Sign by Patricia Briggs
Junkyard Cats by Faith Hunter
Locked in Love: A Quarantine Novella by Jami Albright
Lightning Round: Jami’s Favorite Romances by Trope
Look the Part by Jewel E. Ann
Aftercare by L.B. Dunbar
Lover Awakened by J.R. Ward
Tangled by Emma Chase
(Note: If you shop using my affiliate links, a portion of your purchase will go to me, at no extra expense to you. Thank you for supporting indie bookstores and for helping to keep the Best Book Ever Podcast in business!)
JAMI ALBRIGHT ON “THE HATING GAME” BY SALLY THORNE
Hello, Bookworms welcome to the Best Book Ever, The podcast where we talk about your favorite books. I’m your host, Julie Strauss, and today I’m so pleased to talk to my dear friend, Jami Albright. Jami is a born and raised Texas girl, and is the multiple award-winning author of the “Brides on the Run” series and the “Small Town Royalty” series, which are fun, sexy, snarky, laugh out loud romcoms. She’s also a wife and a mother and an actress and a comedian and a devout fan of something called the Houston Texans. I think that’s a sports team. But I’m not sure. Lucky for me; Jami remains my friend, despite my absolute ignorance when it comes to everything sports related. I always have so much fun with her, and I’m so glad she joined me today to talk about why the hating game by Sally Thorne is the Best Book Ever.
This episode is sponsored by our good friends over at Books2Read, a book listing service with inclusive links to all of the online retail sites where your favorite digital books can be found. Books to read has curated a selection of springtime reads from humorous fiction to romantic comedies, heartwarming literature, and feel good non-fiction. You’ll find several of my personal all-time favorite books on this list, including “The Nest” by Cynthia Sweeney, “The Storied Life of AJ Fickry” by Gabrielle Zevin and the utterly sublime “Act Your Age, Eve Brown” by Talia Hibbert. Plus, there are so many others I am dying to read, like “The Midnight Library” by Matt Hague and “The Authenticity Project” by Claire Pooley. It’s a fantastic roundup of books that will make you feel like you have the spring sunshine on your face, no matter the weather outside your door. So check out the selection over at bit.ly/bookgarden. Now, back to the show.
Julie Strauss: Hi Jami!
Jami Albright: Hey Julie, how are you?
Julie: I am so happy to see your face.
Jami: I know me too. I miss you.
Julie: How did you find this book that we’re talking about today? The Hating Game?
Jami: Well, because it’s romance and it’s romantic comedy and, we were going on vacation and I wanted a good beach read. It was a long vacation a couple of years ago, and I just wanted something fun in life and I love this book. I read it, closed it, opened it up again and read it again. It just punched all my buttons. I don’t know why I love a good enemies-to-lovers-romance. That’s probably my favorite trope. And it was funny. I mean, to me. It’s just really dry humor. Especially Josh. His humor is very dry and then the reveal at the end was just so romantic that I just thought, Oh, I’ve got to read it again. Knowing that end, I’ve got to read it again.
Julie: Why don’t you tell our listeners the plot of this book in case they haven’t read it?
Jami: Okay. It’s about Lucy and Josh. Joshua – I like it when she says Joshua. Also, once I got home, I listened to it. So I read it twice, listened to it once. I do that a lot with books I really like. I’ll read them and then I’ll listen to them because it’s a different way to consume that. Anyway, they are co-workers, executive assistants to two CEOs that have these companies have merged It’s a publishing company and they do not get along at all. And in fact, they are pretty inappropriate. She says, I think our safe word is HR, because they have reported each other to HR so much. But then there a promotion that’s coming up and they’re both going forward, but she’s like, I can’t work for him if he gets it. I’ll have to leave. So she is preparing herself for the fact that she won’t be around. But she’s always just wanted to be his friend. Two weeks before the interview, their walls come down and they become friends. Then they become more than friends.
Julie: You read a lot of romance. Tell me why this one hits it so right.
Jami: You know, I’m a big believer – and if you read my books, you probably would go, Oh yeah, I see that – like, if you start a book well, and you end a book well, you can pretty much save a mediocre medium middle part. And for me, this book just ended like it was – that feeling at the end that I just snuggled into. It really is one of my favorite books. It was hard for me to pick a book that was my favorite, but I think this one, for me, it’s always a recommendation. I always tell people to read this one because it just gives me all the feels. For romance book, that’s what I’m looking for. I want something with a happy ending. Do not give me a sad, angsty book. I can’t deal with it. Especially now.
Julie: Yeah, well you’re, you’re so right about that. Great beginning and a great ending, because they really are both completely different people, and it’s not a fake change.
Jami: It’s just that you misunderstand who they both are at the beginning. And then at the end, you see them for who they really are. It’s a really, really good reveal. What we found out about her, I mean, she’s the one with the misunderstanding. Really, she’s misunderstood everything. But I do think it’s a really great character arc. I mean, you really do see them, and as she’s falling in love with him, you’re falling in love with him too. I think, I felt like that with “Outlander.” As Claire in Outlander falls in love with Jamie, the way Diana Gabaldon wrote it was, we were falling in love with him too. So that by the time she realizes she’s in love with him, we’re like, we’re all in love. And it’s kind of how I feel it felt in this book.
Julie: Have you read that entire series, “Outlander.”
Julie: Okay. Should I keep going with it? I read book one and loved it. And then I started book two and got bored.
Jami: Yeah. I always tell people read the first three. Because the first three kind of closes the loop. Then if you want to go on, you can go on. They’re getting wrenching there. They’re hard books, which is weird because, you know, I don’t like, I don’t like angsty books, but those books to me are just, they’re just romantic to me. When I read the second one, I had gone into the bookstore and seen them, and I was just sort of reading the backs of them, which you should never do, but I was reading back stuff. And so I knew that when the second book started 20 years later. It’s just this love story that just endures. And I love that.
Julie: That’s interesting. Cause you said you don’t like angsty books, but the end of book one has a pretty horrific scene. I had a hard time reading it.
Jami: Yeah. It’s weird because I don’t – in fact, I can’t tell you another angsty book that I really loved. Other than that book, I just fell in love with, especially him.
Julie: You know, I’m going to give them a second try because I’ve had so many people recommend the entire series to me. I don’t know what happened with book two. I justgot about 50 pages in and thought it was boring. I thought the first one was so good.
Jami: Kind of get through that first part of the second book and then the third book, it’s just the big, I mean, like to me, there is no greater, I mean the best romantic moment in all of literature is in the third book. I can’t say best. The whole Darcy and Elizabeth scene is very good in “Pride and Prejudice.”
Julie: Those are some strong words, lady.
Jami: Yeah, I know. I just like romantic it books. I like happy books. You know, Susan Elizabeth Phillips says life’s too short to read a sad book and I kind of feel the same way. Life is hard enough. I just need something happy. There are tons of people who make ton of money writing angsty books, and they love them. Like, the more they can torture their characters like that, the happier they are, the happier the readers are. And I’m just, I’m having a panic attack trying to get through. So I’m not real deep. I say I have layers, but they’re very shallow layers.
Julie: Did you see on the copy of this book that I have says it’s going to be a motion picture soon? Do you know who the cast is?
Jami: I looked it up Lucy Hale. She was in “Pretty Little Liars.” And Austin Stowell. I don’t really know him. He’s not really my Josh, but, you know, whatever. They didn’t ask me.
Julie: The other thing about this book which I thought was so interesting as I have also written romance: I thought this book was so sexy and yet I went back and there are no named body parts. There are no nipples. There’s no molten core. Nothing is throbbing.
Jami: No. And there’s only one sex scene. I mean, it’s a very slow burn.
Julie: No, there are a couple of prequels.
Jami: But as far as the thing, it’s worth the wait. Let’s just put it like that. But no, I agree. I was just, when I was listening to it again, I was like, wow. I mean, it’s just very sensusal.
Julie: Yes. That’s the perfect word for it. I’m always paying attention to that. And to be clear, I don’t mind if people name the body parts. That’s fine. I read my share of those books, too. But I was just really impressed at her use of language that she was able to get that level of sensuality without –
Jami: You know, I noticed this time too that she uses a lot of cool metaphors and analogies. It’s Sally Thorne. I guess we should say that.
Julie: Have you read any other books by her?
Jami: I have not. She had another one come out. “The Hating Game,” I think, was her first. And she had another come out, It’s “99 Percent Mine,” but I don’t read it because I love this one so much. I didn’t want to, you know, I just didn’t want to read something that I didn’t love. And the reviews on it were a little mixed.
Julie: As you know, cause you’ve been a victim of this. I have been shoving “Red, White, and Royal Blue” on absolutely everyone for the last few weeks. Have you read that one yet?
Jami: I haven’t read it yet.
Julie: I kind of regret that I read these so close together. Cause it’s the same basic story, same basic enemies-to-lovers, forced to do something at work. It took me a lot longer to like Josh than it did to like Prince Henry in “Red, White, and Royal Blue. I had to keep stopping myself and say, stop making this unfair comparison. I guess what I’m saying is for all of you who I’ve pressed “Red, White, and Royal Blue” on, don’t read these two books next to each other.
Jami: Right. Because I feel like Josh has just, – maybe I like him because he says he doesn’t like most people. My husband, you know, from the beginning of our relationship, said people suck, um, you know, he’s like that, too. So maybe that’s why I liked him so much. But for the first few chapters he’s kind of like a jerk. But then, when everything is revealed as you go along, he’s actually the one I liked the best.
Julie: You love a hero that you have to break through his walls.
Jami: Which is funny, cause I don’t know that I write those, but I really do like to read them.
Julie: I love a good romance trope. Love love, love. And this one had all my favorites: enemies to lovers, fake relationship, competing for the same job. And the best trope of them all, only one bed at the hotel.
Jami: Forced proximity
Julie: It’s incredible how this happens all the time. Oh my God.
Jami: I know. What is wrong with the hotel industry?
Julie: I mean, back in my dating life, that never once happened to me. I don’t know how it happens all the time in these books. What I want to ask you is can we do a little lightning round of romance recommendations based on tropes? Because I have some favorite tropes, and I was wondering if you could hit me up with some good romance books that hit these tropes.
Julie: Do you have a favorite enemies to lovers?
Jami: Yes. Well, “The Hating Game.” But I also have two others. “The Worst Best Man” by Lucy Score. And “It Happened One Autumn” by Lisa Kleypas. It’s a historical romance. Those are great.
Julie: I love Lisa Kleypas.
Jami: I love Lisa Kleypas, too.
Julie: What about wounded heroes?
Jami: “Look the Part” by Jewel E. Ann. That one is amazing. It was almost the book I told you about instead of “The Hating Game.” So good. He’s so wounded, but it’s so good. And it’s kind of a comedy, but it’s also not. It’s really good. It’s very fun. I mean, I laughed very hard in that book, but also kind of cried too.
Julie: All right. I’m getting that one immediately. What about secret baby?
Jami: “Nobody’s Baby But Mine” by Susan Elizabeth Phillips. It was the first romantic comedy book I read. And the first time I thought, I would love to make people feel this way. It’s funny, but I will tell people that not all of books written when that was written translate real well as far as political correctness. Sometimes, you know, he’s a little. He doesn’t hurt her, but he, like, puts his hands on her, or moves her around. He holds her captive. She could leave, but she chooses not to. So, you know, just a little warning there.
Julie: What about opposites attract?
Jami: “Natural Born Charmer” is one of my favorite books. Susan Elizabeth Phillips is hilarious. It’s very good. And then “Devil in Winter” by Lisa Kleypas, it’s part of the same series as the, it’s the Wallflower series that the other one’s in.
Julie: You love Susan Elizabeth Phillips. I know I’ve heard you talk about her so much. What about Time Travel?
Jami: “Outlander.” And “Parallel” and “Intersect.” Those are a duet by Elizabeth O’Roarke. Very good. Really interesting. Cause it’s not just time travel. It’s almost like parallel timelines.
Julie: What about over 40?
Jami: “After Care” by L.B. Dunbar. Such a great book. And the cover is probably one of my very favorite covers ever. I mean, the cover itself sold me on the book, but the book was great.
Julie: Yeah. I love L.B. Dunbar. What about Male/Male?
Jami: “Him” by Serena Bowen? So good. It’s angsty, but it’s really good.
Julie: Oh, Serean Bowen! We did an episode on her with Jeff Adams. He chose “The Understatement of the Year.” Oh, her books are so good.
Jami: After hearing that I read “Understatement of the Year.” it was really good. Really good.
Julie: Yeah. She’s awesome. Okay. What about paranormal?
Jami: “Lover Awakened” by J.R. Ward. It’s part of the Black Dagger Brotherhood series.
Julie: What’s paranormal about it?
Jami: Well, they’re vampires. Each book is a standalone. Each book they have a mate, they get together with maiden and has a happy ending.
Julie: Finally, here’s a genre that I don’t typically like, so I’m really interested to hear what you say. Cause I’m going to read what you’re telling me to read. What about billionaire romances?
Jami: “Tangled” by Emma Chase. It’s a, it’s an older book, but it was one of the first. I don’t like a lot of them either, but this was the first one that I read and it was one of the first where the character breaks that third wall and he talks to the reader, and it’s very good. Hilarious. It’s very funny, but it’s really interesting. That’d be interesting if you read it, I’d be interested in it.
Julie: Well, because I trust your reading taste, I will read it. Because I normally sort of avoid the billionaire romances. They’re kind of not my jam. Now I’m gonna throw a surprise one at you What about a rock star?
Jami: Well, I’ve written one.
Julie: Tell me about it.
Jami: I wrote “Running From a Rockstar.” It’s my first book.
Julie: What’s that about?
Jami: Well, it’s about a rock star that, um, it’s a wake up in Vegas married, but it’s not your typical wake up in Vegas married book. In fact, my, one of my favorite rockstar romances is “Lick” which is by Kylie Scott. I had been working on “Rockstar” for a couple of years when I read “Lick” and I got a little panicked because it’s also a wake up in Vegas married. She’s got red hair, you know, she’s panicking because they’re married. That’s kind of how mine is, but then they take totally different turns after that. Like they’re nothing alike, but at first I was like, Oh my gosh. You know, there’s nothing new under the sun.
Julie: It’s called “Lick”? As in guitar lick and also to lick? God damn romance writers are the cleverest people on the planet.
Jami: Yep. They are.
Julie: What are you reading right now?
Jami: I just finished Patricia Briggs’ “Wild Sign.” It’s Urban Fantasy. Before that I was listening to an Audible Original by Faith Hunter, who I love. She’s one of my favorites. I have three Urban Fantasy authors that I really love: Faith Hunter, Patricia Briggs, and Ilona Andrews. But Faith Hunter did an audible original. It’s just on audible and it was really. “Junkyard Cats.”
Julie: Does that mean there’s no print version of it right now?
Jami: You can’t get it anywhere but Audible.
Julie: I wonder if those are written differently, if they’re written more as a radio drama structure.
Jami: It wasn’t, because I listened to a lot of other Faith Hunter books and it was written like her other books. But I think that some of the romance authors have done things Audible, like when they cast them, they cast multiple parts.
Julie: I don’t know much about Urban Fantasy. What is it about?
Jami: Well, there’s usually magic in the world. But it’s set in contemporary times. It’s not back, wherever, Middle Earth or something. Ilona Andrews series is in Atlanta. Patricia Briggs mostly is centered around Eastern Washington and Montana. Faith Hunter is in New Orleans and Nashville, Tennessee area. They’re normal places, normal times. In Ilona Andrews’ books there there’s been this big magic wave and so magic and non-magic kind of compete for each other. And magic kind of destroys things. So it’s a little post-apocalyptic, but the others aren’t. In some of, everyone knows that there are vampires and werewolves and them in the world. In some, they don’t know that those things around the world. And so it’s just, so there’s usually magic. There’s usually a love interest, but it’s very slow. Like most of them it’s the third or fourth book before, you know, before you really get the love interest thing going there. It’s usually a little bit antagonistic and then they come together.
Julie: I don’t know, Jamie, it sounds a little angsty for you now.
Jami: Not angsty. It’s really strong heroine. They’re a little more serious than my fluffy romances, but, you know, I really like them. They’re gritty. I think that’s what I like. I don’t like it if the heroin is learning about the magic system, or she makes a lot of mistakes. I like it better when they kind of know what’s going on, and either because they’ve grown up that way or because just intuitively they know. They may make mistakes, but it’s not like they’re bumbling along.
Julie: You like it when they kind of just hit the ground running.
Jami: Really strong heroines. I really love them.
Julie: Will you tell our listeners where they can find you in all of the wonderful work that you do?
Jami: Sure. Uh, you can find me on my website, Jamialbright.com. I’m on Facebook, as JamiAlbright author. I have a reader group called Jamie Albright’s Brightens. I’m on Instagram as Jami Albright, author, and I’m on TikTok as @shewritesfunny. It’s still Jami Albright Author, but my handle is She Writes Funny. I’m not very good on TikTok. I mean, my first video on TikTok went viral, and then it’s been downhill since then.
Julie: What made you decide to join TikTok?
Jami: I wrote this novella that I put out in March. It’s called “Locked in Love: A Quarantine Novella.” But it’s not like pandemic quarantine. There’s a chemical spill. At the beginning lockdown, there was a tweet from this girl named McKayla Auckland, and it said, don’t go to a guy’s house for a hookup. You know he doesn’t have any toilet paper. He doesn’t have clean sheets or doesn’t have any sheets. He probably only has some cheese puffs and Hot Pockets, you know, you don’t want to get stuck there. And I just thought it was hilarious and I thought, Oh, that’s a great beginning to a romantic comedy. So I just started writing it, and put it in my newsletter. Every time I put out a newsletter, I put out a new chapter. So when I was putting it out, I wanted to put the tweet at the beginning of the book, you know, just because I thought it was funny. So on Twitter I just sent her a message and said, Hey, can I use this? I wrote this book because of it. And I didn’t think anything about it. I didn’t look to see how many followers she had. I didn’t look at anything. I just was like, I don’t want to step on anybody’s toes. Can I use this tweet, you know, kind of thing. And. The next day, I kept getting all these Twitter followers and I’m never on Twitter. I have Twitter. I mean, you can find me on Twitter too, but I’m never on there. I didn’t really think about it. And then that evening, my daughter was at work and sent me a screenshot that a friend sent her and McKayla had tweeted about it, like showed the tweet, like my message behind her. And she was tweeting about how this author and her luck may be turning around because in the Tweet she said, absolutely, can I start in the movie? And I said, Oh, for sure. And know, that was it. We just had that little funny exchange and that was it. And she had tweeted it to her 25,000 followers. But here’s the bad thing: I said I was wondering if I could use it, And I misspelled ‘wondering.’ I spelled it wandering, because I’m hick and I spell like I talk. So of course people were going, I WANDER how she’s an author because she can’t spell. For about 10 minutes, it hit all my shame buttons. I just curled into a ball, but then I was like, you know, what, all I can do is own it. So I just went on there and went, yes, and thank God I have a great editor, and that’s what great editors are for. So it seemed to win them over by just admitting it. My other daughter called me and she’s like, you have got it on TikTok and do a duet with that, cause people were going, where can I get this book? It wasn’t even up for pre-order. I immediately put it up for pre-order and then got on TikTok and did the duet and like almost immediately it had 50,000 views. Now it has almost 200,000 views. I sold a lot of those books. She was great. I mean, she was really fun with it.
Julie: You are the only one who I would read a quarantine book by, I’ll tell you that. ‘Cause I know going into it, you’re the only one who’s actually gonna make me laugh about it.
Jami: Yeah. It it’s really, you know, it’s the setup. I’s not about quarantine.
Julie: Well, Jami, it’s always so fun talking to you. I want to thank you for joining me today.
Jami: It’s made my day.
Thanks for listening.
Thanks for listening, Bookworms. For more information on this episode and links to all the books we discussed, please go to our website BestBookEverPodcast.com, or follow the podcast on Instagram @BestBookEverPodcast. I’m your host, Julie Strauss, and you can find me everywhere @JulieWroteABook. Remember when you’re doing your book shopping, please help support indie bookstores and this podcast by using my affiliate link at Bookshop.com/Bestbookever.
Thank you for joining me today and I will see you at the library.