Yes, this podcast is called “Heaving Bosoms.” If you find that endearing and hilarious, then more than likely you will find this podcast to be the same.

I only recently discovered romance novels. I mean, of course I giggled over the bare-chested Fabio covers at the bookstore when I was a tween, but I never actually read one until a year or two ago. That isn’t to say that I’m not into escapist reading. My Audible feed is basically: mystery novel, mystery novel, legal thriller, token Booker prize nominee, mystery novel.

I used to read “real” books. Really I did. I was an English major! I write stuff! But somewhere around kid number two and a sleep deficit of roughly 7012 hours, I found I didn’t have the mental capacity to fully embrace the nuances of great literature, and was looking for more “escape” than “delve into the thick of it.”

Which is why romance novels are awesome. As co-host Melody Carlisle says, “I don’t mind that a lot of them make me feel tingly in my bathing suit parts.”

What it’s about

Heaving Bosoms” is a self-made, self-produced podcast by two far-flung best friends: Alaska resident Erin McCarthy and New Jersey resident Melody Carlisle. Each week, they pick a Trashy romance novel (the capital T is deserved) and discuss it in intricate detail.

You definitely don’t need to read the books they discuss ahead of time. And if you’re offended by frank discussions of sex and occasional coarse language, this is not the podcast for you. However, if you are not offended by those things – or if you even enjoy them – this podcast is definitely worth a listen.

Why we love it

Much like “By the Book,” “Heaving Bosoms” is as much about the friendship between the two co-hosts as it is about the stated premise of the show. Melody and Erin love each other in a totally adorable, friendship-crush sort of way. They cry tears of empathy for each other, giggle at each other until they snort, and are occasionally rendered speechless by the things that come out of the other’s mouth. (For instance, when Melody discussed how she googled “crotchless leggings” because her legs get cold when she sleeps but she wants to let things breathe down there.)

Their love for each other is apparent despite their different lives. They live on opposite sides of the country. Melody is married with a toddler. Erin is not married and has no children. While being at different stages in their lives could cause some friendships to grow thin, that’s not the case here. There’s great chemistry between the two of them and, honestly, I’d be happy to hear them discussing anything.

However, I’m thrilled that they’re discussing romance novels because they do it in such an open-hearted, open-minded, all-inclusive way. Both Melody and Erin are firmly of the philosophy of “you do you.” There is zero judgment in any of the things that turn the characters on in these books, and what might turn the readers on. It’s a very liberated, feminist approach to sexuality that comes across as honest and refreshing, and not at all tawdry or illicit. Melody, a former sex educator, in particular brings a healthy, consensual approach to sex that is just plain empowering.

I also love that they close each episode with a segment on self-love. They discuss things that make them happy or that got them through a hard week. It can be something small, like a cup of lemon tea, or something more moving, like having a dance party with your toddler.

Start with this episode

Because the podcast is self-produced and self-edited, it took a few episodes to hit its stride. I would start with episode five where they discuss the YA book “A Shade of Vampire” by Bella Forrest. This episode hits all the best parts: their friendship, their approach to healthy sex, and their humor.

Once you’re caught up, go back and listen to the earlier episodes, though be aware that the sound quality is a bit rough in the first few episodes.

If you like this podcast, you might also like…

I’ve already mentioned and reviewed “By the Book,” but that podcast is a natural corollary to this one if you enjoy listening to strong female friends. For another peek into the world of romance – but in a less explicit way – try the Modern Love podcast.   

The details: Listen with earbuds due to explicit language and sexual situations.

Subscribe to “Heaving Bosoms” here.

Want more podcast suggestions? Find all our picks here.