I had the opportunity to visit The Ripped Bodice while traveling near Los Angeles, and it was a dream come true!  Of course I follow the store online, and love what they’re doing, but living on the east coast, I didn’t have much chance to visit in person.  Then I was invited to be a signing author at the Love N Queen Mary event in Long Beach, CA, and the perfect timing arrived for me to visit.  

The shop is adorable and fun.  But that isn’t the point!  For me, it was walking into a safe space.  A place where I wouldn’t be questioned about why I read romance.  A place where it’s absolutely wonderful to be a feminist, to embrace your inner nerd with fandoms, and to stand up and be proud of the romance community!

These were my people!!

Not to mention, they have a stellar selection of romance books, by both traditionally and independently published authors.  I could have easily spent all day browsing the shelves and picking up copies of books I can normally only find online.  

I have two good book store options near where I live:  Barnes & Noble, and Bookmarks.  I am a huge fan of both!  But, neither has an amazing romance selection!  Barnes & Noble has a decent aisle, but it’s all standard works, and not anything I’m shopping for these days.  I’d rather read Susannah Nix than Norah Roberts.  I asked at Bookmarks where to find their romance section, and they keep their romance sorted within their fiction.  Luckily they carry a fair share of excellent books, but they’re difficult to find unless you have time to pilfer through the shelves.  

Walking into The Ripped Bodice, I sighed in relief, and couldn’t stop smiling!  No trouble finding books in there!  The staff was friendly, the books well organized, and the selection fantastic.  Even the bathroom was a delight!  I took my time in there, reading the sticky notes covering the walls, and absorbing the good vibes of messages left.

As I would be flying back across the country, I couldn’t buy many books, but I knew I wanted to pick up something while in the store.  After circling the store twice, I settle on a signed Penny Reid, a “blind date with a book,” and a shop t-shirt.  My friend bought a signed Sally Thorne book, at my suggestion, and I’m only a little jealous she got the last copy!  

If you ever find yourself near LA, plan a trip to visit the best little romance bookshop!  Okay, okay, it’s the only all-romance bookshop in the country.  But perhaps with its success we’ll see a shift.  If not with more genre specific stores, then with more representation of romance in our existing book stores.  They can learn from The Ripped Bodice, a store funded by the people (through Kickstarter), and doing a wonderful business because of (not in spite of) catering to predominantly women.  

Happy reading, and may your life (and your books) be filled with love!

The Ripped Bodice:  https://www.therippedbodicela.com 

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