It’s #FlashbackFriday, and today we thought we’d share the story behind our Balls of Fire!

You’ve probably noticed our “Balls of Fire” link at the top of our menu, and our heat meter rating next to every book we cover on the site. They say “where there’s smoke, there’s fire,” and where there’s fire, there’s got to be a fire-breathing dragon! Meet Diego, the dragon who proudly puffed out all those fireballs to label all our sexy books.

But to be honest, Diego and his fireballs weren’t our first choice for our Heat Meter–we had a slightly different measuring stick in mind. When we were designing the site back in 2012, there was just one thing that perfectly represented the kind of sexy, sensitive, romantic measurement we thought was worthy of XOXO. We’re talking, of course, about heartthrob Ryan Gosling.




You see our point, no? We thought that the perfect representation of hotness in a romance novel should be Ryan Gosling’s face with those dreamy eyes, that scruff of beard, and especially with those “let me proofread that for you” glasses. Only the sexiest, sultriest, most button-popping romances would earn the coveted 5 Goslings!

(Note: There was an upstart faction here at XOXO headquarters who insisted that the perfect heat avatar was not in fact the Gosling, but the Tatum–they presented the following evidence to support their claim:


After heated debate, it was suggested that we could alternate Goslings and Tatums seasonally, and we were able to proceed.)

So what happened to our beloved hotties, and how did we get from them to Diego? No, they didn’t take out a restraining order on us (yet)–but it turns out that even the hotness of Ryan Gosling and Channing Tatum is not powerful enough to shine through when we only have a half-inch square to feature them. *whomp whomp* We had to switch to something a little simpler, the phrase “balls of fire” came to us, and voila! Our fireball heat meter was born.

And why “Diego,” you ask? He’s named after the first designer who worked on our site! The human Diego gamely designed the Balls o’ Fire…but we still don’t think he’s read a romance novel.

And that’s today’s #FBF! Tune in next Friday for another story of the making of XOXOAD…and check us out starting in May to discover what’s going to happen to Diego’s balls.