Book recs

Some Less Popular Sports Featured in Romance

08:31


This list of compiled of recommendations I received on Twitter during this year #rombklove event. I have grouped together romances featuring sports that are not very popular and some rather popular in real life but conspicuously missing from romance novels.

My personal recommendations for romance romances presenting less popular sports or offering an unusual take on a popular sport, are listed in this earlier post.

Note 1: The inclusion of books/authors on the list here is not an endorsement on my part unless explicitly stated otherwise.

Note 2: The titles link to the Goodreads page for the book. The Amazon links are affiliate.


Water sports 

Diving Deep by KA Mitchell, contemporary m/m romance, diving. Currently not available for purchase

Lake Lovelace series by Vanessa North, competitive wakeboarding. Amazon

Love by the Bay series by Stephanie Kay, rec-league-Coast-Guard rescue swimmers. Amazon

Level Hands / Love Me Like a Rock / Hard Candy by Amy Jo Cousins, m/m romances, rowing. Amazon - Read and Loved

Stroke to His Cox, m/m romance short story by JL Merrow, rowing. Amazon

Swift River
series by Kristina Mathews, whitewater raft guides. Amazon

Wavehouse by Alice Kaltman, YA, surfing. Amazon

Hot Holiday Nights by Jaci Burton, m/f romance, surfing. Amazon

Pacific Blue
series by Lorelie Brown, m/f romance, surfing. Amazon

Sparks Like Ours by Melissa Brayden, f/f romance, surfing. Amazon


Extreme sports

Renegades series by Rebecca Yarros, m/f romances with X Games athletes. Amazon

Lessons in Gravity and Leaving Everest by Megan Westfield, m/f romances, rock climbing. Amazon

Gravity series by Sarina Bowen, skiers/snowboarders. Amazon - Read and enjoyed

Heartstruck by Angeli E. Dumatol. Arnis (Filipino martial art), YA contemporary m/f. Both MC and LI train and compete in the sport. Amazon


Boxing / Wrestling / MMA

A Fighting Chance by Shannon Stacey (novella). Amazon

Knock Out by Michele Mannon, m/m contemporary. Amazon

Dirty Boxing by Harper St George and Tara Waytt, m/f erotic romance, MMA.  Amazon

Showing Him the Ropes by Christa Tomlinson (m/m professional wrestling). Amazon

The Secret Heart by Erin Satie. This historical has a hero that is a bare-knuckle boxer. Amazon (It's free at the time of posting)

Submission Moves by Camilla Sisco is set in the US with an MMA fighter for a hero. Amazon

Below the Belt by Sarah Mayberry, m/f romance, heroine is a boxer. Amazon

Making Him Sweat, Taking Him Down, Driving Her Wild by by Cara McKenna writing as Meg Maguire about boxers. Amazon 

Willing Victim by Cara McKenna, m/f romance, hero is an MMA fighter. Amazon

Bad Neighbor by Molly O'Keefe, m/f romance. Amazon - Read and enjoyed

In Her Corner by Vicki Essex, m/f romance with MMA fighter heroine and her coach is the hero. Amazon

Memphis by Ginger Scott's is about a boxer who trains at the heroine's dad's gym. Amazon

Champion’s Heart by Piper Huguley is a Great Depression Era historical romance with black characters, including a boxer hero. Amazon

Let It Shine by Alyssa Cole, m/f historical set in 1960s, hero is a boxer. Amazon - ($0.99 at the time of posting)


Field and Track

Love on the Run by Zuri Day, female track and field Olympic & collegiate athlete and  male sports management agent. Amazon

Winning Ruby Heart by Jennifer Lohmann. Heroine is a disgraced Olympic athlete who takes up running ultra marathons. Amazon

Love at First Run by Angel C. Aquino, m/f romance, #romanceclass. Amazon

The University of Gatica series by Lexy Timms, track and field heroines. Amazon (Free at the time of posting)

There's Something About Sweetie by Sandyha Menon. Sweetie is a fat girl who runs track, her LI Ashish plays basketball. Amazon

Cars and bikes

Fast Track series by Erin McCarthy, m/f romances, MCs are NASCAR drivers. Amazon

Ride with Me by Ruthie Knox m/f romance about a long distance cyclist. Amazon - currently not available for purchase

Holeshot by M.A. Parker, m/f romance, motocross. Amazon

Cat by Freya North about a sports reporter covering Le Tour de France. Amazon - only used copies

Hard Driving series by Audra North, race car drivers. Amazon


Fencing

Clang by E. Davies, m/m contemporary romance. Amazon

The Master Will Appear by L.A. Witt, m/m romance. Amazon

Introducing Mr. Winterbourn by Joanna Chambers, m/m historical romance, both MCs are fencers. Amazon

Lord Carew's Bride by Mary Balogh, m/f historical romance. Amazon - only used copies available

Heart Duel by Robin D. Owens, m/f paranormal romance. Amazon

A Rational Arrangement by L. Rowyn, fantasy polyamory mmf romance. Amazon



Tennis

Game of Love by Ara Gregorian, m/f romance. Amazon

After Wimbledon by Jennifer Gilby Roberts, m/f romance . Amazon

Courting Carlyn by Melissa Chambers, m/f romance. Amazon


Miscellaneous

Once Upon a Player by Agay Llanera, m/f romance, college volleyball. Amazon

Playing with Seduction by Reese Ryan, heroine is a volleyball player. Amazon

The Cowboy Meets His Match by Sarah Mayberry, which features a female saddle bronc rider.  Amazon

Act Your Age by Eve Dangerfied. The heroine’s on a roller derby team. Amazon

Pride, Prejudice, and Curling Rocks by Andrea Brokaw, YA retelling of Pride and Prejudice, curling. Amazon

Settle the Score / Hustle Play by Tara Frejas is a duology of two short stories featuring a female basketball player & a male cheer squad member. Amazon

Settling the Score by R.S. Gray, m/f romance, heroine is a football player, hero is a swimmer adn they meet at the summer Olympics. Amazon 


Ainslie Paton

Review: The Mysterious Stranger by Ainslie Paton

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Title: The Mysterious Stranger
Author: Ainslie Paton
Genre: Contemporary romance, Doomsday cult, Con artists
Release Date: 27 Aug 2019

Author's links:

My rating: 5 Stars

Blurb

For Rory Archer, going deep under cover with her best friend Zeke Sherwood to bust a doomsday cult was a way of making up for her unprofessional behavior after a relationship breakup with her boss, Zeke's older brother.

All she had to do was act her part, find the evidence they needed to tear down the cult and help the people who'd been gaslit into joining to start new lives.

It was a far cry from the usual work she did, conning arrogant mega-rich men out of ill-gotten money to spend on deserving causes. And with Zeke by her side, it would be a blast.

For Zeke Sherwood, busting the cult was the easy part, even if it meant no way to feed his addiction to Frappuccinos, but surviving months, partnering the woman he'd been in love with forever would be the toughest job he'd ever signed on for. He and Rory had never been anything more than sidekicks and Zeke had given up thinking they ever would be.

But inside the cult, the truth is stranger than fiction, drawing them closer until uncertainty strips away old patterns of behavior and longing and lust bloom, bringing with them the danger of discovery and the fear that none of the new love they feel for each other is real.


Review 

This is the final book in a trilogy about a family (actually, there are more than one family involved) of con artists. I loved the previous two books but this one is by far the best for me. It blew my mind,  it's so unlike any romance I have read before.

There is an intense suspense plot, the hero and heroine go undercover into a doomsday cult in order to dismantle it. We get to see in detail the brutal abuse both psychological and physical the leader used to try to break them (and everyone else in that cult) - him through heavy labour and physical discomfort, her - through singling her out and ostracizing her. The misogyny, the manipulation and gaslighting in the cult was difficult to read at times. It was challenged by the hero and the heroine at every step, still it hit me right in the heart pretty strongly. Seeing how Zeke and Rory fought and resisted the manipulations of the cult was fascinating. I loved the strength both of them showed. And it brought them together, made them admit their attraction and ultimately act on it.

I loved the complexity and layers of the romantic relationship. Zeke's been in love with Rory forever, but she has always seen him as her best friend though she was vaguely aware of his feelings for her and stubbornly ignored them.

They way they cared for each other is what completely undid me - not the lust and physical attraction (we never get a detail physical description of them, other than both being fit and active in sports) but the care, the desire to make the other feel safe and comfortable, the constant worry of how the other one is doing when they were separated.

Zeke is a wonderful character, a master con artist who has a soft side and I loved that the author showed it to us. He needed his frappucinos and a comfy bed and was not ashamed to admit it. I liked Rory a lot too. On top of everything she is a romance reader and it showed in little details throughout the whole story.

They both were certain of their feeling but had doubts about the feelings of the other. They got together while isolated from the outside world and put under enormous pressure and this affected the very foundation of their relationship. There is a lot of exploration of self-doubt and confidence and sabotaging oneself because things seem to good to be true.

The references to Nalini Singh’s PNR series totally killed me, I didn’t catch the first one but I was right there for the next one and recognizing them made me giddy, they fitted so well into the story.

I loved some of the secondary characters as well. I read Candance as on the ace spectrum and I was scared she will be forced into a relationship/sex. The way Rory and Zeke treated her, it melted my heart.

The story also gives a poignant commentary on women’s rights and bodily autonomy, without sounding preachy. 

There was a major plot twist towards the end re the romantic relationship, I didn't expect it but it made sense seeing both Zeke and Rory voice their fears and hopes and dreams. The fine line between wishful thinking and bad timing, learning to trust yourself and the person you love/who loves you.

Overall, it's a remarkable romance and I highly recommend it.

CWs: attempted murder with drugs, physical violence, misogyny, abuse, gaslighting, manipulation

Add to Goodreads / Buy on Amazon


#NotRWA19

#NotRWA19 Recap

11:47

Over the past week I got together with some friends we organised #NotRWA19, a virtual conference on Twitter for the romance fans who couldn’t attend the RWA conference held in New York at the same time. 

It was a bit spur-of-the-moment decision on my part but with the support of the online romance community we managed to organise a 5-day event which I hope was fun and beneficial for everyone. We had a mix of romance readers, bloggers and authors participating with short/longer presentation of various topics.

In this post I have compiled the links to all the presentations made during #NotRWA19 for easy access. I will put it in my pinned tweet on Twitter for those who follow me there. 


Day 1


Ellie Reads - Tips on Book Blogging and Reviewing

https://twitter.com/e_savova/status/1154489681788071937


Nicola Davidson - Pleasure Clubs in Victorian Englan
d

https://twitter.com/NicolaMDavidson/status/1154506295422009344


B.andherbooks - Most Anticipated Releases of Fall/Winter 2020

https://twitter.com/bandherbooks/status/1154550577348694016



Day 2

Ekaterine Xia - SFFR and World Building as Diaspora


https://twitter.com/KatjeXia/status/1154711744238931968


Ami - mini thread on HEA without Children


https://twitter.com/amiesavitri/status/1154755955822739456


Dani Collins - How to Build Your Newsletter

https://twitter.com/DaniCollinsBook/status/1154783130034720768


Jennifer Carole Lewis - Body Language and Spotting Deception

https://twitter.com/jclewisupdate/status/1154831798758776834



Day 3

Mina V. Esguerra - Romanceclass - how it came to be and how it supports authors

https://twitter.com/minavesguerra/status/1155070391515172864


Chachic - Tips for Bookstragramming

https://twitter.com/chachic_/status/1155085516355731456


Charlotte - Depictions of Wealth and Critique of Capitalism in Contemporary Romance


https://twitter.com/romansdegare/status/1155131381300826112



Day 4

Sandra Schwab - Victorians Like You and Me


https://twitter.com/ScribblingSandy/status/1155472765505474560

Fiona West - On Writing Cross-Culturally

https://twitter.com/FionaWestAuthor/status/1155568611567788034


Alex - Trans Romance

https://twitter.com/alextweetsbooks/status/1155515356481576960



Day 5

Agata Weronika - on the Healing Power of Romance Novels

https://twitter.com/Aqueda_Veronica/status/1155871158639714306


Rose Backlin - the Joys and Challenges of Owning a Romance Bookstore

https://twitter.com/angelroseback/status/1155847664518541312


Helen Kord - on Making GReat Rec Lists


https://twitter.com/mirabel_chan/status/1155828419273342976

Alisha Rai

Review: The Right Swipe by Alisha Rai

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Title: The Right Swipe (Modern Love #1)
Author: Alisha Rai
Genre/Themes: Contemporary romance, Sports, Online dating  
Release Date: 6 Aug 2019 

Author links: Website / Facebook / Twitter / Goodreads

My Rating: 3 Stars


Blurb 

Alisha Rai returns with the first book in her sizzling new Modern Love series, in which two rival dating app creators find themselves at odds in the boardroom but in sync in the bedroom.

Rhiannon Hunter may have revolutionized romance in the digital world, but in real life she only swipes right on her career—and the occasional hookup. The cynical dating app creator controls her love life with a few key rules: 

- Nude pics are by invitation only 

- If someone stands you up, block them with extreme prejudice 

- Protect your heart 

Only there aren't any rules to govern her attraction to her newest match, former pro-football player Samson Lima. The sexy and seemingly sweet hunk woos her one magical night... and disappears. 

Rhi thought she'd buried her hurt over Samson ghosting her, until he suddenly surfaces months later, still big, still beautiful—and in league with a business rival. He says he won't fumble their second chance, but she's wary. A temporary physical partnership is one thing, but a merger of hearts? Surely that’s too high a risk…

Review 

I had such high expectations about this book and while I enjoyed it, I'd say they were only partially met.

I appreciate the different take on sports romance - a retired football player and the whole CTE thing and how it affected his own family and his sports career. I'd love to see more of that side of professional sports reflected in romance.

The heroine runs an online dating app and the hero is temporarily working for her rival (the company she wants to buy). The insight we get into online dating was interesting but also a bit too US-centric for me. I understand the message behind the discussions of "ghosting" and "dick pics" but it came off as distant and preachy at times.

I liked the hero - patient, caring, respectful, never pushy. The heroine was pretty jaded, disappointed by men and unwilling to trust (again). While the story gives convincing reasons for her stance but then I couldn't see why she held on the her distrust of Samson for long. It all seemed excessive to me. Her refusal to hear him out, to believe even for a bit in his innocence, it didn't sit well with me. I am all for being independent and making your own decisions but she was unfair towards Samson one too many times in my opinion. I was annoyed by how stubborn and entrenched in her views the heroine was. She was meant to be strong, with a take-charge attitude and in control of her professional and personal life but she to me she read more like stuck in the past, refusing to deal with the trauma she suffered, acting judgmental towards Samson.

It an interesting read, with some interesting takes on sport and family relationships. smashing the stereotypes of women being weak and fragile and men, especially ones who are big, strong professional athletes, being leader types in life. Yet, I was not fully sold on the romance and didn't understand the heroine very well. 

CW: abuse in the past, head injuries/CTE, death of a close relative, blackmail, sexual abuse, workplace harassment

Add on Goodreads / Buy on Amazon

Contemporary Romance

Review: Applied Electromagnetism by Susannah Nix

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Title: Applied Electromagnetism (Chemistry Lessons #4)
Author: Susannah Nix
Genre/Themes: STEM MCs, forced proximity 
Release Date: 2 July 2019 

Author links: Website / Facebook / Twitter / Goodreads

My Rating: 3 Stars


Blurb

A business trip with the office hottie turns into a road trip from hell. 

Adam Cortinas may be gorgeous, but he’s made it clear he can’t stand Olivia—and the feeling is one hundred percent mutual. Too bad, because in order to bring the company’s new power plant online, they’re stuck with each other for the next week. 

When their travel plans go horribly awry, Olivia finds herself stranded in the middle of nowhere with Adam, AKA the bane of her existence. 

He’s in her space and in her head. All the forced proximity is driving Olivia insane. That’s the only explanation for these FEELINGS she’s suddenly having. 

But it doesn’t change anything. They still hate each other. 

Right? 

Applied Electromagnetism is the fourth full-length novel in a series of standalone rom-coms about women in STEM fields.


Review

This is a new-to-me author and while I enjoyed some the story, my overall evaluation is just nice but not great. The hero and heroine are colleagues in a company running power plants. I was excited for the STEM heroine but in the end we didn’t get as much details of her work as I was hoping for.

The hero was a real jerk to the heroine at the beginning and for quite some time into the story. We do see him change and grow, making mistakes in the process but ultimately learning to be a better person. I appreciated his growth but it took me a while to forgive him for some of the things he said and did.

I hated that Olivia had to educate Adam on a lot of things about women and personal/workplace relationships. She had to spell out things for him and I felt some of these messages about empowerment and women'ts rights sounded heavy handed to me.

Adam's backstory and the reasons to avoid relationships rang true to me and appreciate seeing this gentler side of him. He is ambitious and competitive in his work life, highly qualified and respected, even a little feared by his colleagues and his bosses, yet he hid vulnerability in his personal relationships and some deep emotional wounds.

I'm sad to say I had a harder time relating to the heroine. We see less growth and development in her, she was pretty much perfect from the start. She was attracted to him, kept thinking of him in sexual terms, even while she hated him for treating her really badly and I had a hard time with that.

That said, I found the HEA convincing and fitting to their story. I appreciate the way the way they found to build a relationship and how they dealt with being in a office romance.

Add to Goodreads / Buy on Amazon 

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