#rombklove Day 13: Unusual Sports Romances

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Unusual Sports Romances


When Ana Coqui invited me to join #rombklove 2019 I agreed with no hesitation. This online event has brought me so much joy over the past few years and has put so many books on my radar and I am excited to contribute to it.

It took me a while to come up with a topic though – I already did Beta Heroes, and Families last year. I decided to go with sports romances this year because I want to highlight romances that feature rare/not very popular sports on the one hand but also on the other, romances which deal with widely popular sports (hockey,football, etc) but in a new/unusual light.

I will start with the second group – romances featuring popular sports but focusing on other things besides the billionaire/celebrity aspects of the sport.

One such series is the Atlanta Skyline series of football romances by Rebecca Crowley. While book 1, Crossing Hearts, is an inclusive romance with Latino MCs, it’s in many ways a typical sports romance.

The next two novels and a novella take a somewhat different direction – there is the fame and fortune (not so much in the novella) but the focus is on other things – performing under pressure, making plans for life after football, we have characters moving on with their lives after professional sports.

Book 2, Defending Hearts, explores the darker aspects of fame - the hero is a Muslim player who had become a victim of a hate-crime that throws his carefully planned life off balance.

The heroine in book 3, Saving Hearts, is a former professional female footballer who stayed in the sport as an administrator. Her character highlights a whole other set of issues – female football getting less recognition and respectively funding/popularity. The hero is a goal-keeper on the bring of retirement planning his future away from the sport.

Still with the theme of football romances, I want to mention the Glasgow Lads series by Avery Cockburn. These m/m romances features MCs playing a gay Scottish football club. The books explore different issues from politics to the lives of the aristocracy in the present-day, overall I highly recommend them.

Another popular sports that features prominently in romance is hockey and a favourite of mine in this group is Him and its sequel, Us by Elle Kennedy and Sarina Bowen. Richly drawn stories with one gay MC and his best friend discovering he is bi. What I particularly like about this series is how their sports careers developed. Jamie who is a goal keeper in his college team, decides not to pursue a career in professional hockey but to take up coaching children instead. He still got to be involved in the sport he loves but made a choice that worked best for him regardless how it looked in the eyes of the rest of the world.

Another part hockey, part ice skating romance I want to highlight is Kiss and Cry by Mina V. Esguerra. The thing about this romance that neither of these sports is very popular in the Philippines. Neither of the MCs got the fame and fortune professional sports players in other parts of the world might get playing these sports. Yet, they were happy with what they did and were absolutely dedicated to their sports respectively.

Moving on to less popular sports, I want to mention a couple of romances. First one is Love on the Tracks by Tamsen Parker where a boyband frontman fall for a professional luger participating in the fictional equivalent of the Olympics. We get to see Rowan's dedication to her sport and how much she loves competing in it but also we get Zane who is utterly in awe of her physical strength and is proud of her success.

Still in the world of college hockey,  one of my favourite NA romance is The Year We Fell Down by Sarina Bowen. Both the heroine and hero are hockey fans and players but she is currently in a wheelchair after an incident on the ice and he has a broken leg. I liked how the story showed two sports people suffering through injury, in her case a permanent disability. And she stayed active, participated in some kind of water polo.

Just one more hockey romance, Hard Knocks by Ruby Lang. Enemies to lovers, heroine is a neurologist with family issues, hero is a hockey player, playing a mediocre team, tired of the game, trying to find his place outside hockey.

I’m always on the look out for historical romances with sports elements. There is a recent debut, Gilded Age historical, Anyone but the Earl by Irene Davis. Hero is a friend of the heroine;s brother and both a members of rowing club. I liked how this was presented in the story but it was just a hobby for them and I am looking for historicals where the MCs take up sports professionally.

A couple of sports romances on my TBR list:

Throwing Stones by Avery Cockburn which is a spin-off of her Glasgow Lads series and features..., wait for it, ... Curling :) I'm looking forward to reading not least of all because it features such an unusual sport.

Love in Straight Sets by Rebecca Crowley - m/f tennis romance. I quite like the writing of Rebecca Crowley and I hope this one will work for me too. Also female sports players are not that common as heroines in romance, so I'm looking forward to this one.

After the Gold by Racheline Maltese and Erin McRae - a figure skating m/f romance with a bi heroine with anxiety. This story seems to tick all the boxes of what I like to read in romance and I'm excited to try it soon. 

To get the discussion going, I have prepared some questions for you:

1. What do you like the most in sports romance?

2. What sports would like to see featured in romance more?

3. Which of your favourite sports romances would you describe as unusual?

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