A large portion of the novels I’ve read on my own time this year have fallen under the ‘Sports Romance’ category, and until recently, I had no idea that this was even a recognised genre. It’s a pretty straightforward one: Sport + Romance = Sports Romance. Mind-blowing. I’m not entirely sure why I like this genre so much since I’m not all that interested in sports. So why do I keep reading novels that fall under this genre?
I think the main reason I enjoy this genre of fiction so much is simply because they’re fun and easy reads. It’s essentially New Adult fiction that has an element of sport involved (and the sport isn’t even a major part of the plot in some cases). I’m probably not selling this genre very well, but I honestly like this genre for its simplicity. They’re fun to read, and the reason I’ve read so many this year is because this year has easily been the most stressful of my life so far, and I found myself relying on these fun (and yes, sexy) novels to keep me sane! So, I wanted to list a few of my favourite Sports Romance novels, for anyone considering branching out into a fairly new genre of fiction. Also, all these novels can be read as stand-alones for anyone that’s curious. Cue the muscly book covers!
1. Off-Campus Series by Elle Kennedy
The first novel of this series, The Deal, begins with uni student Hannah Wells, who, four years after being sexually assaulted at a party, is anxious that she can no longer have a healthy and enjoyable sex life. Discovering Hannah’s top grades in their Philosophical Ethics class, hockey captain Garrett Graham turns to Hannah for tutoring, and they strike up a deal: in return for her help, Garrett will play fake boyfriend so Hannah can catch the eye of her crush, Justin, and gain some self-confidence in the process.
This series currently has three novels published, with each novel focusing on different characters. Out of the three novels, The Deal is my favourite so far, with the third novel, The Score, being a close second. The main reason I really like these novels, is because they have a great balance of humour, while tackling more serious issues such as sexual assault, drug abuse, and domestic abuse. I also love the characterisation of these characters – my favourites are Hannah, and Garrett’s friend and team mate, Dean, who is the MC in The Score. This series is my favourite in this list, and I can’t wait for the fourth book, The Goal, next month!
Featured Sport: Ice Hockey
Overall Rating: ★★★★☆ 4 stars
2. Pucked Series by Helena Hunting
Pucked begins with Violet Waters, a 22 year old junior accountant for a firm that specialises in sports finance. After a one night stand with Canadian hockey captain, and certified book-nerd Alex Waters, Violet, despite knowing first-hand how badly hockey players behave, unwittingly falls for him, and must let go of these apprehensions if she wants a successful relationship with him.
This series currently has 4 full-length novels, one novella, and an ‘outtakes’ ebook with a bunch of deleted scenes. My personal favourite of the series is the third novel, Pucked Over, which I see as one of the more serious novels of the series (though even then it’s not exactly hard-hitting). Out of all the novels included in this list, I’d say that this series contains the most amount of sport, including actual ice hockey games, and discussion between characters. One thing I like about this series is that it has a good balance of humour as well as the sporty side, which was still entertaining for someone who isn’t all that interested in sport. This series is perfect if you want something fun, silly, and sex-filled to read (the audiobooks are also pretty entertaining) but fair-warning, the constant references to ‘beavers’ and ‘super MC’s’ gets old really quickly.
Featured Sport: Ice Hockey
Overall Rating: ★★★☆☆ 3 stars
3. Rugby Series by L. H. Cosway & Penny Reid
Rugby Series’ first novel, The Hooker and the Hermit, follows introverted Annie Catrel, a social media marketing leader, who transforms the perceptions of previously condemned celebrities for a living. Annie also has a secret, as she is The Socialmedialite – the anonymous owner of popular celebrity gossip blog New York’s Finest. After he is featured in a scathing blog post on her website, Irish rugby player Ronan Fitzpatrick sends an angry email to The Socialmedialite, scathing her for her judgemental blog posts. To Annie’s horror, Ronan then makes an appearance at her work place, as he is in desperate need of a reputation makeover following a suspension from his rugby team. After a surprise kiss between them that is caught on camera, Annie’s boss proposes that Ronan and Annie pretend to date to improve his image. As they fake a relationship for the media, they get to know each other’s true selves – Annie, behind her shyness and emotional walls, and Ronan without the incessant celebrity gossip.
This book was such a random read and I really enjoyed it. It has a perfect mix of funny, sweet, and sexy, and the second novel, The Player and the Pixie (which centres on Ronan’s sister, Lucy, and his arch-enemy team mate, Sean) is equally as good. I’d also recommend the THATH audiobook – I think the performances are great, and it really enhances an already entertaining read. I cannot wait for the third book to come out. Just six months to go!
Featured Sport: Rugby
Overall Rating: ★★★★☆ 4 stars
4. The Field Party Series by Abbi Glines
My final entry is the only young adult series featured in my list, as you can probably tell from its beautiful, not-a-muscular-man book cover. The first novel, Until Friday Night, centres around Maggie Carleton, who moves in with her aunt and uncle two years after witnessing the murder of a loved one. As a result of her trauma, Maggie is mute, as she fears having to talk about, and re-live, her experience. Popular football player West Ashby is going through his own personal hell, as his father has terminal cancer. Keeping his father’s illness a secret, West confides in Maggie, as she is someone that can understand his pain and help him through it. As secrets are shared between these two, a friendship forms, and they are forced to come to terms both with their personal traumas, and their feelings for each another.
Similar to The Off-Campus series, The Field Party series also tackles serious issues such as domestic abuse, and the loss of a parent. While these topics are important ones, and are a main reason why I like this book series, it does have some issues. A key thing that irks me about this series is the sexism from an alarming amount of characters. After some digging about on Goodreads, it seems that this is a common theme in Gline’s writing, which I think is a real shame. The second novel, Under the Lights, was released last week and, while I feel that it didn’t compare to the first novel, was still an enjoyable read, and again, dealt with some serious issues.
Featured Sport: Football
Overall Rating: ★★★☆☆ 3.5 stars
So there it is. A mini list of Sports Romance novels for anyone thinking of trying this sub-genre, or those who love it and want some recommendations. There are some sports romance novels on my TBR list that I wanted to include on this post: The Baller by Vi Keeland, and The Wall of Winnipeg and Me by Mariana Zapata (if you’ve read either of these please let me know your thoughts!) Anyways, I hoped this list is helpful, let me know your thoughts, and if you have a recommendation for me then please let me know!
Until next time!