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The Sporting Life: Romances With a Kick by Miranda Owen

February 7, 2016

A friend of mine recently told me that she didn’t read sports-themed romance because she wasn’t that interested in sports. I can respect that, but I don’t think being a sports fan is necessary in order to enjoy romances that revolve around some kind of sport. I don’t play or watch sports, but some of my favorite books involve athletes. In fact, one of the first contemporary romances I ever read was sports-themed.

I first got into this sub-genre of contemporary romance by reading, and becoming enthralled by, Erin McCarthy’s Fast Track series. The Fast Track series centers on the world of stock car racing. Every one of the driver heroes in this series is to die for and each one is very different, except for their drive and commitment. In THE CHASE, Erin McCarthy puts a new spin on the series by featuring a female driver as the main character. The Fast Track series is seriously sexy but with Erin McCarthy’s trademark humor and snappy dialogue as delectable additions.

There is something for everybody in the wide world of sports-themed romance. For readers who enjoy a nice drama that they can sink their teeth into, there is the Assassins hockey series by Toni Aleo and the Bomb Squad hockey series by Melissa Cutler. These stories have a slightly epic feel to them, with the characters going through a wide range of emotions, and experiencing tragedy and triumphs on a larger scale than your average Joe. The romance doesn’t take a backseat in these stories, but the tone is more serious and less silly brain candy fun.

My comfort zone always includes books that are equal parts sexy and sweet with amazing character-driven stories, and that naturally applies to my favorite sports-themed romances as well. Kate Angell writes the Richmond Rogues baseball series, as well as the Barefoot William series – which includes heroes who are baseball players as well as volleyball players. I love the Barefoot William series because they provide a nice touch of California cool to brighten up any day, and the romances really hit the spot.

A newly discovered series for me to be addicted to is the Gridiron series written by Jen Frederick about college American football players. Jen Frederick’s series shows the good, the bad, the ugly, but also the unexpectedly sweet and poetic when it comes to football. Both books in the Gridiron series provide interesting football trivia and an inside look at a subject completely unfamiliar for me. Both Kate Angell and Jen Frederick provide sexy stories and unforgettable characters that will appeal to the sports junkie and non-believer alike.

Sports-themed romances are more than meets the eye. Even for someone like me, for whom unnecessary physical exertion is anathema, the right author can successfully translate the passion the characters feel for the sport and each other from the page to the reader. For readers who enjoy complex characters, athletes who struggle with maintaining personal relationships while balancing fame and a need to achieve perfection can be a compelling mix. The close friendships developed by teammates are another highlight of romances that feature athletes. I look forward to reading more stories about these driven competitors by some of my favorite authors.

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