Sports! They’ve been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. I played a few for many years growing up, but was never a sports fan. Sports were a way to stay active while doing something fun. They made sense when other things didn’t. I couldn’t really imagine doing anything else for fun until I fell in love with musical theater and books.
I don’t root for any team and, for me, most sports are boring to watch – I’d rather be out there playing the sport. I might watch basketball if there’s nothing else on. I almost always watch gymnastics and track and field because they aren’t on television as much as other sports. Penn Relays (a track event) is my favorite sporting event to watch. Second favorite is the summer Olympics.
These days I engage with sports through books. I love characters who are also athletes (former or active) because I can relate to them. I also love following a team’s journey to success. I find those stories inspiring. And I do adore a good sports romance novel.
Today, I thought I’d recommend some sports fiction that I love. I think the stories below are entertaining, wonderful, and relatable enough to appeal to non-sports fans and sports fans of all kinds.
Criteria was that a sport plays a major role in who the characters are or used to be and/or the main character(s) is actively engaged in a sport.
( 1 ) BALLET: Turning by Joy L. Smith
( 2 ) FIGURE SKATING: Ana on the Edge by A. J. Sass
( 3 ) VOLLEYBALL: Haikyu!! by Haruichi Furudate
( 4 ) SWIMMING: Breath Like Water by Anna Jarzab
( 5 ) KATHAK & BOLLYWOOD DANCE: Radha & Jai’s Recipe for Romance by Nisha Sharma
( 6 ) BASEBALL: Bat Boy by Christina Lee
( 7 ) AMERICAN FOOTBALL: Snapped by Alexa Martin
( 8 ) BASEBALL: The Bromance Book Club by Lyssa Kay Adams
What’s your favorite sport to read, watch, or play and why?
Genre: New Adult, Sports Romance Series: CU Hockey #4 Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Recommend to Others?: Yes
Hockey, studying, and school runs. That’s my life now.
After a tragic accident that took our parents’ lives, it’s up to me and my big brother to take care of our five younger siblings.
In between burning their meals and keeping them from killing each other, I’m supposed to get a college degree. It’s hard when I don’t have time to breathe let alone study, and if I don’t get my grades up, I’m in danger of losing the one thing that makes me happy: my spot on the hockey team.
Which is why when the new equipment manager offers to tutor me, I really can’t afford to say no. Even though I should.
He’s Coach’s son and way too tempting.
As this year’s equipment manager for Dad’s hockey team, I’m expected to deal with sweaty jock straps and herding hockey players to their rooms at away games.
The job is easy, but babysitting Asher Dalton is not supposed to be a part of it.
So why, when his brother asks me to keep an eye on him, do I agree?
Why, when he’s struggling in classes, do I offer to help?
And why, when we’re studying, do I suggest a reward system that lands us squarely in bed?
Asher’s trouble, I know he is. But there’s something about him that makes it impossible to stay away.
REVIEW: My heart loved this story! Asher and Kole are a beautiful and sweet couple – so loyal, compassionate, and loving.
Asher had to put his NHL dreams on hold to help his older brother take care of their five younger siblings after the death of their father and stepmom. Asher is angry and bitter, engaging in self-destructive behaviors as a coping mechanism. But you can tell how deeply he cares about his siblings. He struggles to form genuine connections with others and is in danger of being kicked off the hockey team for poor grades. Until he meets Kole.
Kole is the coach’s son and the new, temporary manager for the hockey team. A skilled hockey player himself, Kole quit years ago when the line between father and coach began to blur. Now his focus is on studying medicine so he can help others. Until Asher becomes an irresistible distraction who is more than the gruff asshole he appears outwardly.
Asher and Kole’s physical attraction towards each other was scorching! I did not expect such a high level of heat. There were some steamy pages throughout.
They form a sincere bond that is utterly beautiful. Kole sees Asher for who he is. Asher finds the love, care, and attention in Kole that he’d been missing since taking on the monumental responsibility of co-caring for his siblings. Within each other they find someone special who is worthy of unconditional love and perfect in all the ways that count. Their relationship is captivating, charming, and hilarious. Through the good times and bad and the threat of what they might lose if they’re caught, I was enthralled by every moment. Asher and Kole were made for each other.
This book can get messy (in a good way). From grief over the death of loved ones to dashed dreams. To have to grow up too fast to feel like you’re a disappointment. And so much more. These conflicts played a huge role in who the characters have become and what they could be/have in the future. It’s heartbreaking and I felt like crying at times. But the end results were truly satisfying.
I like how teamwork develops for the hockey team. It’s a prime example of no “I” in “team.” That you have to set aside your differences and work together towards the common goal: making the Frozen Four and winning the whole thing. It’s a life-long lesson that I enjoyed seeing mixed with the plot, forcing certain characters to be better and think of others.
This story had plenty of light-hearted moments. I loved the banter between Kole and Asher. It showed how well they clicked and brought out the softer side of Asher. My favorite scene was definitely Christmas lunch. I was nervous but excited for it because it could have gone so horribly wrong. Instead, it was amusing fun for the reader and awkward stressfulness for the characters involved.
Line Mates & Study Dates was a joy to read and a well devised story that hooked me from the get-go. Asher and Kole stole my heart and made the story something special. If you like new adult, forbidden romance, and/or sports fiction, this is the story for you!
Genre: New Adult, LGBTQIA+, Sports Romance Series: Easton U Pirates #1 Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Recommend to Others?: Yes
With a baseball scholarship to Easton University and awesome family and friends, my life is pretty golden. Except, things have never come together for me in the romance department. Until Kellan Crawford walks onto the field as the team’s newest bat boy. Bells and whistles go off in my body, and just like that, I’m totally crushing on a guy for the first time in my life. Too bad he’s the coach’s son and officially off-limits.
I’m working toward my statistics degree, so landing the bat-boy position with the Easton U Pirates is right up my alley. It keeps me close to the action on the field, even if that means hauling equipment, picking up sweaty jockstraps, and putting up with the players’ antics. My dad’s the coach, and his number-one rule is never to play favorites…which probably includes getting too friendly with the team captain. But Brady Donovan’s annoyingly perfect smile and protective nature are making that nearly impossible.
When something shifts between us at an away game, everything is thrown off-kilter. Donovan’s never been with a guy before, and I certainly don’t want to be his test case. But I can’t seem to help myself. He’s sweet and hot and somehow charms the baseball pants right off me. If Coach ever catches wind of this, he’ll bench us both. Disappointing my dad might kill me, but so would losing the guy who makes my heart pound harder than a home run in the bottom of the ninth.
So much for not playing favorites.
My Review:Bat Boy was a win for me! I could not put this book down – it was so good!
Team Captain Brady and Bat Boy Kellan have been secretly crushing on each other unbeknownst to the other.
Brady doesn’t understand his attraction to Kellan because Brady always saw himself as heterosexual even though he never had as much interest in girls as other guys. Meanwhile, Kellan is openly gay but never thought it was possible that someone like Brady could or ever would reciprocate his feelings. Plus Kellan made a promise to his dad (the coach) to not play favorites, so has to keep Brady at a distance. As soon as the two begin to acknowledge their feelings, sparks fly!
I loved Brady and Kellan’s relationship and the adorable moments as they were getting to know each other better. Brady was always so kind to and protective of Kellan and made sure Kellan felt included with the team despite Kellan continuously turning him down. Brady wants to be more than teammates with Kellan but first wants to understand his sexuality. He also appreciates how kind Kellan has been to his younger brother (who is autistic) and spends time talking baseball stats with him.
I liked that Kellan, recognizing that Brady is hesitantly exploring his sexuality with a guy for the first time, supports and guides Brady. That there’s no timeline to coming out and that they don’t have to do anything he’s not comfortable with or ready for.
Their forbidden romance was so spellbinding and tense because at any moment things could have taken a turn for the worst. Neither wants to be someone’s dirty little secret. But as Brady and Kellan’s relationship grows to beautiful and steamy heights, so does the risk of discovery.
The team is trying to become champions this season, so Brady needs to stay focused and on top of his game. Not to mention he’s unsure how his coming out or being in an open relationship with Kellan will affect the team, especially because he’s the captain and Kellan is the coach’s son.
The coach is really tough but fair to all his players, including Kellan. If he discovered their relationship, Brady could be benched and Kellan kicked off the team. Kellan really enjoys his job because he gets to use his knowledge of statistics to help the team and get experience for the future.
Bat Boy is the first I’ve read by Christina Lee and I loved it. The pacing of the story was really nice with the right amount of tension, tender yet fiery romance, funny moments, and conflict. I liked the way Brady and Kellan comported themselves. There were also likable secondary characters. I will definitely be reading the next book in this series, Home Plate (which was set up rather well in this story), and more books by Lee. If you love new adult and sports romances, Bat Boy is the book for you.
Genre: Adult Contemporary Romance, Sports Romance Series: Rock Kiss #2 Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Recommend to Others?: Yes
ABOUT: Wealthy businessman Gabriel Bishop rules the boardroom with the same determination and ruthlessness that made him a rock star on the rugby field. He knows what he wants, and he’ll go after it no-holds-barred.
And what he wants is Charlotte Baird.
Charlotte knows she’s a mouse. Emotionally scarred and painfully shy, she just wants to do her job and remain as invisible as possible. But the new CEO—a brilliant, broad-shouldered T-Rex of a man who growls and storms through the office, leaving carnage in his wake—clearly has other plans. Plans that may be equal parts business and bedroom.
If Charlotte intends to survive this battle of wits and hearts, the mouse will have to learn to wrangle the T-Rex. Game on.
Content Warning: Abusive relationships and PTSD (⇐ 24/7 Support & Resources below). Explicit sexual language and content.
My Review:Rock Hard is the first book I’ve read by Nalini Singh. I had a good feeling I was going to like this book and it did not disappoint. I loved this story for its sweet but steamy, slow burn romance, realism, and lovable main characters. Gabriel and Charlotte are such a wonderful pair and their journey together warmed my heart.
It’s been about 5 years since Charlotte escaped an abusive relationship but her life is still dictated by the trauma she experienced (ptsd and anxiety). Timid and purposefully unnoticeable on the outside, on the inside she is a hard-working spit-fire. She is luminescent when she interacts with her best friend, Molly. Her true personal shining clearly through. They have a great close friendship: they’ve been each other’s rock/sister/lifeline through the darkest moments of their lives.
I also admire the strength Charlotte has to summon every day as she works towards reclaiming her independence and control over her life. It’s a turbulent road fraught with panic attacks, flashbacks, and OCD. But Charlotte is strong and always gets back up again despite the struggles.
Gabriel is a rugby star turned businessman who is very much an alpha male. He’s a workaholic, confident, demanding, and a no-nonsense kind of guy. He’s tough but fair towards Charlotte and the other employees, utilizing their strengths and ideas to better the company, which was good to see. He has a close-knit family who were nice to get to know, albeit brief. But he isn’t without flaws and also has a past that he needs to come to terms with.
What I love most about this story is Gabriel’s patience and understanding with Charlotte. I liked that his desire for her isn’t just physical. He genuinely likes and respects her and the skills she has to offer. That she’s not entirely a pushover (mousy) and will stand up to him even though he doesn’t know why she’s hurting, which is why I love his character so much.
Charlotte and Gabriel quickly became one of my favorite couples. Their relationship is full of sparks and longing. This loving, tender romance wasn’t without its fair share of setbacks that tugged painfully at the heart-strings. But how the two worked together and separately to overcome obstacles was amazing to see and made me fall more in love with this story. They have hilarious banter going on from time to time. And Gabriel certainly isn’t shy about saying what he likes about Charlotte.
Rock Hard definitely earns five stars from me. It’s such a cute, steamy, and delightful read. The author wrote a worthwhile story with conflicts that were believable. As the reader, I felt like I had time to get to truly know the characters and savor their budding romance. I couldn’t put this story down and devoured it in two days. I look forward to reading more by this author.
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Genre: Adult Contemporary Romance, Sports Romance Series: Playbook #4 Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐☆ Recommend to Others?: Yes Favorite Quote: “But today is different. The piece of black tape feels as if it weighs a thousand pounds hidden in my glove. My knee itches to touch the ground. I can’t keep quiet any longer. I won’t keep quiet any longer. No. This is the day I will take a stand by taking a knee. Today is the day I look up.”
ABOUT: With the stakes this high, it’s no longer just a game for the quarterback in this romance by the author of Blitzed.
Elliot Reed is living her best life—or pretending to. She owes it to her dad’s memory to be happy and make the most of her new job as Strategic Communications Manager for the Denver Mustangs. Things are going well until star quarterback Quinton Howard Jr. decides to use the field as his stage and becomes the first player to take a knee during the national anthem.
As the son of a former professional athlete, Quinton knows the good, the bad, and the ugly about football. He’s worked his entire life to gain recognition in the sport, and now that he has it, he’s not about to waste his chance to change the league for better. Not even the brilliant but infuriating Elliot, who the Mustangs assign to manage him, will get Quinton back in line.
A rocky initial meeting only leads to more tension between Quinton and Elliot. But as her new job forces them to spend time together, she realizes they may have more in common than she could’ve ever imagined. With her job and his integrity on the line, this is one coin toss that nobody can win.
My Review:Snapped is an enjoyable and thought-provoking read centering on social injustice and racial identity (in the workplace, in sports, in society, and more).
Although he doesn’t undergo as much change as Elliot, I really liked Quinton’s character and how he comports himself throughout the novel. There is depth and intelligence to his character. Quinton has been the QB for the last couple years with great success. He now wants to use the platform and influence that he has built over the years to bring more awareness to glaring, deadly issues taking place on and off the field: health and financial concerns for retired football players (pre-1993), systemic racism and discrimination, social injustice, and police brutality. He boldly covers the league logo with black tape and kneels during the national anthem.
Elliot has worked hard to gain her dream job working for her favorite team as the new strategic communications manager, making her feel closer to her dad who recently passed away. She is smart, capable, and very good at what she does. I think many can relate to her in some way or another. Compared to Quinton, she has a more conflicted view on racism in America. Elliot has always felt like an outsider as a biracial and black woman, never knowing where she fit in or belonged. Wanting badly for people to accept her caused her to unconsciously develop a defense mechanism of laughing things off that are racially offensive (like being called “oreo”).
Elliot struggles with helping/supporting Quinton’s cause versus keeping/doing her job (and thereby technically siding with her boss (who is the team owner and despicable). It stinks that she’s stuck between a rock and a hard place with no clear way that she won’t end up losing somehow, especially as her relationship with Quinton continues to evolve. In terms of storytelling, this conflict of interest coincides well with her personal struggles with her racial identity and self-worth. Quinton challenges what she’s ignored all her life, forcing her to “examine things in a way [she] never ha[d]” when faced with the hard, awful truths about racism. His influence puts into perspective for her who she is as a person.
At times I questioned Elliot’s judgment, though I could completely understand where she is coming from. I do however love her character development and where her story eventually ended. I wish we could have had more than just a page of Quinton’s pov, but after reading the author’s note it makes sense in hindsight that the book was mainly Elliot’s pov. The tension was balanced out with the sweet slow burn romance between Quinton and Elliot. I didn’t know about pension parity prior to reading this, which was interesting and disheartening to learn about. All in all, Snapped is a good story to read.
Genre: Adult Contemporary Romance Series: Bromance Book Club #1 Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐1/2 Recommend to Others?: Yes Favorite Quotes: (see below)
ABOUT:The first rule of book club: You don’t talk about book club.
Nashville Legends second baseman Gavin Scott’s marriage is in major league trouble. He’s recently discovered a humiliating secret: his wife Thea has always faked the Big O. When he loses his cool at the revelation, it’s the final straw on their already strained relationship. Thea asks for a divorce, and Gavin realizes he’s let his pride and fear get the better of him.
Welcome to the Bromance Book Club.
Distraught and desperate, Gavin finds help from an unlikely source: a secret romance book club made up of Nashville’s top alpha men. With the help of their current read, a steamy Regency titled Courting the Countess, the guys coach Gavin on saving his marriage. But it’ll take a lot more than flowery words and grand gestures for this hapless Romeo to find his inner hero and win back the trust of his wife.
My Review:The Bromance Book Club is an emotional, character-driven read. Gavin and Thea’s marriage is barely hanging on by a thread and divorce looms precariously overhead unless Gavin can earn her trust and love back. Both have to reconcile with their pasts and analyze what their relationship has become.
I like the book club and its objective. Real life invaluable truths can be learned in fiction, especially in self-exploration. The men are serious about helping each other with fixing their respective relationship – not to go back but to move forward better. They conduct an in-depth analysis of the romance books they read.
I like the book they chose for Gavin, “Courting the Countess” and that the author includes excerpts from it, which were perfect parallels for Gavin (and the reader) to understand things more. Many surprising revelations are revealed as the plot gets more and more complicated. I would read “Courting the Countess” because it sounds like a really good read.
I found myself quietly consuming The Bromance Book Club. I didn’t know what would happen next. Both Gavin and Thea had issues to work out with themselves and each other. One’s past is really important in this book. Such retrospection and growth would be necessary for the conflict of the story to be resolved. Divorce can be brutal, especially with kids involved. Seeing how the turmoil was affecting Gavin and Thea’s twin daughters (who are so cute!) and Thea’s sister, Liv, made things more realistic.
I really enjoyed The Bromance Book Club. The many light-hearted, funny moments in between the more heavier scenes were delightful to read. Gavin’s friends/main members from the book club – Del, Mack, Yan, and Vlad – were hilarious. This story was a real page-turner whose characters experience tremendous change.
“We are all the sum total of our experiences at any given time, and our reactions to things are shaped by them. Just like in romance novels. Whatever a character went through before the start of the book will eventually determine how they react to things that happen in the book.”
“All your life, you thought you needed to find a woman who would love you despite the stutter, but you should have been looking for a woman who loved you because of it, because it was part of who you are.”
ABOUT: Single mom Bristol is busy learning hockey, feeding an entire town breakfast every morning, and trying to forget just how much she misses her sister. Everyone else seems to be moving forward. Her older sister Savannah is planning a Christmas wedding. Bristol’s ex-husband is remarried and a dad again. But she’s stuck in a funk and even the holidays aren’t helping.
At least not until a sexy stranger arrives in town and turns into a worthy distraction.
Beau offers to teach Bristol everything he knows about hockey–which is a lot considering he went pro–but that’s on the down low. Everything is. He’s got reasons for coming to Hope Falls, for spending time with Bristol and her family. Big, secret reasons. But between giving her skating lessons and falling ass over face for the woman, he’s got to stay focused on the goal.
And it’s starting to look like protecting someone he loves means hurting Bristol.
My Review: A sweet and tender romance of grief and loss, of moving forward and taking chances.
Bristol’s family is so wonderful and caring. They have a lot of love to give and are always there for each other and other people in the small town of Hope Falls. You really feel the cutting loss and void Bristol’s youngest sister left behind.
I liked Beau a lot and the instant connection he had with Bristol. He and Bristol were really cute together. A few of my favorite parts were his crash courses on ice skating and hockey. It was fairly easy to guess why he suddenly showed up in town. But the even bigger reason behind it I did not see coming.
Lucy Score writes such pleasing romances. I was hooked right away by the characters and setting.