Monday, August 31, 2015

Ten to Try: Sports Romances

I make no secret of my love of baseball. I wouldn't object to being locked in Fenway Park or Coors Field for a week during the season. (I imagine my letter: Dear Family, I am afraid I can't make it home for several more days, as an emergency situation has cropped up....) There's something about the energy of the crowd, the scent of freshly-cut grass and red dirt, and the sight of wide-eyed kids at their first MLB game that gets me every time.

Of course, my other love is a great story. I write romance because it allows me to delve into the human condition in a way other genres don't always permit. Given those two loves, sports romances are a natural go-to read for me. If you've never tried one, here are ten to consider. And if you're already a fan of these stories, please post your own suggestions in the comments!

1) It Had To Be You by Susan Elizabeth Phillips. You wouldn't know it from the poodle on the cover, but this romance is about a fiesty, ultra-feminine woman who inherits a professional football team. The first in Phillips' popular Chicago Stars series, it's a classic...and one of my favorite romances of all time. 

2)  Double Play by Jill Shalvis. Pitcher meets reporter in this endearing baseball romance. Jill's books are compulsively readable; if you haven't read the two books in her Pacific Heat series (Double Play is the first, Slow Heat is the second) you're missing out.

3) Against the Ropes by Sarah Castile. Fascinated by mixed martial arts competition? This MMA romance features a steely, focused hero and a woman who takes a job as a medic in an elite MMA club. This was a Publisher's Weekly Top Ten Pick for Romance & Erotica, so expect a steamy, blazing hot read along with a great storyline.

4)  Simply Irresistible by Rachel Gibson. Gibson is a master at gut-splitting humor. Mix in a runaway bride and a sexy hockey star, and you have a surefire winner. This classic is on sale for $1.99 on Kindle as I post this, which is a total steal. I've read and reread this story. It's that much fun.

5)  Miracle Road by Emily March. If you've visited my Facebook page, you know that I consider author Emily March one of my dearest friends. Even if we'd never met, she'd still be one of my favorite authors. Her stories are optimistic, humorous, sexy, and offer readers a rich sense of community. Every. Single. Time. That being said, Miracle Road is probably my favorite Emily March book. It features Lucca Romano, a college basketball coach engulfed by guilt after two of his players are killed when the team bus goes off the road, and the schoolteacher who shows him that his life has meaning. This is a can't-miss read from a New York Times and USA Today besteselling author.

6)  Game for Love by Bella Andre. Bella is a New York Times and USA Today bestseller with good reason: she creates characters readers love. This book, with a linebacker hero, is no exception. If you haven't read Bella's books, this is a great place to start.

7) Dare to Love by Carly Phillips. Like alpha heroes? Strong women? Billionaire romances? If so, give Carly Phillips Dare to Love series a try. Dare to Love is currently free on Kindle.  It tells the story of wealthy football team owner Ian Dare and the woman sure to bring him to his knees. And what better way to see if you like a new series than by reading the first book free?

8) Flat-Out Sexy by Erin McCarthy. NASCAR fans, Erin McCarthy's steamy Fast Track series is for you! Two years after Tamara Briggs lost her husband in an wreck at Talladega, she crosses paths with a rookie driver who's sexy, fun, and great with her kids. But Tamara knows all too well what can happen during a race, and how devastating it can be. This eight-book series has rave reviews on both Amazon and Goodreads.

9)  Changing the Game by Jaci Burton. A sports agent and her top client, a professional pitcher, rely on each other for career success. But when personal feelings and business mix, complications arise. Jaci's Play by Play series features athletes from a variety of sports (there are baseball, football, auto racing, and hockey books in the series) who know each other via family and hometown connections. This is a seductive, emotional read.

10) Catching Jordan by Miranda Kenneally. Jordan Woods has been surrounded by great-looking, athletic guys her whole life...mostly because, as quarterback of her high school's football team, they consider her one of the guys. She's devoted her entire existence to being the best athlete she can be. But when a new, talented quarterback moves to her high school, he threatens everything she's worked to achieve. This young adult romance has received raves from the moment it was published in 2011, and it's destined to be a classic. If you enjoy YA romance, grab this one!