The Olympics and Sports-Themed Romance

THE WINNER OF THE VIOLET FEMMES JULY GIVEAWAY IS:    ROSEANN DEFRANCO.  Please send Michele an e:mail regarding your win – three books of your choice!




What Olympian stands six feet two, has eight pack abs you can bounce a quarter off of, and nudged Michael Phelps out of his first win this Olympics? If you haven’t guessed who I’m referring to (hey, there are so many Olympians who fit this description!), I’m talking about swimmer Ryan Lochte.

Outstanding physical feats both in and out of the pool dominate the 2012 London Olympics. Newly hatched American heroes have emerged, setting the bar higher and higher for future generations. Successful acts of strength and perseverance abound, such as Ryan Lochte’s win in the 400 meter individual medley.

In honor of the 2012 London Olympics, today’s blog is a review of my top five favorite sports-themed romances. None have an Olympian hero/heroine but I think you’ll discover heroes that rival Ryan Lochte in physique and heroines that you’d gladly step into their heels.

Body Check by Deidre Martin

Publicist Janna MacNeil sets out to transform the naughty reputation of the New York Blades hockey team, and soon discovers success will only be achieved by first reforming their ring-leader, bad-boy team captain Ty Gallagher.

But Ty stubbornly refuses to change. The ice heats up from the sparks set off between their battles, and growing attraction.

This debut book has all the elements of a successful sports-themed novel. For readers who don’t know much about hockey, the author gently leads you into this world of hunky, battle-worn guys who tend to be slightly superstitious, and who play for the love of the game rather than public opinion.

The chemistry between the two characters sizzles.

Body Check will keep you in check from the first page to last.

True Love and Other Disasters by Rachel Gibson

Former exotic dancer, Playboy model, and widow Faith Duffy inherits her 81 year old husband’s Seattle Chinooks hockey team, but not without controversy.

She decides to keep the team but has her work cut out for her, given the fact her centerfold still graces the locker room and that, not only has team captain Ty Savage seen it, he resents her from the get-go.

The press has a field day with comments made between the hero and heroine; how she’s a gold digger, and he’s trouble.

Rachel Gibson’s Chinook inspired novels are sports-themed romance classics. This one is my favorite because I love the characterizations—after all, who else has a former stripper as a heroine (and one that the reader simply adores)?

True Love and Other Disasters is a perfect score.

Slow Heat by Jill Shalvis

Publicist Samantha McNead is in damage control mode. She must clean up The Heat’s reputation or the baseball team will lose lucrative corporate endorsements. Her biggest challenge is Wade O’Riley, and toning down his playboy lifestyle.

Samantha pretends to be Wade’s girlfriend—The Heat’s owner and her father insist. To complicate matters, she has a history with Wade, something about monkey sex in an elevator. An act she vows not to repeat.

Jill Shalvis writes one of the best opening scenes in this novel. Right away, the reader knows Wade is going to be a sexy handful, and Samantha is going to have to focus on her job and not him. Great characterization set within the world of baseball and celebrity.

Slow Heat is home run for readers.

The Perfect Play by Jaci Burton
Event planner and single mom, Tara Lincoln, lands the dream job of planning a summer party for NFL team the San Francisco Sabers. What she doesn’t plan for is that star quarterback Mick Riley’s unexpected interest in her. A wonderful night ensues but Tara avoids further commitments. After all, raising a teenager takes up most of her time.

Mick wants her. She’s normal and a welcome change. She becomes the first woman he sees a future with. Now he has to convince her of it.

I bought this book because of the smoking hot cover. Yep, didn’t even read the first few paragraphs like I often do.

Jaci Burton knows how to write spicy sex scenes, and with a hero like Mick, she delves into every woman’s fantasy of being pursued and wanted by a famous, gorgeous, and all-around great guy.

The Perfect Play scores the perfect touchdown on a summer night.

It Had To Be You by Susan Elizabeth Phillips

Sexy bombshell Phoebe Somerville inherits the Chicago Stars football team but with one stipulation: if they lose once this season, ownership will transfer to her rascal of a cousin. Fortunately, she hires an experience General Manager—knowing nothing about football herself.

Head coach and ultra jock Dan Calebo is skeptical of the beautiful, stubborn bimbo and challenges her every decision. And soon, the championship isn’t the only thing that ties them together.

It Had To Be You is the crème de la crème of the sports-themes romances. It has everything, from a quirky, stubborn, and loveable heroine, to a sexy jock, and with the feeling of what the world of football is all about without it being overwhelming to the reader.

If you are going to pick up a sports-themed romance for the first time, this is the book. Pass complete!

So, have I made you a fan of sports-themed romance? I wonder if any swimmers—like Ryan Lochte—might appear in the next novel? Hmm.

Or better yet, a female athlete/heroine!

I hope you are enjoying the Olympics, as well.



Leave a comment


  1. hieubietusa

     /  August 6, 2012

    I got one for you…I was so touched(crycry) by the movie I read the book…
    For Love of the Game, by Michael Shaara.
    That’s right…I cried…I had dust in my eyes at the time…
    PS: For a moment I thought you were describing me instead of that Lochte guy.

    • Thanks Joe. I’m now making a list of other sports-themed books and movies to see. As for Lochte, he’s just a boy.

      • hieubietusa

         /  August 7, 2012

        I was a boy once…when people thought owning a typewriter was high tech…
        kukukukukukuku(that’s Mandaring for CRYING!)

  2. Hi, Michele,
    Personally, I love sports, so you would think I had read these already. NOT! They are going on my TBR list pronto!

    Of course, the one I really want to read when it’s published is YOURS!


    • Jaye, I probably have two copies of each buried somewhere in the house. You have to read them, especially if you’re a Jill Shavlis Fan.

  3. What would the Olympics have been this year without the deliciousness that makes up US Men’s Swim team? Holy eye candy, Batman!

    I love sports, too, so I am a sucker for a sport-themed romance. The ones you’ve listed here are some of my favorites. SEP’s Chicago Stars series is really the best of the best, IMO. All of those books are genius, but This Heart of Mine is probably my fave.

    Jaci Burton’s books are SPICY and the covers are always smokin’ hot. Great choices, Michele!

    And I also am looking forward to seeing Keane on a cover….

  4. Jenna Blue

     /  August 6, 2012

    Michele, such a fun post to read as I’ve read three out of the five you listed. You’re right, there’s something about a smoking hot athlete. The abs? Yes! But more, I think it’s the innate confidence they have—admirable, desirable, and infuriating!
    Will have to get my hands on the Jaci Burton & Jill Shalvis ones…I recently started reading Shalvis, so I’m doubly excited about that one. Already know I like the writing, add in a sexy baseball player & a great first scene, oooh, my kind of read!

  5. Hi Jenna, both Jill and Jaci’s are very spicy. I happen to like this Shalvis book better than the Lucky Harbour books I’ve read. Happy reading!

  6. R.A. DeFranco

     /  August 7, 2012

    Michele –
    This is so much fun. Clearly, Lotche has made a fan out of you. I must say, I truly enjoy the view. I took a bit of a fascination with him myself, but I didn’t see him quite as heroic as you. My feelings were formed based on this article, plus a few more that followed when I kept on a clicking.

    As a result, he went from taking the opportunity of being potentially the greatest Olympian heartthrob EVER to rather unattractive in my book. My interest began when he gave an interview where he stated that he would crush Phelps in the finals of one of the later races (Phelps won.) Zero humility in the interview. Then he’s got that gross diamond studded mouth guard that he wears on the podium. Apparently he was told that he needed to remove it at one point. BUT…since I’m a writer…it really got me to thinking…what an interesting hero he would make. One of those reforming the former jerk…clearly he already has the looks! Now he just needs a really strong heroine to get him in line! 🙂

    • You make me laugh, RoseAnn. I, of course, haven’t considered much about Ryan Lochte except his physique! But his antics are funny, too. Who wears a diamond mouth guard when receiving such a prestigious metal? Just silly, really. 🙂 Reformed rake . . . have to think about that one! Michele

  7. R.A. DeFranco

     /  August 7, 2012

    I mean to add…Woo Hoo!!!!! You sure know how to make your followers keep coming back! So excited about the books. The Femmes are the BEST!

  8. Hi Michele. I love SEP’s Chicago Stars series and Rachel Gibson’s as well. Although I’m a HUGE Jill Shalvis fan, I haven’t read Slow Heat. I also like Jaci Burton and have been wanting to read her sports-themed books. Her covers are HOT. More to add to the TBR pile. What a great topic given the Olympics.

    • Maria, I know how you love the Lucky Harbor series. You will really love Jill Shalvis’ sports-themed stories. I drool just thinking about the opening in Slow Heat! Michele

  9. Nicole Doran

     /  August 11, 2012

    Fun post all! I admit, I don’t tend to lean towards the sports romances, but those hockey themed ones caught my eye. Gotta love those hockey players – so ready for the fight! And, I do agree – the US men’s swim team was nice to gawk at..for sure. Congrats to all our wonderful Olympians – it makes me want to get the heck off the couch and exercise…tomorrow..LOL.
    Enjoy the weekend everyone! Nicole

    • Hi Nicole, its been so fun watching the Olympics from my spot on the couch! I think we need a story about a female Olympian heroine. Beach volleyball? Swimming? Boxing even. Do love the sports themed books with hockey players, though. Michele

  10. Jaye Marie Rome

     /  August 14, 2012

    How about fencing, Michele? En garde!

  11. Oui! Though I always imagine a female who fences to be more of a historical than contemporary heroine. It would be something different! :0


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