It’s that weekend when we all have sports on the brain, so I’m sharing my list of 15 romance novels featuring characters who are professional athletes. They’re all 5-star reads with great depth to the characters, interesting storylines, and couples you can root for.
If I’ve reviewed the book, there’s a link to that; if I haven’t, there’s a link to the GoodReads listing so you can easily add it to your TBR.
Kickin’ It by Rachel Van Dyken
Great banter • Forbidden romance • Swoonworthy hero • Emotional
Love breaks the offside rule in New York Times bestselling author Rachel Van Dyken’s irresistibly sexy Red Card romance.
Successful, high-profile sports agent Matt Kingston thinks he can handle anything. Then soccer player Parker Speedman shows up at his door. She is young and gorgeous, has natural talent, and is looking for a team. She’s also a hothead with a punchy past who floored her last coach on live TV. Despite his misgivings, Matt agrees to be both her agent and her coach. Professional common sense says she’s off-limits. But what can he say about the raw attraction between them?
Parker plays soccer with her heart and soul. But after the events of the last year, she’s shaken. She’s already seen what a powerful man can do to a female athlete’s career. And her beloved dream is in the hands of a sexy, gorgeous man with the uncanny ability to slip past her defenses…and into her heart.
Now Matt and Parker are about to learn that when it comes to love, the only way to win is by breaking every rule they know. And by playing nice. Real nice.
A Favor for a Favor by Helena Hunting
Amazing chemistry • Playful • Slow burn • Love this hero
From the New York Times bestselling author of Pucked and A Lie for a Lie, a new stand-alone romance about trading favors, battling wills, and winning love.
When I joined Seattle’s NHL expansion team, I thought it was the start of something great. But nothing ever goes the way you expect. Take my introduction to my new neighbor. She came rolling in on the hot mess express at midnight, making a racket while she tried to get into my team captain’s apartment. Did I mention that he’s married to a woman who definitely was not her?
Imagine my surprise when I end up with an injury that has me out of the game for weeks, and she’s the one to offer to help me. I should probably add that she’s not the captain’s mistress. She’s his sexy, pastel-haired younger sister.
So we come up with an arrangement: she rehabs me so that I can get back on the ice sooner, and she can add a professional athlete that isn’t her brother to her client list. Seems simple enough. As long as I can keep my hands to myself and my hormones in check.
Wrecking Ball by P. Dangelico
Lovable jerk • Nanny • Slow burn • Great chemistry
Cam DeSantis’ life is a mess. How else would you describe losing your husband, your job, and your money all at once? Desperate times call for desperate measures. So when salvation comes in the form of one intolerable jerk, she has no choice but to accept his offer as a nanny for his eight year old nephew. Now all she has to do is find a way to ignore him for the next three months. Which is easier said than done.
NFL quarterback Calvin Shaw has zero interest in women. It’s not that he doesn’t like women. In fact, he loves women. He just doesn’t want anything to do with them. What he needs to do is focus on winning another Super Bowl before he retires. Problem is, the woman living in his house is a major distraction. And he doesn’t know what’s worse, that he promised to be civil, or that he’s attracted to her.
Best laid plans are going to get wrecked when a reclusive football star is forced to live with a reluctant nanny.
Tomboy by Avery Flynn
Light and funny • Opposites attract • Forced closeness
How exactly has one good deed landed me in the penalty box?
Ice Knights defenseman Zach Blackburn has come down with the flu, and my BFF—his PR manager—begs me to put my nursing degree to use and get him back to health. Of course she would call in a favor for the most hated man in Harbor City.
But when he’s finally on the mend and I’m sneaking out of his place, everything goes sideways. Paparazzi spot me and pictures, plus accusations that I slept with him, fly faster than a hockey puck.
At first, all of Harbor City wants my blood—or to give me a girlie-girl makeover. But then…the team finally wins a game. And now this fickle town wants me with the big jerk twenty-four seven.
Argh. I never slept with him the first time! But no one will listen. Then the grumpy bastard goes and promises to break his no-fan-appearances rule to help raise money for a free health clinic—but only if I’m rink-side at every game. That’s not a deal I can turn down.
But when the team keeps winning, and I realize there’s more to him than his bad reputation, suddenly remembering to keep my real hands off my fake date gets harder and harder to do.
Erik by Sawyer Bennett
Great chemistry • Sexy • More than meets the eye
The Arizona Vengeance are developing a reputation on the ice as one of hockey’s top teams. But one player’s reputation offthe ice might just keep him from scoring. . . .
I’m having the time of my life with my new brothers on the Arizona Vengeance. We may be an expansion team, but after notching some big wins, the entire league knows to watch out for Erik Dahlbeck. That’s me.
The only person who doesn’t seem to think I’m so great? Blue Gardner, the hot-as-f*** flight attendant on our team plane. I sure wouldn’t mind joining the mile-high club with her, but besides bringing me lukewarm coffee, she won’t give me the time of day. Whatever I did to rub Blue the wrong way, my teammates think it’s hilarious. After all, we’re used to women flocking to us. #puckbunnies
When I run into Blue back on land, I’m shocked to learn how she spends her time off: taking care of her handicapped brother. There are layers to this girl I never imagined, layers I can’t wait to peel away. And that’s a new feeling for me.
But first I’ve got to find a way to melt that ice-cold stare. Because as much as I try to pretend I don’t care what Blue thinks of me, how can you not care when you’re falling for someone?
Rules of Engagement by J.T. Geissinger
Light and funny with depth • Opposites attract • Great banter
Love is a battlefield for a quirky matchmaker and the cocky football star who hires her to find him a wife.
As the owner of Perfect Pairings matchmaking service, Maddie McRae earns her living helping others fall in love. And one thing the sweet Southern belle knows for sure is that the foundation of wedded bliss is built on similarities: opposites might attract, but they don’t stay together.
Enter Mason Spark.
Rude, arrogant, and notoriously allergic to monogamy, the hottest quarterback in the NFL is Maddie’s polar opposite. He’s also her new client. Her gorgeous, infuriating new client who’s paying her an outrageous sum of money to find him a wife. With his multi-million dollar contract on the line due to his behavior on and off the field, bad boy Mason is willing to pretend to settle down.
But when he starts to fall for the adorkable matchmaker who can’t stand him, the playboy finds himself in the game of his life to keep something he never thought he’d lose—his heart.
The Bromance Book Club by Lyssa Kay Adams
Second chance • Marriage in trouble • Funny yet angsty
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.
Finding Alexei by Kendall Ryan
Playing house • Swoonworthy hero • Sexy and light
He’s bossy, moody, and overprotective.
He’s also a pro athlete who needs to focus on winning games and staying out of the headlines.
I’m fiercely independent and need a man like I need a second period each month.
So when our worlds collide, I never expected him to be the one to jump in and save me. Especially not when my roommate disappears, leaving me with her baby.
I’m clueless about babies—and it shows. Good thing Alexei isn’t. With six nieces and nephews and an apparent hero complex, the dude is both sexy and more than capable. It’s a combination that makes it easy to forget we’re just playing house.
Play to Win by Kelly Jamieson
Start of a series • Great chemistry • Married in Vegas
Meet the Wynns—a hockey dynasty built on family, money, and drama. From USA Today bestselling author Kelly Jamieson, the first novel in a new series is a total win-win.
“Kelly Jamieson is an auto-buy for me.”—Carly Phillips
After an injury forced Théo Wynn to give up professional hockey, he turned to his second love: numbers. Now, as the general manager of his grandfather’s NHL team, the Los Angeles Condors, Théo is dying to prove to the rest of his family—especially the brother who betrayed him—that he’s just as successful as the rest of them. If only Théo had a gorgeous woman on his arm to complete the picture. . . .
Lacey Olson needs to get out of Las Vegas right now, thanks to her no-good, crooked brother. When a handsome stranger who’s out partying with friends comes to her rescue in the cocktail lounge where she works, they strike up a conversation that leads to a crazy plan: her leaving with Théo for L.A. tomorrow. A few drinks later, the idea gets even crazier: a quickie marriage that works for both of them.
But back in California, Lacey immediately turns Théo’s precise, well-ordered life into one big beach party. And before long, she’s tempting him with her smart mouth, sexy body, and sunny charm. The last thing Théo needs is a real relationship to distract him. Because he only plays to win. . . .
Beauty and the Beefcake by Pippa Grant
Light and funny • Utterly unique • Great characters
She’s my sun and moon.
My stars, my air, my sunshine.
She’s every heartbeat.
There are two kinds of women in the world – those I can bang, and those I can’t.
My teammate’s sister?
She’s a can’t.
I moved in with her to protect her from a nasty ex, not to be the next guy in line.
She’s the brains.
I’m the brawn.
She’s the fruit.
I’m the sausage.
She talks too much.
I don’t talk at all, if I don’t have to.
Should be easy to resist her.
But every minute I spend with Felicity is another minute she gets under my skin. She makes me feel like something more than a dumb puckhead with a big Zamboni pony. And it’s getting harder to remember why I need to keep my hands to myself.
Beauty and the Beefcake is a vegan-friendly standalone romantic comedy featuring a hockey player whose vocabulary is the only thing smaller than a hockey puck, a book smart but aimless ventriloquist with too many voices in her head, a dilapidated old house that may or may not be haunted, and no cheating or cliffhangers.
Catching Caden by Samantha Christy
Great chemistry • Unique storyline • Light yet angsty
If all they see are her scars – they aren’t looking hard enough.
It was my home run ball that shattered her face.
Right along with her modeling career.
Now it’s my mission to help her rebuild her life.
And get her to love the game that she hates.
The game that dictates my life both on and off the field.
But when the lines of our friendship become blurred, I worry she’ll just be another casualty of my three-strikes rule. The rule I have to protect my money, my future, my heart.
No girl has ever broken it.
I’ve never wanted one to.
The question is … will I let her?
Good Guy by Kate Meader
Ex’s best friend • Great chemistry • Swoonworthy hero
He’s a Special Forces veteran making his pro hockey debut. She’s a dogged sports reporter determined to get a scoop. She’s also his best friend’s widow…
Fans can’t get enough of Levi Hunt, the Special Forces veteran who put his NHL career on hold to serve his country and fight the bad guys. So when his new Chicago Rebels bosses tell him to cooperate with the press on a profile, he’s ready to do his duty. Until he finds out who he has to work with: flame-haired, freckle-splashed, impossibly perky Jordan Cooke.
The woman he should not have kissed the night she buried her husband, Levi’s best friend in the service.
Hockey-stick-up-his-butt-serious Levi Hunt might despise Jordan for reasons she can’t fathom—okay, it’s to do with kissing—but her future in the cutthroat world of sports reporting hangs on delivering the goods on the league’s hottest, grumpiest rookie. So what if he’s not interested in having his life plated up for public consumption. Too bad. Jordan will have to play dirty to get her scoop and even dirtier to get her man. Only in winning the story, she might just lose her heart…
The Hot Shot by Kristen Callihan
Opposites attract • Friends first • Light but emotional
First we were friends. Then we were roommates. Now I want more…
What can I say about Chess Copper? The woman is capable of bringing me to my knees. I know this about five minutes after getting naked for her.
No one is more surprised than me. The prickly photographer my team hired to shoot our annual charity calendar isn’t my usual type. She’s defense to my offense, a challenge at every turn. But when I’m with her, all the regrets and darkness goes away. She makes life fun.
I want to know Chess, be close to her. Which is a bad idea.
Chess is looking for a relationship. I’ve never given a woman more than one night. But when fate leaves Chess without a home, I step up and offer her mine. We’re roommates now. Friends without benefits. But it’s getting harder to keep our hands off each other. And the longer we live together the more I realize she’s becoming my everything.
Trick is… Now that I’ve made her believe I’m a bad bet, how do I convince her to give this player a true shot at forever?
Fraternize by Rachel Van Dyken
Love triangle (NOT MFM) • Curvy heroine • Great chemistry
Emerson just made her dream come true as a professional cheerleader for her favorite pro football team. But even though the plus-size athlete is breaking down boundaries, she still has to contend with the massive rulebook. Carbs? Nope. Chocolate? Definitely not. Still, Emerson loves her curves, and she’ll rock the hell out of this job even if it kills her. Except for one mandate that is easier read than done…
No fraternizing with the players.
Problem one is Miller Quinton: Emerson’s first love, first sex, and the guy who still ignites her daydreams and R-rated fantasies. Thrown back together, Miller and Emerson feel the undeniable pull of passion again, even if the conflict that tore them apart seems insurmountable. Then there’s way-too-sexy Grant Sanchez. He has a serious reputation with the ladies, and when it comes to winning someone he wants, he doesn’t let anyone stand in his way.
Now Emerson is breaking every rule in the manual. But what she doesn’t know is that she’s part of a wicked little game—one that could steal both her dream and her heart.
Team Player by Julianna Keyes
Great chemistry • Light but deep • Sports-focused
Don’t hate the player…
Gwen Scott wants to love her job with the Charleston Thrashers, the MLB team she’s worshiped since she was a kid, but she can’t. Hateful colleagues and mind-numbing work make her days unbearable—until her head for baseball gets her exclusive access to the Thrashers’ clubhouse and she comes face-to-face with Tyler Ashe, the team’s sexy shortstop and baseball’s most ineligible bachelor.
Ty has sworn off relationships in order to focus on his all-star career, but with his best friend gone, his team struggling, and the press blaming him for every loss, the most recognizable man in the majors is in a slump. Until he starts spending his time off the field with a stern blonde who recites baseball stats for kicks and sees through his arrogant façade.
As the Thrashers’ season gets into full swing and Gwen adjusts to her new job, their fun banter and friendly teasing turns into stolen kisses and countless steamy nights. The team’s strict policy against player-staff relationships throws a curve ball into the mix, but they can’t hide from their feelings any more than the most famous man in baseball can hide from the spotlight…