We’re now hitting the true doldrums of the hockey offseason, where very little of real interest occurs. There’s so little happening that hockey writers have taken to documenting the dinner menu of Shane Doan. At one point, TSN’s front page for the NHL featured the noteunworthy signing of borderline fourth-liner Guillaume Desbiens by the Vancouver Canucks, an apparent pugilist who sometimes forgets how to properly form a fist.
It’s at times like this that a hockey blogger like myself goes searching for something – anything – to write about. And it’s at times like this that odd discoveries are made.
Today I discovered that there is such a thing as a hockey romance novel.
I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised. Romance novels are hugely popular among a certain subset of the population and the same is true for hockey; those two worlds have to overlap somewhere. Plenty of female (and male) hockey fans find hockey players thoroughly attractive, more than just the puck bunnies who are only interested in attending hockey games for the purposes of “scoring.” Surely some of those happen to read romance novels and would appreciate if the male lead was a hunky hockey player.
I have never read a romance novel, unless Pride and Prejudice and Zombies counts, and I don’t think it does. But I have to admit, some of the following almost make me want to give a hockey romance novel a try, if only out of curiosity. Here are the five best titles of the bunch, in no particular order.
5 | Her Man Advantage
by Joanne Rock
Seriously, that title. It would also work for a book about a female athlete who has a secret advantage that allows her to dominate her sport: she’s secretly a man!
This book, however, is about Finnish bad boy defenceman/enforcer Axel Rankin. For him, hockey was a way out of his biker gang past. Apparently Finnish biker gangs are extremely powerful and dangerous in the world of this novel, because when a female documentary filmmaker, Jennifer Hunter, starts filming his team, the Philadelphia Phantoms, he gets worried that they’ll track him down. Because playing professional hockey in a proxy for the NHL is really keeping a low profile…
Tag line: “Full-body contact never felt this good…”
Warning sign: In the excerpt on Amazon.com, the coach of the Phantoms says that he’s going to put Rankin, a defenceman, on the top line. It’s entirely possible that the author’s hockey knowledge is a little lacking.
4 | Between a Jock and a Hard Place
by Mona Ingram
What? Seriously? That’s the title? Well, that’s pretty on the nose, as it were.
What happens when a non-hockey fan, Claire Collins, in the hockey-mad city of Vancouver accidentally falls for the Canucks’ star player, Jack Logan, without realizing who he really is? According to the summary, they fall for each other, then argue about violence in hockey.
Apparent tag line: “This delightful novella is a quick read at just under 25,000 words.”
Kudos: In the excerpt, the author actually uses the word “stanchion.” Huh.
3 | Cross Check My Heart
by Kerri Nelson
This is the best title ever.
She’s the physical therapist for the US Hockey Team with an ominous secret from her past. He’s a veteran hockey player who might not make the cut for the team due to a dark secret of his own. Jana and Danny embark on a relationship built on a foundation of secrets, lies, and deceit, which is sure to work out really well for both of them.
Tag line: “One woman running from her past, one man chasing his future…when their worlds collide, passion and danger ignite the way!”
Quote from the author: “Jana is a sports therapist who knows how to mend the broken body but who will mend her broken heart?”
2 | Body Check
by Deirdre Martin
This isn’t the only hockey romance novel under the title “Body Check.” There are also three under the title “Powerplay.” I guess not everyone can be as creative as Kerri Nelson and not every book can be titled “Cross Check My Heart.”
Janna MacNeil is the new publicist for the New York Blades, trying to change their bad boy image; Ty Gallagher is the hard-headed captain of the Blades, whose only goal is the Stanley Cup and doesn’t have time for PR stunts.
Tag line: “This game’s going into overtime.”
Other tag line: “When the persistent publicist and the stubborn captain butt heads, it’s hard enough to crack the ice. But they may end up melting it instead…”
Other other tag line: “She’s going to need a power play to win this hockey star’s heart.”
1 | Cup Check
by Stephani Hecht
This is a solid title for a steamy hockey romance novel, but it gets even better when you realize that this is actually a gay steamy hockey romance novel.
This book seems to take place in a post-If-You-Can-Play future, as Sergei, the new player on the Battle Creek Hawks, is an openly gay hockey player. Meanwhile, team captain Kip Cooper has one eye on making the NHL and one eye on Sergei; Kip’s big secret is that he is gay, but is afraid to let anyone know in case it costs him his NHL dream. What will ensue?
Most awkward turn of phrase from description: “Too bad Sergei is young and openly gay… and Kip isn’t.” Isn’t young or isn’t openly gay or both?
Quote from the excerpt: “He couldn’t help himself, all Sergei had to do was take one look at those deep, blue eyes and he went from an IQ of 138 to duhhhhh in two seconds flat.”
BONUS | Chasing Stanley
by Deirdre Martin
At first, this sounds like an awesome title for a hockey romance novel. A male lead, whose name happens to be Stanley, is chasing the Stanley Cup. Meanwhile, the female lead is chasing Stanley himself. Perfect, right?
Unfortunately, Stanley is a dog.
Jason Mitchell is a professional hockey player whose dog, Stanley, is having trouble adjusting to life in New York now that he’s been traded to the Blades (remember them?). Fortunately, Delilah Gould is an attractive dog trainer who knows how to tame Stanley, who is still the dog and not the hockey player. Missed opportunity, Deirdre.
Actual line from the description: “Jason realizes he’ll have to score big to win the Stanley Cup – and the woman who has tamed his dog and unleashed his heart.”
Seriously: “Unleashed his heart.”