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…

Sex ensues.

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.

Sex ensues.

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.

Sex ensues.

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.

Sex ensues.

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?

Sex ensues.

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.

Sex ensues.

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.”

Comments (29)

  1. I may or may not have actually read more than one of these. You’ll never know.

  2. The Deidre Martin books are a whole series and I’ve read them all. I recommend them.

  3. For someone who’s never read a romance novel, you’ve got the “sex ensues” part of the plot down cold. Good job.

    Although, my favorite title of a hockey-related romance novel has to be The Virgin’s Secret Marriage. Because, that is a giant glass of WTF served with extra ice.

  4. Is Stephani Hecht the sexually frustrated wife of Johan Hecht?

  5. Wow. Just wow. That is all. Thank you for this hilarity during the longest hockey drought months ever.

  6. I’ve read, and enjoyed, all of the Deidre Martin books. I highly recommend them, and will search out these others now! :-)

  7. Sitting in my office trying/failing at stifling a well deserved snort or two.
    …sex ensues

  8. Yeah, I’m another who’s read all the Deirdre Martins (picked up because she has the best first name ever – but I may be biased). They’re pretty good :-)

    Now I have more romances to go find. Thanks Dan.

  9. Surprised there isn’t a novel with the title “Tied Up in the Corner”. Or maybe that would be a branch off of the “50 Shades of Grey” series??

  10. Hey Daniel, I think you should read at least one of these, I bet you’ll enjoy it! Plus someone could catch you reading “Cup Check” or “Her Man Advantage” and have a blackmail photo for the ages.

    While I always appreciate your sense of humour, having read this post on hockey romances and one about a month ago on PuckDaddy, it makes me wonder…how come any amount of regular hockey fandom is okay but when it comes titillating women fans, it’s all ridiculous?

    • My wife is dead-set against me reading any of these or I totally would. It would be fun to review one for Backhand Shelf.

      Titillating women fans isn’t ridiculous, but some of these titles and descriptions are very, very ridiculous.

      • True, they do sound ridiculous out of context, but is reading a hockey romance any more ridiculous than, say calculating the cap space and trades that would allow your team to hypothetically sign all the available free agents? At least at the end of the hour, you’ve read a book.

        Plus, there is a certain irony to the fact that you said “Hey look everyone, hockey romance, isn’t that funny?” And half your comments are hockey fans saying, “Actually, I’ve read all those, and they’re not bad.”
        It’s a choice like anything, if you like red you’d rather have a red shirt. And if you like romances and hockey, you’d rather read a hockey romance.

        If you want to read one and review it on the basis of hockey, that’s cool. But to say it’s funny, merely because it exists and has breathless prose in the summary, well that’s borderline sexism. Anyway, you probably started all this lust by flashing Chris Higgins’ abs everywhere!

  11. “Axel Rankin” is Finnish? I mean, I guess if Sean “the Celtic German” Bergenheim can be Finnish it isn’t that much of a stretch, but I can think up far more realistically Finnish-sounding names right on the spot — Pekka Ilkkaläinen; Tommi Nieminen; Vesa Häämeenuvirta.

    Also “Jack Logan” doesn’t sound like a Canuck star player one bit. Maybe “Johan Lågän” or something.

    • HA, I was thinking the exact same thing. Axel Rankin?? Really?? All the author needed to do was spend 2 minutes Googling Finnish names! It’s not that difficult…. srsly.

  12. How is “The Penalty Box” (one of Martin’s previous books, mentioned on the cover of “Stanley”) not the best name ever for a hockey romance novel???

  13. I was afraid this was going to be a bashing post, and I’m glad it wasn’t (entirely), though I can see the attempt to poke fun at some of them. As a member of the Romance Writers of America, an avid, die-hard hockey fan (Go Ducks!) and former hockey blogger (Girl with a Puck & HLOG, active between the years of 2006-2009), I can get a little defensive about hockey romance novels. Sports heroes are considered a niche market within the realm of romance and you’d be surprised to find how hard it is to sell a sports hero, despite the fact that romance novels account for more than 50% of paperback sales every year. That being said, I can’t speak for your other titles on this list, but I am aware that both Kerri Nelson and Deirdre Martin are actual hockey fans and I applaud them both for incorporating that love into something else they enjoy (writing romance). I haven’t yet read the Nelson book, but the Martin novels are all quite entertaining, lighthearted, and good reads. Probably my hands-down favorite hockey romance novels come from Rachel Gibson, though, who wrote “See Jane Score” — one of the best hockey romance novels on the market, beating Martin’s “Body Check” by 2003 debut by a month — along with other hockey-related romance novels including Simply Irresistible (1998), The Trouble with Valentine’s Day (2005), True Love and Other Disasters (2009), Nothing but Trouble (2010), and Any Man of Mine (2011). Finally, the latest sports hero romances to burst on the scene is Jaci Burton’s Play-by-Play series novel featuring a number of different sports heroes, including a hockey one — “Taking the Shot” — and I’m told, there will be even more hockey romance novels to come from her. So, if you are willing to give a hockey romance novel a read, my recommendation would have to be Gibson’s “See Jane Score” as it’s funny, warm, and sexy (if a little dated, given it’s 2003 pub date). If anyone else out there is looking for more hockey themed romance, check out Jaci Burton! (And maybe, just maybe, someday you’ll see my name on one of these! lol, you never know…)

    • I’m not going to bash anyone’s choice of entertainment (unless it’s Twilight – then you’re fair game and it’s your own fault) and I can definitely understand the appeal of adding your favourite sport to a genre you already enjoy.

      The Martin books were pretty well reviewed from what I saw and they did look fun. Not my taste, but I definitely get why others would like them.

    • The Rachel Gibson books are, no offense to your choices, flat out horrible in terms of hockey. The female protagonists clearly state–over and over, throughout the entire series–that they don’t care about or don’t understand hockey and have no interest in learning about it. Even in See Jane Score, where she’s (implausibly, even by romance novel standards) assigned to cover the team and travel with them, she learns about hockey by reading a For Dummies book. I seriously can’t imagine any professional athlete wanting to marry someone who actively doesn’t care about or scorns something they’ve dedicated their entire lives to. Gibson proclaims herself to be an avid hockey fan, but I don’t see that in her stories.

      • The Martin books do probably have more hockey-friendly female protagonists, but she’s also created her world in such a way that interacting with hockey players is a natural byproduct of what they’re doing. Also, some of the success of Martin’s books are owed to Gibson, who paved the way with her hockey romances. There was one hockey romance novel that I found completely ridiculous, but I won’t state the title of it here, but just know it was written by a NYT best selling author that has not yet been named in this thread.

        I understand your point about Gibson and her characters and respect your stance. I do think, though, that the romance market probably had something to do with Gibson’s heroines knowing next to nothing about hockey. At the time, sports heroes in romance were not just a tough sell, they were next to impossible unless you were already established in the industry and even then, it was considered a gamble. Even today, while this has lessened somewhat, sports heroes are still not overwhelmingly popular. Because of this, I imagine that Gibson may have made certain decisions concerning the character in order to make sure that her work still sold. But, this is just my two cents on the matter.

  14. Having just umpired two Bantam AA Provincials baseball games and marked a half dozen Mathematics assignments for inmates of local institutions, I found your post a welcome completion to a so far fine day. Tonight its Texas Hold-em. Retirement is so much fun!

  15. “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?”

    This would be a lot more entertaining if it were about the actual star players on the ‘Nucks.

    “Oh Daniel…”

    “No, I’m Henrik.”

    Crazy sitcom shenanigans ensue…

  16. Oh man, these look hilarious. I’m tempted to read that Vancouver one, hehe.

  17. In all seriousness, this made my offseason. Even as an NYR fan. Trashy hockey romance novels >>> getting Nash for relative peanuts.

  18. I read a couple of Dierdre Martin’s hockey romances as well as Luanne Rice’s Summer Light (a very good hockey romance) before writing one of my own! No Penalty for Love was published by Avalon Books just a few years ago. If you’re looking for a sweet, wholesome romance with a hockey hero. . .

  19. :) stumbling upon the hockey romance genre… May have been why I started watching hockey…???? My fav though was “Teamwork” Hot Ice #4… When I hurled my phone across the room and started screaming omg OMG omg omg.. My husband asked me what was up… When I explained… He then said “what do you expect with a book by that title” whew… Overall I like the sports romance thing… Although hockey seems to be my fav category…

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