I just finished reading Covering Kendall, a football themed romance novel about a woman GM of a football team. She begins a relationship with a player from another team and all kinds of trouble occurs. The author, Julie Brannagh, has written 3 other popular books in her Love and Football series. I have really loved all of the books and actually learned quite a bit about football which was not one of my favorite sports. In this latest book, the issue of domestic violence is a part of the book which was written well before the latest NFL issues began to surface. One thing about the romance writers, they have covered women's issues well before mainstream fiction ever did.
Sports themed romance novels are gaining in popularity. Romance novels of all types generated over 1.4 billion dollars in sales last year (the top rated fiction genre followed by Mystery/crime). As genres change in popularity, sports heroes seem to be hot right now in sales and on covers. There are series about hockey -Deirdre Martin's New York Blades, Rachel Gibson's Seattle Chinooks, Toni Aleo's Assassins etc. There are football series, Susan Elizabeth Phillips' Chicago Stars series was one of the first to hit really big. Since then, Jaci Burton, Julie Brannagh, Bella Andre and Jami Davenport all have well read series. There are writers like Lori Foster who is currently writing about MMA or Kat Latham who writes about rugby.
All of the books have a lot in common. The heroes are usually pretty stand up guys who are loyal and committed to their teams. Some are mansluts and some are homebodies. Some are self centered jerks and some are gentlemen. They are usually in great physical shape (see the picture above) and also financially well off. What is interesting is that in a lot of the books, the women work for the teams in some capacity or are strong fans of the featured team. There are a lot of books with female athlete heroines but that's another blog post. Avid female sports fans are gaining in numbers. NASCAR worked with Harlequin on a series of books a few years ago that contained a lot of information about how NASCAR worked and what the rules are. I'm sure they gained some fans because of those books.
I guess all of these hunky athletes are today's versions of the medieval warriors, foreign billionaires, and English lords who were the norm years ago when I first started reading this genre. Goodreads, Amazon and Barnes & Noble all have pages devoted to sports romance fiction so readers can find authors to enjoy. I know that I am certainly enjoying reading all of these books! Maybe I'll start watching football.....or hockey.