Top Five Reasons to Read Sports Romance


By Kate Willoughby, author of the In the Zone series

You might be surprised to learn that romance readers who don’t necessarily like sports often end up loving sports romances. I get a lot of reviews that say “I loved this book, and I don’t even like hockey.” Here are five reasons why that might be.

5. Manliness

A man’s man can really hit a romance reader right in the ovaries, and professional athletes are strong and agile, the best of the best, and admired by other lesser men.

4. Solidarity

Hockey, football and baseball make up the majority of the sports romance genre because with these team sports, the readers get a fly-on-the-wall pass to the locker room, the one place guys feel free to let their man flag wave. We also get to witness male bonding on the ice/field/diamond and off it. There’s something heartwarming about seeing macho men watching out for each other’s physical and emotional wellbeing.

3. Success

These guys are also filthy rich. While we require romance heroes to have many good qualities, like honesty, loyalty, generosity, courage, etc., it never hurts for them to have a bunch of money. Vicariously dating a rich man is escapism at its best.

2. That Alpha Thing

This is not the same thing as manliness. When I think of an alpha male, I think of aggression and dominance. Alphas are decisive and competitive. They like to win. What’s amazing about sports romance heroes is that their alpha might only come out on the ice/field/diamond, leaving them to be any other type of hero you fancy when they’re not playing. Don’t get me wrong. You’ll find dyed-in-the-wool alphas in the sports romance genre, but you’re just as likely to find a genuinely nice guy, who can turn their alpha on at will. It’s like having your (beef) cake and eating it too.

1. The Story

The number one reason I think sports romances resonate so well with readers is that, at their core, sports romances are Cinderella stories. They are literal examples of the phrase “he’s out of my league.” And yet, when I pick up a sports romance, I get a story in which he picks me (by proxy.) There is something about me that entrances him, makes him forget about all the other women at the ball. It’s every princess fantasy we ever floated away on and I, for one, always longed to be a princess. What about you?


9781459295599-APLIN THE ZONE SERIES BOOKS 1–3 by Kate Willoughby

Fall in love with the San Diego Barracudas. Get the first three In the Zone hockey romances, now available in one box set!


NHL player Tim Hollander lost his temper one time and threw a water bottle at an abusive fan. After “Bottlegate,” he’s traded to the San Diego Barracudas, where he’ll need to keep the bad publicity to a minimum while proving he can still compete with the younger guys on the ice. When pediatric nurse Erin Collier is threatened by an obnoxious fan, Tim rushes to defend the pretty stranger, throwing a punch in the process. The chemistry between Tim and Erin is palpable, but unless he can convince her to see beyond the hockey-thug surface to the good guy underneath, their relationship won’t last longer than a single season.


Calder Griffin needs to get back in shape. Sidelined last season by a knee injury, he’s determined to get back on the ice and play the best hockey of his career. Becca Chen has poured all her energy into the restaurant she owns, desperate to prove that she can succeed in the career of herchoice, not her parents’. But one five-hour plane ride flirting with charming, magic-on-the-ice Calder and suddenly she can’t keep her hands off him. They live on opposite coasts, and they’re both too devoted to their careers. It can’t last. All they have to do is prevent their feelings from crossing the line from lust to love…


Alex Sullivan may be the San Diego Barracudas’ resident playboy, but he hasn’t been able to forget the woman who kissed him like her life depended on it ten months ago. When he sees her again at a teammate’s wedding, he can’t think of anything but spending more time with her. Preferably naked. Claire Marzano lost years to an overbearing husband, and she’s not going to answer to anyone ever again. A hot fling is just what she needs to get back in the game, and that’s exactly what sexy Alex offers—one wild long weekend away, no promises or obligations. Until a surprise announcement and an on-ice accident threaten to derail everything…or cause Alex to finally ditch his old ways and become the man Claire needs him to be.

Kate Willoughby happily writes her hockey romances in Southern California. She is married and has two sons, a Chihuahua and a beta fish. When she’s not writing, she’s watching hockey. When it’s not hockey season, she whines a lot.

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