Sunday, November 24, 2013
Jane Scores Very Highly Indeed!
Are you a fan of sports romances? When I started writing romance, I targeted Harlequin and the wisdom back then (the 1980s and 1990s) was that sports romances don't sell.
Hmm, not sure if that's the case anymore. I've noticed that it's a growing genre!
It's weird that I'm so fond of these stories. I'm not a huge sports fan, but I love a good romance set in the world of elite athletes and the women who tame them. Football definitely isn't my thing, for example, but I'd crawl on hands and knees over broken glass to get the latest Susan Elizabeth Phillips Chicago Stars book.
I'm particularly looking forward to my Bandita Buddy Anna Sugden's debut with Harlequin SuperRomance, A PERFECT DISTRACTION set around Anna's beloved hockey players. I'm writing this review a bit ahead of time so I still have a couple of months to wait for Anna's first book!
So while I'm waiting, I picked up Rachel Gibson's SEE JANE SCORE, book 2 of her Seattle Chinooks series (book 1 is SIMPLY IRRESISTIBLE which has now joined my TBR pile after I had such fun with Jane).
This was a really fun read and it had a few nice surprises along the way. Jane Alcott (brings to mind pictures of LITTLE WOMEN and JANE EYRE!) is an outwardly staid 30-year-old journalist who moonlights as Honey Pie, an erotic diarist for a men's magazine. When the book opens, life in Seattle really isn't taking her anywhere. Romance is disappointing. Her career is pottering along without hitting the heights. Until she gets the opportunity to travel with the Chinooks as a sports reporter. Jane, who is a pretty gutsy girl, jumps at the chance.
Unfortunately, the team doesn't want her along. They go out of their way to isolate her, stymie her reporting efforts, and make her feel uncomfortable - there are a couple of very funny scenes when Jane forces her way into the locker room after a game. Jane's particular bugbear is highly paid French Canadian goalie Luc Martineau. As far as Jane's concerned, Luc's good looks are only skin deep. Which is a pity when she develops a Mount Rainier size crush on him, despite her poor opinion of his behavior and his principles.
Luc is a man on a mission. He's on the comeback trail after injury and a pain medication addiction. He knows that as he's now in his thirties, his place with the Chinooks is his last chance to make it big in hockey. Not only that, he's struggling to make a home for a much younger sister who treats him as a hostile stranger. With all this going on, the last thing he wants or needs is a smart-mouthed, prickly, repressed (he has no idea she writes erotica!) woman who rubs him up the wrong way but who he can't get out of his head.
Yep, you got it. This is an attraction of opposites romance. I always enjoy those. I love it when people who outwardly have nothing in common end up making huge beneficial changes in the other person's life. I love watching the hero and heroine fall in love, usually gradually and always against their will with the last person they ever thought they'd want. I love the way this particular trope lends itself to clever, snarky dialogue. SEE JANE SCORE definitely 'scores' in the dialogue department. You'll find yourself laughing out loud as Jane and Luc battle desperately to put the other person in their place - which as far as each of them is concerned is on the next continent.
I mentioned a few surprises along the way. I won't spoil the story by listing them, but one of the many things I really liked is that, unlike the pattern of many sports stories, Luc is pretty together, it's Jane who needs to undergo the biggest life lessons. Often in these books, the males are the wild cards, but in this case, Luc's already undergone his baptism of fire with all he went through before joining the Chinooks. He's refreshingly sensible for a romance hero!
As you can probably gather, Jane scored a hit for me. I suspect she would for you too!
So are you a fan of sports stories? Any favorites? Any theories as to why they're flavor of the month now, whereas ten or so years ago, they were a hard sell?
Posted by Anna Campbell at 12:00 AM
Labels: A Perfect Distraction, Anna Campbell, Anna Sugden, Contemporary Romance, Hockey Romance, Rachel Gibson, Reviews, Romantic Comedy, Second Helping, See Jane Score, Sports Romance, Susan Elizabeth Phillips
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This is a keeper shelf book and my favorite Rachel Gibson story. I also love SEP's Chicago Stars series and Deirdre Martin's hockey romances. I enjoyed these books because they were realistic, using sports lingo and "guy speak". I've read lots of sports romances, but these authors penned my favorites.
Jen, I've just had a bit of a reading binge after getting a book in, and thanks to this blog, I read KISS AN ANGEL by Susan Elizabeth Phillips. She really is a writer who can do no wrong, isn't she?Delete
I always live sport stories, maybe because i always suck at sports. I can't believe they're a hard sell 10 years ago..ReplyDelete
Sienny, I remember getting it direct from a Harlequin editor's lips that they were a hard sell, despite SEP's books being such a success. There were a couple of professions that readers had made it very clear they didn't like - artists, actors rockstars, and sportspeople. It's funny - I love books where the hero is an artist!Delete
I enjoyed Rachel Gibson's 'See Jane Score' and SEP's 'Chicago Stars' series despite not being a hockey or American Football fan. As an ageing soccer and cricket player with a love for Wimbledon tennis I identify with the spirit of sport. The competition, the glory of winning and the (possible) humiliation of losing. Though as Boris Becker once said, on losing at Wimbledon " I just lost a game of tennis, it wasn't a war, nobody died".ReplyDelete
However, with some big games, especially ashes cricket matches against 'the old enemy' Australia, it can feel like a war, and losing can mean the manager dies (not literally!) LOL
No idea why the popularity of sports romance has increased, unless it is simply tracking the rising popularity of sport. I see that China is now taking up cricket so America will soon have to follow! The plop of willow on leather on a leafy English cricket ground is such a romantic sound! And why are there no gymnastics romances, especially after the recent Olympic spectaculars.
Hey, Quantum, I"m an Aussie. You're definitely talking to the converted there! We're just heading into our cricket season down here (old enemy is down - hope we beat you, our record lately has been a bit patchy!). My dad was a huge cricket fan - you had no chance at all of getting a chance of watching anything else but cricket over the Christmas holidays in our house and I remember the car radio was permanently tuned to the ABC to listen to the broadcasts if we went anywhere. Surprising how exciting a radio broadcast of a cricket match can be! I have some diehard fans who play the radio while they watch the TV broadcasts on mute.Delete
Hi Anna! Anybody who knows me will have no problem answering this question. LOL! I've been a sports fan for as long as I can remember and love sports themed romances. See Jane Score was my introduction to Rachel Gibson's writing (Thanks, Janga!) and sits on my keeper shelf. It's an excellent example of sports-themed romance at its best.ReplyDelete
Speaking of sports, I spent yesterday at a college football game (bonus granddaughter is on the university dance team) and am out the door this morning to cheer on my 11 year old "bonus" nephew at his soccer tournament. I'll check in when I get home!
PJ, sounds like a busy day ahead for you. Janga is a great source of recommendations, isn't she? I'm devouring the Aunt Dimity mysteries right now, thanks to her! I'd read some other books by Rachel Gibson but hadn't read her sports stuff till now. Will definitely pick up some more.Delete
Love sports related stories: Kate Angell's baseball series, Rachel's and Deirdre Martin's Hockey, SEP's footballs and Jaci Burton's sports series all come to mind.ReplyDelete
Pat, I must admit I haven't explored deeply into the sports romance genre. SEP is an autobuy for me and I loved See Jane Score. Must read a few more.Delete
See Jane Score was also my first Rachel Gibson...I devoured everything else one after the other. I love the wit, dialogue, and...and hockey. Born and raised in Minnesota, nothing was more exciting in the winter than when our team went up against a Canadian team. Rachel really nails what I call "manspeak/manthink". Since I've drained Rachel's well dry, I cant wait for Anna Sugden's release. Thanks for the heads up.ReplyDelete
Kathleen, Anna's going a whole series based around a team called the Penguins. If you ever get a chance to meet Rachel, definitely go. She's great fun in person too.Delete
Oh, by the way, ice hockey isn't really a sport we play down here. Guess that's something about being a sunburnt country!ReplyDelete
I really like sports romances. I just started reading Rachel Gibson within the last few years, so I have a few more of her backlist to get to. I haven't read this book yet, so I have something to look forward to. I've enjoyed all of Susan Elizabeth Phillips' Chicago Stars series and recently read one of Deidre Martin's hockey books.ReplyDelete
All the successful sports-themed romances appear to be part of a series. Perhaps the shorter Harlequins just don't give an author time to really develop this type of story. Harlequin had a line devoted to Nascar racing, but that's about it. They still must feel sports doesn't sell.
A new author just released the first book in a new rugby series. I haven't read it yet, but if you want to check it out, the author is Kat Latham and the book is Knowing The Score.
Kim, give Anna Sugden's hockey books a go. They're the longer format SuperRomance so not much shorter than a full length single title romance and they're another series. Looking forward to how the series will develop. SEP is marvellous, isn't she?Delete
Kim, I second Anna's recommendation of A Perfect Distraction by Anna Sugden. It's a very well-developed story and kicks off what looks to be a good series.Delete
Thanks. I'll look for it when the book is released.Delete
I like Rachel Gibson, but I haven't gotten to her Chinook series yet. I have read a few of Jaci Burton's Play by Play books & they are pretty steamy, which you can tell by the covers, but also have great stories. One of Carly Phillips' series from a few years ago is centered around a sports management company - the Hot Zone series - and that is really good. I am not a big sports watcher, but I enjoy stories about athletes.ReplyDelete
Sharlene, I actually think my favorite sport to watch is tennis and there aren't many tennis players in romance at all. Perhaps because the whole team thing leads to series which is what readers want these days. I haven't read the Jaci Burtons or the Carly Phillips sports books - I'll have to give them a go.Delete
Andrea likes the Jaci Burton series but I haven't read it yet. I loved the Carly Phillips Hot Zone books!Delete
I love Rachel Gibson's books. She is such a hillarious author. The firstbook of SEP that I read was also kissing an angel. Since then I fall in love with her books.ReplyDelete
Juliana, how funny! I read Kiss an Angel two days ago! I'm going to review it here sometime in the next few months so keep an eye out for that. What a wonderful story. Loved the stuff about the tiger.Delete
I'm a huge SEP fan. You really can't go wrong with any of her books.Delete
I have a huge fan of this series by Rachel Gibson. I also like Toni Aleo's hockey series- the Assassins series. I love anything Hockey.ReplyDelete
I haven't read Toni Aleo's hockey series. Off to check it out. Thanks!Delete
Chris, I hadn't even heard of these! Thanks for the recommendation!Delete
I'm late, but I have to say See Jane Score is my favorite Gibson novel and one of my all-time faves. Did you see it was on AAR's All-Time Top 100 list again? Iy was on my ballot.ReplyDelete
I'm a big football fan, but I'm a Braves fan rather than a baseball fan. I like most sports romances though, including SEP's golf books--even though I think watching golf is cruel and unusual punishment. But her Chicago Stars are my favorites. I also particularly like books like Kathleen Gilles Seidel's Summer's End in which the heroine is an athlete (a skater). It's one of the things I like best about Susan Wiggs's new Christmas book, Candlelight Christmas: the heroine is a sports marketing executive who tests all kinds of sports equipment.
Janga, no, I didn't see that! I've noticed that a lot of other people have loved this book too. My friend Rachel Bailey put me onto it - she has excellent taste in reading. Almost as good as yours. LOL! I have to tell you I don't understand golf - I remember watching Tin Cup years ago and having no idea what that ending meant. I thought he'd won!Delete
Thanks, everyone, for swinging by to talk about sports romances. And thanks, PJ, for being such a lovely presence as always. I've just done a reading binge - got a book in last week - so I've got lots of great new books, well, new oldish books, to tell you about in the coming months!ReplyDelete
Hi Anna, I'm a huge fan of sports so I naturally gravitated to reading sports stories. I love Rachel's Chinook series (hockey ones are my absolute favorite), SEP's Chicago Stars and Jaci Burton's Play by Play series. The one series I'm eager to read but haven't had a chance is Toni Aleo's Assassin series. I've got a couple in my TBR pile, as well as Anna Sugden's book. So looking forward to reading more hockey heroes.ReplyDelete
I'm not sure why they weren't popular back then but perhaps it could be because more females are getting into the sports themselves? I just know I've always loved a good sports hero.
Ada, it's interesting the change in fashions in heroes, isn't it? So glad you're a great fan of all these great sports books!Delete
I think more woman are trying to keep themselves fit with Zomba, yoga, working out at gyms or the Y.ReplyDelete
In addition to the many authors already posted I'd add: Jill Shalvis and Joanne Rock baseball, Farrah Rochon and Bella Andre football, Pamela Britton Nascar drivers, Victoria Dahl ex- baseball pitcher, Sandra Brown and Nora Roberts tennis player, Lisa Jackson Olympic skier. Do you also count rodeo stars? Linda Lael Miller Also Lori Foster has professional ultimate fighters
Wow, Laurie, that's a huge list! I'm clearly a slouch when it comes to sports romances. I hadn't heard of a lot of those. I must check out Nora's tennis player. Tennis would be my favorite sport to watch.Delete
Hi, Anna! I'm sorry I didn't stop by yesterday, but my house is full of sick people, plus it was my husband's birthday. All right before the holiday!!! Ack!ReplyDelete
I love sports romances! Slow Pitch by Jill Shalvis is one of my favorites, plus I love Jaci Burton's Play-By-Play series. : )
Andrea, looks like we all love sports romances. Hope everyone gets better over your way. Yuck to a house full of sick people!Delete
I am not a big sports fan, but I have read several sports related romances and surprisingly enjoyed all of them. The first one I read was about a hockey star and I am sorry I can't remember what it was. They may appeal because sports figures often appear larger than life and have so much further to fall or to reform. Since they are often referred to as sports "heroes," they are already half way there for the hero of a romance.ReplyDelete
Pat, I'm surprised I enjoy SEP's football books so much. I'm not really a football fan and American football isn't something that's played here - our local codes are quite different. I think she just writes such wonderful characters!Delete
They are also designed get observed. Their features differ according to the experience. For example a wristwatch set bought by a swimmer will be able to record the temperature so that the swimmer can concentrate on his snorkeling and the notice will do the tracking.ReplyDelete