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Sports Romances: Guaranteed to Score

        

One of my all time favorite books!

One of my all time favorite books!

Romance novels involving athletes have become extremely popular in the past several years.  Thanks to authors like Susan Elizabeth Phillips and her Chicago Stars, Deirdre Martin and her New York Blades and Jill Shalvis and the Santa Barbara Heat, readers have been culling the shelves for more sports romances.

        Why?  Because sports romances are inherently sexy.  For starters, they feature athletes with ripped bodies, nimble fingers, and lots of stamina. These guys are the ultimate Alpha hero because jocks live their lives playing a game.  Not only that, but they get paid well to do it.  Most of them are extremely self-confident and driven to win at all costs.  In a word, they’re egocentric.  Oh yeah, successful, athletic men are very sexy.

A good sports romance will give the reader a peek at the more vulnerable side of athletes, too.  These men harbor fears of not making the play or being injured or worse, cut from the team.  Some even have quirks or superstitious idiosyncrasies that make them endearing. (Although, I’m not so sure a scruffy beard is sexy, Boston!)  A glimpse at the more human aspect of life as a professional athlete adds to the sexiness.

But, the best part of a sports romance is watching these alpha heroes have their whole world turned upside down when they meet the one woman they can’t live without.  Athletes approach relationships much like they do a game and they don’t like to lose.  So when they meet a woman that changes the game on them, it makes the sparks fly off the pages. 

foolish games cover high resIn my latest release, Foolish Games, Baltimore Blaze linebacker, Will “William the Conqueror” Connelly is a cerebral, intense, behemoth man who takes care of business on the playing field while keeping to himself off the gridiron.  When he’s blindsided with the news he’s a father, Will believes he can orchestrate the lives of both his son and the baby’s mother much the same way he executes defensive plays during a game.  Of course, his game plan doesn’t work out exactly how he expected—what would be the fun in that?

 

What do you find sexy about a sports romance?  What are some of your favorites that you’ve read? 

My Love Affair With Book Covers

I fell in love with book covers in the 1980’s when Avon published the historical romances of Kathleen E Woodwiss, Shirley Busbee, Rosemary Rogers and Kathleen Sutcliffe.  Today, cover art still fascinates me, whether it’s showcased in hardcover, paperback, or e-book form.  To see the beautiful cover art of the Women Unplugged authors, click here.

One of the most spellbinding covers I’ve recently seen is from the historical romance SECRETS OF A PROPER COUNTESS by Lecia Cornwall.  This intricate story involves a woman of breeding who stands to lose everything she holds dear, the incorrigible rogue who falls in love with her, and the masquerade ball where their secrets unfold. It’s a cover colored in hues of pinks and purples and blues and with one look, the reader knows this is going to be a romance reminiscent of the historical romances of old.

On the other side of the spectrum is FLEE by Ann Voss Peterson and J A Konrath. This is a high-octane spy thriller featuring an elite spy whose cover is blown. She has twenty-four hours to thwart a kidnapping, stop a psychopath, uncover the mystery of her past, and save the world from nuclear annihilation … all while dodging 10,000 bullets. This cover, with its heroine dancing across rooftops and a multitude of assassins within firing range, is as fast and furious as the story itself.

For inspiration, I have a tear-out advertisement featuring WHAT I DID FOR LOVE by Susan Elizabeth Phillips tacked on the wall in front of my desk. When a Hollywood actress is dumped by her movie star husband, what does she do but get caught up in a calamitous elopement with her detestable former co-star who is the dreamboat-from-hell. Before she knows it, she has a fake marriage, fake husband, and maybe (or not) a fake sex life. This cover, with its heroine (sans hero) in a beautiful white wedding dress, speaks of a woman’s journey to find happiness.

Since fun, humorous fiction is one of my favorite genres, I must include SPLITSVILLE.COM by Tonya Kappes. The heroine launches an online break up service where she works under an alias. When two of her clients end up dead, putting the future of her business venture on the line, she’s the first one on the trail of the killer. When I look at this cover, there’s no doubt in my mind I’m going to spend a lot of time smiling and laughing.

And from the young adult market is STATIC by Tawny Stokes. When a seventeen-year-old band groupie meets the lead singer of her favorite band, her dream turns into a nightmare. She’s changing, turning into something not quite human. With the help of the band’s roadie, she goes after the members of the band to destroy them. On this cover, the teenage girl in the funky clothes holding a guitar looks kickass and tough enough to take on any teenage boy who dares to threaten her.

So what book covers do you love the most? And what do the covers say to you about the story inside?

It’s Football Time!

Shhh!  If you listen very closely, you can hear it.  The drummers are beginning the cadence.  Whistles are beginning to shrill.  The sound of pads hitting pads is in the air.  Yep, you guessed it; it’s football time!  Tonight, the high school marching band will be tuning up the fight song as folks pile into an oversized stadium—complete with an NFL sized JumboTron screen—for the season’s first game.  It doesn’t matter that the game is just a scrimmage against the high school up the street.  Or, that our high school has only two victories in the past three years—we’re an SAT school, don’t you know.  This is the South, baby, where Friday Night Lights is not just a TV program, but a way of life.

Let’s get something clear right up front:  I LOVE football.  Even before my family relocated to Georgia, I was a pigskin junkie.  My husband fondly tells people he knew I was a keeper the first time I shushed him so I could hear Chris Mortensen’s Redskin report on ESPN.  Seriously, he kissed me right on the spot.

Going to college at a major SEC University pretty much sealed the deal for my obsession with the game.  Football Saturday is THE social event in Knoxville, Tennessee.  Thousands of students march down Peyton Manning Boulevard behind the band, while thousands more fans arrive at the 107,000 seat stadium via boat as part of the Volunteer Navy.  Everywhere you look there is a sea of orange.  Heck, even the fire hydrants are painted orange!  It’s a scene repeated in dozens of stadiums across the South—only in a different color scheme, of course. 🙂

There is nothing like SEC football.  Okay, so with that statement I’ve made a few folks mad.  Probably even my husband, a lowly ACC guy.  But that’s what makes the fall so much fun.  The rivalries, the traditions, the tailgating, the pageantry, the body painting, the true devotion to one’s team—whether they graduated from that school or not; it’s awesome.   One never knows what will happen on any given Saturday in college football.  It’s what keeps us coming back to the game year after year, dreams of a bowl bid in our heads.

NFL football will have a season this year, too.  I heard on TV this week some frustrated housewives, probably with long ‘honey do’ lists, lamenting the fact the player’s strike was over.  As you might have guessed, I’m not one of those wives.  I never doubted Commissioner Roger Goodell’s ability to get things resolved and the season started.  Seriously, anyone who watched him and former Secretary of State Colin Powell recite the Preamble to the Constitution before last year’s Super Bowl has to know they are the 2012 Dream Ticket.  Come on, Roger, our country’s in crisis, Washington needs you!

The hero of my first fiction novel is a football player.  Yeah, you’re not surprised, I know.  It seemed like a good idea at the time.  After all, several other authors—Susan Elizabeth Phillips, for example—have made the NFL character work.  It was fun to write, although my character isn’t based on any one individual player; more a conglomeration of guys.  Only time—and the editors—will tell if I’ve been as successful as SEP, but at least I’ve got the football fantasy out of my system.  Now, I can write about…I don’t know… accountants?  Seriously, has that been done yet?

For now, like the rest of the football fans out there, I’m going to enjoy the start of another fall, where we all stand on the precipice of the “perfect season” for our favorite team.   Until the end of that first game, of course. 🙂

For The Love Of Reading

Sheila Seabrook

I inherited my nose from my dad. I also inherited his calves, his easy going personality and his love of reading. He died in 2009 but my all time favourite picture of him shows him sitting on the beach in a lawn chair, a book in his hands with the sun shining down on his head.

The first book I remember holding was a beautiful hardcover copy of Cinderella, filled with strange words I couldn’t read and beautiful pictures I adored. Once I learned to read, I worked my way through Dick and Jane, on to Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys, and in between, the back of every cereal box my mom ever bought.

When I ran out of reading material, I would sneak into my dad’s book stash, which he wisely kept in the garage, and read his Harlequin romances. He also had some racier novels there, stories with – gasp! – sex, and if my mom knew I was reading those books – heck, if she knew my dad was reading those books – she would have banned them from our reading material.

These days I’m allowed to read whatever I want and I want to read a lot. In fact, I want to read more than I have time for. Favourite authors include Jennifer Crusie, Susan Elizabeth Phillips, Barbara Samuel (O’Neal), Ann Voss Peterson, Linda Style, Susan Vaughan, Virginia Kelly, Joshilyn Jackson, and Lisa Lutz, just to name a few.  And with the arrival of the e-reader, not only is my to-be-read pile contained within one small device instead of all over the office floor, but I’ve discovered indie authors like our own Women Unplugged bloggers Dianne Venetta and Christy Hayes. If you haven’t read their books yet, run to your nearest e-reader and download them now. I’ll wait ….

My DadShortly before my dad died, he gave me the book Volcano by Richard Doyle. When he told me I had to read this book, there was a tone in his voice that I recognized so well. It was awe and wonder for a can’t-put-it-down story, emotions I too experience whenever I fall in love with a story or an author’s voice. Although I have yet to read the book – I’ve become more of a love-to-laugh-out-loud reader – Volcano will forever remain on my keeper shelf because it was the last time my dad shared his love of reading with me.

This is how I will always remember my dad, with a book in his hands and another waiting to be read. This is, hopefully, how my children will remember me, too.

So who did you inherit your reading gene from? Who are some of your favourite authors and books? And if you had to choose, would you rather spend your hard earned money on books or food and clothes?

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