As a romance writer, I spend a lot of time doing “research.” By that, I mean that I download a romance book each weekend and kick back for some quality reading time. As fans of romance novels, we all know that there are trends–a year ago, readers were falling in love with bad boy stepbrothers left and right. Six months after that, the store was loaded with my personal favorite–mafia hitmen and wise guys falling in love. Most recently, there’s been a huge uptick in the number of football romances making it into the top 100 on Amazon.

Beyond the Football Season

It started with Vi Keeland’s Baller. After hitting number one in the store–and making it onto the New York Times Bestseller list–many other self-published authors looked deep within themselves to write about the sexy football players haunting their dreams. Sabrina Paige’s fantastic read, Tackled, followed suit and also hit very high in the Amazon ranks. Sosie Frost followed up Bad Boy’s Baby with three more football romances, and I wouldn’t be surprised if she’s at work on another one. Lauren Landish, Nikki Wild, Joanna Blake, and many, many other big names have published romances focusing on the NFL or NCAA athletes, and it seems like readers still can’t get enough. These romances are heavier on in-between-the-sheets heat than they are on the particulars of football, but something about the sport has sparked the romance reader’s imagination, lasting far beyond the football season.

These romances are heavier on in-between-the-sheets heat than they are on the particulars of football, but something about the sport has sparked the romance reader’s imagination

But if we know anything about romance–and we do, of course, since we’re voracious romance readers–trends fade and give way to the next big thing. I predict that sports will continue to be big indefinitely, especially as the Summer Olympics draw to a close and the autumnal sports schedule starts to take over. After all, won’t we still thirst for more stories about our favorite modern day princes?

A Different Kind of Player

If I had my way, we’d be seeing a different kind of football romance take over–that’s soccer for my fellow Americans. Soccer guys are highly skilled at their game–and they don’t have all that American football equipment covering up their bodies. The talented Avery Wilde’s Playing Dirty is currently ranking high among the numerous American football romances. Could there be more to follow? With the multitude of upcoming soccer matches and the world-renowned skill and athleticism of the Olympic teams, it seems like a possibility.

However, my true prediction–despite my love for hot soccer guys–lies with another uniquely American sport. The multitalented Winter Renshaw, whose books twist, turn, and refuse to let go, has her first baseball romance, Heartless, sitting in the top ten in the Amazon store. The Perfect Game by J. Sterling is busy capturing hearts as well–but the true tidal wave of baseball romances has yet to hit. When the World Series takes over the collective consciousness of America, baseball romances may take over the wild, wonderful world of self-published romance.

The baseball trend might be lost on readers outside of the United States, but American football romances have performed well in the United Kingdom and other markets. I contend that soccer–the not quite as American football–may have more universal appeal. But many romance writers live in the United States–and my Canadian and British writer friends are still loving writing romances that focus on the NFL. What appeals more to a writer than learning about a new subject–especially when you can learn about it while reading steamy romances?

If you’re a writer, not much compares to that.

In case you were wondering, Heartless is doing quite well for itself in the Amazon UK store. Perhaps readers outside of the United States like the novelty–or maybe, they like the sensual alpha males who live inside the pages regardless of what sports they’re playing.

If that’s the case, then I’m frankly hoping for a proliferation of soccer and baseball romances. I’m not sick of football just yet, but I’m ready for some more variety in my romance-cover hotties.

Is that too much to ask?

In the meantime, I might be choosing a baseball romance for the weekend. Maybe you should too.

Books Mentioned in This Article

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Lexi Whitlow

Lexi Whitlow is originally from the middle of nowhere in a tiny county in Virginia--though now she's enjoying her days as a suburban romance writer in a neighborhood with a big, shiny pool. She spent her early years growing up between Virginia and her grandfather's farm in North Carolina. She's Southern by heritage and a world-traveler at heart. Writing books allow her to travel to distant, unexplored lands in her mind, but she spends most days chasing her six-year-old and shouting at her dog to stop sneaking onto the sofa while she's writing. She holds a master's degree in English literature, and her mom is so proud she's "using her degree." Lexi harbors a not-so-secret love for bad boys. She loves fighters, dirty princes, crooked cops, and criminals. Her husband is a scientist... but he has the heart of a bad boy. She spends what little free time she has crocheting, painting, and occasionally cooking for her family. On big writing nights, everyone is happy eating cereal.

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