I think I’ve mentioned before that I’m from El Paso, Texas, and perhaps that I lived in Washington, D.C., for 20 years before moving to Madison, Wisconsin. You’ll notice that Texas, D.C. and Wisconsin give you a wide range of sports teams to follow and root for.
Despite being from Texas and now living in Wisconsin—two places where football, especially, sometimes seems as much a part of life as eating and breathing—I don’t pay too much attention to sports, though I occasionally follow post-season action. If I were to say I was a fan of any sports, they would be tennis, which I played in high school and followed closely for years, and baseball, which was the first sport I ever remember watching (namely, the minor league El Paso Diablos, which no longer exist). :o(
I’m not a die-hard fan of any team. I’ve been to a few Baltimore Orioles games—love Cal Ripken and Camden Yards!—and a Milwaukee Brewers game or two. (I’m sad to say the Washington Nationals came to D.C. the spring after we moved.) My husband, kids and I even caught a Braves game on a broiling hot day in Atlanta a few summers ago.
But my childhood team, which remains forever in my sentimental heart, is the Kansas City Royals.
My mom was born and raised in a Kansas suburb (virtual kisses to Olathe!) and my dad in neighboring Nebraska, so when we would visit relatives in the summer, we’d occasionally get into the city for a game. When I was in high school, the Royals were highly successful in the post-season and were cool and generous enough—cuz when you’re that age, everything is about you—to beat the Cardinals my senior year in a dramatic 7th game of the World Series.
Since then? Nothing.
Not one trip past the regular season in nearly 30 years. The longest active postseason drought in Major League Baseball. That is, until last week when they reached the play-offs as a wild card. (YAY!) And oh good golly, did you watch that game on Tuesday? October drama at its finest!
Unfortunately the Brewers, who were in first place for most of the regular season, imploded over the past few weeks and didn’t make it out. As my husband says, for the good and the bad, “It’s never over ’til October.”
In honor of my retro-beloved Royals, I thought I’d scout out a few good baseball romances to share, and was pleasantly surprised to discover a whole bunch!
If you haven’t discovered Melanie Scott’s recent baseball series, featuring the fictional New York Saints baseball team and its three newly minted owners, I highly recommend it. It starts with Devil in Denim and will continue in December with Angel in Armani. Devil in Denim had a hard-ball (sorry, couldn’t resist) conflict that the author handled powerfully. Oh, and Alex and Maggie are seriously sexy.
Jaci Burton’s Play-by-Play series—which are just-this-side of erotic—are really compelling, especially if you like sports-themed storylines and lots of heat. Burton is known for her steamy sex scenes, but that doesn’t mean she doesn’t have excellent conflicts and heart-tugging emotionalism. The few I’ve read (including Changing the Game) have been smart and touching, as well as scorchingly sexy. A couple have a baseball theme, but they include football and hockey, too. (Read a review for Burton’s Melting the Ice)
Apparently contemporary fan-faves Jill Shalvis and Carly Phillips both have baseball-themed books. (How have I missed this? Will have to put those on my TBR pile!) Double Play and Slow Heat by Jill Shalvis. Hot Number and Hot Property by Carly Phillips. Baseball/Shalvis/Phillips. Need I say more?!
Squeeze Play is the first in Kate Angell’s Richmond Rogues baseball series. I’ve read a couple of things by Angell—a sparkling writer who combines humor and sizzling romance—but not these, which look great. (TBR pile is groaning...)
I’ve heard so many great things about author Mindy Klasky’s light paranormals, but I just discovered she has a baseball series, The Diamond Brides, that follows the romantic adventures of the fictional Raleigh Rockets baseball team. Yum! (Good thing TBR pile is mostly virtual...)
High school was a good, long time ago for me, and I don’t think I’ve been to a Royals game (unless it was in Baltimore) since then. But I remember some of those days as if they were yesterday. In a way, opening the first page of a romance novel is like that long-ago high school past for me—so full of promise and expectation, the crazy, breathless anticipation of the bright unknown.
I’ll be rooting for the Royals this October. (I originally wrote this before that amazing game! It’s a good day to be a Royals fan.) Moreover, I think I might be reading a book or two about some sexy, imaginary Boys of Summer, and the awesome women who catch them.
What about you? Any baseball- or sports-themed romances you’d recommend? (Of course Molly O’Keefe and Susan Elizabeth Phillips go without saying.)
And in case you haven’t seen it, I found a great sports romance bundle for only $0.99, that includes some of the books and authors mentioned above (sale ends on October 16!).