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Article  •  3 May 2024

 

Everything you need to know about hockey romance books

What is hockey romance? Why is BookTok obsessed? Check out this article for everything you need to know.

Whether you learn about new books from TikTok, Goodreads or the shelves at your favourite bookstore, you might have noticed that one particular sport is having a moment: ice hockey. 

But why are there suddenly so many hockey books, and where did the trend come from?

Turns out, the frenzy all started with BookTok. 

BookTok is the book-loving side of TikTok, where readers share book reviews and recommendations, often tagged #BookTok to attract fellow bookworms. 

As more readers have joined BookTok, TikTok creators have begun ‘niching down’, not only as a way to differentiate themselves. Where one BookTokker might primarily share ‘dark academia’ books, another might post solely about ‘romantasy’. 

In addition to allowing creators to shape their own TikTok identity, having a specific niche also helps creators’ videos reach the right audience. Because the app runs on an algorithm, users speculate that better-defined niches allow the videos to reach viewers who might be interested. 

As a result of a strong emphasis on niches, BookTok has spurred the popularity of countless super-specific subgenres. From ‘domestic thrillers’ to ‘enemies-to-lovers’, every sub-genre can find its fans on TikTok – sports romance included. 

Further drilling down, sports romance fans have their choice of sports to explore. Ice hockey is a current favourite. 

Why hockey? 

If you’re feeling adventurous, a quick search on Reddit reveals many theories about why hockey romances have won readers' hearts. 

  • The attractiveness of the players: Many professional hockey players fit the bill for what a stereotypical leading man should look like. They are tall, buff, fit and ambitious. And as a bonus, they’re also wealthy thanks to their pro-athlete status. 
  • The team aspect: The team aspect of hockey lends itself to romance novels in a few ways. First, hockey teams spend a lot of time around each other, making for interesting dynamics between the characters. Multiple team members also mean multiple side characters, a feature that lends itself well to series or spin-offs from different characters’ points of view. 
  • The aggressiveness of the sport can be perfectly juxtaposed with the tenderness of romance: Another theory is that hockey romance paints the perfect portrait of a tough guy who is transformed by love. Because the sport is so physical – with fights even allowed on-ice – it highlights the tension between a burly, brutal hockey player and the tenderness he expresses when he meets The One
  • Hockey players wear suits: Whereas many professional athletes have some degree of freedom in their dress code, hockey players must wear suits on game day. This kind of gentlemanly portrayal hints at how these books portray the players as suave, handsome love interests. 
  • Hockey was big on Tumblr in the 2010s: Before TikTok, there was Tumblr. And while it was a very different form of social media, based around blogging, it was similarly fuelled by hyper-specific niches and fandoms.  Several Tumblr accounts were dedicated solely to hockey, with some blogs reporting entirely on hockey gossip and others sharing heart-adorned gifs of their favourite players. 

Are hockey books appropriate for teenagers? 

While all hockey books feature hockey and love stories, they differ dramatically in the stories they tell. 

Some hockey books might be appropriate for younger readers, while others might be walking the line. 

A quick and easy way to find out about the appropriateness of a book is to do a quick Google search on its ‘spice level’. BookTokkers often rank books on a sliding scale of ‘spice’ to gauge how raucous each read is. The more spice, the more explicit you can expect the writing to be. 

Hockey romance book recommendations? 

Here are a few hockey romance books, from the least to the most spicy, based on reviews. 

If Only You Chloe Liese

Spice level: 1.5/5

I'm the youngest player on the National Soccer team, the baby of my family, and thoroughly sick of being underestimated, so I've decided to take matters into my own hands . . .

My brother's teammate and best friend Seb needs to save his reputation. I want to give mine an edge. So I propose a fake friendship with real benefits: spending time in the public eye, my good-girl image and his bad-boy notoriety rubbing off on each other. But will it be as easy as I think to keep him in the (fake) friend zone?

Buy now

Hearts on Thin Ice Katie Kennedy

Spice level: 2/5

Nick Sorensen had once been one of the fastest men in hockey – until the devastating plane crash that took the lives of his best friends, leaving him the only survivor. 

To prove he’s fine, really, Nick hires Alyssa Compton, an up-and-coming interior designer, to decorate his space. But Nick turns out to be infuriatingly stubborn and impossible to work with, and just when Alyssa decides to throw in the towel on the whole thing, Nick shows up for her in a way she never could have expected.  

Buy now

Always Only You Chloe Liese

Spice level: 2/5

I'm a player on the team, she's on staff, and as long as we work together, dating is off-limits. Frankie won't be here forever - she's headed for bigger, better things. I just hope that when she leaves the team and I tell her how I feel, she won't want to leave me behind, too.

Buy now

Lucky Hit Hannah Cowan

Spice level: 2/5

I have one goal. To be drafted into the NHL and make my father proud. I've never been interested in dating, not when all of my spare time is spent at the rink perfecting my craft. There's no time for distractions. I can't afford them.

But she came out of nowhere. Octavia Layton, the girl with the pretty smile and the broken heart. One night spent talking beneath the stars and now she won't get out of my head.

Buy now

Her Greatest Mistake Hannah Cowan

Spice level: 3/5

I’m the face of the NHL. The golden boy with quick hands and a million-dollar smile that the fans adore. My contract is up at the end of the season, and with playoffs starting, I have to be on my best behaviour. This isn’t my first rodeo, so it should be easy. Right?

No. Not this time.

I haven’t seen my childhood best friend since the day her father betrayed me and she broke my heart. Now, eight years later, she’s back. And she’s my fake girlfriend for the next two months.

Buy now

Blissful Hook Hannah Cowan

Spice level: 3/5

Tyler Bateman doesn't know what easy means. He's never had an easy day in his damn life. Everything he has he's worked for. Blood, sweat, and tears.

Hockey is his escape, a passion he never knew he could possess. He wants to succeed. He wants to prove that he's worth something.

He wasn't expecting her to matter. He didn't want her to. But she had other plans, and now his best friend's sister is about to ruin his life.

And he might just let her.

Buy now

Vital Blindside Hannah Cowan

Spice level: 3/5

At twenty-three Adam’s life changed forever – suddenly he was the father to a son he never knew existed – but he’s spent the past ten years managing to raise his son and juggle his business. White Ice Training is now one of the best hockey training facilities in Vancouver. But when he recruits a new hockey trainer, she lights a flame inside of him that he thought had long since burnt out.

Buy now

Pucking Around Emily Rath

Spice level: 5/5

My name is Rachel Price, and two months ago, I walked away from the perfect man. We shared one magical night. No names. No strings. I never thought I'd see him again. I was wrong.

It turns out my perfect man is actually the playboy grinder for the Jacksonville Rays, the NHL's hottest new hockey team...and I'm his new physical therapist.

Buy now

Pucking Wild Emily Rath

Spice level: 5/5

My name is Tess Owens and my life is officially on fire. I never thought dancing at my best friend's wedding would be the match to light the flames. But with one lingering touch, one longing look...and one sneaky caterer holding a camera phone, my almost ex-husband is ready to torch my entire life.

Unwilling to face the heat, I do what I do best: I run. Straight into the arms of Rachel and her team of NHL hockey players. One player stands apart from the rest. Jacksonville Rays star forward Ryan Langley is out with an injury. I get the surprise of my life when he shows up at my door, declaring himself my roommate.

Buy now

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