Now that the All-Star break is over and Major League Baseball is moving into the win-or-die months (and Mets fans are beginning their slow annual countdown to elimination), we’re looking for steamy baseball romances to while away the long, hot summer afternoons. In the interest of full disclosure, I must reveal that I once spent six innings reading a Jackie Collins novel at Camden Yards. But many years later, I’ve learned that there are a few perks to baseball fandom. The Orioles’ Chris Davis in tight pants is one of them, and sexy baseball romances is another. Here are some of our favorite love stories set on the fields of dreams:
Double Play and Slow Heat, Jill Shalvis. Shalvis specializes in romances about big, burly, outdoorsy men with transparently macho jobs—lots of firefighters, cops, ex-military types, and, in this two-part series, a major-league pitcher and a catcher (respectively. We’ll get to pitcher-and-catcher books on another day). In Double Play, hurler Pace Martin struggles to come back from a shoulder injury while fighting his attraction to sports reporter Holly Hutchins. Slow Heat finds catcher Wade O’Riley and team publicist Samantha McNead butting heads in between sizzling covert makeout sessions. Consider this my plea to Shalvis to write about the rest of the aptly named Santa Barbara Pacific Heat.
Hot Number and Hot Property, Carly Phillips. The second and fourth books in Phillips’ four-volume Hot Zone series, about three sisters who run a sports-publicity agency (the first and third are about football), explore what happens when America’s pastime meets, er, America’s other pastime. Hot Number focuses on Micki Jordan, who’s tasked with managing star New York center fielder—and irrepressible man slut—Damian Fuller. Though Micki, raised along with her sisters by a sports-loving bachelor uncle, is a lifelong tomboy, she decides to throw herself a full-on makeover party—and in the process, catches Damian’s wandering eye. And Hot Property picks up with heroine Amy Stone, whose mission is reforming fallen hero John Roper after he blows the World Series.
Squeeze Play, Kate Angell. Is there no end to the sexually suggestive book titles that can be generated with baseball terminology? (No, there is not. For further enlightenment, go watch Bull Durham. You’ll thank me later.) Angell writes nothing but sports romances, and the first in her Richmond Rogues series is as good a place to start as any. Risk Kincaid (yep, you read that right: RISK) and Jacy Grayson have been friends since high school, and even though Risk is now a World Series winner, he’s been in love with her the whole time. She feels the same, but neither will Use Their Words. Will true love triumph? Well, they have a better chance than the Cubs.
Stealing Parker, Miranda Kenneally. And now, a word for the softball players of the world. Kenneally’s young-adult novel focuses on Parker Shelton, a high school softball ace whose world falls apart when her mother abandons the family for another woman. Parker, feeling deserted by both her parent and the friends at church who gossip about and shun her, quits the team and starts making out with lots and lots of boys to prove she’s not also a lesbian. Enter foxy new 23-year-old baseball coach Brian Hoffman. Kenneally writes about teenagers with a vivid sensitivity, and her conflicted heroines are heartbreakers—you want to hug them, because you remember what it was like to make colossal mistakes and feel like your life was over because of a boy/your best friend/trigonometry.
What’s your favorite sports-focused romance? (Or your favorite MLB player to ogle, we won’t judge. Holla, David Wright!)