Today I am so pleased to welcome Beth Bolden to Joyfully Jay. Beth has come to talk to us about her latest release, The Rivalry. She has also brought along copies to give away! Please join me in giving her a big welcome!


I find it ironic that even though I’m most well-known for writing chefs, I find I associate most strongly with athletes. Why then, people ask me, don’t you write more sports romance?

That’s because sports romance is hard.

I learned this the difficult way, way back when, when I wrote and published my first romance, The Lucky Charm, which is an MF baseball romance. I told myself back then that I wouldn’t ever make my life so tricky ever again.

What makes writing sports romance so complicated?

Let’s do a quick rundown:

  1. You need to work within a real and factual framework, and you need to be as true to that as you can. I’m not just talking about the way games are played—but trades and practices and facilities and coaching staff. That’s a lot of details to get right (or get wrong!).
  2. Your schedule is no longer your own. Yep, you need to stay (as close as possible) to the actual, real life sports schedule. This is much harder than you’d think, especially if you’re used to having complete flexibility.
  3. Athletes don’t have a lot of free time. Especially during the season. It’s why I set one of my chef-sports crossovers, Catch Me, during the offseason, because the regular season schedule is BRUTAL. The baseball season has 162 games, and many of them are not played at home. That’s a freaking lot of traveling.
  4. How much is too much artistic license? If we’re also talking about writing gay sports romance, then there’s also a certain amount of flexibility we need to take with the real life situation. How much is too much? You also don’t want every single book you write with sports as a theme to focus on Coming Out. So there’s that complexity too, because in today’s world, that’s always going to be an issue.
  5. How much is too much sports? If you’re going to go to aaaalllll the trouble of writing a sports romance that takes place during the season—and we’re not only talking about the research it takes, but also finding both a time and a way to put two people together—you’re going to want to show some of the actual sports action. How much? That’s another hot button issue. Everyone’s mileage is going to vary, but as an author, you also have to consider how much your typical reader knows about the sport you’re working with. You want the reader immersed, but not confused.

I first had a plot bunny for my new release, The Rivalry, in late summer last year. I thought, wouldn’t it be great to have two quarterbacks, vying for the same spot on the team? I actually took a lot of real-life inspiration from the Philadelphia Eagles football team, who won the Superbowl a few years ago with a quarterback who’d been the backup most of the regular season. There is zero evidence that Carson Wentz and Nick Foles didn’t get along, but I always thought, I bet that made for some interesting locker room conversations. And, I also thought, that would require an immense amount of trust.

Of course, it had been . . . six years since I wrote my last sports romance that took place during an actual season, and apparently I’d forgotten how hard it is to write both a convincing romance and a convincing book about sports.

The truth is, most books seem easier in your head than they end up becoming on paper (or laptop screen), but this one proved to be especially challenging. When the book began, Heath and Sam were two men who did not trust each other one bit. Not only did I have to write them through a partial NFL season, I had to give them a reason to trust each other, and then build that trust.

I won’t tell you about the complete meltdown I had when I realized that in compacting and simplifying my romance subplot, I’d accidentally compressed four weeks of football games into one, and somehow Thanksgiving and Christmas happened right next to each other. Whoops.

So yes, writing sports romance is hard, but I’ve also discovered that it’s incredibly fulfilling, because it gives us a glimpse into what it might be like if sports was more inclusive. It gives me hope that someday, somehow, things will be different. Maybe we’ll see many more rainbow flags at games, and maybe, just maybe, we might even get a tiny glimpse at a little player-to-player PDA.


The first time NFL quarterback Heath Harris meets Sam Crawford, it’s just them, a luxury yacht and a few days of fun in the sun. Sam turns out to be nothing like Heath expects. He’s kind and funny and irreverent—and also unbelievably, shockingly sexy. For three short, glorious, life-changing days, there are no rules.

The second time they meet, Sam has just been traded to Heath’s team, and instead of lovers, now they’re rivals. Heath has spent the last five years working desperately to be the best quarterback the Riptide could ever need, but when injuries threaten to derail his career, Sam is right there, standing on the sideline. Ready to take over, and ready to ruin everything Heath has given his life for.

Rival. Enemy. Teammate. Friend. Lover.

As their orbits collide, sparks fly, and Heath struggles to find the right label and the right box to shove Sam into, hoping to keep him contained. But Sam—and Heath’s feelings—refuse to cooperate.

Sam might not be just one of those things, he might be all of them, and so much more.


A lifelong Oregonian, Beth Bolden has just recently moved to North Carolina with her supportive husband and their sweet kitten, Earl Grey. Beth still believes in Keeping Portland Weird, and intends to be just as weird in Raleigh.

Beth has been writing practically since she learned the alphabet. Unfortunately, her first foray into novel writing, titled <em>Big Bear with Sparkly Earrings</em>, wasn’t a bestseller, but hope springs eternal. She’s published sixteen novels and six novellas.


Beth has brought an ebook (Intl) and paperback (U.S. only) copy of The Rivalry to give away. Just leave a comment at the end of the post to enter. The contest ends on Thursday March 26th at 11:59 pm ET. Please specify your location in your comment. 

  • By entering the giveaway, you’re confirming that you are at least 18 years old.
  • Winners will be selected by random number. No purchase necessary to win. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning.
  • If you win, you must respond to my email within 48 hours or another winner may be chosen. Please make sure that your spam filter allows email from Joyfully Jay.
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  • Prizes will be distributed following the giveaway either by Joyfully Jay or the person/organization donating the prize.
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FILED UNDER: Giveaway, Guest Post
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