Today I am so pleased to welcome Tanya Chris to Joyfully Jay. Tanya has come to talk to us about her latest release, Aiming High, and some favorite sports romances. Please join me in giving her a big welcome!
We M/M readers love our ice hockey, but did you know there’s a wide world of sports beyond hockey? I wrote a book about one of them! Aiming High features rock climbing, which is one of my own personal hobbies. I’ve managed to work climbing into several books, but Aiming High focuses on professional climbers competing at the Olympics.
Are you interested in sports romances that go beyond hockey? Here are a few I’ve read and liked, from the major sports to more obscure ones.
Football: The Rainbow Clause by Beth Bolden features a bisexual quarterback and a gay reporter. The quarterback and his agent have planned ahead. There’s a pre-negotiated clause in his contract for when he decides to come out, and Colin is ready to activate it, which is how he ends up talking to Nick. I enjoyed that this book wasn’t focused on fear of coming out or being outed, that it starts with Colin deciding to come out and that he already knows his team will support him, at least officially.
Soccer (the other football): The Glasgow Lads by Avery Cockburn is a four books series set in Scotland revolving around a soccer team. The team isn’t a professional one—these guys all have day jobs—but it’s the one LGBT team in an otherwise straight league, and they take their soccer really seriously. All the books in the series are enjoyable, but I especially liked the second one that takes place during the Scottish referendum for independence. I was briefly in Scotland during that period and got to hear firsthand how various people felt about the referendum, so it was really interesting to watch it play out in Playing to Win. The soccer parts are well done throughout the series, and all the pairings are smoking hot.
Rowing: The Boys of Bellamy by Ruthie Luhnow is another series, this one about a college rowing team. My favorite of the series is about Andy and Drew—two guys with the same name. Their relationship starts with them in college but it’s secret and temporary. It picks up again when they run into each other years later. These two were fun side characters during the other books, so it was great to see them get their HEA. Throughout the series, rowing gets balanced with non-rowing, something any student athlete can relate to.
Fencing: The Master Will Appear by LA Witt is both a book about an obscure sport and a BDSM story. Since I enjoy BDSM, this was a no-brainer for me to pick up, and I wasn’t disappointed. I’m no fencing expert, but the book had the ring of authenticity, and the BDSM aspect was likewise very well done. I guess I also have a thing for Russians, so if you’re looking for a hot, confident Russian who’s a master in more than one way, you’ll want to read this book.
Water Polo: Lane Hayes has a whole series of college athlete romances, but I particularly enjoyed Out in the Deep, both because it covered a less-common sport and because the enemies-to-lovers vibe was so delicious. Make no mistake though, these enemies turn into lovers pretty quickly. Then it’s a question of who’s coming out and when. Water polo seems like a seriously violent sport! I had no idea.
Baseball: All right, there’s not a lot of baseball playing in Benched by Misha Horne, but it’s a great M/M spanking read in which an arrogant athlete gets his comeuppance, first from his coach and then from one of his teammates. And there’s a little baseball in there too, including a superhot scene with a jockstrap. The book isn’t currently for sale, but I assume it’ll come back in time, so add it to your TBR for now.
And so many more
I also enjoy reading books in which the main characters engage in a sport or fitness activity just for the fun of it. From runners to hikers to yogis to weight lifters, there are so many ways for us to stay fit and active. And there are so many books we can read about athletes, including us weekend warriors.
And then there’s hockey, which I also love reading about. So let’s hear it for diversity!
“I meant it,” Flynn said. “I’ll train with you. I sucked at this running thing, but whatever you say for the rest of the week, I’ll do. I’ll show you I can be serious.” Flynn stopped his slow, steady stride and turned to him. “I meant that part about liking you, too.”
Spencer had to raise his chin to meet Flynn’s eyes. The position felt a lot like he was asking to be kissed, and the way Flynn was looking at him felt like Flynn wanted to do it. Spencer licked his lips, eyes going to Flynn’s lips which were thin and pink and curved slightly upward as though he might break into laughter at any moment. Was that what would happen if Spencer stretched up to bring their mouths together? Would Flynn throw his head back and laugh—another prank, another thing he didn’t take seriously?
“I like you too,” he said, trying not to mean anything more than friendship by it.
“So you’ll train me? I’m in your hands.” Flynn spread his arms wide, making his traps flare behind the neck of his t-shirt. Spencer could imagine throwing himself against Flynn’s chest and how Flynn would wrap those strong arms around him.
He looked away, into the middle distance past Flynn’s shoulder. “It’s probably too late to make any kind of difference.”
“Giving up on me already, coach?”
“I told you Pierre would help when he gets here.”
“I want you though. I’ve always wanted you, Spencer.”
What the hell did that mean? Not what it sounded like, obviously.
“I can help,” he said gruffly. He started toward the residences again, careful to keep his steps slow. He shouldn’t let Flynn charm him out of his anger, but that was Flynn. He could charm a goalie out of his mask.
What they want most may be the one thing out of their reach.
Canadian rock climber Spencer Woolery has been training for the Olympics since before climbing was an Olympic sport. Dedication, determination, and strict adherence to a rigorous training regimen have gotten him to the summer games, but are they enough to elevate him to the podium? He’ll do whatever it takes to give himself the best shot, unlike American Flynn Loren, a.k.a. Flyin’ Flynn, who seems to succeed without making any effort at all.
Flynn loves climbing, but he hates being a professional climber. He’d rather be climbing real rock—outside in the sun having fun with his friends—than stuck indoors sweating over times and points and strategies. And he’d rather win Spencer’s heart than a medal, but that prize continues to elude him.
Against the backdrop of Olympic Village in Tokyo, Flynn and Spencer compete against each other and eighteen other men to see who’ll take home a medal and who’ll win something even greater than gold.
Note: this book takes place in an alternative universe where the Tokyo Olympics happened in the summer of 2020 as planned.