Five for Friday: Sports Fiction

Okay, so I know I missed out last week (oops), but I’m back now, and with a better than ever rec list. (And another new one, so I’m not just boring you by copying and pasting from my archive.)

So this week I’m going sports fiction. Because I love sport. And I love reading books where one of the mains is a sportsperson. I mean, there is a whole reason I’m studying sport psychology as a Masters right now. So, let’s go!

(Also. I say sports fiction. But really these are sports romance. Oops.)

Mariana Zapata

Rating: 4 out of 5.

“Trust me, I’ve wanted to punch you in the face a time or five.”

When the man you worshipped as a kid becomes your coach, it’s supposed to be the greatest thing in the world. Keywords: supposed to. 

It didn’t take a week for 27-year-old Sal Casillas to wonder what she’d seen in the international soccer icon – why she’d ever had his posters on her wall or ever envisioned marrying him and having super-playing soccer babies.

Sal had long ago gotten over the worst non-break-up in the history of imaginary relationships with a man who hadn’t known she’d existed. So she isn’t prepared for this version of Reiner Kulti who shows up to her team’s season: a quiet, reclusive shadow of the explosive, passionate man he’d once been.


Mariana Zapata does slowburn contemporary romances so well. This was the first of hers that I read, and I’d probably say it’s still my favourite of hers. Okay, the sex scenes are kinda cringey (she definitely gets better in later books), but nothing can beat the tension in this. Oh. And the football.

Right of First Refusal
Dahlia Adler

Rating: 5 out of 5.

On the lacrosse field, Cait Johannssen gets what she wants. Off the field is another story. Because what she wants is the school’s hot new basketball student-coach, Lawrence Mason, who also happens to be the guy who broke her heart in sports camp two years earlier.

But it’s Cait’s new roommate who’s got him.

Cait and Mase agree it’s best to keep their past a secret, but she doesn’t expect him to completely ignore their history…or how much it’ll hurt when he does. So when a friend on the basketball team asks her to pose as his girlfriend for a night, Cait can’t turn down the opportunity for distraction. (Okay, and a little spite.) But what starts as an evening of fun turns into a fake relationship with more lies than the usually drama-free Cait can handle, and it’s only keeping her from the one truth that’s nagged at her for years: Why did Mase cut her out of his life to begin with?

And is it really too late to get him back?


Second chance romance is a god tier trope. Especially when there’s so much angst (and also really good sex scenes, let’s be real). Good for you, because that’s exactly what Dahlia Adler gives you here! And the angst isn’t even based on miscommunication.

Into the Blue
Pene Henson

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Tai Talagi and Ollie Birkstrom have been inseparable since they met as kids, surfing the North Shore of Oahu. Now they live with their best friends and Ollie’s kid brother in a pulled-together family, all of them piled into a run-down beach house. They share cooking, bills, and the saltwater running in their veins. They might have no money, they might argue, they might be in dead end jobs, but they live in Hawaii so it’s always summer. There’s always time for one last wave.

Tai’s spent years shutting down any feelings for Ollie. They’re friends. Their family depends on them. But with Ollie off on his first world tour, with Ollie’s dreams of a pro surfing career finally within reach, their steady world shifts. Is it worth risking their friendship, their family, their dreams for a chance at something terrifying and beautiful and altogether new?


I’ll yell about this book for days on end if anyone lets me. It’s just so so good and soft and there’s a found family and friends to lovers and I just love everything about it. (Also there’s a short story to go along with it.)

Running with Lions
Julian Winters

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Bloomington High School Lions’ star goalie, Sebastian Hughes, should be excited about his senior year: His teammates are amazing and he’s got a coach who doesn’t ask anyone to hide their sexuality. But when his estranged childhood best friend Emir Shah shows up to summer training camp, Sebastian realizes the team’s success may end up in the hands of the one guy who hates him. Determined to reconnect with Emir for the sake of the Lions, he sets out to regain Emir’s trust. But to Sebastian’s surprise, sweaty days on the pitch, wandering the town’s streets, and bonding on the weekends sparks more than just friendship between them.


You know that perfect angst you get when it’s ex-best friends to lowkey enemies to lovers? Add in a found family, and you have the absolute perfect formula. (Also, I love Sebastian with my whole heart.)

Off the Ice
Julie Cross

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Content Warnings: child abuse

All is fair in love and hockey…

Claire O’Connor is back in Juniper Falls, but that doesn’t mean she wants to be. One semester off, that’s what she promised herself. Just long enough to take care of her father and keep the family business—a hockey bar beside the ice rink—afloat. After that, she’s getting the hell out. Again.

Enter Tate Tanley. What happened between them the night before she left town resurfaces the second they lay eyes on each other. But the guy she remembers has been replaced by a total hottie. When Tate is unexpectedly called in to take over for the hockey team’s star goalie, suddenly he’s in the spotlight and on his way to becoming just another egotistical varsity hockey player. And Claire’s sworn off Juniper Falls hockey players for good.

It’s the absolute worst time to fall in love.

For Tate and Claire, hockey isn’t just a game. And they both might not survive a body check to the heart.


The tension you get when there’s a shared secret between two people as a reason for them to connect and just talk to each other and I’m aware this sentence makes probably no sense but it’s late, bear with. Basically, they get to be soft with each other because they share this secret and can talk to each other at their most honest. Give me more of that, less of the miscommunication.

Anyway. That’s it for now. Sorry if I got your hopes up with the sports fiction title and then only gave you romances. But not really.

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