Next week is the Frozen Four college hockey tournament, which I only know about because of romance novels. So, to celebrate the educational nature of sports romance, we present these college hockey romances. They bring the drama of our early 20s and the drama of college sports championships. What could be better?
The Risk by Elle Kennedy
If you like a little Romeo and Juliet drama, but with the coach’s daughter and a rival team’s captain and a happy ending, this book really hit the spot. These two flirt with their attraction in that bickering kind of way, but they also have each other’s backs when things get hairy. Throw in a little fake dating because the toxic TV producer guy Brenna is trying to impress for an internship is over the moon about Jake’s NHL contract with his favorite team, and there’s plenty of messy situations for these two to get up in their feelings about.
Boyfriend by Sarina Bowen
Picture the server at the local hangout spot quietly crushing on the hottest guy on the hockey team…and then finding out that he also does this rent-a-boyfriend thing for Thanksgiving. Whether Abbi takes the plunge because it feels like a way to date Weston without actually dating Weston or because she really does need an assist at her Thanksgiving dinner, the results are spectacular. This book isn’t without family AND college drama on both sides, but it was just sweetness.
Icebreaker by Hannah Grace
I DNFed this book, but it’s extremely popular, so I’m including it for options. The book seems super sex positive, and it was pretty inclusive (you know, for a college that’s basically designed for elite athletes so has to be absolutely swimming in the money of privilege). I DNFed because the entire conflict centers on the Maple Hills hockey team being the bad guys because the sister of a player from a rival school’s team told her brother that she was knocked up by a MH player, so the rival team completely destroyed the MH hockey rink…but this vandalism was mostly overlooked while the MH team who really did nothing are being held accountable for the damage. So that’s a no from me. If college kids behaving with the mental level of college kids is your jam and you aren’t completely outraged by the egregious injustice of the conflict, you might enjoy this book. (It has a grumpy heroine!)
Headstrong by Eden Finley
Former hockey player, Rainn, who lost his going pro dream because of an injury plus current college hockey player, Whit, who walks into the local queer-friendly bar looking to punch his v-card make a deal that Rainn will be Whit’s wingman because Whit is not good at…playing that game. When nobody seems good enough for Whit, Rainn has to come to terms with the fact that he actually has feelings for a man…and a man who plays the sport that he lost and hasn’t finished grieving. And because it’s Eden Finley, you know it’ll be soft and sweet. And sexy.
Icebreaker by A.L. Graziadei
This book was an emotional journey and made me cry, but it was SO uplifting. Mickey is struggling with a lot of pressure to perform and be picked number one in the NHL draft, and this is compounded by undiagnosed mental health struggles and alcohol self-medication. Is it any surprise that Jaysen, who has had to work really hard to come from much humbler beginnings and really needs his spot on the team to succeed, resents Mickey’s very existence? If you like a rivals to lovers story in which the characters find themselves in a surprisingly intimate relationship once they start to relate to each other, this book was GREAT.
Iced Out by C.E Ricci
This book shares a lot of vibes with Graziadei’s Icebreaker, but it’s adult fiction so it’s explicitly sexy, and it’s dual POV so it’s less focused on one character’s emotional journey than it is on the overall plot. Oakley and Quinton hate each other’s guts because Oakley is a privileged scion of hockey legends who thinks he’s owed his position on the team while Quinton is a surly asshole who doesn’t know how to be a team player. They’re having a terrible season, but when they win after the two have a hookup, superstition keeps them hooking up. You know where this goes. I will say the test of their relationship is a real doozy, so it might make ya mad, but I overall enjoyed this one.
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