Listicle

Saturday Smutty Six: Retired Athletes

Our Smashdown can’t be limited to only 8 duels and a few other reviews! In order to showcase some more lovely sports romance, we need listicles! 

We’ve decided to limit our March Smashness books to active athletes, but there are plenty of romances dedicated to the stories of retired athletes as well. Here are six we’ve enjoyed:

Make It Sweet by Kristen Callihan 

Career-ending injuries are a source of angst, and Lucian’s reaction to his concussion is no exception. He takes time to hide out at his grandmother’s estate, throwing himself into intricate baking projects to come to terms with his new life. Luckily, Emma’s also running away from her own problems at his grandmother’s estate. Bonus points: Emma’s handling of the relationship when Lucian tries to return to the sport is unique, and I appreciated it.

Recipe for Persuasion by Sonali Dev

After an injury sidelines soccer superstar Nico, he agrees to participate in a cooking competition—as long as he’s paired with chef Ashna, his high school sweetheart who unceremoniously dumped him. Ashna isn’t thrilled at this plan (understatement), but she’s desperate to save her restaurant, so what can she do? Of course, sparks fly, the shows’ fans start speculating, and Ashna and Rico are finally able to be honest about what really tore them apart all those years ago. Please note that despite the adorable illustrated cover, this book is extremely angsty. (Content warnings for anxiety, depression, suicide, and marital rape.)

Take a Hint, Dani Brown by Talia Hibbert

Oh, Zaf. A book boyfriend if ever there was one. He’s a security guard at the university where Dani teaches, but he used to be a professional rugby player. He’s also channeled his rugby skills into a sports charity for kids. And he reads romance novels, lives with anxiety, and has an unrequited crush on Dani. Luckily, a viral video of Zaf carrying Dani out of their building after a fire evacuation goes sideways leads the two to start fake dating, and we all know what that means!


So Over You by Kate Meader

Isobel was raised to be a hockey superstar – she’s a silver medalist and college champion – but she only lasted through a portion of the first ever game of the National Women’s Hockey League before a head injury cut short her career. When her father dies and leaves his hockey franchise to Isobel and her sisters, she returns to the ice to coach the team’s star player through a recovery. Fun story: he was her first when they were teens – and it wasn’t satisfying for her. Now, though, he’s had plenty of practice, and he’s more than willing to practice with her.

Rock Hard by Nalini Singh

If you’re looking for some old school romance vibes, there’s really nothing better than giant, growly rugby-star-turned-CEO Gabriel falling head over feet for quiet, shy Charlotte. Forceful Gabriel is accustomed to getting what he wants, but he has to work to win Charlotte’s trust and heart. Some content warnings for this one: Charlotte’s story includes being assaulted and nearly murdered some years prior, and that narrative is ultimately resolved during the course of this book. Also, I’m not sure that the way these two handled the sexual components of their relationship is optimal given Charlotte’s history, but it does work for them in this narrative, and the book is approaching 20 years old.

Common Goal by Rachel Reid

Eric is retiring, not retired, but this book is full of all the beats of saying goodbye. He was married for twenty years, but now that he’s divorced, he wants to finally date men, to acknowledge out loud that he’s bisexual. Kyle is significantly younger and with a pile of baggage that makes him relationship-averse, but Kyle can no more resist his attraction to the silver fox than Eric can walk away from the beautiful graduate student. If you’re looking for a romance focusing on a life in transition, this is that story. (Also: really hot. Hot hot hot.)


What’s your favorite romance featuring a retired athlete?

Review Revisited

Review Revisited: Holly’s Take on Caressed by Ice by Nalini Singh (2007)

I started reading Nalini Singh’s psy-changeling series after Erin binge-read them all and then texted me every day about how amazing they were. I thought the first two were mildly entertaining, but I promised Erin I would read up through Book 3 before I gave up on the series. 

I think I’m giving up. So here are some notes on Caressed by Ice from someone who didn’t love it. 

First, I do agree that the worldbuilding is excellent, and I love that Singh expands out what we know about both psy and changeling politics in each book. If I were to read another book, it would only be to follow the continuing story of the psynet. (However, I thought the one-book mystery of who was killing pack members was underdeveloped—the villain wasn’t actually a real character, so I didn’t care when he was revealed.)

However, the gender essentialism in this series is…a lot. So if you feel your skin crawl when characters say things like, “Well, you know that women are more in tune with their emotions than men” (ugh, Faith Nightstar, ugh), then this book might not be for you. If you hate it when characters refer to “her innate female sensuality” or “his male dominance”, then this book might not be for you.

If neither of those things are dealbreakers, then read on for Erin’s enthusiastic take about how awesome this book is.

Continue reading “Review Revisited: Holly’s Take on Caressed by Ice by Nalini Singh (2007)”
Recommended Read, Review

Review: Archangel’s Enigma by Nalini Singh (2015)

Guild Hunter, Book #8

Heat Factor: This one’s a slow burn, but there is much discussion of “rutting” along the way

Character Chemistry: Naasir is looking for a mate to play secret games with and it turns out The Scholar wears two skins just like him

Plot: Naasir and Andromeda have to find the sleeping ancient Alexander before Archangel of Death Lijuan can find and kill him

Overall: This book is a ride and I enjoyed all of it.

Continue reading “Review: Archangel’s Enigma by Nalini Singh (2015)”
Recommended Read, Review

Review: Rebel Hard by Nalini Singh (2018)

Hard Play, Book #2

Review of Hard Play, Book #1, Book #3

Heat Factor: OMG! They’re both virgins!!! Love it!

Character Chemistry: If my LI frowned and told me that something I described as romantic wasn’t romantic, it was simply a spouse listening to a spouse’s needs and taking care of them, I would be like, “Let’s just schedule that wedding right now, then, so you can start taking care of me.

Plot: Nayna is really going through a quarter-life crisis. Raj is hoping he can hang on for the ride.

Overall: The (everyday) romance of this book is AMAZING

Continue reading “Review: Rebel Hard by Nalini Singh (2018)”
Recommended Read, Review

Review: Slave to Sensation by Nalini Singh (2006)

Psy-Changeling, Book #1

Heat Factor: They both think they’re having sex dreams about each other, but it’s actually real

Character Chemistry: It’s always fun when the protagonist knows fated mates is a thing but has no idea how that manifests and it takes a while for everyone to figure it out

Plot: She’s trying to avoid being lobotomized because she has feelings, he’s trying to hunt down a serial killer, they’re fated mates

Overall: Nalini Singh is a queen, and I shouldn’t start a 19 book series right now, but I’m hooked

Continue reading “Review: Slave to Sensation by Nalini Singh (2006)”