Tag Archives: Guest Recs

Playing It (Not So) Straight: Queer Sports Romance Recs from Tamsen Parker

Today on the site author Tamsen Parker, whose Snow and Ice Games series just got two new entries yesterday (including the f/f Fire on the Ice) (You may also be familiar with a little book called In Her Court??), is here to recommend queer sports romance! 

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Sports romance is on an upswing, and I think one of the major developments this time around is the significant presence of queer sports romance. For as long as there have been sports, queer people have been playing them, but that doesn’t mean we’ve been hearing about it. Which is only one of the reasons I love the crop of queer romances that are out right now. Sports has a way of uniting people; fans who root for the same team in a league, or who are supporting a national team during the Olympics or other international sporting event. It has a way of otherwise uniting people who may not see eye to eye or share similar interests.

We often talk about how important representation is, and I’d love to see more professional and elite athletes who are out, and I’d love to see more queer athletes in romance. That was one of the reasons I felt it was really important to be inclusive when I wrote the Snow and Ice Games series, which has m/f, m/m, and f/f pairings. Also,there are stories that just can’t be told with a het couple. Here are just a few of the reasons I love queer sports romance:

  1. There’s a special kind of tension when you want to bang your teammate.

Team dynamics add yet another layer to the heady tension already present in sports. In addition to the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat, you also get the internal jockeying, the rivalries, but also the encouragement and intimacy inherent in everyone working toward the same goal. In Layla Reyne’s Relay, Alex and Dane are teammates on the Olympic swim team who loathe each other. Like, seriously hate each other with the kind of passion only broken hearts can bring. Having to navigate team politics and training isn’t easy under the best of circumstances, but add to that complicated family situations and pants feels and you’ve got a recipe for high stakes drama. I’m also eagerly awaiting Medley, book two in the duology.

While Alex and Dane are roughly the same age, in my Seduction on the Slopes, Miles is the older, more experienced, weathered veteran, and Crash is the disaster of a newbie upstart who’s had a thing for Miles since he was a kid. Both slalom skiers on the US SIG team, they have to navigate the challenging dynamics of being teammates but also rivals, mentor and mentee, having completely different backgrounds and also a total and complete misunderstanding of each other. Oh, and the inconvenient pants feels…

  1. The bodies, and the money, and the press, oh my.

Yes, these things are common to all pro sports, and they’re some of the reasons sports romance is so popular. But the stakes for queer athletes are different than for their het counterparts, especially in the high testosterone arenas of pro football, hockey, baseball, and basketball. I’d argue especially football. Your own team and opposing teams may treat an athlete who’s queer and out differently than a het athlete, and the press frequently treats any celebrity’s sexuality as a news story.

Illegal Contact by Santino Hassell features Gavin who is a pro football player under house arrest for assaulting a man. In need of someone to keep track of his life and also be his gopher while he can’t leave his property, he hires Noah as his personal assistant. This one got off to a bit of a slow start for me, but in the end I loved how hard Gavin falls for Noah. Good news, if you like Illegal Contact, book two in the series—Down by Contact—is already out!

  1. In f/f romance, the presence of female athletes.

In m/f sports romance, the hero is—almost without exception—the athlete. In the SIG series, all of the heroines are athletes whereas not all of the heroes are. But when you’re reading f/f sports romance, you’re guaranteed that at least one of the heroines is an athlete, and oftentimes both of the heroines are. That’s the case in Edge of Glory by Rachel Spangler which is a slow burn romance featuring a prim and proper skier recovering from a career-threatening injury, and a fun-loving snowboarder looking at maybe her last Olympics. I liked the opposites attract dynamics of this book, and also the focus on all the training and work that goes into preparing to compete at an event like the Olympics. Elise and Corey are both intense in their own ways, and I loved how dedicated they were to their sports, and in the end, to each other.

I’ve also got two athlete heroines in Fire on the Ice, one an American speed skater and the other a Canadian figure skater. Theirs is a bit of a second chance romance after having hooked up at the previous SIGs but not contacting each other at all in the previous four years. This book also has the distinction of making my very seasoned editor blush so hard she had to stop reading it on the subway.

Other queer sports romances you may want to check out are below, let me know if you have any other favorites!

  • Glasgow Lads series by Avery Cockburn (Also, Avery has a CURLING romance coming out soon that I am SO LOOKING FORWARD TO. Ahem.)
  • Off Pitch by Brianna Kienitz
  • Out in the Field by Kate McMurray
  • Roller Girl by Vanessa North
  • Cold War by Keira Andrews

Tamsen Parker is a stay-at-home mom by day, USA Today bestselling erotic romance writer by naptime. Her novella CRAVING FLIGHT was named to the Best of 2015 lists of Heroes and Heartbreakers, Smexy Books, Romance Novel News, and Dear Author. Heroes and Heartbreakers called her Compass series “bewitching, humorous, erotically intense and emotional.”

She lives with her family outside of Boston, where she tweets too much, sleeps too little and is always in the middle of a book. Aside from good food, sweet rieslings and gin cocktails, she has a fondness for monograms and subway maps. She should really start drinking coffee.

 

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Guest Recs from Erin Ptah: Webcomics About Soft Pastel Lesbians!

The next subset of Webcomics About Women In Love recs

I grouped this batch by…broadly similar coloring styles. By which I mean, the name of the aesthetic was too literally accurate to pass up. Though it does imply tropes and themes that don’t necessarily fit them all, so definitely read the summaries before deciding what to check out or pass on.

Today’s theme: Webcomics about soft pastel lesbians!


sample-alwayshuman

(1) Always Human by walkingnorth 

A story about nanobots, genetic engineering, and two girls falling in love. No matter how technology changes us, we’ll always be human.

Sci-fi romance, complete. In a future Australia, where high-tech modifications are used for everything from preventing diseases to restyling your hair, Austen (Chilean/Australian) never changes her appearance. It catches the eye of Sunati (mixed South Asian), who initially thinks she must be brave and iconoclastic. Turns out she just has an immune disorder and can’t use nanobots.

Sunati asks her out anyway, and ends up falling for the real Austen rather than the girl she’d built up in her imagination. The worldbuilding has neat high-tech touches — our heroines go on VR dates, there’s a ride in a space elevator — but the plot is slow and low-key, all about these normal human emotional struggles and school/job stresses.

(Note: pages have autoplay music.)


sample-sundaze

(2) Sundaze by HALE

Dahlia Liz, a floriculturist studying a new breed of aquatic plant, moves to the scenic coastal town of Sunsea. A town filled of sunshine, romance and surprises.

Slice-of-life with a touch of fantasy, ongoing. Dahlia moves into a new town and finds herself living next to Lori, a gorgeous singer-songwriter who is also hiding that she’s a secret mermaid. As you do.

Another slow and quiet plot — it’s suggested there will be mermaid drama in the future, but so far it’s just an undercurrent (…get it?) to small-town friend-making. And eventually girlfriend-making, although the characters are still in the “sure, she just sang a whole song about how inspirational I am and then explicitly told the audience it was dedicated to me, but I think she just wants to be friends” stage.

The art is so bright. You can feel the sunlight pouring out of every panel.


sample-acethexis

(3) Acethexis by Florence

Acethexis is an action/drama series about a non-binary person and an illegal android who are swept up into a life of crime in the eyes of their government.

Sci-fi drama, ongoing. Disaffected agender teen Ren sneaks out to a club and meets Lena, a runaway android programmed with emotions. That’s still the only “crime” in the story — that androids aren’t supposed to have feelings. But it was bad enough that her creator was either imprisoned or killed over it.

Well, she’s cute, and Ren is bored and reckless and not hurting for money, so they decide to help Lena change her appearance and skip town.

A sister comic to Always Human. They’re not actually in the same universe, but the authors are friends, and there’s a short interdimensional crossover.


sample-teadragonsociety

(4) Tea Dragon Society by Katie O’Neill

The story of Greta, a blacksmith apprentice, and the people she meets as she becomes entwined in the enchanting world of tea dragons.

Cute fantasy, complete. Tea dragons are cat-sized, domesticated, adorable, and take a lot of effort to raise. A bunch of them are kept at the tea shop owned by Hesekiel and Erik, who are also taking care of a shy amnesiac girl named Minette. Young neighbor Greta stumbles into their lives.

This one’s a quick read, only 52 pages, with a delicate mostly-lineless art style. The girls aren’t quite old enough to be interested in romance proper, but I’m including it because the first-crush setup is there — and the shop owners are a full-fledged couple, so it’s clearly not a “same-sex romance, what is that??” kind of narrative.


sample-girly

(5) girly by Josh V.

The culmination of everything random, fluffy, and gay.

Wacky comedy, complete. Definitely the oddball on this list, but all the art is soft and pink, so I figured it was close enough.

Otra is a depressed and uninspired designer when the eccentric Winter barges into her life and declares that Otra is her new sidekick. Also, whacks her with a human-sized dildo. Which sets the tone for a lot of their exploits to come.

It’s the kind of comic where the town’s main superhero has a fist for a head, random elephants wander through the background, Winter has a half-sister who is half-clipart, and the vet has a mindreading machine for cats. So it’s really not hard for Winter and her puzzled new sidekick to get into ridiculous adventures, falling in love along the way.

Bonus: Winter is the daughter of Wendy and The Other Girl, the main f/f couple from the artist’s earlier comic Cutewendy. It’s even more random, and the art is way less polished, but well worth reading if you liked Girly.


Erin Ptah likes cats, magical girls, time travel, crossdressing, and webcomics. She’s the artist behind But I’m A Cat Person (featuring bi librarian Bianca) and Leif & Thorn (where Leif is into strong handsome people of all genders). Say hi on Twitter at @ErinPtah.