Pucks & Passions: The Sweeping Popularity of Hockey Romance Novels

The Romance on Ice

Last week, the world got a crash course in hockey romance novels when a real-life NHL player, Alex Wennberg, found himself in the middle of a BookTok scandal. As reported by The Washington Post, the community, mainly focused on romance books, would share provocative quotes from hockey romance novels on videos of NHL players – Alex being a popular choice. After a point, things got uncomfortable and the player’s wife, Felicia Wennberg, requested an end to what they deemed as predatory behavior.

This unfortunate incident, however, brought mainstream attention to the long-standing, popular subgenre of hockey romance novels. It’s quite a fascinating world, and today, we’re going to explore why these ice-bound love stories are resonating with so many readers.

The Rink of Romance

The romance genre is rich with various subgenres, such as historical, fantasy/sci-fi, and contemporary romance. If your book involves sports, we’ve got another subcategory: sports romance. And within sports romance, hockey takes the crown.

But why hockey? It’s not the most popular sport in the United States, but it turns out the intense, risky, and aggressive nature of hockey makes a perfect backdrop for a romance novel. Just think about it – the tension, the drama, the modern-day chivalry of defending teammates, the fame, and the physical fitness, all set on a stage of cold, slippery ice. It’s an irresistible mix for any romance lover.

The Game of Tropes

The versatility of hockey is another strength of these romance novels. From forbidden relationships, and reverse harems, to fake romances, the world of hockey effortlessly accommodates all these tropes. The full range of characters available – the athletes, coaches, support staff, etc. – makes for a vibrant cast that enhances the storytelling. It allows for an entire series of books, with characters taking center stage in turn, creating an engaging narrative universe.

The Team Dynamic

The camaraderie within a hockey team adds another layer of charm to these stories. As Leah Koch, the owner of the Ripped Bodice, points out, the male friendships often portrayed in these novels can be very appealing. It’s as if the readers get a window into a dream locker room where players are supportive and kind.

Changing the Game

The hockey romance genre isn’t just about showcasing love stories. It’s also about challenging norms and taking on cultural issues. Take the “Game Changers” series by Rachelle Goguen (written under the pseudonym Rachel Reid) for example. It’s a queer hockey series that serves as a critique of the homophobic nature of hockey culture.

The Viral Impact

The role of TikTok, or specifically BookTok, in popularizing hockey romance can’t be overlooked. These novels are getting a boost from social media and finding their way to bestseller lists and even hockey games. The trend has reached as far as the Australian Ice Hockey League, which saw a tripled attendance due to romance book fans.

The romance of hockey has even captured the attention of the players themselves. Philip Nilsson Fornes, a center for Nacka HK, a professional team in Sweden, started posting videos of his teammates reading popular hockey romance books. The objective was to break the stereotype of hockey players as men who just follow orders and don’t engage with books.

Final Whistle

It’s fair to say that hockey romance novels are more than just a subgenre. They’re a vibrant, dynamic world of storytelling that draws in readers with their blend of tension, drama, camaraderie, and, of course, romance. The recent mainstream attention, while sparked by unfortunate circumstances, only serves to highlight the enduring charm of these icy love stories. For those who’ve just discovered this world, be ready for many seasons of delightful reading!

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