6 Essential Hockey Romance Books To Check Out If You're A Rookie To The Genre

Raise your hand if you love romance novels. Us too! Romance novels of all varieties are trending hard at the moment. Thanks to the popularity of Booktok, the romance genre has really expanded to offer something rich and compelling for every reader. For LGBTQ+ readers, there are treasures galore, and those who follow particular authors, like Ana Huang, have a lot to celebrate, too.  

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And when romances feature niche topics, the better. The unexpected hockey nook in the market is currently thriving. People love their NHL players! But there's more than just real-life hockey hunks inspiring folks to crack open these sports romance novels. In fact, according to Penguin Books, the sport is practically made for great romance writing, with its people in uniform and competitive setting (which can add a layer of intensity to love triangles). No wonder readers are so infatuated!

We can't get enough of this unexpectedly specific world of ice skates, sticks, and pucks. In the subreddit r/RomanceBooks, one inquisitive fan noticed asked, "I feel like it's got to be popular for a reason! What are the 'must reads' and 'gateway' books?" It's a great question, and we've compiled the best hockey romances for newbies. 

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'Icebreaker' by Hannah Grace

Hannah Grace's "Icebreaker" might be the most famous of all of the hockey romance novels of the past few years. Released in 2022 as the first installment in the "Maple Hills" series, the book quickly gained traction on TikTok. The compelling story follows Anastasia Allen, a competitive figure skater who has to share the ice with the hockey team captain, Nate Hawkins. Anastasia isn't a fan of Nate, but is suddenly in need of a figure skating partner, and knows he could do the job. The plot is absolutely delicious, and readers are obsessed with Grace's talented depiction of her leads' friction and dislike of one another, which eventually turns to love. 

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People loved Anastasia and Nate's relationship, and felt like Grace resisted outdated tropes associated with romance novels. "I'm just amazed at how healthy a fictional relationship can be," a reviewer began on GoodReads, later adding: "Nate and Stassie are absolutely wonderful and I love them both! This is one of the rare romance novels that I would actually recommend to young readers because of what it teaches about consent, safe sex and relationships." That's a pretty compelling review. Other reviewers noted that they felt calm and happy while reading Grace's hit, and that they really appreciated the spice and strength of Anastasia and Nate's relationship. No wonder "Icebreaker" is trending on social media. 

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Stephanie Archer's 'Behind the Net'

Stephanie Archer's "Behind the Net" is the first in the "Vancouver Storm" series, and it does not disappoint. NHL player Jamie unexpectedly finds himself with a new assistant, Pippa, who he knew from high school. In fact, they both had crushes on each other without the other one knowing. The adorable story unfolds with a lot of favorite romance novel tropes. Jamie starts out as a real grump, but becomes adoring and warm. The two are in forced proximity, which is always fun, and, of course, there's tons of hockey. 

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Readers absolutely love the how the romance builds between the characters. "Pippa and Jamie brought the HEAT & all the swoon and I had permanent smile lines on my face the whole time," one reviewer began on GoodReads. "The tension? Immaculate. The spice? SPICY. The relationship dynamic? So damn sweet." The hockey component in "Behind the Net" was a huge plus for readers. "Is this my new fav hockey romance?!? I truly did not expect to love this book THAT much," another reviewer wrote. "Jamie is the national forest with how many green flags that man is waving around!" Plus, people couldn't stop talking about how steamy things were between Jamie and Pippa. Sounds like a light in the lamp! 

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'Pucked' by Helena Hunting

Helena Hunting's hilariously titled "Pucked" is another hockey romance novel that has become a fan favorite. Female lead character Violet Hall is resistant to the hunky charm of team captain Alex Waters at first, but the two start something casual. When news outlets portray Alex as a playboy, Violet has to learn to trust him and see past his celebrity status, and the lies that can come with that thanks to tabloid gossip. 

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Readers on GoodReads repeatedly raved about how hilarious "Pucked" was. "'Pucked' is a unique, deliciously hot, endearingly sweet, laugh out loud, good time romance! Already reread twice :))" one reviewer wrote on GoodReads. Another reviewer loved the hockey elements so continuous throughout the novel. "This was a hilarious sports-themed romantic comedy that I completely enjoyed," they began on GoodReads. "Violet was such a funny narrator as the sister of hockey player, and stepdaughter of a hockey scout, and someone who after a bad experience, has sworn off hockey guys forever. Then she meets Alex Waters and they have instant chemistry." Numerous readers said that Hunting delivered such an entertaining, smutty book perfectly and were determined to read more by the author. This is very convenient because there's a whole "Pucked" series! Plus, Hunting branches away from hockey in many of her other books, should readers get oversaturated on hockey sticks and sweat. (Though that doesn't seem likely.) 

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'The Penalty Box' by Odette Stone

The third book in the Vancouver Wolves Series, "The Penalty Box" by Odette Stone, features Mica, a hockey player, and Charlie, his agent's personal assistant. Mica needs to marry a good girl to restore his reputation, and Charlie is perfect for the part. They were in each other's orbits for two years, but Mica never paid any attention to Charlie, even though she's had feelings for him for a long time. Luckily, their marriage of convenience quickly becomes the genuine thing, full of fiery romance and passion. 

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Fans of "The Penalty Box" had a lot to say on GoodReads. "I have recently developed a thing for hockey romances and this one did not disappoint! It sucked me in from the start and I couldn't put it down," one reviewer began. Another enthusiastic reader admitted that hockey romances wouldn't normally be their thing, but Stone is such a gripping author that she charmed them into the Vancouver Wolves Hockey Romance series. "One of my favorite things about this author is her ability to make me be a fan of something that I would never normally be a fan of. In this case, it is hockey," they wrote, adding that Stone is incredible at capturing chemistry between her two leads. Sounds like a win. 

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Elle Kennedy's 'The Deal'

Elle Kennedy's "The Deal" is a college romance between clever Hannah Wells and hockey team captain Garrett Graham. Hannah wants to make another guy jealous, and Garrett needs some tutoring to keep up his GPA, so the two start working together. But before they know it, these initial reasons for their connection no longer matter and the two fall in love. 

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While people loved the novel as a whole, many readers absolutely adored the character Garrett. Even though he was a hockey player, he had a soft, nerdy, lovable side that gave the story an unconventional feel. "A big reason to why this book was such a winner for me was the hero Garrett," one reader began on GoodReads. "It may be just me, but I'm a little tired of heroes who are bad boys and jerks...I mean, give me a guy who'll actually live up to the title of 'hero' you know? And Garrett really did." Another reader fell in love with Hannah and Garrett as a couple. "I can't think of one negative thing about this story except perhaps if it was possible for a story to never end I would have been the perfectly happy day after day reading on and on about Garrett and Hannah," they wrote on GoodReads. Dang! That is some high praise. Sounds like we're going to need some ice time. 

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Jaci Burton's 'Taking a Shot'

First of all, we can't get over the absolute masterpiece of a cover that graces Jaci Burton's sports romance, "Taking a Shot." It's positively scrumptious. Burton's novel, which is part of the "Play By Play" series, features lead love interest Jenna Riley and hockey pro Tyler Anderson. Jenna works at the family's sports bar. One night, dreamy Ty walks in and the two strike up a connection. The only problem is that Jenna is jaded from previous encounters with egotistical jocks. But eventually, she makes an exception for Ty. 

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Readers were all about it on GoodReads. Repeatedly, people talked about how spicy things got between Ty and Jenna, so if you like a little extra sizzle, this is worth a read. People also loved the sports theme to this romance novel. "I'm not a fan of hockey but this book made me realize why people love it," one reviewer wrote. Readers also really bonded with the lead, Jenna. She was fiery and stubborn, and fans loved her spirit. "This book was so much fun to read," another reader wrote. "I loved the fact that it was the girl running and not the guy in this book. Sassy, feisty Jenna gave Ty a run for his money." Jenna sounds like a handful, and Ty sounds so compelling. Best of all, there are plenty of hockey romances in Burton's series, so you'll have lots to read. 

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