Molly O’Keefe’s highly anticipated contemporary romance, Can’t Buy Me Love (on sale June 26), centers in part around an ice hockey superstar named Luc who is sidelined by injuries. This got us thinking on the je-ne-sais-quoi of athletes in romance novels—whether they’re exceptionally fit Scottish warriors or studly professional basketball players, something about these men spurs great plots and sends readers into pining fan-girl territory. What is it, exactly? Molly O’Keefe is here to weigh in! Be sure to enter to win one of 15 advance copies of her new novel below.
I thought about this blog while drooling over Jaci Burton’s amazing, sexy, sexy covers. Those covers say it all, don’t they? Athletes make good heroes because they are hot! But the more I thought about it, obviously, the reason they make great heroes is deeper than that. The reason I made Luc Baker—my hero in Can’t Buy Me Love—a hockey player, wasn’t just about his abs (which are lovely). But was more about creating a character that was driven, disciplined and committed. And successful. And rich. Let’s not forget that part. All of those things feed a really potent fantasy.
So, because I love lists almost as much as I love athlete heroes, here is my list of my top three reasons I love professional athletes as heroes.
1. Being physical, knowing and living in their bodies the way they do, makes them comfortable in their skin. Which is delicious in all sorts of ways. Of course, there’s the sex part of it. The shirtless part. But also, for me, in Can’t Buy Me Love, it allowed me to create a great conflict with my heroine, Tara Jean Sweet, who isn’t comfortable in her skin at all.
2. Athletes are men of action. There’s something powerful about men who work with their bodies and hands and don’t use words to express how they feel. It’s the appeal of cowboys, too. And soldiers. Men of few words, but great loyalty and purpose. Heroic is practically in the job description. But, as a romance author, it’s fun to take these silent men of purpose and drive and force them to feel something outside their comfort zone. And then, even more fun is to give them the right words to say, when the moment really matters.
3. Becoming a professional athlete takes a lot of discipline and a lot of sacrifice. Which is all pretty amazing, but the flipside of all that positive stuff, is a gold mine of darker delight. What did their success cost them? What were their missed opportunities? Do they regret anything? If they could do it all again what would they do differently? Answering those questions for Luc helped me put a little substance behind those beautiful abs.
So, what about you? Do you love athletes as heroes? Why? Who have been some of your favorites?