Jaci Burton is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling, award winning author of over 50 books and is an accomplisher sports romance writer:
I’m a big fan of NCAA March Madness. It’s one of my favorite
times of the year. I love watching the teams compete, going head to head until
one stands victorious. I always do a bracket and see how well I can guess which
teams will advance through each round, and which one will end up the victor.
Sadly, my picks usually suck. Maybe it’s because I’m always rooting for the
But hey, it’s sports, and I do love sports of all kinds.
I write a sports romance series, the Play by Play series,
which features hot athletes playing various sports matched up with very smart,
career minded women who are their equals in every way. It is, in a way, a head
to head competition, but the game being played in my books is love, and it’s a
very passionate game.
The men in my sports series are all at the top of their
respective games. Their primary goal has always been to win and be the best
they can, whether that’s being a superstar in the game, or even in the bedroom,
excelling is what they do.
I believe that’s the mantra with many athletes, and one
thing I study a lot when researching my series. That winning mentality is often
prevalent in sports. You have to have a fairly healthy ego to compete at a
higher level in sports, no matter which sport you play. If the player doesn’t
believe he’s good enough to be the best, then chances are, no one else will
believe it, either. So when my heroines meet their heroes, they’re larger than
life in many ways. What woman wouldn’t like to be sought after by a highly
successful athlete? But so many of these athletes meet women, bed them, and
discard them as often as they change their favorite sports shoes. It’s not at all surprising that when my
heroines meet these guys, they find it hard to believe in them.
These heroes pursue the heroines with the same competitive
spirit they use in sports. The question is—is it just a game to these athletes,
or is it love?
When I approach sports romance, I’m always looking at the
angle of how an athlete approaches romance. Is it with the same mentality they
approach a game situation? Can romance and an athlete’s mind ever truly mix? Is
an athlete always on, always in game mode? Is he out to win, or can he turn the
game off and fall in love the way anyone else can? To fall in love, you have to
allow yourself to be vulnerable. An athlete can never allow themselves to be
vulnerable. To show your weak side gives your opponent an advantage, and your
opponent could shift around you and take the winning shot.
But love, unlike sports, isn’t one side winning over the
other. It’s two sides coming together, finding common ground, and allowing
romance to bloom. It’s showing those vulnerabilities to the one person who can
hurt you the most, and trusting that person will never let you down. Romance
and love isn’t a game situation, it’s where you become teammates for life.
And this is where the athletes in my Play by Play series
show their mettle. This is where their love of the game, their stamina and
ability to win at all costs will play out. Whether it’s the game of their lives
or the game of love, they intend to win it all in the end. But can these
characters separate the game from life, can they put the elements of the game
away when it comes time to finding true love, or is the game mentality a part
of every decision they make? Can sports and romance truly mix?
You’ll find the answer to that question in the books of my
Play by Play series. I hope you enjoy the games.