My first novel, Better Than Perfect, was published in 2014. When I started writing a book about an athlete who was perfect, once, for nine innings, athlete heroes were still frowned upon in the publishing world. This was around 2010, when traditional publishing was still the most desirable route. Things have sure changed, and Sports Romance is a pretty big sub-genre.
But my books are still a little different than most.
My hero, Johnny “the Monk” Scottsdale was a player on the diamond. But off the field, he was, well, monk-like. He didn’t screw around. His locker-room talk was about keeping the opposing team from scoring any runs and not about how he’d score after the game. His reputation was the opposite of most “jocks” in real life and in fiction.
I also included the character of a thirteen-year-old boy. His hero was Johnny Scottsdale. Not only because of his ability on the mound, but because of his character off the field. Here was a guy a kid could truly look up to.
Johnny is a character I’d want my own sons to look up to.
He’s modelled in part after real-life pitcher Christy Mathewson. But also the men I know in real life. Men who don’t sleep around. Who try to do the right thing. Men who love and lose and get back out there, trying to be a better person. He’s not perfect. Except for that one nine inning game, where he was. (As a side note, I finished the first draft about six weeks before San Francisco Giants pitcher Matt Cain pitched his Perfect Game in 2012).
There were times when I thought the world wasn’t ready for Johnny Scottsdale. The few sports romance books out there were all about the Bad-Boy jock who scored more off the field than he did on it. Until they met that one special woman who tamed the raging beast. I’ve never been a fan of those types of stories, and when I do try to write “Bad Boys” they don’t stay that way for long.
I write the kinds of heroes I’d want my sons to be. I write relationships that I would wish upon them. (Except for the black moments, the heartbreak they have to go through to get to their HEAs. As a mom, I don’t want them to suffer. At all. But I know they will).
One of the more ridiculous criticisms of the Romance genre is that they set up unrealistic expectations for women. If a man who will treat a woman with respect, give her orgasms on a regular basis, and strive to do their best in their professional lives is unrealistic, then I don’t want to live in the real world.