14 books like ‘Icebreaker’ with sports, sweetness, and spice

14 books like ‘Icebreaker’ with sports, sweetness, and spice

In Reading Lists by Lanie Pemberton

14 books like ‘Icebreaker’ with sports, sweetness, and spice

Trend alert: Hockey romances are especially hot right now, as you’ll see if you scroll BookTok and Bookstagram or browse the romance section at your local bookstore.

One of the biggest players in the game is Icebreaker by Hannah Grace; it’s a sweet (and very spicy) story about a figure skater and Olympic hopeful named Anastasia and a hockey team captain named Nate who are forced to share a rink and end up falling for one another.

Not only does this book include some of my favorite romance tropes, it also displays incredible communication between partners and features an adorable found family element. (Also, can we talk about how Nate is the ultimate book boyfriend?)

Naturally, recommendations for books similar to Icebreaker include other sports romances, but this list doesn’t stop there. I’ve also chosen some contemporary enemies-to-lovers tales and other stories that balance the sexier elements with real-world issues. My personal favorite is Cleat Cute by Meryl Wilsner, but the closest match to Icebreaker is The Graham Effect by Elle Kennedy.

Of course, you may just find yourself skating through them all.

1. Wildfire by Hannah Grace

After Icebreaker took my breath away, I was thrilled to discover Grace’s follow-up novel. Wildfire is a standalone romance, but it takes place in the same universe as Icebreaker and stars a hero first introduced in Stassie and Nate’s story. (Mark your calendars, because the third Maple Hills book is scheduled for release in June 2024.)

Following a passionate encounter, Aurora and Russ are shocked to realize they’ll be spending the summer together as camp counselors. But before they can open up to one another, they’ll both have to overcome personal insecurities and family drama. 

This romance is the perfect blend of sweet and steamy, with a fun setting to boot.

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2. The Graham Effect by Elle Kennedy

Longtime fans of Kennedy’s beloved Off-Campus series get an inside look at the second generation of Briar U’s hockey stars. 

Gigi Graham (yes, daughter of the Garret Graham) needs to level up her hockey skills. Ryder, the grumpy yet undeniably hot men’s team co-captain, wants to land a summer coaching position with Gigi’s dad. What starts as quid pro quo on the ice quickly turns into something more heated. 

Packed with sizzling chemistry and nostalgia, Kennedy delivers yet another flawless college sports romance that will have you sweating one minute (don’t get us started on the shower scene, 12/10) and crying the next.

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3. Unsteady by Peyton Corinne

This sports romance between a hockey player and figure skater who go to the same college is a natural must-read for fans of Icebreaker.

Between gaining custody of her younger siblings, maintaining her scholarship, and trying to overall make ends meet, figure skater Sadie Brown’s plate is overflowing. But when she sees Rhys Koteskiy — a Waterfell University hockey star who only recently recovered from a ghastly injury — having a panic attack, Sadie can’t help but offer support.

The odds are stacked against their budding romance as each character struggles with their own set of baggage, but as you know, true love always wins. 

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4. Cleat Cute by Meryl Wilsner 

Wilsner’s third sapphic romance pairs Grace Henderson, a veteran soccer player, with Phoebe Matthews, the novice who subs in when Grace gets injured (think Ted Lasso meets Icebreaker, only queer). 

Grace and Phoebe (both of whom are neurodivergent) end up in a friends-with-benefits situation — but could there be more to their relationship? Turns out it’s complicated. Cleat Cute offers lots of steamy, consensual sex scenes and introspection against the heated rivalries and heart left on the soccer field.

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5. First Down by Grace Reilly

NFL hopeful James Callahan’s future hinges on passing his writing class at McKee University. Enter his tutor, Bex: She has no interest in athletes, but she could use a fake boyfriend to ward off her annoyingly persistent ex. So the pair strike a bargain, not expecting sparks to fly. (Tale as old as time.)

Like Icebreaker, this new adult romance features characters dealing with tough family relationships. It also doesn’t force a lot of drama into their eventual romantic realizations, which is a breath of fresh air.

Reilly’s Beyond the Play sports romance series continues with Breakaway and Stealing Home.

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6. The Charm Offensive by Alison Cochrun

This contemporary M/M romance doesn’t unfold on the ice rink, or the baseball diamond, or the soccer pitch, or … you get the idea. Instead, it takes place behind the scenes of a reality dating show à la The Bachelor

Meet Dev, a producer for Ever After; he’s always scripting the ideal love story for the show’s star. Then enters this year’s contestant, Charlie Winshaw, an awkward tech genius who quickly discovers he has more chemistry with Dev than any of the women vying for his heart on-screen. 

This one’s often compared to Red, White & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston, but watching Dev and Charlie fall in love while supporting one another through mental health challenges will strike a chord with Icebreaker fans, too.


7. Always Only You by Chloe Liese

Lovably grumpy Frankie suffers from arthritis, but she’s not going to let that stop her from living life. As much as she tries to ignore it, her chemistry with cinnamon roll sunshine Ren (a hockey-playing, Shakespeare-reading hunk) is off the charts. 

Prepare to fall hard and fast for a disgustingly adorable couple that will leave you wishing there were more Frankies and Rens in the world.

Like Icebreaker, Liese’s #OwnVoices story flips the script on the grumpy/sunshine trope with a surly (at first) heroine and a lovable golden retriever of a hero.

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8. Mister Hockey by Lia Riley

A hockey romance where the heroine is a book lover? Sign me up! 

When NHL star Jed West agrees to attend a community library function, he’s immediately taken with librarian Briana “Breezy” Angel. Their heated chemistry could melt an ice rink, but Jed has no idea Breezy is a closeted superfan — the kind of woman he’s sworn never to date, let alone fall in love with.

Discussions around family trauma and the dangers of high-impact sports add depth to this sexy love story following two adorable (well, adorkable in Breezy’s case) lovers.

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9. When the Vibe is Right by Sarah Dass

Tess, who’s lived with her aunt and uncle since her parents died seven years ago, dreams of being a costume designer for Trinidad’s Carnival. Her family even leads a masquerade band called Grandeur. But when a rival band threatens Grandeur’s future, Tess must team up with her least favorite classmate: Brandon Richards, a popular influencer.

Brandon can help revive Granduer’s popularity — if he and Tess can find a way to collaborate. 

This YA enemies-to-lovers novel is set against the captivating sights, sounds, and celebrations of Trinidad. (Dass’ debut, Where the Rhythm Takes You, is set in Tobago.) The romance is a slow burn with lots of witty banter and character growth, especially as Tess works through the grief of losing her parents.

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10. The Hardest Fall by Ella Maise

After a few awkward encounters, Dylan and Zoe are shocked to find out they’re now college roommates. He’s a football star; she’s an awkward goofball. In forced proximity, they become fast friends. But is friendship enough to satisfy what either of them really wants?

The Hardest Fall is a sweet, steamy new adult romance with lovable characters and some dark secrets to keep the tension alive until Dylan and Zoe’s happily ever after. 

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11. Breakaway by Kelly Jamieson

Jamieson kicks off her Heller Brothers contemporary hockey romance series with Breakaway, which is an opposites-attract/one-night stand romance. 

Jase is a hockey player who plays in life, too; Remi is a schoolteacher who shies away from the spotlight. Jamieson’s sharp writing abilities make the steamy scenes and the personality conflict between the two characters come alive.

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12. Hard Knocks by Ruby Lang

Surprisingly emotional and smartly written, Hard Knocks explores the toll of high-impact sports via the story of Helen, a neurologist, and Adam, a pro hockey player who’s taken plenty of big hits. 

Their slow-build romance is punctuated by the fact that the two stand on opposite sides of the debate on whether or not the full-contact version of sports like hockey should be banned. This one’s unique on many fronts in the hockey romance genre (e.g. Adam isn’t a star player, and female anger is front and center throughout the novel), making it a standout.


13. Out of His League by Caroline Richardson

In this baseball romance, a simple act of kindness leads to a steamy one-night stand — and then love.

When Gretchen Harper spots her favorite MLB player at the airport, she buys him a coffee on impulse. Little does Gretchen know, Joshua Malvern is going through a rough patch after being demoted to the minor leagues. After spending an amazing night together, Gretchen can’t get Josh out of her head, and the feeling is mutual.

Watching this couple fall hard and fast for one another is balm to any reader’s soul. (The spice doesn’t hurt, either.)

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14. Check My Heart by Christi Barth

Barth’s deeply emotional romance sees Kurt Lundquist, a grief-stricken pro hockey player, falling for Lisette Broussard, his late brother’s hospice nurse. 

Kurt and Lisette are both at a crossroads in their lives — he feels unmoored after completing his brother’s last wish, and she craves a new, less emotionally draining career. Their new bond sets them moving in the right direction, but there will be bumps in the road.

Though Check My Heart is one of the heavier books on this list, it’s ultimately uplifting to see love and hope develop amid grief and heartache.

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About the Author: Lanie Pemberton

Lanie is a San Diego-based freelance writer who loves reading crime thrillers and nonfiction about animals and the natural world. When not writing and reading (or writing about what to read), Lanie spends as much time as possible at the beach with her husband and pampered pittie, Peach.