The confusing relationship between romance novels and ice hockey

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The niche world of hockey romance novels is gaining public attention after the wife of an NHL player criticized fans of the books who she said had made comments and videos on social media about her husband that were “predators and exploiters”.

Here’s what happened when the worlds of professional sports, romance novels and TikTok collided.

On TikTok, people share book recommendations and reviews under the hashtag #BookTok, and the community has become a powerful force in publishing: More than 100 authors with large followings on BookTok generated $760 million in sales in 2022 , a 60% increase over 2021, according to Circana BookScan, which tracks print sales.

Romance is a big part of the BookTok universe, as is its popular hockey romance subgenre, which falls under the broader category of sports romance.

Recent hits include Anna Zabo and L.A. Witt’s “Scoreless Game,” a love story between two longtime friends who play for the fictional Pittsburgh Griffins. In “Overnight Sensation,” by Sarina Bowen, an intern from the fictional Brooklyn Bruisers moves in with a player after leaving the apartment where she lives with her father, the hockey league commissioner.

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