The Lovable Douchebag
This review will be a bit different. Rather than focusing on one specific book, I want to look at one specific trope. This trope typically is a hero-centric* trope found in new adult, sports romances. It runs along the same lines of an alpha-male hero. This trope defines the hero, how he acts, and his character. I call this trope: the lovable douchebag.
Merriam-Webster dictionary defines douchebag as, “an obnoxious, offensive, or disgusting person.” And that's what these heroes are.
These heroes are typically young college aged men who is a star player on a sports team. They've worked hard at what sport they play and are unapologetic for their talent. They are undeniably confident, bordering on arrogant. Every other word out of their mouth is a swear word, which they use in the most colorful of ways. They talk about sex almost as much as they swear. They love sex and love women, but their relationship status is more, “love 'em and leave 'em” than long term commitment.
On the outside, the lovable douchebag is all douchebag. That is, until the heroine gets to know the hero. Underneath that bravado and braggadocios nature they're hiding past hurts and insecurities. And this is what makes the douchebag more human. More understandable. More lovable. The more these aches and pains are explored, the more approachable this hero becomes. His actions and douchebaggery are a bit more understandable and becomes a starting point for a change in character. It is at this point, when he is vulnerable with the heroine, I start going all swoony.
Even though this hero says he has no time for relationships, that he's a one-night only type of guy, that he's not built for commitment, he realizes he can and will be all those things for this girl. She isn't a girl who is dumbstruck by his talent, status, or charm. While there might be some friction between these two at first, a friendship quickly forms. They realize that this person is someone with whom they can be completely vulnerable with, no judgments, just acceptance. And before he knows it he's head-over-heels stupid in love with her. And he doesn't know what to do. He's a little bit like this:
I've actually really come to like this trope. Like the alpha-male, the lovable douchebag turns out to be a very caring and, dare I say, sweet guy, willing to go to the mats for his girl. Once the couple gets over their “you're a douchebag” and “I don't do relationships” mantras, the two love-birds are in each other's pockets. They become best friends and lovers, a safe place for each other.
There are a few series that highlight the lovable douchebag trope the best. These are How To Date A Douchebag by Sara Ney, The Off Campus s_eries by Elle Kennedy, and _The Harris Brothers by Amy Daws. Each book in these series is a delight. I've reread these books multiple times and will probably keep coming back to them. They're humorous and give me a big ol' case of heart eyes.
Sara Ney's How To Date A Douchebag series follows a group of guys on the wrestling team at Iowa State University. They're big, strong, and a little bit full of themselves. They know they have skills, both on and off the mats. What they weren't expecting was for any girl to knock them off their feet. Books in this series are The Studying Hours, The Failing Hours, and The Learning Hours. So far, my favorite is The Studying Hours.
The Off Campus series by Elle Kennedy is another university-centered story, this time focusing on four members of the hockey team all living together, you guessed it, off campus. The banter between the roommates is so entertaining. One aspect of these books I enjoyed was the support of the couples by the roommates. They didn't really give each other flak for being in a relationship and welcomed the girls into the “family” with open arms. There are four books in this complete series: The Deal, The Mistake, The Score, and The Goal. My favorite of the series: The Deal.
And last but not least, Amy Daws' Harris Brothers. S_et in the U.K., this series is about the legendary soccer family, the Harris'. Not only are these stories fun, but the family is wonderful as well. They're a loud, large family in each other's business all the time. The women of these stories are just as vibrant as the family. There are three books in the series so far: _Challenge, Endurance, and Keeper. My favorite of the trio: Endurance.
In each of these series, none of the guys are ready for the girl that come into their life. They're knocked off their feet by these women. There is a varying degree of douchebaggery to each guy, some more douchey than others. But that's what makes each of these series fun. Watching these guys fall and fall hard in love. These books can all be read as stand-alone novels, but will have character cameos from other books. Find these stories and swoon away. I hope you enjoy them as much as I did.
*I say this trope is typically hero-centric because Sarah Ney decides to flip this in her third book, How To Date a Douchebag: The Learning Hours. Rather than the douchebag male lead, that role falls to the female lead. Though 90% of my description for the lovable douchebag still is applicable to her.