For everyone currently getting excited about women’s soccer, Cleat Cute by Meryl Wilsner, out September 19, is a cute romance between two teammates during the leadup to a World Cup year. I would like to thank the publisher for providing The Lesbrary with an ARC for review. I honestly enjoyed this story a lot—it’s a fun romance between two highly competitive people and features plenty of steamy action and on field dramatics.
Grace Henderson is a veteran star on both the US Women’s National Team and her National Women’s Soccer League team in New Orleans. She’s a consummate professional and deals with the intense pressure that comes at playing at her level and being in the spotlight by intensely cultivating her privacy even among teammates. But when rookie Phoebe Matthews is invited to National Team training camp, she manages to throw Grace off her stride almost instantly, and Grace is somewhat dismayed to realize that she will also be Phoebe’s captain back for the regular season in New Orleans. Phoebe Matthews is approaching her first season as a professional soccer player with her usual boundless enthusiasm and energy and a willingness to work hard and do whatever it takes to succeed. Her invitation to be considered for the National team juices her determination even more, as she realizes she could be competing for a spot on the World Cup Team. Gregarious and friendly, Phoebe has never bothered with not being out or with team politics. When sparks fly between them as the professional stakes mount, will they be able to find common ground between walls Grace has built around herself and Phoebe’s need for openness?
I really enjoyed this romance. As someone who has read her fair share of het or m/m athletic romances, I greatly enjoyed this foray into wlw sports. I’m on board. Let’s make lesbian soccer romances the next thing. You get all the cuteness of a romance combined with all the hyper competitiveness of professional athletes. Neither Grace nor Phoebe have taken it easy in their entire lives, or they wouldn’t be playing at an elite level, and that tension on the field translates so well into their romantic tension. Even if they’re not competing against each other, every time they help each other get better they get all hot and bothered. It’s great. I especially enjoyed their dynamic, with Grace taking the lead on the team as Captain and also showing Phoebe around New Orleans, but Phoebe being the more experienced one with feelings and communication. I loved it; it was exactly the level of fun and hi-jinx I want from a romance, but the difficulties introduced for tension did not feel forced or unlikely as sometimes romance problems do.
In conclusion, if you’re still jonesing for some quality soccer content in September, you should look up Cleat Cute, out September 19th. It’s fun and flirty with a heaping helping of sports feelings on top as an extra treat. I really felt like Phoebe and Grace fit together and worked well together. It was the perfect fast paced romance I wanted to get me pumped up for reading again. Definitely check it out: you won’t regret it.