Post Apoc-Olympic Reads: Heroines to Cheer After Rio
If you’re anything like me, you soaked up all the Olympic glory you could the last couple weeks, from every dismount to dig to discus throw. The Olympic games, summer or winter, are always packed with exhilarating displays of daring-do, and Rio 2016 was a particularly impressive showcase for women. Simone Biles, Katinka Hosszu, Oksana Chusovitina, and many, many of their female compatriots have just spent two weeks reminding the entire human race that women are not the weaker sex. But alas, the last race has been won, the last medal awarded, and the last flag paraded around the Maracana. Over the next few weeks, you’ll doubtless be in post-Olympics kick-ass female withdrawal. But don’t worry, I’ve got you covered. Here are five romances starring Olympics-worthy female athletes to get you through the worst of your shakes:
1) Kulti by Mariana Zapata
This self-published gem starts slow but, like any good soccer match, soon gets the blood pumping. Female soccer pro Sal Casillas rues the day Reiner “The King” Kulti—retired soccer star, all-around d-bag, and Sal's former childhood crush—joins the coaching staff of her team. These two leave it all out on the field, including their hearts (awwww). Let your inner Mia Hamm revel in this opposites-attract sports drama with a strong female cast.
2) Angels’ Blood by Nalini Singh
Vampire hunter extraordinaire Elena Deveraux uses her crossbow to take down fanged and winged opponents before they can munch on hapless humans. Most men cower before her, knowing she could skewer their manly bits at a hundred paces. Fortunately for Elena, Archangel Raphael has always had a thing for warriors. Bonus: Nalini Singh crafts a collection of characters just as diverse as any Olympic opening ceremony.
3) Beyond Pain by Kit Rocha
MMA hasn’t yet been recognized as an official Olympic sport, but I can’t help thinking that the IOC would change its mind if it ever got a load of Six in the ring. The O’Kanes are a rag-tag gang of bootleggers just trying to get by in a violent, post-apocalyptic wasteland. Six is their newest kidnapee-turned-recruit, and Brendan is the one man she can’t keep her guard up around, in the ring or out. No O’Kane lady is purely decorative in this dystopian erotica series, but Six’s brand of femininity paints the world in particularly pleasing shades of black and blue.
4) The Mane Squeeze by Shelly Laurenston
Roller derby is not for the faint of heart. Do you want to tell these ladies they’re not good enough for the Olympics? I’ll just stand behind this riot shield while you do… Gwen O’Neill is a shifter, a hybrid lion-tiger, and the failed daughter of Roller Derby royalty. And if those weren’t big enough chips on her shoulder, she’s caught the eye of a racist hybrid-hating serial killer. Good thing the Assault and Battery Park Babes have her back—and grizzly boytoy Lachlan "Lock" MacRyrie has everything else.
5) Pawn by Molly Joseph
Okay, fine, so chess isn’t a sport, much less an Olympic one. But Grace Anne Frazier, the greatest female chess player to ever compete for the title of World Champion, slays the competition with a ferocity that would make Ronda Rousey proud. Yet not everyone is happy about the prospect of a female Bobby Fisher upsetting the male-dominated world of professional chess. When her physical safety is compromised, bodyguard Sam Knight—yes, Knight—brings his less-than-professional but oh-so-personal expertise to the game.
These fierce women all fight their own battles, no feminine wiles required—though they’re smart enough to occasionally use the deadly, devoted men who travel in their wake. What other fictional women inspire your inner Katie Ledecky to greatness? Chime in below!