Cleat Cute

Cover of "Cleat Cute" by Meryl Wilsner. The cover is a hand-drawn image of two female soccer players in purple and yellow uniforms looking seductively at each other.
Meryl Wilsner
Jan 29, 2024

Hello and welcome to this week's edition of #NoWaitWednesday, where we spotlight a book that's available from the New Release section at on one of our Library branches. We know how much patrons dislike waiting in line for the hot new book that everyone and their book club are talking about. (Trust us - we hate it, too!) However, at the library there's ALWAYS plenty of options for those who want something good to read that's available right now. You can browse the New Release section of your local Library branch, ask a staff member to recommend a title, or check out this week's pick for #NoWaitWenesday: Cleat Cute by Maryl Wilsner.

A feel-good sapphic romance set on a soccer team featuring neurodivergent characters in a grumpy/sunshine pairing that's filled with wit, charm, and, most importantly, heat. The story begins with Grace Henderson, captain of the New Orleans Krewe soccer team, who's already a veteran in her late 20s, as she's been playing soccer professionally since she was a teen. Her age is starting to show as several years worth of injuries are catching up with her, and lurking in the back of her mind is the constant fear that every professional player in any sport has - that she'll be replaced and eventually run out of the league by someone younger and better.

Those fears don't get any lesser when rising young star Phoebe Matthews is signed to the team, as the red-haired rookie plays the same position as Grace and grew up with posters of the star on her wall. Grace gives the newcomer the cold shoulder even though Phoebe couldn't be more excited to play on a team with her idol. Over time, the enthusiasm and energy of the new player wears Grace down and they discover that they share a spark, both on (and particularly off) the field. What begins as a casual friends-with-benefits arrangement heats up and becomes more complex as both stars are soon invited to play on the U.S. National Team for the World Cup. When injuries finally catch up with Grace, the two must work together to save both the season and their relationship.

This sparkling sports romance not only features the grumpy/sunshine pairing, but also touches on how neurodivergent characters can overcome romantic obstacles in their lives - Grace is on the spectrum and can come off as socially awkward and in need of structures and routines in her life while Phoebe is more ADHD, with a lack of focus and high impulsivity fueling her actions. With these opposing foundations set, the banter between the two is priceless and full of both genuine emotion and charm. Wilsner creates a story rich with characters' inner monolouges that can get a bit wordy at times, but readers will absolutely be pulled in by both the character work and, yes, the spiciness of the romance. Sports romance novels are definitely on a upward trend, so if you've never tried one, it's time to get off the bench and get in the game with "Cleat Cute". We hope you enjoy! Thanks for reading, and we'll see you next time!

Reviewed by Gregg W.
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