Cleat Cute by Meryl Wilsner Book Review
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A sapphic rivals to lovers rom com for fans of Ted Lasso and A League of Their Own, where two soccer teammates are at odds before falling in love as their team gears up for the World Cup.
Grace Henderson has been a star of the US Women’s National Team for ten years, even though she’s only 26. But when she’s sidelined with an injury, a bold new upstart, Phoebe Matthews, takes her spot. 22-year-old Phoebe is everything Grace isn’t—a gregarious jokester who plays with a joy that Grace lost somewhere along the way. The last thing Grace expects is to become teammates with benefits with this class clown she sees as her rival.
Phoebe Matthews is too focused on her first season as a professional soccer player to think about seducing her longtime idol. But when Grace ends up making the first move, they can’t keep their hands off of each other.
As the World Cup approaches and Grace works her way back from injury, a miscommunication leaves the women with hilariously different perspectives on their relationship. But they’re on the same page on the field, realizing they can play together instead of vying for the same position. With every tackle the tension between them grows, and both players soon have to decide what’s more important—being together or making the roster.
The perfect blend of funny and steamy, Meryl Wilsner’s Cleat Cute is about being brave enough to win on and off the field.
Here is the potentially sensitive content that I observed while reading:
- Emotional Abuse
- Mental Health diagnoses
- Panic Attacks
- Sexually Explicit Scenes
- Toxic relationship (not Main Characters)
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There are possible **SPOILERS** beyond this point!
Cleat Cute is a fun sapphic soccer romance with great neurodivergent representation! It was extremely introspective, which is something that I really enjoy in books. The journey to Grace and Phoebe figuring out that they loved each other was both cute and very spicy. I’m not a huge fan of soccer (I’ve never watched Ted Lasso) but I still really enjoyed this. Some of the soccer content did fly right over my head because, as I mentioned, I literally know nothing about soccer. I don’t feel like it really took away from the story because it was such a huge part of these two women’s lives.
I really liked Grace and Phoebe for completely separate reasons because they are the opposites attract trope in every way. Their common love for soccer and both of them having such big hearts made me fall for them. But as a couple, I thought they were the absolute cutest. The New Orleans dates and small favors were romantic and swoon worthy! There is so much hesitancy from both sides on them being together. I feel like it made it so that they could get to know each other so well and also so that they could learn more about each other in the most organic way. The friendship between the main characters, though reluctant on Grace’s side, flourished well before the romantic aspect of their relationship could. Grace is not really grumpy as much as she is reserved and sparing with her attention after events from her past. There are layers to the captain but there is one person who was not deterred whatsoever in trying to peel back those layers. Phoebe was under her skin before she could help it. Phoebe is a ray of sunshine and her happiness is kind of infectious. You can’t help but love her!
I enjoyed the team’s interactions, and I also really enjoyed the queerness of this story. That’s something that I’ve come to really expect and also appreciate in Meryl Wilsner‘s writing. There’s so much diversity outside of just the fact that the main two characters are queer. The found family aspects of this romance really made me happy because there was so much love in this book that wasn’t romantic. All the friendships were beautiful!
I recommend Cleat Cute if you like sports romance and opposites attract. Thank you so much to the author for an advance copy of this book for review.
There are several open door scenes in this book with minimal innuendo throughout.
Genre & Tropes
- Enemies to Friends to Lovers
- Emotional Scars
- Opposites Attract
- Close Proximity
“what is this supposed to be? She has no idea, but she is letting herself have it. It feels too good not to.”
“Lesbian is important to me… The world likes to act like it’s a porn category, not an identity. It took me a while to realise it wasn’t. I want other girls like me to know it’s a beautiful word.”
“I didn’t know if I wanted to kiss you or be you. Both, it turned out.”
“With Phoebe, something even worse has happened. Grace should’ve kept Phoebe away, because at least then she wouldn’t have fallen for her… now Grace’s heart has to betray her by fluttering when Phoebe smiles at her.”
While Matthews is apparently unaffected by whatever happened between them, Grace can’t get the other woman out of her head.
“But I invited you for this run because I like you… Even if you’ve decided I’m obsessed with you or whatever and never want to talk to me again, this was so worth it.”
“Oh, excuse me. No one sucks on another woman’s neck like that if they’re not interested in women.”
“This is pretty weird.” Grace scowls. “No weirder than leaping a fence to come talk to me during a workout.” “You’re right.” Grace appreciates the words but not the way Matthews smirks. “I guess we’re both a little weird for each other.”
“I bet I can make you come first.” “You’re talking,” Grace says, answering her own question from earlier. “Of course you’re talking. Shut up and put your mouth to better use.”
this is different. No one ever looked at her like this in the locker room before. It’s possible no one ever looked at her like this in her life.
“No pressure either way. I just really wanna get my mouth on your cunt.”
Cold showers are better for your skin.
Phoebe cackles. Truly the greatest reaction to a sexy pic she’s ever received.
Check out Cleat Cute on Amazon here.