The last weekend of April featured a lot of big moments. Comic fans got to see a big messy crossover on the big screen. Winter finally decided to fuck off until September. And Packer fans got their heart rates elevated over the choices made in the NFL Draft. Yes, football season is creeping back in, and it won’t be long until there are pre-season games, fantasy drafts, and the return of those awful talk show segments about “football for women” where they suggest how to decorate and cook for a man’s gameday soirees.
Liz Lincoln, a local author and lifelong Packer fan, decided to push back against the “pink jersey and tailgate sushi” movement by writing a series of romance novels centered around the lives and loves of players for the fictitious Milwaukee Dragons (not to be confused with real-life women’s tackle football team the Wisconsin Dragons). “Is this man: A) a super-hot NFL player, B) the guy you’re sexting, or C) your new boss?” asks the teaser for Lincoln’s On The Line, released this past April. It continues:
If you’re Carrie Herron, the answer is: D) all of the above. First, Carrie starts exchanging steamy text messages with the sexy single dad she meets in line at the grocery store. Then she lands a job as the live-in nanny for the daughter of the Milwaukee Dragons’ newest star. With any luck, she’ll be back on her financial feet before the next cosplay convention rolls around. But when Carrie shows up for work and realizes that her new boss is the guilty pleasure in her phone, she has no choice but to try to keep things professional. Oh, how would Poison Ivy handle a temptation like Seth Chamberlain?
After getting traded from Houston to Milwaukee, Seth’s having a tough time keeping his head in the game, let alone making sure that his daughter is fitting in. So if the only nanny that Madison will tolerate is a grown woman who likes comic books even more than she does…well, so be it. Too bad the nanny is also the gorgeous redhead Seth’s been flirting with all this time. But with Carrie’s knowing glances and kissable lips driving him wild, Seth must decide whether he’s ready to put everything on the line.
Lincoln talked with Milwaukee Record about the inspiration for her novels, Badger football back when nobody cared about it, and how Aaron Rodgers is at his best when he’s got something to prove.
Milwaukee Record: How did you get involved in the romance genre?
Liz Lincoln: I decided I wanted to be a writer when I was eight, and when I wrote my first “book” at 10, it had a romance in it. So it just sort of happened. I started reading romance around that age, and even when I branched out into other genres, I always came back to romance. I joined Romance Writers of America in 2003, but didn’t get really serious about writing until after my daughter was born eight years ago. I figured if I was going to tell her she should pursue her dreams, I better pursue mine.
I know romance novels have a reputation for being formulaic or unrealistic or badly written. But that’s simply not true. All genre fiction has some kind of rules—mysteries always get solved, romances always have the couple together at the end—but other than the happily-ever-after, there are few limits in romance. The vast majority are well-written, and there’s such a variety of sub-genres, nearly everyone can find something they’d enjoy. And I love that we cover everything from my very favorite sport to space explorers to spies in the French Revolution. At their core, romances are about love and hope. And given the chaos going on in the world today, I need all the happiness and hope I can get.
MR: What made you choose to set these stories around a fictional Milwaukee football team?
LL: I was raised a die-hard football fan. I grew up in Madison, and my stepdad took me to Badger football games all the time, back in the pre-Alvarez days when we could walk up five minutes before game time and get decent seats. I’ve wanted to write about football players for a while, so when sports romance started gaining popularity, I decided to go for it. It’s fun to have the excuse to say I have to watch the Packers for research. And I wanted to set the books in Milwaukee. We’re an under-represented city in novels, and that’s a shame since we’re a great city. I also know it’s a lot easier to make up a fictional team rather than use a real one. Too much chance of getting something wrong or offending the wrong person if I used the Packers.
MR: Do you think Milwaukee should have a real NFL team?
LL: No. We’re much too loyal to the Packers. Even in my book, I consciously put the Dragons in the AFC, so at least they aren’t rivals with the Packers.
MR: What made you pick Dragons as the team’s mascot?
LL: I played with a few different ideas for mascots. I considered the Hogs, for Harley-Davidson. I looked at the things that are quintessentially Wisconsin, like beer (the Brewers), cheese (the Packers), and deer hunting (Bucks). But the Milwaukee Bratwursts or the Milwaukee Cranberries just didn’t work. So a friend and I were tossing out ideas for things that are fierce and formidable, opponents you would be nervous to face. And of the list we had, I liked Dragons best.
MR: How do you think the Packers will do this year?
LL: I’m terrible at giving actual win-loss numbers. But I like the changes they’ve made in the offseason, and of course having Rodgers back goes a long way. I like Hundley, but I’ll be happy to see him on the sideline again. Plus, Rodgers plays well with a chip on his shoulder, and it feels like he’s got that after last season. I’m ready to watch him prove he’s GOAT. I think it’s good they got some fresh blood in the front office, and thus will have more on the field (though seeing Jordy cut was tough). And like they proved last season, so much depends on staying healthy. So if we could dip all Rodgers’ bones in titanium before the season starts, that would be excellent.