At a family birthday party this week, I looked across a room filled to the brim with people to see my son not engrossed in a hand held device but playing chess with his uncle's best friend.
A love this quiet fierce game that spans generation, place, time, and culture.
I will admit to sucking at it myself but I don't have to be good at something to like it.
Here is a list of wonderful Romance Novels featuring chess, chess players and chess sets.
My lists are never in any particular order. Enjoy!
1. The Eight by Katherine Neville
Computer expert Cat Velis is heading for a job to Algeria. Before she goes, a mysterious fortune teller warns her of danger, and an antique dealer asks her to search for pieces to a valuable chess set that has been missing for years...In the South of France in 1790 two convent girls hide valuable pieces of a chess set all over the world, because the game that can be played with them is too powerful....
2. Desperate Duchesses by Eloisa James
A marquess's sheltered only daughter, Lady Roberta St. Giles falls in love with a man she glimpses across a crowded ballroom: a duke, a game player of consummate skill, a notorious rakehell who shows no interest in marriage—until he lays eyes on Roberta.
Yet the Earl of Gryffyn knows too well that the price required to gain a coronet is often too high. Damon Reeve, the earl, is determined to protect the exquisite Roberta from chasing after the wrong destiny.
Can Damon entice her into a high-stakes game of his own, even if his heart is likely to be lost in the venture?
3. Pawn by Molly Joseph
High stakes chess competition has always been a man’s game—until Grace Ann Frasier topples some of the game’s greatest champions and turns the chess world on its ear. Her prowess at the game is matched only by her rivals’ desire to defeat her, or, worse, avenge their losses. When an international championship threatens Grace’s safety, a bevy of security experts are hired to look after her, but only one is her personal, close-duty bodyguard, courtesy of Ironclad Solutions, Inc.
Sam Knight knows nothing about chess, but he knows Grace is working to achieve something important, and he vows to shelter her from those who mean her harm. When she leans on him for emotional support, attraction battles with professionalism and Sam finds his self-discipline wavering. Soon the complexity of their relationship resembles a chess board, where one questionable move can ruin everything—or win a game that could resonate around the world.
4. You're the One by Alix Nichols
When schoolteacher Natalie meets chess grandmaster Adrien at the Bistro La Bohème, the connection is immediate and real. Romance is in the air -- until life makes a move to test how well they know their hearts...
5. One Night Is Never Enough by Anne Mallory
From the first glimpse he knew he must have her — even if only for a single night . . .
Powerful, ruthless, seductive—the lord of London’s underworld—Roman Merrick gets anything he wants . . . and he burns for Charlotte Chatsworth, a polished jewel in the glittering ton. So he engages her debt-ridden gambler father in a game of chance, wagering ten thousand pounds against one night with the man’s exquisite daughter. And Roman Merrick never loses.
But one night is never enough . . .
Charlotte is devastated to learn that her reprobate father has lost her in a card game to the most dangerous man she’s ever met. With the threat of ruin behind every corner, Charlotte embarks upon a perilous path with the man she cannot forget. But in truth, it’s Roman who has everything to lose—for a game undertaken for pleasure alone soon has him gambling his heart. And love and passion unleashed could bring his great, dark empire tumbling down . . .
6. 74 Seaside Avenue by Debbie Macomber
Cedar Cove, Washington
Do you remember Teri Miller? She works at Get Nailed, the beauty salon here in town. Well, Teri got married a little while ago—to Bobby Polgar, the famous chess champion. They've moved into a beautiful house, 74 Seaside Avenue, which has a spectacular view of Puget Sound.
Teri's my hairdresser, and she confided that something seems to be worrying Bobby. When she asked him about it, he told her he was "protecting his queen," and she got the oddest feeling that he wasn't talking about chess, but about her.
Rachel Pendergast also works at Get Nailed, and I've heard that she has two men seriously interested in her. I also wanted to tell you that Linnette McAfee, who's Roy and Corrie's daughter, recently left town because her love life fell apart. We all know about that kind of trouble.
Oh, by the way, Teri says we should come in soon for a manicure and a chat….
7. Queen's Gambit by Marie Treanor
The Grand Master of her body—and her fate.
Ever since a jealous wife cursed her, Christi Blythe has lived seven hundreds years of a half life, trapped by day in the black queen of a chess set. She lives only between the hours of dusk and dawn, waiting for the one true love who is willing to sacrifice a vital game of chess to break the curse.
Now, years after she has given up hope, her remote Highland hotel is hosting a chess match between two high-profile Grand Masters of the game. One of them is the brilliant but erratic Russian, Andrei Zuvaran.
Andrei suspects there is something different about the luscious barmaid and her chess set. One hot night with her—and one shocking dawn—confirms it. But he can’t afford to lose this match. Not even to free her.
He’s got more riding on it than money, more than his heart. His next move could cost a life.
8. Game of Kings by Anthea Carson
Something is rotten in the world of chess. Darla Martin is perfectly content to live in Denver, work at a library, and play chess every night. That’s before she meets Mikhail, a mysterious and proud Russian grandmaster. And Maxwell, who is charming and handsome and speaks of dark things. And Fred, who warns her not to look into his eyes. Before she knows it, Darla’s comfortable world is turned upside down.
9. Miss Gabriel's Gambit by Rita Boucher
Beautiful Sylvia Gabriel has more cause than most to despise the Game of Kings. Chess has been the ruination of her life—ending her engagement, filching her fortune and reducing her to poor relation. But when she finds herself falling in love with chessmaster David Rutherford, the new Lord Donhill, Sylvia stakes her heart, her future and her reputation on the riskiest gambit of all
10. Finessing the Contessa by Wendy Soliman
Lord Robert Forster hopes to meet his match—on the chessboard. He jumps at the chance to cross rooks with the renowned Sicilian widow Contessa Electra Falzone. However, the lovely foreigner's bold opening gambit raises concerns about her politics when she finds her way into his bedchamber, not with seduction in mind, but to steal state secrets.
Electra Falzone has always avoided scandalous liaisons, until blackmail forces her to turn thief and risk her reputation in the arms of the handsome Lord Robert. If her manipulators were threatening only her, she would confess all to her fellow strategist. But given who will suffer if she fails, she can't afford to take that risk.
Drawn to the exotic contessa, Rob won't allow her to be used as a pawn by an unscrupulous schemer. But if Electra is determined to play this dangerous game for reasons of her own, nothing Rob can do will stop her.
Let me know if I missed a Chess Romance you love!
Vote for the best of the best on my Goodreads list: Checkmate: Chess in Romance Novels