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The Bromance Book Club


The Bromance Book Club

Although romance novels often top bestseller lists and are eagerly devoured by scores of readers worldwide, the genre is also the butt of many jokes and criticisms --- after all, anything made predominantly by and for women will always be under intense scrutiny, particularly by stuffy critics. But in recent years, this slight has taken a turn for the better. With the arrival of authors like Christina Lauren, Jasmine Guillory and Helen Hoang, romance has seen a dramatic rise in both editorial coverage and attention from readers who claim to dislike romance. So the question remains: Why aren’t men reading one of the most popular, bestselling genres out there?

In THE BROMANCE BOOK CLUB, author Lyssa Kay Adams answers that question with a story that is equal parts hilarious and intelligent, feminist and romantic. Combining deservedly popular tropes with a fresh premise and some purely delightful characters, she invites a whole new world of readers to swoon with one of the most beautiful romances of 2019.

According to his fans, Nashville Legends baseball player Gavin Scott has it all: he is handsome, ripped, has a smoking hot wife, and he just hit the grand slam of his career. But what no one knows is that the night that should have been the highlight of his life is also the worst. Shortly after his career-making play, Gavin learns that his wife, Thea, has been unhappy for most of their marriage and --- even more disturbing --- has been faking it. Rocked by what he feels is an attack on his masculinity and horrified by his own shortcomings, Gavin shuts down, and Thea asks for a divorce. Enter the Bromance Book Club.

"This is one of those rare books that is just as funny as it is heartwarming, and just as romantic as it is intelligent.... Written with brilliance, humor and a true love of the romance genre, THE BROMANCE BOOK CLUB is perfect for readers of all ages, backgrounds and genders."

Drunk, smelly and sporting a three-day-o’clock shadow, Gavin is accosted by his teammate and best friend, Dell, along with a more surprising character: Braden Mack, owner of several Nashville nightclubs. The two clean up Gavin --- not without some well-deserved jabs at his appearance --- and demand to know what happened to cause his separation from Thea. Most importantly, they need to know if Gavin cheated. If he did, they can’t help him, but if he didn’t, he is to appear at their first official meeting the following day. Oh, and under no circumstances is he to visit his wife.

Naturally, Gavin does just that; he turns up red-eyed and slow, giving Thea even more reason to doubt him. While she is parenting their three-year-old twins, he looks like he is out on the town, enjoying his celebrity status. Defeated, heartbroken and very hungover, Gavin reports to Dell’s house, where he learns that Dell, a few other professional athletes and several local businessmen are part of a club? The situation is hilarious, and Gavin’s shock plays directly against the men’s ability to guess at parts of his marriage he never even knew were issues until it was too late.

The men explain that they read romance novels to become better husbands and boyfriends --- but not just the sexy parts. They read to learn about issues like toxic masculinity, consent, communication and emotional maturity. And like playboys with hearts of gold, they are all whip-smart, keenly attuned to the plights of women, and ready to help Gavin become the same. All he has to do is read Courting the Countess, the novel that they feel most adequately mirrors his own situation.

If you’re not laughing out loud at this point, you haven’t fully imagined Gavin’s face of shock and horror. But THE BROMANCE BOOK CLUB is not just a hilarious comedy; Adams digs deep into the problems that many couples face and puts her characters to work to use books to examine their own lives and relationships. For Gavin, this means making several predictable missteps (with terrific commentary from his fellow book clubbers) as he tries desperately to rebuild his marriage. But as the men in his club remind him, it’s not about proving to Thea that he wants her (duh!) --- it’s about making her want him.

As Gavin moves back into his home and starts courting Thea, she begins her own journey of self-discovery. Thea became pregnant shortly after dating Gavin, and before she knew it, she was a professional baseball player’s wife and an unwilling (but pastel-covered) member of the WAG club (that’s wives and girlfriends for those of you not married to professional athletes). Now she is realizing that she has conformed to the wife Gavin needed rather than the young lady he started dating, or the woman she dreamed of becoming. With both characters on a path to becoming themselves and learning to date and love one another again, it’s going to take more than a few chapters of Courting the Countess to bring them back together. Luckily for Gavin and Thea, the Bromance Book Club has their backs.

This is one of those rare books that is just as funny as it is heartwarming, and just as romantic as it is intelligent. Adams does an outstanding job of unpacking toxic masculinity --- and not just the myriad ways it affects women. She also explores the dangers for men, and how they can stand against it for themselves and the women around them. At the same time, she champions the romance genre and reminds us that, as a branch of literature written by and for women, it's a place where female desires, experiences and emotions are given center stage. And it’s a heck of a good time.

Gavin’s journey, of course, makes up the main plot of the book, but Thea’s is equally fleshed out. To see the two characters grow and develop while still reaching for and learning from one another makes for one of the most heartwarming romances I’ve read in some time. Additionally, the members of Gavin’s book club --- from best friend Dell to charismatic Braden --- add tons of terrific commentary and sarcastic jabs. The way that they educate and help Gavin was, for me, the highlight of the book and made it accessible on so many wonderful levels.

Written with brilliance, humor and a true love of the romance genre, THE BROMANCE BOOK CLUB is perfect for readers of all ages, backgrounds and genders. This would make an excellent book club read, especially for those who enjoyed THE FRIEND ZONE, THE BUCKET LIST or any romance novel (fun fact: Adams intersperses Gavin's and Thea’s stories with snippets from Courting the Countess). Great news for all you bromancers out there: this is only the first book in the series!

Reviewed by Rebecca Munro on November 15, 2019

The Bromance Book Club
by Lyssa Kay Adams