Series: Bromance Book Club #1
Published by Berkley on 11/5/2019
Amazon ∣ B&N ∣ Audible
The first rule of book club: You don't talk about book club.
Nashville Legends second baseman Gavin Scott's marriage is in major league trouble. He’s recently discovered a humiliating secret: his wife Thea has always faked the Big O. When he loses his cool at the revelation, it’s the final straw on their already strained relationship. Thea asks for a divorce, and Gavin realizes he’s let his pride and fear get the better of him.
Welcome to the Bromance Book Club.
Distraught and desperate, Gavin finds help from an unlikely source: a secret romance book club made up of Nashville's top alpha men. With the help of their current read, a steamy Regency titled Courting the Countess, the guys coach Gavin on saving his marriage. But it'll take a lot more than flowery words and grand gestures for this hapless Romeo to find his inner hero and win back the trust of his wife.
A bit of backstory
The Bromance Book Club by Lyssa Kay Adams was on my radar, and then it wasn’t. I was pretty excited about it because I thought the premise sounded cute af, but then I saw more negative feedback than raves, so I pushed it way down on my TBR list. Mind you, I can’t verify whether that ratio is accurate, since I didn’t count reviews, nor did I actually read anyone’s reviews. But ya know what I mean. When you see the negative, all you see is the negative.
I almost went with the general consensus (or what I perceived to be the consensus). Then I decided in 2020 to go back to the basics and embrace my reading habits of years ago, when I was nearly completely isolated from social media, and I simply picked books based on the synopses. (I have other reading goals, but that’s a discussion for another post.) I’d just finished Crooked Kingdom, which was an intense experience, so I went looking for a lighter read. I re-read the back cover of The Bromance Book Club, once again liked the premise, then went on to finish it in two sittings.
Okay, so, I’ve created all this build up (or no build up, since I’m sure only I care about my reading behaviors) with my unnecessary backstory about reading and social media consensuses, but did I like the book?
I did. I liked it more than I didn’t, and I’ll read book 2 in the series.
The Bromance Book Club was exactly what I thought it would be–a cute story about a couple trying to put their marriage back to rights, where the stakes aren’t high and there’s laughter along the way to a happy ending. Going in, I just wanted the characters to feel real, I wanted compelling chemistry, and a sweet love story that didn’t cross over to corny. It met most of my expectations.
What I liked
Early on I jived with both Thea and Gavin because I thought they came off as real people. They were definitely messy, contradictory, and immature sometimes (especially Gavin), but who isn’t? I was a bit worried at first that Thea would be a cliched scorned woman since in her opening scene she was literally smashing a wall with a sledgehammer while listening to I Will Survive. I mean, really? Fortunately, it didn’t take long to see her layers: her fears, her aspirations, what motivated her.
Along with the protagonists, I enjoyed the scenes with the secondary characters, the members of the book club and Thea’s sister, Liv. I thought it was immensely entertaining to see Gavin with a core group of fellas to turn to for emotional support and ass kickings. And of course, I love books with kids, so I found Thea and Gavin’s twins pretty cute, though they weren’t scene stealers. I loved the tender scenes with the young family.
Also, I liked the story within the story. I found the snippets from Courting the Countess (the historical romance Gavin uses as a manual) smart and an appealing subplot.
Most importantly, I just enjoyed how I felt when reading The Bromance Book Club. It was light and sweet–a great, cozy Sunday read (yes, I read it on a Sunday). It was fun but it had consequential moments. The characters learned, changed, and grew. I was never bored, and I found the ending satisfying.
What I disliked
Though I appreciated the overall development for the protagonists, I still left feeling an imbalance between Thea and Gavin. I don’t think Thea’s personal conflicts were resolved enough. Although, I wonder if that might be because her sister is the heroine of book #2 in the series, and their backstories are closely linked.
Also, as much as I was keen on reading about a bunch of men loving and defending romance novels, it sometimes felt, in creating romance loving dudes to regurgitate arguments I’ve seen almost verbatim from women on the web, that romance is only given merit because the men saw its value. I imagined how a premise would play out if the hero was drafted into a romance book club with a bunch of women. That would be a fun story too.
I enjoyed seeing Gavin and Thea find each other again, or more accurately, find each other for the first time. The writing was solid, as well as the pace and the cast of characters. I’m as excited for book #2 as I initially was for The Bromance Book Club. Ya know, I could get used to this seducing my spouse trope as it’s an interesting spin off to the second chance romance.