**Yes, I’ve intended to keep this review spoiler free, with just really minor spoilers that may not even count as spoilers.**
**All GIFS are from GIPHY**
I give this book 5/5 wonderful, wonderful stars.
I know they say not to judge a book by its cover, but is it okay to judge a book by its title?
When I saw the title of this book on one of the tables I was browsing at Barnes & Noble (before Quarantine, of course, please don’t come at me :P), I immediately snatched it. A book club with guys in it? Where guys bonded over books? That sounded absolutely delightful. Of course, I read the summary and Goodreads reviews of it before deciding to read it– I wanted at least somewhat concrete assurance that I was likely to enjoy this book.
But it wasn’t exactly what I thought it would be– as is with many if not most books I pick up, in general. Of course, there was much more to it.
Famous baseball player Gavin Scott has a huge fight with his wife, Thea, after finding out that she has been faking her orgasms for the past few years of their marriage. When he finds out, he gives her the silent treatment and sleeps in the guest room for a month. Despite Thea’s requests to talk it out with her, he doesn’t budge. Deciding she can’t take this treatment anymore (and with good reason!), she decides to divorce him. Gavin is utterly taken aback and regrets his behavior. Unfortunately for him, Thea is stubborn and decisive about the divorce and Gavin feels hopeless and heartbroken.
As he mopes and wallows in front of his fellow teammates and guy friends and is drunk in his sadness, his buddies gather around him and help him step back on his feet. Gavin is too embarrassed to reveal what it was exactly that led him to messing up with Thea, but the guys know that Gavin messed up and now Thea won’t take him back. And that’s all they need to know to help him…at first, at least.
They inform him about a secret book club that they have in which they help each other out when they mess up with their girlfriends/wives/partners. In the club, they have a collection of sexy, steamy romance novels that they know women swoon over– they’re written for women. The guys use these books as guides to help them romance and win back their partners. They know that these books are preferred by women for a reason– it’s a way for them to get our romantic escapes from the banality of men who don’t know what they’re doing when it comes to romance. It’s already helped some of the guys of the book club, and now they want to help Gavin with his marriage. Gavin denies that Thea’s into such types of books, but the guys insist that she probably has them on her e-reader and Gavin just hasn’t noticed them.
Gavin is scared that the guys’ plan won’t work, but with the guys’ support, he knows that he has to try.
The guys give Gavin a plan to follow. He lures Thea into making a deal with him; he says that before signing the divorce papers, he wants a month where he tries to win her over. He proposes it in a way that challenges Thea and makes her determined to beat him in the context of a competition. And so despite her initial reluctance, she gives in. Unknown to Thea, this month is actually the time frame for Gavin to execute his plan into getting her back using the help of the secret book club. The guys and Gavin use a book called Courting the Countess to guide Gavin on his mission to save his marriage.
Part of this deal requires Thea to allow Gavin to do certain things, like take her on dates. He gets his flirt on in ways that both weird Thea out but also pleases her. Still, she doesn’t get swayed easily and it’s obvious that it will take a lot of work for Gavin to win her heart again. Despite her resilience against her feelings for Gavin and against her strong resistance to temptations to give in, Thea can’t help but be wooed at the same time. Maintaining her boundaries becomes a constant challenge, especially with Gavin being as swoon-worthy as he’s being. For Gavin, the uncertainty of his relationship with Thea and the possibility of losing her even with all his efforts terrifies him, especially seeing her stubbornness and strength, but he continues trying with the time he has left nevertheless.
The idea of this book was creative in itself, and I’m glad the story itself didn’t disappoint. Lyssa Kay Adams was amazing in her portrayal of the main characters and their individual growth, and the characters had some great personalities. I especially loved Thea; she is a headstrong, resilient, mentally strong and confident woman who is fiercely loyal to the ones she loves. For example, Gavin has a stutter and she shuts shuts people up when they make fun of him for it. The following quote of Thea’s is one of my favorites from the book:
“And for your information, yes, Gavin stutters in bed. And it’s f——g beautiful.”Lyssa Kay Adams, The Bromance Book Club
She also really knows how to stand up for herself and doesn’t let others treat her like a doormat. And she’s passionate about the people, causes and things she cares about (she handcuffed herself to a tree in college to keep it from getting cut down, to give one example).
The experiences and inner turmoil of the characters was detailed very well by Adams. She wrote in a way that allowed me as a reader to empathize with what Thea and Gavin were going through and feeling– the fear, the hesitance, the sadness, the anger, the uncertainty, the anxiety, the love, the heartbreak, the desire– so many things!
The author greatly put into perspective the insecurities of the main characters that led to the rockiness in their marriage and within themselves. She was great at displaying the way past experiences of Thea and Gavin led them to being the people they became and how these experiences affected their perceptions of the world. It was beautiful seeing the way that the two characters gradually opened up to each other about their insecurities and experiences.
That being said, the chemistry between Gavin and Thea was beautiful. Adams really showed how much the two really did love and care for each other. She also very eloquently showed and taught the audience that it’s not enough just to love one another in a romantic relationship– but that at the same time, it can be enough if two people decide for it to be. She did this by showing how to make a romantic relationship work, there has to be mutual, genuine effort from both partners laced with respect, understanding, patience and compassion. The gestures that Gavin did in order to attempt winning Thea over were beautiful and of course, romantic; in addition, they were extremely thoughtful and showed how much he knew and valued Thea as a person. And the ways in which Thea was there for Gavin really showed how genuine of a partner and overall person she is.
Alongside the deep and serious aspects of this book, there were definitely several instances of humor; many of these actually made me laugh out loud, an unstoppable smile spreading on my face. While I often find many of the books I read funny, only a few actually manage to make me laugh out loud.
The relationship between the guys’ friendship, or more appropriately, their “bromance,” was extremely funny. It was so amusing to see the way one of the guys, Mack, who wasn’t exactly considered a full-on friend by Gavin at first, got on Gavin’s nerves as he teased and taunted him. I will say though there were times where I felt like Mack went too far, but most of the time, Mack’s humor was done in good-willed jest. Overall, it was clear that Mack had a good heart and genuinely wanted good for Gavin.
There was also this incident over food with Thea’s sister, Liv. Liv is loyally on Thea’s side and is anti-Gavin, and tries to make it harder for Gavin to win Thea over. This is apparent throughout the story, and we see that Liv has a very negative view of men in general, given Thea and her experiences with their dad growing up. Anyway, the guys are hosting their secret book club meeting at Thea/Gavin’s house (one of Gavin’s conditions for Thea was that he would stay in the guest room instead of in a different place like Thea initially wanted him to). The guys hear Thea and Liv come into the house unexpectedly, and they scramble to hide their romance books and any proof of their Bromance book club shenanigans. The ladies aren’t exactly sure what’s going on when they see the guys acting all suspicious, but Liv notices that her Chinese takeout is missing from the fridge. Apparently Mack ate it, and she is not happy. And on top of that, the guys also stole and ate her pizza. She ends up screaming and yelling in anger, saying that she hates men, the men get terrified, and it is hilarious (you’ll see especially when you read this book for yourself).
There is also this one character in the book club referred to as “the Russian” who has some bowel problems that adds more comic relief to the story. Gavin and Thea also have two little twin girls, and seeing their love for them is heart-warming. Alongside the serious elements of the relationship between the girls and the parents, the two girls also contribute to adding hilarious moments in the book, as kids do in real life.
There is one incident where they started crying because they were upset about their mommy and daddy fighting. They were creating a scene at a local diner in which they were regulars. They said that they heard them making fighting noises in their bedroom the night of Thea and Gavin’s fight…Thea and Gavin were totally mortified.
I loved how Adams helped shatter the false stereotype that men are insensitive beings who are robots with no feelings. Gavin and his guy friends were sensitive and extremely loving and caring toward their romantic partners as well as among themselves. They were vulnerable and authentic, and even though it was challenging as it is for men to be open about their feelings, the guys was real with themselves and with each other. I loved how the guys’ characters dismantled the promotion of toxic masculinity.
I was elated when I found out there’s a Book #2 of this series! It’s called Undercover Bromance and seems to involve a romance between Liv and Mack. That should be interesting, and I don’t know why I haven’t ordered it yet. I guess I’d better do it now!