The Bromance Book Club by Lyssa Kay Adams
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.
I’m buying ten copies of this book and giving it to all of the idiot men in my life for Christmas.
Subtle? Nope. Fucks given about that: zero.
“Look, man. Men are idiots. We complain that women are so mysterious and shit, and we never know what they want. We fuck up our relationships because we convince ourselves that it’s too hard to figure them out. But the real problem is with us. We think we’re not supposed to feel things and cry and express ourselves. We expect women to do all the emotional labor in a relationship and then act confused when they give up on us.”
I needed this book. I’m 35 years old. I’ve been with my husband for well over a decade. I love him. So much. But sometimes I want to shake him until his teeth rattle.
This book is cathartic AF for anyone who has been in a long term relationship and has (at any point in time) been absolutely baffled by their partner’s behavior. Or fed up with it.
There’s a passage in here about how men expect a gold star for loading the dishwasher when it’s nothing more than a basic responsibility that any goddamn adult in the house should do automatically, without congratulations, and friends, I have HAD THIS CONVERSATION with other women.
This book is also relatable AF for anyone who has been in a long term relationship and has (at any point) felt like they’re being consumed by it. That they’ve lost part of themselves or lessened themselves for their partner.
I feel like most of us experience this crisis of self eventually. This story really centers around that premise and portrays it in such a believable way. It doesn’t just happen overnight, but in increments so small that you don’t even realize what’s happening and then one day you wake up, take a look at your life, and just think, “My God.”
This is the headspace of the female lead, Thea. Her husband, Gavin, is a professional baseball player. Between their whirlwind courtship (and unplanned pregnancy), and him being suddenly called up into the majors, neither had time to prepare for the limelight.
When your partner is away half of the year, any communication problems can quickly become massive roadblocks to a relationship. And that’s just what happens here.
The dam finally bursts between them, and the resulting flood of words is…not very constructive (<- massive understatement). Things left unsaid are dragged into the open, secrets are revealed, and their marriage is left in tatters.
Thea is done. She’s had enough of Gavin, his shit, and the world that he now lives in.
Gavin is not done. And when he realizes just how close he is to divorce, he decides he’ll do whatever it takes to win his wife back.
Including joining a…book club? For men? Who read romance novels to learn how to be better at relationships?
I have to admit, that blurb sold me. This level of WTFery is right up my alley. I thought it would either be brilliant, or ridiculous (I prayed for brilliance). I mean, trying to learn how to be a better husband by reading historical romance? A genre, that can sometimes be cliched, antiquated, and problematic AF?
What could go wrong there?
Lyssa Kay Adams pulled it off SO HARD THOUGH. The men in this are woke as hell. They realize that they can’t take these books at face value. That beneath the over the top miscommunications and grand gestures there are valuable life and relationship lessons to be found.
Does Gavin do everything right? Oh, no. He’s new to wokeness, and he makes some pretty big mistakes. But he is determined, and kind, and steadfast.
Be warned: Thea can be small-minded, petty, and just as culpable as her husband in destroying their marriage, while also refusing to examine or admit to her own behavior.
Look, I GET IT. I understand why she is so upset. Her anger is so valid. But what I’m not okay with is how that anger materializes. She tells Gavin to do things to test him – wanting him to do the opposite. Right. Totally fair. She at one point uses sex as a weapon. Super uncool. And while Gavin does everything he can to recognize his own shortcomings in their relationship and work on them, she does…nothing. For most of the book.
Real talk: I think a lot of readers are going to struggle here. Even I did, and I got married and divorced for the first time when I was very young. By the time our relationship ended, I was DONE. I was so done that I gave him everything and walked away with nothing. In the end, I didn’t want to forgive him. There was literally nothing he could have done to save our marriage at that point. So Thea really resonated with me at times because of this, and yet I still struggled with her character.
The main reason is because while Gavin’s character learns and evolves throughout the story, all of her character growth came towards the very end.
I just wanted to point this out less to gripe and more to warn other readers that you might get VERY frustrated with this female lead at times, but in the end, it’s definitely worth it.
Aside from Thea, my one other issue is that the men were more woke/progressive/feminist than the women in here? It was…confusing for me. What didn’t help matters was that other than Thea and her sister, almost all of the other women portrayed in the book were WAGs (wives and girlfriends) of famous athletes, and they were so…stereotypical. They were the “mean girls”, complete with all of the problematic behavior that comes with that.
For once I would love to read a sports romance in which the female side characters break the mold and help each other instead of trying to bring each other down in a million small and petty ways.
My few qualms aside, I really enjoyed this book. It was at turns hilarious, uplifting, steamy, and cathartic as all get out.
If you’re looking for a hero with a killer character arc and an incredibly refreshing set of male friends, this one is for you.