When I first picked up this book, I was excited about the premise. A bunch of dudes that put together a romance book club? I’m all about it.
Gavin is the second basemen of the Nashville Legends and he just got the worst news of his life; his wife, Thea, wants a divorce. As his friends come to his seedy hotel room to help, they also bring up a little group they’ve put together; a secret book club where they read romances to help through their real-world relationships.
So Gavin is given his first romance novel, asked to read it, and then apply the takeaways of the novel to his marriage. But Thea isn’t willing to work on this marriage. After their shotgun wedding and raising two twin daughters, she’s had enough of being married to a professional baseball player and all that means to their relationship. She’s never wanted this life anyway, but she finds herself here and ready to move on. However, it isn’t until both Gavin and Thea look deeper into themselves and the issues that strained their relationship that they’re able to heal and move forward.
Like I mentioned before, I was hooked on the idea of a bunch of bros putting together a romance book club. It means that the world is tilting! It means that the genre is getting the deserved spotlight! We’re breaking down barriers! But as the story unfolded, I was a little uneasy with the idea that these dudes are using what romance books say to win back their partners. It felt kind of reductive to think a romance novel is how you’re going to solve your marriage or win back your lover. I mean, there was a scene where the boys suggest Gavin try to force Thea’s backstory not only to gain wisdom on her, but also to make Thea vulnerable for Gavin to swoop in. It read very manipulative to me, but maybe that’s just me.
However, the way the information is shared, some of my uneasiness went away. I guess what the boys were trying to convey isn’t necessarily manipulation, but understanding their relationships better through romances. The boys in the group were good to constantly remind the audience not to use the romances verbatim and that you can learn things about yourself through the book. I honestly think this could have been clearer especially because NO ONE WANTS A PERSON WHO GETS THEIR LINES FROM A ROMANCE NOVEL.
I think my favorite part is the dynamic between Gavin and Thea. You can see where they’re heads are at. Gavin is trying to fix what he thinks are the current issues while Thea is trying to envision the future. It’s definitely an argument I’ve had before where I’m trying to convey my deep emotions about something and my husband is only focused on the current situation. This felt very real.
Something that worried me was whether or not Lyssa Kay Adams would address the issues Thea was facing. While most of the book focuses on Gavin trying to win back Thea, I know for sure that relationships are a two-way street and it’s never one person’s fault for the decline of a marriage. There was a lot of conversation about Thea faking orgasms for their entire relationship. I mean, that reads as a red flag if your partner isn’t sexually pleasing you and something I would personally address very early on in the relationship.
It might be fun to peg all the issues on Gavin, but it doesn’t make the relationship in this story feel real. It makes it feel one-sided where Gavin is really trying and Thea is just letting it happen. This goes double when the book is written in both perspectives. And throughout the novel, you can tell Thea has some issues she needed to face. This didn’t come up until the very end of the book, so it felt a little too late, but at the same time I need to give props to LKA for addressing it.
But despite my misgivings, the book delivered. To be honest, this is the kind of book I expect from a romance. Maybe my standard is a little high, but I loved the natural flow of this book. It felt like everything presented itself when it needed to without being forced. I loved the usage of a declining relationship rather than a new relationship. I even loved the inclusion of Gavin’s stutter; like to show you physically he’s not perfect. I loved how all the characters were relatable (even Mack) and I can’t wait for the next one.
One big question I always ask myself when I read about a group of dudes socializing is whether or not this actually happens. Nothing to do with Lyssa Kay Adams, but something that always runs through the back of my mind. Despite not knowing what guy groups actually talk about, I thought the dialogue was super clever and really funny. The scenes with all the guys were probably the most entertaining. I especially loved the scene where they were looking through some romance novels together and then quickly hid the evidence before Thea walked into the room.
I hope that the second book will explore more of the romances the men read and how they use what they learn for themselves. To me, it still feels manipulative, but maybe we’ll see tremendous growth from LKA’s characters in the future especially when the second book is based around Mack; the lovable rake.
- 4.5 Stars
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- Find The Bromance Book Club by Lyssa Kay Adams on Amazon
I received a copy of this book from Berkley for free in exchange for an honest review. My opinions have not been influenced by the publisher or the author.