Of all the lessons 2020 has taught me, one of my favorites is what I've learned about myself: I love a well-written romance novel. I used to be one of those snobs who only thought literature was worth the time to read, but not anymore folks! Like many others, my anxiety skyrocketed in March and hasn't come down much since then. I found solace in my go-to coping mechanisms: prayer, therapy, puzzles, walks, bird watching and Netflix. In 2020, I've introduced completely predictable, unapologetically sappy, laugh-out-loud funny romance novels to the list.
When up is down, when a dearly loved family member is in the hospital, when social media is mean and spiteful, books like The Bromance Book Club by Lyssa Kay Adams help clear your head and spark a little joy in your heart.
The Bromance Book Club did that and more. The book wasn't just a predictable narrative. It followed the tropes of the genre, and the author was in on the joke. Our protagonist is Gavin Scott, the hero of his Nashville professional baseball team. He scored a walk-off home run in game 6 of the American League championship and scored even bigger at home, if you know what I mean. What should have been a memorable night for all the right reasons actually revealed a painful lie: his wife Thea had been faking it in bed their entire marriage. Ouch. Instead of dealing with conflict in a healthy way, our boy Gavin sulks and moves into the guest bedroom. He gives Thea the cold shoulder and won't speak to her until she asks for a divorce. Only at this point does Gavin realize that he wants to fight for their marriage.
His friends initiate him into a secret book club made up of the who's who of Nashville men. They have one mission: improve their real-life relationships by learning how to charm, seduce and court their partners from reading Regency romance books, complete with naughty book covers and naughtier pages within.
The story goes about how you would expect: boy courts girl, girl resists, boy pursues more, girl gives in, big secret is revealed, girl retreats, grand gesture, happily ever after!
While The Bromance Book Club included everything I enjoy about a good romance, what I really loved was the self-awareness of the author. Between the chapters of our lovers Gavin and Thea are the chapters of the book-within-the-book Gavin is reading, titled Courting the Countess. Gavin takes cues from the book and uses them in his relationship, thus making our story even more predictable. As the saying goes, life imitates art. Courting the Countess foreshadowed The Bromance Book Club and I thought it was witty and well played.
I also really appreciated a story about marriage. Most romance novels are about the pursuit into a relationship, whereas this one is about the continual pursuit after the wedding bells. The characters in this book learn the importance of communicating clearly with one another about what goes on in and out of the bedroom. It's beautiful and endearing and such an important message to readers. Love is more than what you feel toward another person. Love is creating an environment safe enough to be vulnerable in the presence of someone you trust, giving them open access to all of you - mind, body and soul.
I liked this book so much I've already put the sequel Undercover Bromance on hold at the library. It looks like this one is about a different member of the book club - very exciting!
If you need a respite from the gloomy news cycle, check out The Bromance Book Club from your local library, purchase it from your local bookstore or from Amazon here.
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Danielle Kelley Tolbird
Surrounded by books by day, Tolbird works as the communications coordinator of her local library. She writes about her favorite books, faith in God and daily life.