I have read many, many romantic comedies in my time. I say it’s my favorite genre, but the truth is that I am extremely picky and I have found that few of the romcoms I have read are actually worth recommending to anyone. I started the “Bromance Book Club” series by Lyssa Kay Adams with high hopes, and the series definitely had its moments. It revolves around a group of high-powered men in Nashville who start a secret book club where they read romance novels in hopes of improving their own love lives. Unfortunately, now that I have read all five published installments, I am not sure how impressed I was. To paraphrase poet laureate Archie Andrews (of “Riverdale” fame), allow me to take you through the epic highs and lows of these novels. This review contains some minor spoilers for the “Bromance Book Club” series. Lyssa Kay Adams, please forgive me if you read this.
Book 1: “The Bromance Book Club”
This book seriously put this comedy in romantic comedy. I genuinely laughed out loud multiple times. It focuses on Gavin, a baseball player, who discovers he has some major communication issues in his marriage to his college sweetheart, Thea. Gavin gets pulled into the Bromance Book Club by his teammate after Thea asks for a divorce. I’m not normally a fan of second-chance romance, but somehow this book still really worked for me. I also loved the dynamic between Gavin and the other guys in the book club. Much to my disappointment, future books in the series focus way less on the actual book club. That might be part of the reason why this first book of the series actually ended up being the best, at least in my opinion. It kind of all goes downhill from here.
Rating: 8/10. You can honestly just read this book and get everything you need from the whole series.
Book 2: “Undercover Bromance”
This was … bad. It was also published on March 10, 2020. Did it cause the pandemic? Maybe. The female main character of this book is Thea’s sister, and she was my least favorite part of book one. She only gets worse in book two! Liv, a chef at a famous restaurant, gets fired from her job after finding out her boss has been sexually harassing his employees. She teams up with Bromance Book Club member Braden Mack for revenge. Liv is like every example of what not to do when you find out about someone’s sexual assault. She was angry with victims (who were terrified of retaliation) for not wanting to speak out about their experience. She harangued two victims of sexual assault repeatedly and said wildly inappropriate things to them to pressure them to go public with their stories. I was honestly shocked by how callous she was. She got called out on it a few times, but the ending of the book kind of just serves to justify her actions and makes her seem like a complete hero. I found it totally bizarre. Her victim-blaming continues with Mack, her supposed love interest. Liv somehow makes Mack’s childhood trauma entirely about herself and her trust issues. It is genuinely bizarre. I actually wish the two of them had not ended up together.
Rating: 3/10. Do not read this. Please.
Book 3: “Crazy Stupid Bromance”
I wish I had liked this book more than I did, but it was just average. I found it difficult to care about the romance, which was between Alexis, a café owner, and her friend Noah, a former hacker turned computer security business owner. This book focused on Alexis meeting the half-sister she never knew she had and finding out her father, who she has never met, needs Alexis’s kidney. This plot was so weirdly executed. Her half-sister was absolutely wild and had zero common sense. Also, this was the book where I realized that Adams has the exact same formula for every single one of her third-act breakups. I am a serious hater of third-act breakups, and it apparently irritates me even more when they all follow the exact same structure every time (guy and girl get into a stupid fight, guy gets drunk, guy wakes up hungover to find the Bromance Book Club members standing around him, guy gets convinced to do a grand romantic gesture). She genuinely does this in all five books of the series. Why did no one stop her? This book at least improved on book two, but the bar was quite low.
Rating: 6/10. Not offensive, but I wouldn’t really bother with it.
Book 4: “Isn’t It Bromantic?”
I actually started the Bromance Book Club series just because I wanted to get to this book so badly. The premise looked great! It was about a marriage of convenience between two childhood friends, Vlad and Elena. Both are from Russia, but Vlad has moved to the US to play hockey. He marries Elena, a journalist, so she can come to the US too. Of course, he has very (in)conveniently been in love with her for ages. Regrettably, this book was not really giving me the mutual pining I wanted from it. Vlad was super into Elena, but I feel like Elena tried to avoid thinking about him too much. This was in character for her, but it didn’t exactly make for a satisfying read. However, Vlad was a sweetheart, and I loved reading from his point of view.
Rating: 7/10. Not exceptional, but it was decent.
Book 5: “A Very Merry Bromance”
In the most recently published book of the series, country star Colton tries to convince immigration lawyer Gretchen to be in an actual relationship with him after their one-night-stand a year prior. I am sad to say that this book was boring to me. It took me ages to get through, as I just did not feel motivated to read it. I was not particularly invested in Colton and Gretchen’s relationship, and it made me sad that the actual Bromance Book Club really failed to play a big role in the plot. Also, Colton was so obsessed with the idea that no one should ever dislike Christmas. Chill, Colton! I hope this isn’t the last book of the series, because it would make me sad if it ended on a mediocre note. However, at this point, should I actually read anything else in this series? Let’s hope Adams taps into that magic she had in book one.
Rating: 6/10. A very middle-of-the-road Christmas.