Well where to start. You saw the list yesterday. it was long. There was good stuff. You might have expected the pick today to be the Gail Carriger – and I do love her, but I’ve written a lot about her already and you really need to be reading those in order, so go back at least as far as Prudence first, maybe even Soulless. But this book, the very last one I read last week was my favourite. I had trouble stopping myself reading it when I had to go and do other things. Like eat. Or get off the train.
Gavin Scott has messed up. His baseball career is on a high, but his marriage has fallen apart. The night of his biggest career triumph was also the night his relationship came crashing down when he discovered his wife Thea had been faking it in bed. He reacted badly and now she wants a divorce. Gavin doesn’t though – he wants his wife back. Enter the Bromance Book Club – a group of really quite alpha guys who have fixed their own relationships with the help of a seemingly unlikely source: romance novels. With the help of the book that they’ve picked for him Gavin starts to try and rebuild his marriage. But will he manage to follow its instructions – and does Thea even want to try again?
“The point is to fit the lessons of it into your own marriage. Plus, that’s a Regency, so—” “What the hell is a Regency?” “That means it’s set in eighteenth-or early nineteenth-century England.” “Oh, great. That sounds relevant.” “It is, actually,” Malcolm said. “Modern romance novelists use the patriarchal society of old British aristocracy to explore the gender-based limitations placed on women today in both the professional and personal spheres. That shit is feminist as fuck.”
This was so much my jam. I mean really, really good. I mean if that quote doesn’t sell it to you, then I don’t know what will. Gavin is a great hero – he knows he’s messed up, he doesn’t know how to fix it and he hasn’t realised that more is wrong than just the bedroom issue. His pro-sports career gives him a legitimate reason to have not noticed some of the stuff that’s been bothering Thea – and once he realises what’s happened, he pulls himself together and makes changes to do better and be better. Thea is an attractive heroine – she’s a young mum who’s given up a lot because of her husband’s career but who still has goals and ambitions. You understand why she reacts the way that she does and why she feels so strongly. She’s changed herself so much to fit in with Gavin’s life and the players’ wives and she wants to find her own identity again. It’s wonderful to watch it all unfold.
The only thing that I didn’t like was the resolution to the bedroom side of the story. Nothing really changes really in *what* they’re doing in the bedroom – so you don’t really understand orgasms weren’t happening during sex for Thea in the first place – or why she started being able to come again. Other reviewers have also spotted this – and I think it has bothered them more than it bothered me – but it is annoying and also troublesome. In a book which is mostly about Gavin learning to listen to his wife and to be a better partner, there’s no conversation about how to fix this at all – but hey presto, it’s fixed because the rest of their relationship is fixed. That’s not how it works. It didn’t ruin my enjoyment of the book, but it is a shame and an opportunity missed.
I’m having a real moment with contemporary romance right now and struggling a bit with the historical stuff (apart from a few reliable authors) but this was such a great combination of the two. It’s also got a great cast of supporting characters with the other guys from the book club – the Russian with the digestive problems, the playboy who flirts with every woman he sees. Thea’s sister Liv was a bit of a tough sell for me at times, but as you lean more about the sisters’ childhood you understand why she is like she is. I’m looking forward to her getting a book of her own – because this – praise be – is the start of a series.
My copy of the Bromance Book Club by Lyssa Kay Adams came from NetGalley, but it’s out now in ebook – it’s a bargainous £1.99 on Kindle and Kobo at the moment. The paperback comes out in the UK at the end of January.