I did something different this week. I read my first romance.

That’ll probably seem pretty insignificant to most of you, who are likely on your hundredth or even millionth romance novel by now, but for me it was as foreign and strange an experience as traveling to another country alone. (i.e. it was scary and my preconceived notions about the endeavor left me unsure if I was even going to enjoy it.) In that sense, I guess I’m not too dissimilar from the main character, Gavin Scott. No, sadly I’m not a millionaire baseball star with arms as big as my head, but, like Gavin, I am a first-time romance reader. And also like him, I just might be a better man for it.

The Bromance Book Club opens with our star baseball player down on his luck. He’s lost his wife, he’s deliberately renting a bad hotel, and, worse yet, he’s throwing up. What follows is one of the most unique premises for a novel I’ve ever read, because who would ever think of a book club full of major league baseball stars reading romance novels? (See? Guys like them too.) Gavin’s team comes to the rescue by letting him in on their dirty (literally) little secret: they’ve all been in his position.

What I like about The Bromance Book Club is that it surprised me. Speaking again of preconceived notions, I always assumed that romance novels were all just nonstop sex-fests. I was wrong. For one, the story presented here is about much more than Gavin winning a woman’s heart. It’s about him proving his love to his wife, re-earning the trust that they used to share. That in itself got my foot in the door, what got me invested was the book club. As I’ve stated, I’ve never read a romance novel before, never even considered it. So it was all the more relatable to me that Gavin was in similar shoes and had to have ‘the boys’ convince him to take it seriously. There was a good balance of him feeling like a fish out of water to his eventual transition into a person who could appreciate the value of romance. As I said, I was convinced romance novels were all about sex, but the encounters here are much more mature than two people jumping each other’s bones the moment they lock eyes. There’s proper buildup and payoff at a pace that I think is steady enough to ease newcomers into the genre, especially when they’re men.

Now, for everything that I enjoyed about the novel, I do have at least one nitpick. There are occasions in the story, particularly during the opening chapters but spread throughout, where the use of buzzwords/phrases like ‘mansplainer’ and ‘patriarchal power structures’ comes off as more distracting than productive. Thea, the deuteragonist of the story, gives voice to a phenomenon that I suspect many women endure wherein they begin to lose the true essence of themselves within the confines of familial duty and the pressures to maintain a picture-perfect marriage. These pressures are especially amplified in Thea’s case since she also happens to be married to a celebrity. It’s an important story to tell and I do believe that Adams does an admirable job at telling it; however, when characters like Thea and her sister, Liv, speak, they are much more prone to recite anti-patriarchal/all-inclusive sentiments than the guys. Characters like Gavin and the book club (people who have all at some point in their lives embodied the very issues the women seek to fight against) are allowed a more laidback and enlightened approach to the societal issues. Gavin in particular has a nuanced development throughout the novel without uttering a buzzword once, but is simply allowed to recognize his faults and improve from within. The women recognize when they’re wrong too, but I just wish they could have been given a chance to do so with a little more subtly. Though one might argue that too much subtly is what creates these issues in the first place.

All in all, I really enjoyed this book. I couldn’t imagine a better starting point to get into a genre that I might not have ever experienced. If you’re a newcomer to romance like me, then I highly recommend checking it out.

For even more on The Bromance Book Club and the Bromance series, checkout Lyssa Kay Adams’s website linked here: Bromance Book Club – Lyssa Kay Adams.

2 thoughts on “Now Read This: The Bromance Book Club by Lyssa Adams

  1. Hey there,

    I thought you made a great connection between people like you and I who have not delved much into romances, and how Gavin is acting as the everyman hero in this instance that is going to act as a bridge for this type of fish out of water story, as you said.

    I don’t know how I feel about this ‘preconceived notion’ you had about romance novels being ‘nonstop sex-fests’. Because it even seems to be brought out like that in the Benedict and Irena sequences, withholding the sex until as late as possible. The ‘climax’ of the story (both Bromance and the Benedict story-within-a-story) is about climaxes. I don’t know if that’s only because of what the author Adams was going for, but in this particular case, I do feel like the ‘solution’ to their problems was sex, and the letting go of inhibitions about whatever issues the characters had with sharing themselves with each other physically.

    From what I’ve been told at residency by multiple mentors and people more well-versed in romance, the gist I got from it was that romance was about getting to the moment of unabashed proclamation of love between characters, through all of their ordeals and interior motivations. Now, sex seems like a big musical number or the final battle in this case, because it appears to be the ‘natural’ consequence of characters proclaming love for one another. So based on Bromance, it does feel like it’s actually all about sex (including the very reason why our couple ‘broke up’ in the first place).

  2. Hi William,
    I appreciated hearing your perspective on the book; I was curious about how a man would experience reading this book considering how much it talks about gender and enjoyed your insight as a new reader of the genre. I am not a big romance reader either but was coming at it from the position of a woman who the authors expects likes this “stuff” (and felt somewhat frustrated by the author’s continued assumptions that I would like this “stuff) though I was aware beforehand romance is fairly diverse as a genre in terms of how sexual it gets. Even though I did not really enjoy the book, I do think it brings up some interesting discussion on how romance is viewed as a genre for better or worse. It does tend to get looked down upon and while I don’t agree with the thesis that all women like romance, I do think some people largely do look down on the genre because of how “women centric” it is and we should be having conversation about that because it’s wrong on it’s own. It’s not great that many men in 2024 would still feel ashamed to be caught reading romance but I know it’s true that sometimes this is still the case nonetheless. I wasn’t a fan of all of the buzzwords either – it made the conversations frequently feel like listening to a PSA instead of like we were hearing from real people, though I conversely thought it was worse with the guys when they speak vs the gals in this story. I

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