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A Very Merry Bromance


A Very Merry Bromance

Lyssa Kay Adams returns to her beloved Bromance Book Club series with A VERY MERRY BROMANCE, the fifth and most festive installment yet, featuring country music heartthrob Colton Wheeler (yes, that’s his real name) and ambitious, Scrooge-like Gretchen Winthrop.

Colton is a member of the club started by Braden Mack (who had his love story written in UNDERCOVER BROMANCE), and Gretchen is Braden’s ex-girlfriend. While Colton and Gretchen have been in the same circle for a while, they’re both surprised when they end up in bed together on Braden’s wedding night. Gretchen writes off Colton’s interest in her as a pity pass, but Colton is seriously enamored of the sexy, smart lawyer who can banter with the best of them. So much so that he’s still thinking of her a year later, despite never hearing from her after that night.

"A Christmas Hallmark movie on steroids (in the best way!), A VERY MERRY BROMANCE is yet another hit from Lyssa Kay Adams, and even more proof that we need to get her series --- and her other romance books --- into the hands of every man as soon as possible."

When we see Colton again, he is preparing for a meeting with his record label, the one that will determine whether or not he still has a contract…and the financial backing, publicity and support that come with it. He hasn’t produced anything in two years, and the label is unhappy with his newest songs, so the meeting is make-or-break. Having always prided itself as a “family business,” Colton’s label is quick to toss the familiarity for an ultimatum: Colton either agrees to hire a songwriter, or he can go indie and lose all his advances and support. Drowning his sorrows in a hole-in-the-wall bar run by a grumpy but lovable bartender, he never expects to see Gretchen walk in.

But Gretchen has her own problems to nurse. Having spent the last year working pro-bono cases representing undocumented women facing deportation, she is feeling particularly Scroogey despite the upcoming holiday. Although she takes great pains to hide it, she comes from a privileged background as one of the heirs to the Carraig Aonair Whiskey company, making her basically local royalty. She has taken great pains to separate herself from the Winthrop name, but as she watches more and more families torn apart by unfair policies, she cannot help but think of the ways that her family money could be used for good.

Gretchen’s brother recently has offered her a spot on the board of the company’s Charitable Foundation. But there’s one catch: he wants to secure Colton Wheeler as the next brand ambassador of their whiskey. In true romantic comedy fashion, Colton agrees to consider it if and only if Gretchen agrees to go on a date with him.

And then Colton discovers that Gretchen hates Christmas. With both characters on a countdown to the new year --- Colton to make a final decision about his career, and Gretchen to consider where and how she can use her experience and know-how to help the most people --- Colton takes up the additional task of convincing Gretchen to love Christmas…and maybe him too. Starting with a first date through a Christmas village to admire the lights and continuing through confrontations with their own ghosts of Christmas past, Adams takes her characters through all the hits of a perfect holiday romance, with the trademark wit, banter and unpacking of patriarchal norms that readers have come to love from this series.

As in every Bromance book, Adams takes great care to tackle very serious issues: unfair immigration policies, DACA, family dysfunction, including gaslighting, and, of course, stereotypical failings of heterosexual relationships. Colton is one of Adams’ most lovable, sunshiny protagonists yet, but he is perfectly balanced by Gretchen. Admittedly, Gretchen took a bit longer to grow on me, but she won me over with her strong principles and empowering plotline.

It seems a bit unfair to compare this entry to the previous ones, but I am eternally amazed at how Adams crafts pitch-perfect banter and compassionately explores real-life themes without ever reusing or rehashing the same points. None of her characters sound like one another, and as the world of Bromance grows, it becomes even more impressive. As always, the Bromance Book Club acts as a supporting cast, with the men continuing to call out one another on their nonsense and pushing one another to become better men. Adams also has included portions of the holiday romance that the men are reading in brief vignettes throughout the book. Here she shows off her incredible writing chops and reminds readers how much she loves and champions romance.

A Christmas Hallmark movie on steroids (in the best way!), A VERY MERRY BROMANCE is yet another hit from Lyssa Kay Adams, and even more proof that we need to get her series --- and her other romance books --- into the hands of every man as soon as possible.

Reviewed by Rebecca Munro on November 11, 2022

A Very Merry Bromance
by Lyssa Kay Adams