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Undercover Bromance


Undercover Bromance

In UNDERCOVER BROMANCE, the second installment in the Bromance Book Club series, author Lyssa Kay Adams once again employs men reading romance as clever and thought-provoking advice to explore what women want and how society fights against them getting it. Rather than returning to the love life of Gavin and Thea, this time Adams turns her eye to fan-favorite Braden Mack, a pseudo-playboy who thinks he knows everything there is to know about love.

Readers --- or at least this reader --- first fell in love with Braden in THE BROMANCE BOOK CLUB, when his over-the-top flirtations and expert comedic timing provided the perfect amount of levity. But love him or hate him, there’s no denying that he’s not exactly the first person any self-respecting woman would choose to date. And no one knows that better than Thea’s sister, Liv Papandreas, the one woman Braden has never been able to woo.

In case you need some catching up, let me explain that Liv is a tough nut to crack. Like Thea, she has some unresolved issues stemming from her parents’ marriage, and she definitely doesn’t believe in love, but she’s also generally snarky and stubborn. A difficult combination, for sure, but one that is like catnip for Braden. Although he has continued dating around since meeting Liv --- and reading romance novels --- it’s obvious that he still carries a torch for her.

"An excellent addition to an even more excellent series, UNDERCOVER BROMANCE will definitely have readers itching for book three."

Liv is the sous chef at Nashville’s trendiest, best-rated restaurant, Savoy --- it is, quite literally, her dream job. Unfortunately, it’s turning into much more of a nightmare than she anticipated. Royce Preston, the celebrity chef/owner of Savoy, is not only a bit of a diva, he’s a totally belligerent miscreant. He steals recipes from his own staff, and Liv catches him harassing a female hostess one night. Bold, brave and reckless, she confronts him and is immediately fired. Liv is used to handling her battles on her own, but in order to get the revenge that she --- and the rest of the female staff --- deserves, she’ll need a team.

Enter the Bromance Book Club. Inspired by the romantic suspense novel they’re reading and bolstered by Braden’s not-so-secret desire to play out a James Bond film, the Club sets up an undercover operation to take down the chef. For someone like Braden, who has been hiding major parts of his background from the people close to him, this is like a double-edged sword. Sure, he gets to act out a fantasy and save the girl, but he’ll have to expose the real Braden beneath all the bluster and swagger to get Liv to believe that his motives are pure. Once again, the Bromance Book Club is there to help their erstwhile emotional guru dig a little deeper and learn to trust not only his immeasurable charisma, but that someone will love the real him.

The sting operation takes up a great deal of the narrative --- a bit more than I was expecting. But the suspense plays beautifully against Liv and Braden’s enemies-to-lovers plotline and provides for some fantastically laugh-out-loud moments as the men and Liv struggle to go undercover. Fan favorites like the Russian and Del make plenty of memorable appearances, as do Gavin and Thea, but it is the banter between Liv and Braden that makes the book unputdownable.

UNDERCOVER BROMANCE is a bit more serious than THE BROMANCE BOOK CLUB. Adams weaves in a #MeToo element that fits the plot perfectly, but still pushes the Club to think more about the ways in which the patriarchy and the topic of consent affect women. She does an admirable and important job in writing about sexual assault and the consequences for survivors. Although these topics are weighty, they do not detract from the fun of the rom-com, and in fact make it that much more fleshed out and the laughs more deserved.

I have to say I did not love this sequel as much as I did the original. Whereas the first book included extracts from regency romance novels and had a more even balance between love and emotion, this one was much more suspense-driven than I was anticipating. As this is only book two in the series, I will be interested to see if future volumes also mimic the books that the Club is reading. I am really hoping for more of those romance extracts, rather than seeing the characters only act out the books they are reading.

Although THE BROMANCE BOOK CLUB is the stronger of the two titles, UNDERCOVER BROMANCE is still a must-read for anyone who enjoyed the opening installment. Braden was a highlight of the first book, so I was delighted that Adams chose him to be the focus of this one. Reading his backstory and watching him develop was, in some ways, even more moving than watching Gavin open up to trust. The theme of this second book is honesty, and though the suspense is a driving force, both Liv and Braden undergo serious character arcs and learn a lot about being honest not only with one another, but with themselves.

An excellent addition to an even more excellent series, UNDERCOVER BROMANCE will definitely have readers itching for book three.

Reviewed by Rebecca Munro on April 3, 2020

Undercover Bromance
by Lyssa Kay Adams