For What It's Worth

For What It's Worth

Thursday, February 27, 2020

Review: Undercover Bromance by Lyssa Kay Adams

Braden Mack thinks reading romance novels makes him an expert in love, but he’ll soon discover that real life is better than fiction.

Liv Papandreas has a dream job as a sous chef at Nashville’s hottest restaurant. Too bad the celebrity chef owner is less than charming behind kitchen doors. After she catches him harassing a young hostess, she confronts him and gets fired. Liv vows revenge, but she’ll need assistance to take on the powerful chef.


Unfortunately, that means turning to Braden Mack. When Liv’s blackballed from the restaurant scene, the charismatic nightclub entrepreneur offers to help expose her ex-boss, but she is suspicious of his motives. He’ll need to call in reinforcements: the Bromance Book Club.


Inspired by the romantic suspense novel they’re reading, the book club assists Liv in setting up a sting operation to take down the chef. But they’re just as eager to help Mack figure out the way to Liv’s heart... even though she’s determined to squelch the sparks between them before she gets burned. ~
Goodreads


Source: e-arc provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review

Review: I adore this series. The bromances, the brilliant way Adams weaves in topical issues without beating you over the head with a lecture, the way she addresses tropes – gently admonishing the bad - while wholly embracing the genre with love and respect.

I had heard rumblings that this one would be romantic suspense and that gave me pause. One of the things I loved so much about The Bromance Book Club was the humor and I didn’t want the writing style to change to something heavy.

While there is an undercover element and investigation – the winning formula from the first book is still in play and as funny as ever.

Liv is the pastry chef at one of the hottest restaurants, working for a celebrity chef who is volatile and about to go on a book tour for a cookbook of stolen recipes, including one of Liv’s.

Mack is known as a player, but he wants to settle down and thinks his current girlfriend, Gretchen, is the one. He takes her for a fancy dinner where Liv works – ordering the famous $1000 Sultan cupcake, which Liv has to come out and present, with great flourish, with her douchecanoe of a boss. Mack recognizes Liv (readers of book #1 know they didn’t hit it off in that one lol) and tries to give her credit for the pastry – which asshole boss is NOT pleased about – and she ends up dropping the cupcake in Gretchen’s lap.

This sets off a spiral of events that leaves Mack dumped for the first time in his life, Liv fired, and the discovery that her boss is not just a temper tantruming jerk but also sexually harassing the female workers. Mack tries to smooth things over and Liv isn’t having it.

Which leads me to the elephant in the room – if you read Bromance Book Club, chances are you (meaning me) do not like Liv. She’s stubborn, quick to judge and sticks her nose & opinions where where they don’t belong. I’ll be honest, she isn’t a whole lot better here but I also think Mack softened her in a way that let you see her side of things and with her POV – you can see that some of her bite is more snark and comes with an eye roll and not intended as gut punches. Mack also lets most of it roll right off and hits right back – not being mean, but challenging her at every step. If she’s wrong, he calls her out (as do a few other people) and if she’s right – well he heeds her judgement. They work as a couple and even though this romance took a bit of a backseat to the larger – take down the predator arc – I liked them together.

Liv and Mack partner to take down her former boss and enlist the help of the book club as well as a few newly introduced characters, who were all great additions. Undercover Bromance has a lot of smart things to say, and to think about, regarding #MeToo, including the need for men to confront men, the idea that jokes that were funny 10 years ago aren’t allowed to be told now, and how women support (or don’t) other women and they way they choose to handle their own situations.

It also pokes a bit at the romantic suspense genre and how men feel the need to jump in and take control of the case and save the girl. Mack started the Bromance Book Club and has given some of the best advice to help the guys save their marriages but in his own romantic life? Well, he tries a little too hard to make it romance novel perfect. His bafflement and confusion over how to handle Liv is hilarious because he’s coming unglued while everyone else can clearly see what’s happening and how to handle it.

The guys are supportive as ever and this is just such a clever, enjoyable series to me. It balances a few heavier aspects while still making me smile.

I do have a few minor quibbles though. Mack is keeping a secret and Liv’s relationship kryptonite is secrets. When it’s finally revealed I kind of sighed. The I’m not worthy trope is not one of my favorite things – even though I understand where Mack was coming from. And Liv’s reaction to it was so bad and over the top that it erased much of the goodwill she earned. I really wish that was written a bit better or had a bit more time to play out. 

The other thing is Liv and Thea have a complex relationship. I didn’t realize how much until seeing it from Liv’s side. It definitely made me empathize with her more. It’s clear how much these two have been through and support each other but still have sister dynamic issues and I had hoped there was a moment for them to really talk or address it more.

I’m not sure who will be next but there are so many great characters to choose from. (*Update - it's Noah the hacker and Liv's best friend.) Am I weird that I want The Russian to get an HEA?? He has a bit of a stinky reaction to cheese and I can't fathom how you make a  romantic farting hero but I want Adams to try. lol I discussed it with a friend and we thought a dietician girlfriend? I would love a romance that showed some of the messier sides of coupledom Ha!

31 comments:

  1. It sounds like the women in this series aren't always portrayed too great, but regardless, it seems like a really fun series. I'm glad you enjoyed this one! I have The Bromance Book Club to hopefully read soon.

    -Lauren
    www.shootingstarsmag.net

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    1. The first two heroines are sisters and come from a very dysfunctional family and their actions make sense to me but when you contrast them with how wonderful the guys are - they come off worse.

      In the first book, the hero made a ton of mistakes but it all took place before the book started so you only see Thea acting aloof to this totally adoring guy.

      I don't have a problem with it, because I feel like I can see where Thea and Liv are coming from, but I get why some readers can't.

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  2. Her boss sounds awful. This book sounds good though.

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    1. REALLY awful! But the book has a lot of humor to balance things out.

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  3. I really liked the Mack/Liv team up but they weren't as endearing to me as Gavin and Thea were.

    The commentary on "PC culture" and women supporting women were wonderful and I'm excited to learn more about Alexis.

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    1. Agree - I thought their romance took a bit of a backseat to the larger story but I still enjoyed it a lot. I just really like what the author does with tropes and the genres and messy relationship dynamics.

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  4. As someone else already commented, writing great heroes seems to be Adams’ strong suit because the women (at least the two in the first book) didn’t work for me at all. I’ll probably skip this one because, despite her past, Liz annoyed me to know end and I just don’t want to read a whole book about her. LOL Mack and the rest of the guys sound as awesome as ever, though. :)

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    1. Yeah - this one is not for you lol Liv is much better here (IMO) because you get her perspective but then she reacts so stupidly about something that happens you'll be PISSED lol

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    2. LOL In that case, I’m doubly sure I made the right decision to skip this one. 😂

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    3. I saw this opinion somewhere (maybe even on Tanya's blog?) and I agree 100% that her guy characters are so much more appealing than the female ones. Interesting...

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  5. A romantic farting hero! Hahaha! This series sounds awesome. I'm glad you enjoyed this one so much!

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  6. I don't know, this just sounds so fun to me? :) I mean, guys giving other guys relationship advice> What ever could go wrong right lol? Seriously though even with the humor sounds like there's a lot more going on here too. I found myself nodding my head to this comment you made too - "Undercover Bromance has a lot of smart things to say, and to think about, regarding #MeToo, including the need for men to confront men, the idea that jokes that were funny 10 years ago aren’t allowed to be told now, and how women support (or don’t) other women and they way they choose to handle their own situations.

    That makes me want to read it even more. Glad it was good! :)

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    1. I'd be really curious to hear about guys reading it. I think it's very relatable & appealing for both sexes.

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  7. I really, really want to read this one! I keep seeing it everywhere! This sounds great!

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    1. I love the balance of serious and humor in this series. I hope you like it if you get a chance to read it!

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  8. No. You are not weird. I was hoping the next book would be the Russian's, but I guess we will have to wait longer. I remember seeing some people not liking that the book took a serious subject and kept it on the lighter side, but that was something I appreciated about the book. And, yeah, the not-good-enough-for-you thing makes me roll my eyes, but I guess there needed to be some sort of drama.

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    1. I didn't think Adams treated the subject lightly at all (IMO) it was just the guys interactions - more about the romance - that were humorous and provided levity.

      I so hope the Russian get s abook and isn't just there as the comic relief. I don't think I've ever read a romance hero with *digestive issues* before lol

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  9. I've not read this series yet, but I've heard such good things. I'll have to see if I can get from my library in audio. Thanks for the review!

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    1. Really?? I feel like you would totally love it.

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  10. I have heard good things about this one, but still on the fence about it. I am intrigued about the element of men giving other men advice but the heroine I think I would really struggle with.

    Great review.

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    1. I think the author makes the men too perfect. So the women come off as too stubborn for the obviously loving, patient guys. They are flawed but she doesn't show their flaws on page the way she does with the heroine.

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    1. I think you won't like them because of the heroines lol

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  12. The characters would really annoy me by the sound of it!

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  13. This sounds like a lot of fun! I definitely like the sound of it better than the first one!
    At some point, I'm going to read this series and see what all the fuss is about for myself! :)

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    1. Hopefully, they'll start having deals for them because they're coming out pretty close to each other.

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  14. As you know I am HERE for the romantic/comic farting hero. Words I thought I would never type lol

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  15. I know you were nervous to start this one off but it sounds like it turned out to be just as wonderful and funny as the second book was. While the main character is stubborn, it sounds like you can still ship them as a couple which is the most important part! Happy you loved both books :D

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