I received this book for free from Berkley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.Undercover Bromance by Lyssa Kay Adams
Series: Bromance Book Club, #2
Published by Berkley on March 10, 2020
Genres: Contemporary, Romance
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 assist 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 while she’s determined to squelch the sparks between them before she gets burned.
I really liked the first book in this series, The Bromance Book Club, and had high hopes for this one. So did it live up to the hype? Hmm…. not quite.
I really enjoyed it in the beginning. We met both Mack and Liv in the first book, so I was ready to watch them fall in love. The first 25% or so of the book is really fun. (Though there is a massive, massive trigger warning for on-page sexual harassment throughout the book, initially in the first couple of chapters.)
But after about that far, it starts to drag a bit. Mainly because of our main couple, unfortunately.
Mack is a lot. He’s a lot a lot. He talks constantly about how to uplift women and is forever trying to teach other men, both in the book group and outside it, how to treat women like real people, and how to not be a misogynistic dick, but something about it comes across as performative. It’s like he’s trying to get points. And while he’s doing all of this, he’s just sort of….smarmy. While he’s telling all of the other men how to behave toward women, the only way he can communicate with any woman his comes across is by winking and schmoozing and actively trying to charm them. It’s weird and fake and comes across as, well, smarmy. No matter how many times Liz told him what she needed, he just talked over her and insisted they do things his way. His feminism is all talk. It’s so frustrating.
And Liz. Liz has a lot of deep-seated issues. And she has good reason for them. But she needs therapy to deal with them. Because she’s really nasty to a lot of people who don’t deserve it. She also has a similar disconnect between what we’re told and what we see. She spends the entire book fighting to bring down a serial sexual harasser, but then blames the victims and tries to bully them into doing what she wants them to do, no matter what they’re currently dealing with or how they want to handle the situation. She’s really nasty to them. This book actually had 2 bleak moments – your standard one between Mack and Liz, and another one between and her best friend Alexis after Liz tries to pull that shit with Alexis and Alexis told her off and kicked her out. Deservedly so.
…you use weakness as a weapon. yo’ure so ashamed of your own mistakes in life, so afraid of your own fagility, that you accuse everyone else around you of being soft just for the crime of basic human frailty.
Liz doesn’t just push Mack away. She pushes away every single person in her life. We hear over and over and over that no one is worth trusting, men especially, and that the only way a person can get through life is alone. She jumps to conclusions, always assumes the worst about a person and their intentions, and can’t get away from everyone fast enough.
I just couldn’t connect with Mack or Liz. I wanted to, because the premise of the book was fun, and it started out really strong. I am really looking forward to the third book, because I like Alexis and Noah, but this one was a bit of a miss for me.