Book Review: Crazy Stupid Bromance by Lyssa Kay Adams

"Hitting you was unforgivable."

"It doesn't have to be."

THAT QUOTE IS MESSED UP, RIGHT?!

That's our hero telling his mother that maybe she can forgive her boyfriend who has spent decades engaging in verbal and emotional abuse toward our hero and then mere pages before the novel's end, PUNCHES our hero for backtalk. 

That pretty much sealed my dislike of this book, which already was hovering around a C- or so.


Book Review: Crazy Stupid Bromance by Lyssa Kay Adams
Berkley, 2020
Copy via public library
Read Harder 2021 Reading Challenge: Read a book featuring a beloved pet where the pet doesn’t die


I honestly don't even know where to start in terms of reviewing this book. Overall, I found the writing to be meh: the characterization is wicked thin and the plot emotionally draining with terrible morals (aka forgive everyone no matter what terribly shitty thing they do). 

I'm also genuinely shocked at all the positive reviews because this book has such a toxic message at the heart of the story and harmful interpersonal life decisions (for a book that wants to be all feminist-y and all that). I was prepared for so-so read given that Smart Bitches gave the first book in this series a C; and generally, this was a C or so level read for me. But my rating dropped to the floor as it became clear that there would be nothing nuanced or interesting about the forgiveness theme that was starting to be hammered home.

So, the gist of these books is that a bunch of cishet men use romance novels to guide their relationships with women, which is SUCH a cute idea. But in this book, the romance novel is a secret baby trope, which the guys say is all about forgiveness (as we learn in the one page where the guys have book club -- disappointed book club was such a tiny part of this book!). That translates into a hero and heroine who forgive people for a variety of transgressions that range from worthy of forgiveness (misunderstandings) to unforgivable (emotional, verbal, physical abuse).

Overall the characterization was thin -- perhaps because this is the third book in the series -- and it was impossible to understand why either Alexis, our heroine, or Noah, our hero, were into each other. We're told over and over how much they love each other as friends, and how important they are to each other, but there's not much demonstration of it, nor is there any sexual attraction simmering on the pages. When they finally have sex, I just skipped them because I was not invested. The shorthand for both Alexis and Noah are their careers, which feature about three pages total in terms of relevance to the story -- until one conflict between the lovers which hinges on Noah's professional life. (Noah is the one person exempt from forgiveness as Alexis is constantly dumping and ignoring him for things that are, overall, pretty mild and understandable.)

There's a massive cast of secondary characters who get tons of peanut gallery time, and I suspect longtime fans probably find it charming but as someone new to the franchise, they were just irritating. I love me some heroes who eschew toxic masculinity but it's super performative here.

And the plot was exhausting, with one of those blood-trumps-all plot lines I really hate. (And in this case, it's literal, as Alexis is a genetic match with an unknown family member who needs an organ transplant.) Decades of dysfunction and weeks of shitty assed behavior are handwaved away for forgiveness.

Anyway, I read this because it was a hot romance release in 2020 and it seemed like it would work for a Read Harder 2021 Task 24: Read a book featuring a beloved pet where the pet doesn’t die. Having finished, I'd say it's a real stretch to count this book toward that task, but there you go.

Comments

  1. Oh how I hate the blood-trumps-all trope -- this sounds awful. We talked about it a bit on Twitter, but gosh, it just sounds really so upsetting. I feel like the problem with forgiveness as a prime directive in relationships is that a) it assumes that forgiveness means "everything about our lives goes back to the way it was before you did the thing to me" and b) it posits non-forgiveness as punitive. And in fact I think that declining to forgive and forget can be about accountability and breaking toxic patterns -- not punishing the other person! Ugh.

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    1. YES and YES. And for a book that is all about someone 'going off script' so to speak -- she speaks out abt sexual harassment -- there's no more of her pushing back on BS attitudes. She just leans into this forgiveness thing. UGH. Anyway, thanks for letting me rant to you twice about it!

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