Title: Undercover Bromance
Author: Lyssa Kay Adams
Publication Date: March 10, 2020
Genre(s): Adult, Contemporary, Romance
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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.
TW/CW: sexual assault, workplace harassment, domestic abuse, blackmailing
HUGE THANK YOU TO NETGALLEY AND BERKLEY ROMANCE FOR PROVIDING ME WITH AN ARC IN EXCHANGE FOR AN HONEST REVIEW!
So, if you haven’t seen my review of The Bromance Book Club, the TL;DR is that it is easily one of my favorite books of the year. I loved how heartfelt, funny, and overall entertaining the book was and was SO excited to read the sequel early.
I’m going to be honest with you guys, this book had a drastically different tone and dealt with some hecka serious topics, though it was still an overall fun read.
“Fear is a powerful motivator.”
Mack – Braden-Fucking-Mack, aka the creator of the Bromance Book Club. Despite being able to help his friends save their marriages, has not been able to settle down himself.
Liv – No-nonsense side character from book one who gets into some serious shit after catching her boss be a scumbag. Also, doesn’t like romance novels.
“The fact you started reading romance novels to learn to be a better man shows that you already were a better man than he could ever dream of being.”
Okay, so this book’s tone was WAY different than Bromance Book Club. The light-hearted nature is pretty much gone after the opening scene.
This book really is a commentary on the #MeToo movement, the way the first book was a commentary on toxic masculinity. In the opening chapter (well chapters, like first 2 or 3), Liv witnesses her boss assault her co-worker after a not-so-great encounter with Mack and his current arm candy.
Now, Liv is on a mission to take her sleaze bag ex-boss down and teams up with Mack, not her first choice, but she’ll take it, to take him down.
Mack, on the other hand, is facing this truth that despite being the creator of the Bromance Book Club and helping his friends save their relationships, he is the only member of the club without a long-term partner. He’s now forced to use his methods on himself and figure out his story.
Now, one of the things I really enjoyed in the first book was how the book club book that was picked for Gavin helped him with his marriage by directly challenging what was missing in Gavin’s marriage. That was definitely missing during this book, though I didn’t feel like it was as needed. Like, I liked the callbacks that we did get, especially when Gavin and Mack were GOING AT IT, but also it felt like it was trying to be a gimmick, but not really. I don’t know. I’m happy that the author didn’t rely on the romance novels in this book as a trope and allowed Mack and Liv to have their own story, but also some more book club would’ve been fun too.
All plot set up aside, watching the romance develop between Mack and Liv was actually really fun. I wouldn’t totally call them enemies to lovers, but there was a little bit of work Mack needed to do to win Liv over. I thought their romance was done pretty well overall. I thought it developed organically (despite the actual drama that initially brought them together) and I found myself rooting for them over the course of the novel and was so invested in their story.
Oh and I don’t fault Mack AT ALL for wanting to keep his secret and he definitely was NOT in the wrong for keeping that and Royce was a total douche for playing that card. That’s all I’m going to say to avoid spoilers.
“And we always run for grand gesture.”
Despite the more serious tone of this one, I still enjoyed it just as much as the first book. I thought the development of the side characters was done so well, as well as focusing on building Liv and Mack’s relationship. I found myself flying through this book and I got so invested in the overall narrative. Lyssa Kay Adams is slowly becoming one of my favorite authors and I hope she continues to write more books in this series.