Title: The Bro-Magnet (Amazon)
Author: Lauren Baratz-Logsted
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Sensuality Rating: Mild
Published: December 2011
Women have been known to lament, "Always a bridesmaid, never a bride." For Johnny Smith, the problem is, "Always a Best Man, never a groom." At age 33, housepainter Johnny has been Best Man eight times. The ultimate man's man, Johnny loves the Mets, the Jets, his weekly poker game, and the hula girl lamp that hangs over his basement pool table. Johnny has the instant affection of nearly every man he meets, but one thing he doesn't have is a woman to share his life with, and he wants that desperately. When Johnny meets District Attorney Helen Troy, he decides to renounce his bro-magnet ways in order to impress her. With the aid and advice of his friends and family, soon he's transforming his wardrobe, buying throw pillows, ditching the hula girl lamp, getting a cat and even changing his name to the more mature-sounding John. And through it all, he's pretending to have no interest in sports, which Helen claims to abhor. As things heat up with Helen, the questions arise: Will Johnny finally get the girl? And, if he's successful in that pursuit, who will he be now that he's no longer really himself? THE BRO-MAGNET is a rollicking comedic novel about what one man is willing to give up for the sake of love.
Brianna: Truth be told, I don’t think I would have picked this one up if it hadn’t been recommended to me by a trusted friend. The cover didn’t draw me in. In fact, judging this book by its cover (which I know we’re not suppose to do but I did), I wouldn’t have thought it was a rom-com. I thought it was more of a how-to or a self-help kind of book.
J9:I totally agree! The cover doesn’t match this light-hearted rom-com at all! The initial set up is funny: Johnny is an eight-times Best Man and never a groom. He desperately wants to meet his other half but women are never drawn to him. So Johnny sets out to change who he is for his dream girl. And hilarity ensues! Johnny’s attempts at changing himself and his cast of friends and family had me smiling and laughing aloud through this silly romp.
Brianna: And how about that Best Man speech? I thought it was pretty damn good!
J9: Yes, it was a good way to show Johnny’s desire for a life partner, even though he had a rich social life with all the characters surrounding him: the funny friend, Sam; Leo, the coffee shop owner dispensing love advice with his coffee; and Johnny’s dad and aunt. Plus, I’m a sports fan too and sports, especially the Mets, played a big (and fun) role in the story.
Brianna: I loved Sam!! Sam was real and so in-your-face, brutally honest about things with Johnny. And Leo, what a great character. I loved that guy and his advice. The aunt bugged the hell out of me. I wanted to smack her through my Kindle!
J9: Yep, Sam was the best BFF I’ve read recently in contemporary romance. Also, I don’t want to spoil it for other readers, but didn’t you love that scene with Johnny and Sam “experimenting”? It was like 12 year olds and so funny! But it also had a lot of heart and showed how much their friendship meant to each other. Their friendship made this story, IMO.
Brianna: I agree - their friendship (Johnny and Sam’s) made the book. There would have been a huge void had it not been for Sam.
Speaking of friendships, I was extremely disappointed with Johnny for damaging Sam’s and Steve’s reputation for the sake of getting with Helen. He made Sam out to be a druggie and Steve to be an alcoholic. Who does that to his BFF and to one of his clients - not to mention, the client who was responsible for Johnny’s meeting Helen in the first place.
J9: Yeah, I think this was an attempt at humor that fell short and just seemed mean. I think she was trying to make it funny, like the fact that Johnny’s phone number was one-digit off from a car repair shop so he’d answer and pretend he was the garage saying the customer needed a new engine when they brought in their car for an oil change. I think the author was trying to make it funny but it just seemed mean and didn’t ring true to Johnny’s character either.
Brianna: Telling someone their car needs a new engine - that was hilarious. LOL hilarious. But him spreading rumors that his friends are a druggie and an alcoholic crossed the line. I shook my head at that part.
J9: I agree, poorly done and didn’t endear Johnny to me at all--especially since his friendships, especially with Sam, were such a huge (and wonderful) part of the story!
Brianna: Exactly! Moving on...The Bro-Magnet is told from a male’s POV, which is great, but it felt like a male POV from a woman’s perspective.
J9: I’m so glad you brought this up! I totally agree. Let me admit, I’m not a fan of first person POV anyway but the fact that it was first person in Johnny’s POV was really different. What did you think about the large role sports, especially the Mets, played in this story? As a sports fan I really liked it but wondered what you thought?
Brianna: I am not a sports person but I was totally okay with it in the story. It’s a guy thing. Guys love sports. And I think ladies who also like sports get an advantage over the competition. If I were a single lady and digging a guy who was into sports, I’d probably try to bluff my way through a few games. LOL
J9: Ok, I don’t want to spoil anything but I’ve got to say, I *hated* the end. I thought it was was too abrupt. I wanted to see Johnny share who he really was with Helen and I felt totally cheated with the way their relationship ended, especially since the novel was about him re-making himself!
Brianna: I felt a bit cheated as well. It was too convenient without any bumps to work out, if that makes any sense. The reader was given the ending complete with the perfect reasoning to go along with it. All wrapped up in a pretty pink bow, if you will.
J9: Right! And in a novel that was all about the showing, we get an ending that just tells us. It was a disappointment to what otherwise was a pretty good book.
Brianna: Agreed. The author did do a great job of showing in the ‘meat’ of the novel; in the beginning and middle. The ending was just wrapped up too quickly. And the novel was on the shorter end as it was. I think it could’ve gone on for a few more pages/chapters. I would have been fine with that.
J9: Exactly! I looked at my Nook and I was 5 pages from the final page and thought, how the heck is this gonna work!? Then realized it didn’t. Bummer...but even with that, I still think this is a good read, mostly for the friendships and quirky side characters and because Johnny deserves a HEA. Plus the humor in the story was great. I smiled a lot and even LOL for real!
Brianna: It’s a great rom-com - one I can imagine watching as a film. Like My Best Friend’s Wedding meets...?
J9: My Big Fat Greek Wedding, with all the crazy secondary characters that I loved! :)
Brianna: LOL!!! Yes!!
One of my favorite quotes from the story is when Johnny is at a home decorating store and his friend tells him:
“Oh and before you even bother asking? I know I kissed you and everything but I will not have sex with you just so you can test out if you're doing it right in case you get a chance with Helen."
J9: And the reaction of the cashier and shopper in back of them--priceless and perfectly exemplary of the humor in this book!
Brianna: LMAO!! Yes, the lady behind them! Can you imagine having that kind of conversation, out loud, in front of an audience? *dies*
J9: So funny! Now we need to see if we agree on the rating...I’d say 3.5 frogs rating, though it could have been a 4 if the ending wasn’t so abrupt and simplistic.
Brianna: I was between a 3 and a 4 frog rating because of the ending as well. So 3 ½ it is. A fun rom-com I’d recommend when someone’s in the mood for a light, fun read with lots of LOL moments.
J9: Totally agree with you!
Brianna and J9’s Rating: