The Bromance Bookclub is a preposterous and silly book, with a novel within a novel. It starts as with so many times before: a man alone in a hotel room – “face-planted on the carpet while reaching for the bottle.” This time it’s Gavin Scott, a baseball player in Nashville Legends. Then, someone’s banging the door – his team mates, Delroy Hicks and Yan Feliciano, and a third person, a nightclub owner and a metrosexual Braden Mack. They’ve come to rescue poor Gavin from his situation: his wife, Thea, has asked for a divorce. Yes, divorce situation can lead a man to drink, and to drink heavily; equally positive are we that Gavin is not a bad guy: he is not a big drinker. (Not being able to hold one’s liqueur is one of the definite tell-tale signs of a good guy.)
Gavin and Thea are youngsters so what is the reason for divorce? Gavin is too ashamed to admit in the beginning to his team mates plus the irritating (albeit most positively) Gavin Mack that the reason was that Thea faked her orgasms. Thea confesses this in a tender post-sex moment and Gavin just can’t take it. Dr Jormis says that you should discuss what you like and what works for you!
Thus, Gavin with his wounded pride moves to sleep in another room and eventually moves out as the separate bedroom situation is untenable and hard to explain to their two young daughters. And hard for Gavin, too.
Thea’s sister Ivy does not like Gavin and wishes him to GTFO from Thea’s life, not because of Gavin per se, but because of childhood traumas related to being left alone.
In the novel – or, the manual, as Gavin’s sculpted mates call it – inside Bromance we follow Benedict, the seventh Earl of Latford, an experienced man of nine and twenty years of age (with multiple conquests in his belt, but he loved not one them, so it’s different), in his struggle to win over the love of his wife Irena after he accused her of infidelity. This is the Regency period, so such accusations hurled towards women are mortal, and, understandably the Lady is not happy, even after the Earl acknowledges his grave error. Gavin reads the book and starts his own task of winning Thea back. He uses Benedict’s words and deeds but also his own.
The Earl sets out to win back the love her wife with a combination of gestures – grand and small –, humility, and openness. Slowly, patiently, slyly, progressing and regressing, Benedict and Irena work their relationship to a satisfying end (I don’t think this is a surprise or spoiler.)
The Bromance Bookclub skirts parody with too much exposition. The dudes say the darnest things like this:
Romance novels are primarily written by women for women, and they’re entirely about how they want to be treated and what they want out of life and in a relationship. We read them to be more comfortable expressing ourselves and to look at things from their perspective.
Modern romance novelists use the patriarchal society of old British aristocracy to explore the gender-based limitations placed on women today in both the professional and personal spheres. That shit is feminist as fuck.”
If you can get past passages like this you are game for Bromance. And there are sequels!
Spoilers for this 238 year old novel ahead.
The protagonists (nay, antagonists) are Marquise de Merteuil and Vicomte de Valmont, ex-lovers and major players of the seduction game. At least the Marquise as a woman needs to be discreet but the Vicomte can be more aggressive in his pursuits. Their frequent communication drives the novel. All other participants are pawns, innocent bystanders or victims.
Valmont want to seduce a pious, aloof and even virginal Madame de Tourvel. Not because it is easy but because it is hard. Merteuil and Valmont make even a bet. At the same time, Merteuil hates his previous lover who will be marrying a young Cécile de Volanges, straight out of a convent who is also in love with her music tutor, one Chevalier Danceny, a young boy himself. Merteuil asks Valmont to have a go at young Cécile which he initially refuses but only after Merteuil discloses how Mrs. de Tourvel has slagged Valmont he relents, because her friend (helping in letter writing and exchange) and eventually rapes her.
The letters are many (175) and as befits the style of Ancien regime they are meandering and florid. (Employing the Kolmogorov complexity – which is the length of the shortest program that produces a particular output – I can safely say that should Les liaisons dangereuses be redone as an email or IM version, without losing anything it could be represented in maybe a tenth of original.)
Well, after a long and arduous tour de seduction Valmont manages to make Mrs. Tourveil to love him and – finally – after a her long struggle, to give in to it. But he has also fallen in love with her, quelle horreur! At the same time, Merteuil exposes Danceny and Cécile’s letter-writing (why not) and moves to help him and also – you saw this coming – makes him her lover.
In every possible ending, in every iteration, in every parallel universe the only befitting ending is that of Valmont dying. Which he does after the truth comes out. Due to his actions, no other major player in the novel survives unscathed, which is clearly a metaphor for the corrupt ways of the elite of the pre-revolution France.
It is a good story when you can get past the slight word salad, if you will.
P.S. A Cannonball assignment to you: what would have happened if the manual in The Bromance Bookclub were Les liaisons dangereuses … ?