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REVIEW: The Bro-Magnet by Lauren Baratz-Logsted

Updated: It is with regret that I add this addendum. Ms. Baratz Logsted wrote a post promoting the blog of a known plagiarist.  We take plagiarism very seriously. I won’t remove the review, but I will provide this alert so that others can make a decision about how they want to spend their time and money.

Dear Ms. Baratz-Logsted:

I saw this book on NetGalley and requested it immediately. I started laughing about about 5 paragraphs in and didn’t stop. Johnny Smith is a guy’s guy. He loves sports. He belches at the table. He wears his baseball cap backward. He hosts a weekly poker game and has been the best man 8 times. He’s like the Pied Piper of men. Yet this has not translated into many women for him. Instead he is 33 years old, single and with no female opportunities. He was interested in law at one time, but did not pursue a degree because his father fell ill and Johnny came back to take over his father’s painting business.  (Reading Johnny’s thoughts about color on the walls was a hilarity all on its own).  His oldest friend, Billy, has just married Johnny’s next door neighbor Alice, who in another book would be Johnny’s love interest. I admit wondering whether Billy and Alice would be getting a divorce. Alas no.

The Bro-Magnet Lauren Baratz-LogstedJohnny is in a rut. He wants to find a nice girl, settle down and get married but being a guy’s guy hasn’t worked out for him.  Everywhere Johnny goes, guys fall in best friend love with him and Johnny goes through a litany of things to show how men think he is awesome whereas women just view him as an asshole.

Exhibit 1: The One with All the Cars: Between the ages of sixteen and twenty-two, I owned a total of twenty-five cars. Not all at once and sometimes not even all by myself; a few of those cars I owned jointly with Billy Keller. See, the thing is, I couldn’t see the point in driving anything new or even remotely new. I excel at understanding what’s going on under the hood and I loved the challenge of finding the clunkiest clunker I could find – more than one of those cars was discovered in The Penny-Saver – and then doing the necessary work to get that baby on the road. Put in a little more work, and not only were those cars drivable but also profitable when I’d turn around and resell them. My proudest acquisition? A VW that Billy and I purchased jointly for twenty-five dollars. It’s amazing what a little duct tape and a few strategically placed rubber bands can do for a car!

The thing those twenty-five cars all had in common was that no matter how much work I put in, no matter how good a mechanic I was and still am, they all each would break down at least once, often at inopportune times, like say on dates.
Guys’ Verdict: “How cool! You get to tool around town in a different car every few months. You avoid the high costs of buying new or good used, thereby having more money to spend on partying or prime tickets to ballgames. You beat the system by never having to pay high insurance or taxes on your vehicles. Coolest. Guy. Ever.”

Women’s Verdict: “Asshole.”

Apparently, women prefer reliable transportation over variety and savings.

I’m not convinced that Johnny is an accurate rendition of any one guy.  He is likely a caricature of some sort but he’s a consistent one.  Johnny recognizes that neither himself nor his BFF Sam are going to get Johnny a girl so he turns to the wives of his buddies and through them, he changes his name (no girl wants to date a guy whose name ends in the long e sound); buys new clothes (He’s surprised at how well the J Crew attire actually looks on him); redecorates his house (the throw pillow scene at the home store made me laugh out loud); and gets a cat (the cat procurement scene is possibly the best in the book).  Morever, Johnny, err, John must suppress all affection for sports.  Johnny also asks advice from the elderly owner of the coffee shop; the guy who fits his rental tux; and just about any one else who will give an opinion on what makes relationships work.

He meets and dates Helen, an assistant district attorney.  What is obvious to readers is that Helen is not the type of girl that probably expects a guy to have throw pillows, enjoy opera, and have a cat but Johnny is too busy transforming the exterior of his person and suppressing his supposedly baser character traits to notice.  What leaks through, however, is what a genuine guy Johnny is.  He really wants to change. He really wants to settle down.  He works had at making sure that Helen is having fun and is happy.  What makes guys love Johnny made me love him too. To wit, he was a self deprecating guy who didn’t take himself too seriously but really enjoyed people.  The truth is that Helen and John are single not because they are misfits but because they haven’t met the right person and, well, both are really bad at dating.

This is Johnny’s transformation, though, and Helen remains somewhat of a mystery.  I thought the story did a good job of showing the mystery of both the man and the woman. It represented how everyone is different and that everyone’s match is different.  John would never have been happy with Alice. Sports was a big part of his life.  Wearing J Crew plaid shirts and removing his ball cap and tossing some throw pillows on the sofa were cosmetic and something fairly easy to adopt but Johnny cannot change what is essentially him. The good thing is that he doesn’t have to.  B

Best regards

Jane

PS. The title and cover  are off-putting.

PPS.  I have to include the pet store scene:

The guy brings down the item and places it on the counter next to the rest of my stuff. “So you’re getting a cat and a dog?” he says.

“No, just the cat.”

“Then what do you want a leash for?”

“The cat. So I can take it for walks.”

“People don’t usually – ”

“Don’t even bother,” Sam cuts him off. “He’s probably got this whole thing pictured in his head: him walking down the street, his cool new sleek black cat on the leash strutting by his side, maybe the two of them popping into the neighborhood bar for an ice cold beer for him and a saucer of milk for his furry little friend.”

Really? Am I that transparent?

The guy breaks out in a wide smile. “Man, that’s the coolest thing I’ve ever heard. I never thought to do that with a cat before. Maybe I should get one.”

“The Home Goods guy’s going to get throw pillows because of you,” Sam says, “now this guy’s going to get a cat so he can take it to the bar because of you. You’re like the Pied Piper of weirdness. Just what is it with you and guys?”

 

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Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com

24 Comments

  1. Gwen Hayes
    Jan 20, 2012 @ 10:33:10

    This looks fun!

    ReplyReply

  2. Has
    Jan 20, 2012 @ 10:49:33

    LOVED.THIS.BOOK!

    If I didn’t see you and Lou_Bookpusher discussing it on twitter I wouldn’t have picked it up because of the cover and title. But I loved the romance in the POV of the hero and it was an interesting and funny take on this!

    ReplyReply

  3. Jane
    Jan 20, 2012 @ 11:14:10

    @Has I wasn’t going to read this because of the title and the cover and even the blurb, but it was on NetGalley and I figured that it was a low risk action to request it. So glad that I did.

    ReplyReply

  4. jenreads
    Jan 20, 2012 @ 11:26:47

    This is the best book I’ve read in months. So much fun and so well written. Thank you so much for the recommendation.

    ReplyReply

  5. Mandi
    Jan 20, 2012 @ 11:37:35

    This looks like my type of book.

    And I don’t think I would have picked it up without a rec…title and cover scare me a little. But will try it!

    ReplyReply

  6. Elle
    Jan 20, 2012 @ 11:46:40

    This book was a gem. I wouldn’t have read it either if Has_bookpushers hadn’t mentioned it to me. So very funny and charming. The cover is horrible. This would make a wonderful movie, RomCom with a cute twist.

    ReplyReply

  7. erinf1
    Jan 20, 2012 @ 11:47:03

    I’m with Mandi. I’ve really been looking for a feel good comedy and this books sounds great! But I agree 100%, the cover and title are off putting.

    ReplyReply

  8. jenreads
    Jan 20, 2012 @ 11:56:37

    @Elle: The ABC comedy, Happy Endings, used this plot device on Wednesday night. It was very funny.

    ReplyReply

  9. Stephanie M. Lor
    Jan 20, 2012 @ 12:12:48

    I usually don’t read contemporaries, but your review and the excerpts made me laugh so hard. So I’m in, I bought it. Can’t wait to meet Johnny.

    ReplyReply

  10. Jen McAndrews
    Jan 20, 2012 @ 12:25:45

    aw, this review clenches it. I’ve been intrigued by this book after “hearing” so much about it on twitter. Downloading it as soon as my work day is done! weekend read here I come!

    ReplyReply

  11. Chicklet
    Jan 20, 2012 @ 12:29:45

    This book sounds right up my alley. And apparently the writers of the sitcom Happy Endings have read it, because this week, one of the women on the show referred to “the guy who always brings his cat to the bar,” and there was a cutaway to a ginger guy petting a ginger cat that was sitting on a table.

    ReplyReply

  12. HJ
    Jan 20, 2012 @ 12:34:44

    I’m with other commentators in saying that the cover and the title would have deterred me, but your review makes it more attractive.

    Minor point: your review is addressed to “Mr”? Pretty sure the author is “Ms”, judging by her website. Is this an unconscious acknowledgement of the accuracy with which she describes the male thought-process? Or just a typo…

    ReplyReply

  13. Jane
    Jan 20, 2012 @ 12:36:26

    @HJ: Heh. Yes, probably. Besides, would it be a DA review by me without at least five errors including one involving the name of the author, title of the book or one character??

    ReplyReply

  14. Jennie
    Jan 20, 2012 @ 16:57:19

    Great review! Minor point: they do, in fact, make leashes and halters for cats, and some cats (allegedly) enjoy being walked. My cat acted like we were re-enacting the Bataan Death March when I tried it, so there’s that, but supposedly it works for some cats. (I was going to say I’d never seen it but I just remembered that the last time I was in NYC I witnessed someone walking a cat on a leash in Central Park.)

    ReplyReply

  15. shel
    Jan 20, 2012 @ 17:06:45

    Just a heads up that The Thin Pink Line by this author is currently free at amazon for Canada/USA, from the former Red Dress Ink imprint. (Thanks http://randomizeme.net/ for the heads up).

    ReplyReply

  16. Courtney Milan
    Jan 20, 2012 @ 17:21:39

    I bought this off a Twitter rec (I think it was Jane’s tweet that I saw) and I thought it was hilarious and heartwarming. It read really fast and I had a smile on my face the whole time.

    ReplyReply

  17. Kay
    Jan 20, 2012 @ 21:39:04

    Thanks for the rec! I wouldn’t have seen the book without you, and it was a lot of fun. I agree that it was more about John(ny) than Helen, a risk that the book probably had to take given how it was told, but I would have liked to have seen a little more of her. Johnny ran into some interesting thoughts about how people work together. It halfway seemed like an answer to chick lit, in a good way.

    One thing I really liked is how different characters didn’t have to be perfect fits to do stuff together: one of Johnny’s guy friends became that almost by accident but they could play cards together, Alice wasn’t a shrew (and provided an important role without being the Other Woman or being super sweet), and so on. People had their own lives.

    ReplyReply

  18. Weekly Wrap-Up | Smexy Books
    Jan 21, 2012 @ 08:20:56

    [...] worthy. Full review to come soon! Last night I started The Bro Magnet because I saw it reviewed at Dear Author. Never would have picked it up otherwise. I’m at 20%, have laughed my butt off and I’m really [...]

  19. Kaetrin
    Jan 22, 2012 @ 02:34:55

    I just finished this too, on Jane’s rec. Loved it. I was laughing out loud throughout most of it. I actually thought Johnny wasn’t an asshole at all even though I don’t love sports quite the way he does. He really tries hard to be a good guy and that came through right from the start. I reckon it’d make a great movie too. I kept picturing a Seann William Scott in the title role.

    I loved the references to General Hospital and generally went nuts with the highlight function in my reader. Great rec Jane. Great book.

    ReplyReply

  20. Sherri
    Jan 22, 2012 @ 21:44:44

    I will add myself as a buyer because of the recommendation and I loved it. While the title would not have put me off, the cover is terrible. But along with everyone else in this group, I could not stop laughing. And Johnny was a really great hero. I will have to look for more romance from Ms. Baratz-Logsted in the future.

    ReplyReply

  21. Sirius
    Jan 24, 2012 @ 20:36:08

    Okay, so I finally read this review, and I am getting this one for my het romance doze of the month, thank you, it sounds really fun :)

    ReplyReply

  22. Smexy’s Top Ten–January 27th | Smexy Books
    Jan 27, 2012 @ 12:31:34

    [...] Bro-Magnet this week. I did a full review for it at Happy Ever After. I picked it up on a rec from Dear Author and laughed my way through the entire book. If you are looking for a light-hearted read, I [...]

  23. Say Yes to the Cover: Vote for THE BRO-MAGNET’s New Look! :: The Knight Agency, Inc. -- A Literary Agency
    Apr 16, 2012 @ 08:11:35

    [...] a done deal… Of course it would be remiss of us not to mention that Jane gave this book a fab review, which noted that she started laughing five paragraphs in and didn’t [...]

  24. The Bro Magnet by Lauren Baratz-Logsted |
    Aug 13, 2013 @ 23:57:32

    [...] I read it: I saw tweets about this really funny book from a guy’s perspective from Jane at Dear Author and then I saw it on NetGalley so I snapped it up. What it’s about: (This is the blurb from [...]

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