The Bro-Magnet, by Lauren Baratz-Logsted

>> Friday, September 21, 2012

TITLE: The Bro-Magnet
AUTHOR: Lauren Baratz-Logsted

PAGES: About 250, I would guess
PUBLISHER: Self-published

SETTING: Contemporary US
TYPE: Romance

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.
Johnny Smith is a great guy. All his friends love him, and any man who's not his friend wants to be. Unfortunately, the things men appreciate about him are exactly the things that make women assume he's a laddish asshole. He isn't, truly. In fact, Johnny is a genuinely nice man, who would like nothing better than to find a woman to love and be loved by.

Johnny is also quite self-aware. He knows exactly what the problem is, he just can't figure out how to change things. So when he meets the lovely Helen, a successful and clearly sophisticated District Attorney, who seems surprisingly interested in him, he won't let that opportunity pass him by. He drafts in his family and friend to make him over into someone such a woman could see herself with, with some interesting reasults!

Whether or not you like The Bro-Magnet will depend on whether the humour appeals to you or not. I could see how it might not work for everyone, but me, I found it hilarious. I liked that the humour isn't mean or cruel. By trying to be what he and his clueless friends assume would appeal to a woman, Johnny gets into completely absurd situations. He's not humiliated, though. He makes the best of things, and we end up laughing just as much as he is.

I also liked that Johnny is truly not trying to deceive Helen. If that's what it takes to win her, Johnny genuinely wants to change and actually be that guy he's presenting himself to be. It's sweet, and Johnny's very real longing for love made me want to hug him.

The book's not perfect. It's a bit too clear to the reader, but not to any character in the book, that Helen might not be as repelled by the real Johnny as other women. Also, Johnny's mind didn't strike me as a real guy's, but as what a woman would like to imagine a guy who's a bit of a lad really is like. But you know what? I didn't care a jot. I had no problem suspending disbelief and still really enjoyed the book.



Mean Fat Old Bat 22 September 2012 at 15:40  

I had a little more trouble with the book than you had - I think I gave it a C - but I agree: Johnny is the sweetest guy ever. I liked him so much that I continued reading long after I would have given up on a less appealing character simply because I wanted to see him have the loving relationship he deserved.


Rosario 23 September 2012 at 09:00  

Marilyn, I've gone and read your review and I completely see what you mean, even though the book worked a bit better for me in spite of them. Yes, the whole deal about changing himself to get Helen to love him was so obviously not a good idea, that the fact that he ever thought it was showed he wasn't emotionally very mature. But yep, he's such a sweetheart!

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