|Thereís Chick Lit and Lad Lit, and then thereís The Bro-Magnet Ė Lad Lit written by a Chick. This first person account of a ďmanís manĒ who undergoes a transformation to win his true love is lively and funny, as well as a surprisingly accurate portrayal of a manís point of view (I think).
Johnny Smith has been the best man at eight weddings. Other guys just love him, but despite the fact that heís good-looking, heís never had any luck with women. Maybe itís his profession. After graduating from college he chucked his plans to become a lawyer and joined his fatherís house painting business (ďPaint: it never lets you downĒ). Maybe itís his obsession with buying beat-up cars, fixing them up and selling them (other guys think itís cool, but women hate the fact that the cars invariably break down on their dates). Maybe it goes back even farther, to the fact that Johnnyís mom died giving birth to him.
Whatever the reason, at age 33 Johnny suddenly find major motivation to change. Seated in the front row at a Yankees game, thanks to one of his clients, he meets Helen Troy (yes, thatís really her name), a classy district attorney. Itís love at first sight for Johnny, but how can a house painter with a terrible relationship batting average ever hope to win over a classy dame who probably loves opera and hates sports? First thing is a name change: from now on heís John Smith. Then itís time for a wardrobe makeover, home makeover, car makeover. By the time Helen starts to take him seriously, Johnny has to wonder if he can find a way to stay true to himself while catching the girl of his dreams.
Lauren Baratz-Logsted wrote several Chick Lit novels for Harlequinís defunct Red Dress Ink line, and she has also authored books for children and young adults. This one, however, is like nothing else she has written before, and itís just delightful. Johnny narrates the book in an easy, conversational style. He may be repellent to the women in his life, but to the reader he seems like a great catch. Heís a good friend (in a twist on the Chick Lit trope, his BFF is a lesbian named Sam), handy around the house, good-looking and honorable; in an early scene we learn that although he is a typically horny guy, heís too decent to take advantage of a drunken bridesmaid who throws herself at him.
The only problem with the book is that Helen remains a cipher. We only see her through Johnnyís besotted eyes, and she never emerges as a fully developed character. So that happy ending isnít as satisfying as if we were rooting for a great couple to end up together.
But if youíre looking for a feel-good, fun read, The Bro-Magnet will fit the bill. I chuckled my way through the book and finished with a great deal of admiration for Ms. Baratz-Logsted. I canít help wondering how she so neatly nailed the male POV, but she may have just created a brand new genre.