This chapter builds on my ongoing work on men, masculinities and popular romance (Allan 2020) and does so by reading The Bromance Book Club, which tells the story of men who have a secret book club, in which they read romance novels to improve their love lives. This narrative is not entirely without precedent. The Canadian newspaper The Globe and Mail profiled a book club of men that set out to read Nora Roberts, as one of the men was about to get married and his fiancé was reading the latest novel by Roberts. In this chapter, I am interested in exploring how self-improvement becomes a kind of quest narrative for the hero in which love is the ultimate prize. In the case of The Bromance Book Club, the love that is achieved is a romance renewed and a sexually satisfying love story. Romance novels remain, to my mind an ideal space in which to study romantic love as a cultural experience and desire, to these ends, my work will build on the work of Catherine Roach particularly her book Happily Ever After: The Romance Story in Popular Culture.
Here's the abstract: