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?
Johnny Smith is what you would call a man's man. Guys love him, they all want to be friends with him, and even strangers ask him to be the best man at their weddings. This is all fine and great for Johnny, but he only wishes he had the same effect with the ladies. Unfortunately though, it is the exact opposite. He can't seem to do one thing right when it comes to women. Not even his only aunt seems to like him, constantly reminding him that it's his fault his mother died in childbirth.
Then Johnny meets Helen Troy and he has to make a decision. Stay who you are and stay lonely, or try to be someone else and win the girl. Johnny decides he is going to win the girl. To do this, he changes everything he can think of. He redecorates, he dresses differently, he even changes his name. But what will happen when he realizes that he can't go on pretending forever? Will Helen stay or will she realize he isn't all he pretended to be?
Have you ever tried to do or say something nice to someone, only for it to come out the entirely wrong way and offend them? This happens all too often to Johnny Smith. He is one of the nicest guys you could ever possibly meet but you would never know it by asking any female who knows him. He just can't seem to catch a break when it comes to women. In fact, the only woman who seems to like him at all is his best friend and neighbor, Sam. She would be the perfect girl for him, if only she wasn't a lesbian. Even so, this didn't stop me from loving Johnny from the very beginning. He has a huge heart and just wants to do the best for everyone, even if they don't see past his flaws. I found his sense of humor and quirkiness endearing. In fact, if he were an actual person, he would be the kind of guy I would find myself attracted to. If I could get past his obsession with sports, that is.
Helen Troy, Johnny's love interest, couldn't have been a better match for him, if only they weren't so intent on changing themselves to be please the other. I liked her for the most part and could understand why it might be hard for her to make female friends or find a man that wasn't put off by her brilliance and tomboyish lifestyle.
So what do you do when you are a sports-obsessed man trying to win the heart of a woman? Why, you start acting like a woman, of course. You redecorate, you get a cat and you start watching soap operas. Yes, Johnny does it all. In fact, he goes to some great lengths to try and impress Helen because, after all, she is a woman and all women love cats and soap operas, right? These are only a few of the ridiculous things Johnny does to try and win Helen's heart. He ends up in some pretty hilarious situations and I couldn't stop laughing the entire time.
What I loved most about this story, and it's been true for all of Lauren Baratz-Logsted's books that I've read so far, is the realness of the characters and situations. Both Johnny and Helen, as well as each side character, come off as just regular people. These are the kind of people that you meet in every day life and situations you might find yourself in some day. Nothing outrageous is going on here, which makes the story that more believable. You can't help but feel sympathy for these poor fools and all the trouble they get themselves into.
Overall, this is another five-star read from Baratz-Logsted. I am slowly working my way through her entire catalog because I just can't get enough of her fun loving, quirky characters. I highly recommend The Bro-Magnet to anyone looking for a quick, lighthearted and hilarious read.
For more about Lauren Baratz-Logsted and The Bro-Magnet, visit her website here.