The Boyfriend of the Month Club
There’s nothing like a satisfying Chick Lit book on a blah winter’s day or on a sunny day at the beach. The machinations of friends and family in a cozy setting while the main character falls in love with the perfect guy becomes the chocolate bar for the soul. Maria Geraci’s The Boyfriend of the Month Club is such a nugget of pleasure.
Thirty-year-old Grace O’Bryan feels like she’s at a turning point in her life. Her boyfriend has just dumped her, and her book discussion group, made up of three longtime friends, is starting to stagnate. If that weren’t enough, as manager of her family’s souvenir shop in Daytona Beach, she’s watching the once famous store lose money hand over fist.
She sees the only bright spot in her life being her upcoming date with hunky Brandon Farrell, who’s in her zumba class. But her date goes downhill when Brandon calls the restaurant where they were to meet and cajoles her into coming to a sleazy sports bar where he and his team are celebrating their latest win.
After making a memorable exit by dumping beer in Brandon’s lap and stalking out, Grace gets together with her friends Penny, Sarah, and Ellen to commiserate. They bemoan the dearth of good men in the singles scene and wish there was a way to eliminate the losers before they date them.
In that moment, fueled with vodka and resentment, they give birth to the Boyfriend of the Month Club, a simple idea of sharing information about loser dates via a Yahoo! group. Ellen, an English professor who sees everything in literary terms, decides they need to parallel their bad dates with literary characters, at the same time making their ultimate goal to find their own Mr. Darcy.
This being Chick Lit, nothing is quite that easy. Grace is still faced with her father’s concern about the shop’s profits and her brother Charlie’s avoidance of the problem. Although she’s now dating luscious Dr. Joe, Brandon returns, trying to win her back.
While she and her friends agonize over matters of the heart, the Club grows by leaps and bounds, with members who want it to be a social club and others who have axes to grind against men in general and Dr. Joe, Charlie, Brandon, and others close to Grace and her friends in particular.
As Grace’s life spirals out of control, Geraci uses a light touch, making Grace’s often histrionic diatribes funny yet poignant. The addition of a stuffed alligator as sentinel to the store and Grace’s sounding board, her very Italian extended family, Penny’s pierced and tattooed biker boyfriend who has his Mr. Darcy moment, Sarah’s painful divorce and romantic epiphany, and Ellen’s insistence that every man has his literary equivalent add extra delight to this well-plotted book.
So if the novel is so good, why isn’t it a DIK? Partly, I guess, it’s the same reason comedies don’t win Academy Awards. The Boyfriend of the Month Club is wonderful froth, but not something most readers would take to the island with them. Also, the book is a three-ring circus of action, people, and events, often losing its focus on Grace and her search for her Mr. Darcy. Still, a day at the circus isn’t a bad way to spend time, especially if you’d like a little cheering up.