Finally, a book I completed fairly recently. This time back in August.
I consider myself a fan of Penny Reid’s books, the Winston Brothers series to be exact. I’ve since read two novels from the series, this one being the third. The Winston Brothers series are contemporary romance novels about the love lives of the Winston family in Tennessee. The family consists of many brothers (I forgot how many) and one sister. Their mother passed by the time the story starts, and their father is in prison, I believe. He was mixed up in the local biker gang, the Iron Wraiths, which so far has made an appearance in the three books I’ve read, affecting the family members in some negative way.
Winston Brothers, book 3
This third book focuses on Cletus, the third eldest Winston brother (and no, the series does not follow the siblings in order from eldest to youngest) and my favorite Winston so far. Basically, Cletus was going about life as usual — plotting the downfall of someone who did him wrong or plotting the potential downfall of someone who would probably do him wrong — when he got caught doing something illegal by the Banana Cake Queen, Jennifer.
Jennifer is known around town as the Banana Cake Queen because she’s that great at baking them and always wins the contest for them. She’s a good girl who does her best to adhere to her parents’ overly strict rules. Many around town tend to ignore or treat her like a wallflower, so she tends to have more opportunities to observe people uninterrupted without them noticing, which is why she notices things others don’t — like what Cletus did at the police station.
Realizing that she needs to make changes to her life, Jennifer uses the intel she has on Cletus to blackmail him into helping her change her life. (Goodreads)
That summary probably doesn’t sound very interesting, but this was a really enjoyable read. I’m sure anyone who read the previous two books would be eager to read about Cletus in his own book too. Cletus is so quirky that you can’t help being curious about him.
However, when I started the book, I thought this would be the Penny Reid book I’ll end up not liking, putting a stop to the positive trend I have going with the Winston Brothers series. I believe we begin in Jennifer’s perspective, which I didn’t mind, but I thought I was being tricked out of Cletus’s story (I wasn’t). Then when I learned what it is Jennifer thought she needed to improve her life, I got annoyed. But I should have known better.
One of the reasons why I enjoyed this book is seeing how these two characters develop, especially Jennifer. Jennifer learns to trust herself more and take control of her life from her uber-controlling parents. In some ways I could relate to her struggles, so I was really tuned in to her development and loved that she kept pushing and pursuing her independence — even from Cletus.
Cletus, however, learns to trust others and to allow himself to be vulnerable. I love that Jennifer is the unlikely match for him, someone he didn’t expect to upend his life in the way she did. Jennifer also exposes to Cletus just how controlling he is and how unneeded that control is. With Jennifer, he’s able to relax some.
Other than the character development, I also liked the chemistry between Jennifer and Cletus and, as always, seeing how the Winston family interact with each other. It was also great to see how the protagonists from the previous two books have changed too: Duane and Jessica are planning to take their first trip abroad together, leaving soon after events in Beard Science, and Jethro and Sienna have their wedding by the end of this book and are already making family plans. I appreciated the character updates and the humor. It was a good read, and I look forward to reading the next book.
Overall: ★★★★☆ ½
I do wonder if I’ll give all the books in this series fairly high ratings. They are such fun.
Buy | Borrow | Bypass
I recommend it, if you want contemporary romance focused on a tight-knit family.
Quotes from the book
“When a thing is funny, search it carefully for a hidden truth.”
“I love you as the plant that never blooms, but carries in itself the light of hidden flowers.”