“Beard Science” by Penny Reid

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.


GENRE

Contemporary; Romance

SERIES

Winston Brothers, book 3

PUBBED

2016

MY THOUGHTS

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.”

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“Emma” by Jane Austen, illus. by C.E. Brock

Here’s another classic surprise. Again I gravitated toward a classic story to read, this time because I watched the movie and liked it so much that I wanted to try the book.

Well, not only did I complete the book and understood what I read, but it was a Jane Austen book and I liked it too! Something weird must be going on with me this year for me, of all people, to like a Jane Austen book.


Genre

Classic Romance

Series

n/a

Pubbed

1815

Quick summary

It’s all about a young woman named Emma Woodhouse playing matchmaker to everyone and causing a bunch of confusion while doing so. There’s also a lot of classism thrown in. (Goodreads)

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“The Beautiful Ones” by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

The cover of this novel is beautiful. For that reason alone, I was happy to have it on my shelves, but I was curious about the story too. I read Moreno-Garcia’s Mexican Gothic last year and liked it, so I was eager to try something else by her, and The Beautiful Ones had been getting lots of praise. So, when my book club selected it as one of our reads, I wasted no time purchasing it.


Genre

Romance; Fantasy

Series

n/a

Pubbed

2017; repubbed in 2021

From Goodreads

They are the Beautiful Ones, Loisail’s most notable socialites, and this spring is Nina’s chance to join their ranks, courtesy of her well-connected cousin and his calculating wife. But the Grand Season has just begun, and already Nina’s debut has gone disastrously awry. She has always struggled to control her telekinesis—neighbors call her the Witch of Oldhouse—and the haphazard manifestations of her powers make her the subject of malicious gossip.

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“The Bookshop of Second Chances” by Jackie Fraser

Oh man, I feel so bad about this because I read the book back in July and am just now doing my reflection on it. I didn’t intend to wait this long to post my reflection, but the summer months were hard for me. Now I’m surprised that I managed to post anything at all back then. But, anyway, better late than never, especially since I liked this story.


Genre

Contemporary; Romance

Series

n/a

Pubbed

2020

From Goodreads

A woman desperate to turn a new page heads to the Scottish coast and finds herself locked in a battle of wills with an infuriatingly handsome bookseller in this utterly heartwarming debut, perfect for readers of Evvie Drake Starts Over.

Thea Mottram is having a bad month. Her husband of nearly twenty years has just left her for one of her friends, and she is let go from her office job–on Valentine’s Day, of all days. Bewildered and completely lost, Thea doesn’t know what to do. But when she learns that a distant great uncle in Scotland has passed away, leaving her his home and a hefty antique book collection, she decides to leave Sussex for a few weeks. Escaping to a small coastal town where no one knows her seems to be exactly what she needs.

Continue reading ““The Bookshop of Second Chances” by Jackie Fraser”

“The Viscount Who Loved Me” by Julia Quinn, narr. by Rosalyn Landor

I’ve now grown accustomed to listening to audiobooks. I can even listen to new-to-me books on audio and keep up with what’s going on. But the tricky part comes when I procrastinate on writing up a review of what I listened to. With physical and e-books, I can just flip through the book and find things I highlighted to help refresh my memory of what I read and what I thought, but I don’t bookmark or take notes when listening to audiobooks, so discussing the book this long after listening to it will be a challenge.

Genre

Romance; Historical Fiction

Series

Bridgertons, book 2

Pubbed

2000

Quick summary

The second novel in the Bridgertons series focuses on Anthony, the eldest of the Bridgerton siblings. Anthony, a known rake around the ton, has decided to get married, but he doesn’t want to marry for love. You see, Anthony’s father died young and, since he’s nearing the age at which his father died, Anthony is convinced that he will die at the same age as well. As such, he does not what a wife who will endure the same heartache his mom did when her beloved, Anthony’s father, died. That’s why Anthony has his sight set on the beautiful Edwina, but first, he’ll have to convince Edwina’s older sister, Kate, that he’s a worthy suitor.

Continue reading ““The Viscount Who Loved Me” by Julia Quinn, narr. by Rosalyn Landor”

“The Duke and I” by Julia Quinn, narr. by Rosalyn Landor

Yea, I’m one of those who watched and was hooked on Netflix’s Bridgerton. The drama and all the gossiping in it made it very entertaining, but it was the costumes and the acting itself that lured and held my interest throughout.

Since learning that it’s based on a novel, I’ve wanted to read the source material ever since to find out what happens next and to see in what ways it defers from the show. So, when I saw that the audiobook was available at my library, I quickly downloaded and began listening to it. It, too, was very entertaining.

Genre

Romance; Historical Fiction

Series

Bridgertons, book 1

Pubbed

2000

Quick summary

Taking inspiration from Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice (and probably other classic novels I do not know of), The Duke & I centers on the large Bridgerton family whose matriarch wants to see her children married off well. The story focuses on Daphne Bridgerton, who was recently introduced to society but hasn’t had many suitors, probably because her older brothers (there are three of them) are a bit intimidating.

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“Truth or Beard” by Penny Reid

I introduced myself to Penny Reid’s Winston Brothers series last year by reading the second book in the series. It left me wanting more, so I picked the first book soon after completing Grin & Beard It, and devoured it.

Genre

Romance

Series

Winston Brothers, book 1

Pubbed

2015

Goodreads summary

Beards, brothers, and bikers! Oh my!

Identical twins Beau and Duane Winston might share the same devastatingly handsome face, but where Beau is outgoing and sociable, Duane is broody and reserved. This is why Jessica James, recent college graduate and perpetual level-headed good girl, has been in naïve and unhealthy infatuation with Beau Winston for most of her life.

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“Tikka Chance on Me” by Suleikha Snyder

This will be the third romance novel I’ve reviewed in the past six or so days. That’s the longest romance streak I’ve ever had on here. Usually if I read a romance novel, it’s just one in a few months or a year.

I’ve been on a romance binge since November, when I climbed out of a reading slump. I’ve dipped in and out of several romance novels since then, but the three I’ve reviewed so far and this one were the only ones I stuck with to the end.

With Tikka Chance on Me, I discovered it through the “Readers Also Enjoyed” section on Goodreads. I liked the cover, so I decided to give it a chance and see if my library had a copy on Libby. I didn’t even bother to read the synopsis.

Genre

Contemporary Romance

Series

n/a

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“Kissing Tolstoy” by Penny Reid

I really enjoyed Grin & Beard It and wanted to jump into another Penny Reid novel after finishing it. I believe the first novel in the Winston Brothers series wasn’t available in my library’s app at the time, so I decided to try one of Reid’s Dear Professor stories instead and picked up Kissing Tolstoy.

Genre

Contemporary Romance

Series

Dear Professor, book 1

Pubbed

2014

Goodreads summary

What do you do when you discover that your super-hot blind date from months ago is now your super-hot Russian Lit professor?

You overthink everything and pray for a swift end to your misery, of course!

Continue reading ““Kissing Tolstoy” by Penny Reid”

“Grin and Beard It” by Penny Reid

I’m on a contemporary romance binge, and I’m loving it. It’s been years since I’ve read a bunch of romance novels in a go, so I’m quite surprised at myself at the moment.

I’d seen the Winston Brothers novels floating around the internet and was curious about them because I love the cross-stitch effect used for the cover. I think it’s so cute, and it makes me want to collect the series. After reading Black Witch Magic, I thought to myself, why not try one of those novels with the cute covers. So I did, and I loved it! 🙂

Genre

Contemporary Romance

Series

Winston Brothers, book 2

Pubbed

2016

Goodreads summary

Sienna Diaz is everyone’s favorite “fat” funny lady. The movie studio executives can’t explain it, but her films are out-grossing all the fit and trim headliners and Hollywood’s most beautiful elite. The simple truth is, everyone loves plus-sized Sienna.

Continue reading ““Grin and Beard It” by Penny Reid”