Beard Science (Winston Brothers #3)- Penny Reid
Jennifer Sylvester wants one thing, and that one thing is NOT to be Tennessee’s reigning Banana Cake Queen. Ever the perpetual good girl and obedient daughter, Jennifer is buckling under the weight of her social media celebrity, her mother’s ambitions, and her father’s puritanical mandates. Jennifer is officially desperate.
And desperate times call for Cletus Winston.
Cletus Winston is a puzzle wrapped in a mystery covered in conundrum sauce, and now he’s in a pickle. Despite being convinced of his own omniscience, extortion by the exalted Banana Cake Queen of Green Valley has taken him completely by surprise. So... what’s a maniacal mastermind to do?
Likely, the last thing you expect.
‘Beard Science’ is the third book in the Winston Brothers series, is a full-length romantic comedy novel, and can be read as a standalone.
My Review: 5 Stars
I finished reading Truth Or Beard, book 1 of the delightful Winston Brothers series, on September 3. It was the first book I'd read by Penny Reid and I was hooked. The brothers Winston had my attention, surely, but so did Penny Reid. From there, I moved on to the first few books in her funny, relatable Knitting In The City series. (The first book Neanderthal Seeks Human is free on Kindle and Nook. You're welcome.) Then I circled back around to Grin And Beard It, book 2 of the Winston Brothers.
There was a method to my madness: Beard Science was on its way and I wanted to prolong my joy by spacing out the books.
While all of Reid's novels are standalones, your appreciation is guaranteed to increase if you read them in order. Case in point: we meet all six of the Winston brothers in Truth Or Beard (the sole sister Ashley gets her own story in Knitting In The City: Beauty and the Mustache, which I'm reading right now) and many key people in the community. As the characters grow, the relationships evolve and we as readers come to love them that much more.
But I won't judge you if you skip straight to Beard Science. It's that good.
With every book, I wonder how Reid will top the last one. Beard Science blew me out of the water with how fantastic it was! I could not put it down. It's definitely in the running for my Favorite Fiction of 2016 list. We've seen glimpses of Cletus in the first two books so I knew we were in for an interesting ride but I had no idea how much I would come to love him.
Cletus is a mechanic and genius extraordinaire. He's one of a kind in every way.
"I don't like to judge people.
I love it.
Writing people completely off was liberating." p. 20
He makes excellent sausage. He's a man who knows how to keep secrets and how to play a long game. He can make you do whatever he wants and leave you thinking it was your own idea. He is well-versed in the art of revenge and he's never surprised.
Until Jennifer Sylvester, that is.
Jennifer grew up sheltered. She was homeschooled and now she's the primary baker and reluctant spokesperson at their family business. People in town see her as her Banana Cake Queen persona, instead of a person. But she's also extremely observant and this leads her to catching Cletus doing something he shouldn't. And that leads to blackmailing him into helping her find a husband.
This is out of character for her but it is also a first step toward what Cletus thinks she should do: find her backbone.
Watching Jennifer begin to assert herself is at the top of the list of why I loved this book. My heart broke over the way her parents treated her and how many people in town underestimated her. Whether she's picking a wild color for her nail polish or refusing to wear the outfits her mom picks out, she starts to see other possibilities for her future.
"If I'd learned anything in the last few months, it was that I couldn't live my life to make other people happy. So I was going to start there.
I needed to be true to myself.
By God, I was going to be true to myself!" p. 207
Cletus and Jennifer have one amazing slow-burn romance. Jennifer is inexperienced and Cletus focuses more on how to make her a good catch, ignoring how he feels when any other guy pays special attention to her. For being such smart individuals, neither understand the depths of their feelings for quite some time and it was delightful to watch them start to take risks with one another, until finally they admitted they were in love.
Watching Cletus fall in love was a GIFT. He has such a need for control but he can't control Jennifer and that's why they're so perfect for one another. I swooned quite a bit over the way he took care of her, stood up for her, and challenged her. Plus, Reid handled Jennifer's inexperience in a respectful, nuanced way.
Penny Reid said in an interview that she bases her characters on real people and this shows. Her characters are flawed and talented and quirky as hell.Her characterizations also have me guessing about their Enneagram types. Some of the time they remind me of people I know and the rest of the time, I'm wishing I knew them. (If only I knew a real life Winston brother!)
I laugh out loud while reading her books. They are funny and delightful and I often read with a smile on my face.
I also appreciate how Reid builds a community of friends for her characters. Sure, we're there for the romance but most people cannot live on romance alone. We need our friends. Watching Jennifer make friends, once she got over her nerves and awkwardness, was beautiful. I loved seeing her get out of her shell as she talked to Ashley about canning and offered to teach Shelly how to make soap.
Plus, Ashley has this stellar advice:
"'Stay away from the normals, the small-minded people who fill their brains with small-minded pursuits, who blend in and keep up with the Joneses. Those people will tear you down and make you boring. Instead, surround yourself with the weirds. With the misfits, oddballs, and outcasts. Because the normals, bless their hearts, have no idea how to have fun.'" p. 284
The best people I know are nerds about something. We all have our quirks and eccentricities. That's what makes life interesting and that's what made Cletus and Jennifer's story so entertaining. They are weird and that's what makes them relatable.
Now if you'll excuse me, I have a sudden urge to track down sausage and banana cake. I'm going to comfort eat my jealousy over everyone who gets to experience this wonderful novel for the first time.
Amazon US: http://amzn.to/2ehMxT7
Amazon UK: http://amzn.to/2ckA5y2
Amazon CA: http://amzn.to/2cxMu1m
Amazon AU: http://amzn.to/2cCFSzS
About The Author
Disclosure: I was provided an ARC of Beard Science from IndieSage in exchange for an honest review. Affiliate links included in this post. Any purchase you make helps support this site.