Make a deal with the devil and you might get what you want, but will it be what you need?
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.
“I loved her both rationally and irrationally. And I wanted her with a ferocity that had kept me awake at night and tortured during the day.”
Jennifer Sylvester detests being the Banana Cake Queen. Perhaps detests is a too strong word for the sweet Jenn. Regardless, she knows she wants is a husband of her own choosing who’ll respect her and give her a big family. An impossible goal as long as she continues to be a good daughter abiding by her parents controlling ways. So what is a girl to do when she’s never been kissed and is desperate? It’s obvious, but only to her. She turns to Cletus Winston.
Behind the peculiar and “harmless banjo-playing hermit” façade lies the conniving genius mind of Cletus Winston. Perceived by his own design as a “simpleton,” he has control and power over just about everyone, they just don’t know it. But he only actively expends time and effort meddling in the lives of his family, thank goodness. So when her highness, the Banana Cake Queen, surprisingly blackmails him, she turns his orderly life sideways. Can he help her and return back to his controlled life?
“My heart was a danger to itself and to me because Jennifer Sylvester and I were not suited… things would be complicated between us. I couldn’t abide complicated… I wanted predictable, and she’d never ceased to surprise me. Together we would not be perfectly pragmatic. We would be impressively impractical.”
Let me start by saying that every time I read a Penny Reid book I fall more in love with her writing and curse the fact I haven’t had time to read all her books yet. I’ll also admit that even though I loved Cletus, wanted to get to know the clever oddball and would love to be one of the only 24 people he has time for, I was sure I’d love him as a hero. He was great in Grin and Beard, undeniably funny and brilliant. I just couldn’t picture him as swoony enough for a book boyfriend. Of course I shouldn’t have doubted Reid’s amazing ability to develop richly layers characters in interesting plots.
Cletus isn’t just remarkably smart and devious, he has his weaknesses and loves fiercely. Jenn is kind, compassionate, remarkably smart in her own way and quirky fun. I loved being in their heads and the journey they embarked on was absolute delightful from start to finish.
These two transformers (because there’s definitely more than meets the eye about them) made me laugh, smile, swoon and fan myself with delicious slow burn between them. I loved how Jenn really saw Cletus and thus caught the almost all-knowing man off guard, and how while helping Jenn bring her backbone to the fore, Cletus finds his perfect match.
“Jennifer was the key to my cage. She was the key to my future. We fit together. Her strengths counterpoised my weaknesses.”
I loved how Jenn gave so much importance to such things as humility and forgiveness, how much value she put in being a mother which were also valued by Cletus. I got a really kick out of Cletus lovingly torturing his brothers and always going for and getting what he wanted. I could keep on telling you I could keep on telling you all the things I discovered and loved about these two but I’ll finish with two other outstanding aspects that need mention.
First, the family element which not only included great past and future characters I enjoyed reading about, but also that wonderful feeling of being part of a group of people who’ll love, help give sage advice and support you no matter what.
“You’ll know one day, Cletus. You’ll discover what it’s like to find the other part of yourself. You’ll know it’s her, only her, always her. Maybe not right away, but eventually you’ll know. She’ll be your beginning, middle, and end. And your intentions won’t matter. Love brings its own intentions, and all other plans, hopes, and dreams fade to insignificance in the face of love.”
And second, the witty dialogues that made me laugh and snort and made this story fly by.
“Jenn and I are going to make some sausage pie.”
“That’s right, sausage pie.”
“I see. So Jennifer is going to let you put your sausage in her pie.”
Beard Science is book #3 and the finale in the Winston Brothers series by Penny Reid. It is a delightful standalone romantic comedy you won’t want to miss. I can’t recommend this book enough. Told from both point of view with a happy ending.
* I was given an ARC of this book courtesy of the author via IndieSage PR. The excerpts are from that copy. *
About Penny Reid
SEX! It all started with sex, between my parents. Personally I don’t like thinking about it, but whatever works for you is a-ok with me. No judgment. The sex happened in California and much of my life also occurred in that state until I moved from the land of nuts (almonds), wine, silicon… boobs, and heavy traffic to the southeast US. Like most writers I like to write, but let’s get back to sex. Eventually I married and gave birth to 2 small people-children (boy-6, girl-4 as of this writing).
By day I’m a biomedical researcher with focus on rare diseases. By night I’m a knitter, sewer, lino block carver, fabric printer, soap maker, and general crafter. By the wee hours of the morning or when I’m intoxicated I love to listen to the voices in my head and let them tell me stories. I hope you enjoy their stories.