The Surprising Depths of the Winston Brothers

Winston Brothers Series by Penny Reid

Side note: This is a new series from Penny Reid. Known for her Knitting in the City series (this one makes my top 3 favorites of all time), it’s about Ashley Winston’s brothers (Beauty and the Mustache, Knitting Book 4). I haven’t reviewed the Knitting in the City series on this blog, but I have read each of the books multiple times, with my all time favorite Neanderthal Seeks Human clocking in at about four times. If you haven’t read it, please do so. You won’t be disappointed. I laughed, I cried, I giggled like I was 13 again. To say it is an awesome book and series is to say chocolate is good. Also, I took a knitting class because of this series. If that doesn’t convince you to read it, I don’t know what will.

Truth or Beard (Winston Brothers Book 1)

Rating: 4 (sXe)

Quick & Dirty summary:

Jessica James has had a schoolgirl crush on Beau Winston since she was, well, a schoolgirl. Beau’s twin brother, Duane, is another matter completely. So when things get hot and heavy at the Friday night community music night, Jessica thinks her dreams have come true. Of course they haven’t, and you don’t have a twin story until you have a case of mistaken identity. However, as Duane forces Jessica to rethink their shared childhood, Jessica realizes that she may have been telling herself she was in love with the wrong brother the whole time. As Jessica and Duane go a courtin’, motorcycle biker gangs, long distance relatives, and troublesome older brothers make what could be a simple happily ever after into something a bit more complicated.

What I loved and what I not-so-loved?

This book was totally unexpected for me. After reading Beauty and the Mustache, I shared Ashley’s vision of her brothers as dirty, red-headed hicks. This idea did not dissipate even towards the end of Beauty and the Mustache, as Ashley realizes her brothers have changed over the years. in Truth or Beard, Duane had a lot of layers, and Reid confesses on her website (I think that’s where I read it) that this novel was a change of pace for her because so much of it is written from Duane’s point of view. I have loved that about Reid’s novels—getting to know the male characters from their own thoughts and feelings. But in some ways, this was a double-edged sword. I felt a little disconnected from Jessica. She was clearly cute, and painfully honest, but the different components of her personality didn’t quite gel together into a cohesive person. She wants to do the right thing, but she also wants to rebel against her Baptist upbringing. She speaks her mind clearly, but also seems easily befuddled. She loves kissing boys, but she isn’t interested in sleeping with them. None of these things is unrealistic or makes me dislike her character. But there seemed to be a bit of distance between her and me that may be due to Duane. It’s like I couldn’t bond with her because Duane kept interrupting our girl time.

The beautiful thing about this novel was that it tried to resolve some of the tension between honoring your family and honoring yourself. That’s a hard thing to do when your dreams take you away from home. But Jessica and Duane seem to navigate those waters well—communicating openly with their families about their hopes, while leaving their plans flexible for revision.

The Bottom Line: Would I recommend it to my BFF?

I’m not sure. I hate to say this because I love Penny Reid, but there is a lot going on in this novel. From the motorcycle gang, to the other brothers, to Ashley and Drew, I’m not sure my BFF would get as much out of it if she hadn’t read Beauty and the Mustache, which she hasn’t. And it’s like I can see the future books building out of this first novel, which is a double-edged sword (damn that sword!). It made it difficult to see the trees from the forest… or maybe it’s the forest from the trees. What I can say for sure is that if you are a fan of Penny Reid then this book (and series) is a MUST.


7 thoughts on “The Surprising Depths of the Winston Brothers

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