The Winston Brothers Series by Penny Reid
Beard Science (Book 3)
Overall Rating: 4.5 (sXe)
Quick & Dirty summary: Jennifer Sylvester has spent her entire life being the Banana Cake Queen. Her banana cake is a phenomenon all her own, but her mother’s branding of the bakery Jennifer runs goes beyond just pretty packages. Jennifer wears yellow dresses, dyes her hair yellow and is only allowed to own one pair of jeans. Cletus Winston doesn’t have time for queens—he has got his hand in too many pies to be worried about banana cake. But Jennifer needs Cletus’ expertise and she isn’t fooled by his public persona. When Jennifer blackmails Cletus in order to gain his cooperation, Cletus is shocked to discover that his “scientific” approach to judging people may not work a hundred percent of the time.
This novel is essentially about looking beyond the obvious. To some extent all of the books in this series are about this, but Beard Science, in particular, seems to remind us that the persona we show the public is not all that we are… in fact it might not be who we are at all. There is a lesson for us in this story that is worthwhile and timeless, even if we aren’t all Cletuses or Jennifers. Cletus Winston is brilliant and although he is a bit dense when it comes to matters of the heart, he is smart enough to be honest, which is one of my favorite parts of this novel. Jennifer is not honest, in fact, her personal journey is one of self-realization and revelation, which is also a beautiful part of this book.
The amazing thing about Penny Reid though, is she doesn’t just create these great characters whom I love, but her writing is beautiful and evocative itself. This passage jumped out at me as I was reading: “Once the words were out a dull ache radiated outward from my chest. I had an odd, fleeting notion that my heart was hurling itself against my ribs, seeking hers.” Reid doesn’t just do humor well with quirky turns of phrases, but she’s able to convey emotion. I know exactly that dull ache that burns in my chest when I’ve said something that I regret. And to follow that up with the image of Cletus’ heart like a bird trying to reunite with his lovers is so vivid that it adds this visual component to the emotional turmoil being described. Gah! Just great!
In summary, the characters are wonderful, the writing is amazing, and the cherry on the top is that this book is also funny. If there is only one small issue I had with this book it was that it rolled through the conflict so quickly. There is so much going on—the drama is ridiculous—and there are some surprises, I think, but it all wraps up too easily. I am curious what the next book will bring. Part of what my problem was, though, was that I didn’t want the story to end. I didn’t want to say goodbye to Cletus and Jennifer and Ashley and her Viking marauder and Jethro and his flirting expert and the rest of the gang. I love this family, I love this town, and I really wish I could visit Tennessee.
Is it worth buying? (Kindle $5.99)
Yes! I bought it and you should too. I think this is one that you’ll come back to again and again. At least I know I will, especially when I need a bit of a pick me up.
Something else you might enjoy:
The Rosie Project has a protagonist somewhat similar to Cletus in the use of science and logic, which gets him into trouble a little bit. It’s also a comedy, so there is that overlap as well. But, there is a different tone to this book, so you can appreciate it for it’s own merits.