on October 11th 2016
Buy on Amazon
Genres: Contemporary, Humor, New Adult, Romance
Source: ARC via author
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.
“So Cletus told me I needed to change one thing every day. He wasn’t specific about what I should change, just that I should decide on the one thing myself.”
I continued. “At first I didn’t see the purpose, but—do you know?—Cletus was right. Something as trivial as paining my nails a different color made me feel like I could do anything I set my mind to.”
I continued. “Cletus also said-”
Billy cleared his throat. “Do you go to the jam session much? I think I’ve only seen you here a handful of times.”
“I don’t, actually. I’d like to, but Saturdays are busy. I’m usually making special orders on Friday night. I’ve heard you sing a few times, though. You should do it more often, you have such a nice voice.”
Billy smiled again, his eyes sliding to me then away. “Thank you.”
“And Cletus is amazing on the banjo. Last year he did a folksy version of Thriller, during Halloween. It was spectacular.”
Conversation was surprisingly easy with Billy Winston, once I stopped being afraid of saying the wrong thing. Instead of worrying, I just said whatever I wanted. He wasn’t a big talker, other than asking me questions, so I filled the silence. Sometimes what I said made him laugh. Sometimes it made him nod. Sometimes it made him cough.
But usually whatever I said made him smile. And that was nice. He was nice.
He pulled his truck into the community center lot and it was clear the jam session was already in full swing. The evening was chilly, so folks were dressed in coats.
I pulled my shawl over my shoulders and Billy opened my door, helping me from the car. I slipped my fingers back into the crook of his elbow while trying to suppress a new, and more powerful, flutter of excitement as we approached the community center.
I wondered if Cletus would be there. I wondered what he would think of my dress, and my hair in a bun, and my purposefully minimal makeup, and my nail polish. Even though I was nervous, I grinned at the thought.
“What are you smiling about?” Billy asked, giving me the side eye.
“I’m nervous,” I answered honestly, feeling breathless, then asked before I could catch myself, “Do you think Cletus is here?”
Billy’s mouth tugged to the side and he studied my face. “I’m sure he is. Why?”
“I wonder what he’ll think of my dress,” I admitted excitedly.
Billy chuckled and shook his head.
“What? What is it?” I pressed, searching his profile for a sign as to why he was laughing.
He pulled us to a stop and faced me. “Since this is a practice date, do you want me to give you a tip?”
I nodded eagerly. “Yes, please. All tips are welcome.”
“Okay. Here goes,” he gathered large breath, like he was bracing himself, and said, “When you’re on a date with a man, it’s probably best not to bring up a different man.”
My lips parted as my face fell. “I’m sorry. I keep talking about your brother.”
“No, no. It’s fine.” He reached for my hand and squeezed it. “This is a practice, no need to apologize. I’m not upset. But if this were a real date, you bringing up Cletus and wondering what he’s going to think of your dress would definitely rub me the wrong way. If I’m on a date, I want that woman to be thinking only of me. Does that make sense?”
I nodded, because it did make sense. “Just like, I probably wouldn’t like it—if this were a real date—if you kept bringing up other woman.”
“That’s right.” He moved my hand back to his arm. “You’ll want to keep the conversation about the two of you.”
I considered things as we walked. “Thank you, Billy.”
“For what?” He opened the double door for me, placing his hand on the small of my back to usher me inside. The entryway was full of people, but I hardly noticed them.
“Thanks for doing this, and for the tip. Thanks for sacrificing your Friday night.”
Billy covered my fingers on his arm with his hand. “It’s not a sacrifice, Jennifer.”
“Well, it can’t be pleasant.”
He grinned again and gave me an incredulous look.
“What? What did I do this time? Do you have more tips?” I needed to know. I hoped he filled the whole night with tips, so I would be an expert when the time came for a real date.
Billy’s grin faded as his piercing blue eyes moved over my face. If he’d done this just last week I think I would’ve fainted on the spot, mortified and terrified and assured of my own failure.
But so much had changed in a week. I wasn’t afraid of him anymore. I was changing, becoming braver. So I met his glacial eyes straight on and lifted my eyebrows encouragingly.
“You can tell me, whatever it is,” I whispered earnestly, stepping closer. “Like I said, all tips welcome.”
Finally, he said, “You have no idea how gorgeous you are, do you?”
I gaped at him, because that was not what I’d expected him to say.
But before I could recover, a stern voice to my left interjected. “She has no idea whatsoever.”
I turned and found Cletus standing at my shoulder. Startled, I stumbled a step to the side so I could see him better. What I found surprised me.
His jaw was clenched.
His mouth was curved into a frown.
And Cletus’ eyes, a dangerous and fiery blue, were narrowed on his brother.
So much about this book is why I continue to pick up romance novels time and time again. The feelings Beard Science evokes is what I am constantly searching for in books. Beard Science isn’t fancy or over the top. It’s just a flat-out romantic story about two flawed (and a little odd) characters coming together. They learn from each other, and they are better because of having each other.
Two words come to mind when I sat down to write this review. Those are slow-burn and tension. I love a great slow-burn love story that really takes its time exploring the characters in-depth. I always feel a closer connection with a slow burner. And the tension between Cletus and Jennifer… OMG- off-the-charts! It was as thick as butter. I eat that kind of stuff up because it makes me feel all gooey inside. I can’t even describe how well written the back and forth between the two was in the book. I just loved every word!
“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.”
As always with a Penny Reid book, there was tons of laughs mixed in with the heartfelt moments. Her humorous storytelling is one of the many reasons I continue to read novels from this author. She has another hit with Beard Science. I can’t wait to read another Winston Brothers book.
Amazon US: http://amzn.to/2efsS2k
Amazon UK: http://amzn.to/2ckA5y2
Amazon CA: http://amzn.to/2cxMu1m
Amazon AU: http://amzn.to/2cCFSzS