Brace yourselves, dear reader. There are bearded boys with banjos ahead. Today, I am going down-home with the Winston Brothers for this review of Beard Science, the third book in the Winston Brothers series by Penny Reid.
Everyone who knows the Winston boys know that Cletus Winston as the quirky, amusing, possible genius Winston brother with a wicked sense of humor and a way with sausage. He’s also the character who’ll make you bust up laughing until you stop and say, “Wait… what? Did he just say…?”
Cletus Winston is sneaky. And unexpected. And more than a little dangerous. Anyone who read the scene in Truth or Beard when Cletus handed the combined asses of the local motorcycle club to them on a greasy platter knew that this character had hidden depths. He was unexpected. I might even say delightfully manipulative.
Which makes it doubly wonderful that Cletus was metaphorically knocked on his ass by the person he least expected, Jennifer “Banana Cake Queen” Sylvester.
(WARNING: This book will make you hungry for delicious baked goods.)
I know Winston fans are eager to hear about Cletus, but can we talk about Jennifer for a moment?
I absolutely adored Jennifer, the girl with overbearing parents and the ability to bear side-eye with a smile. This girl has grit. She’s kind, hardworking, and loyal, qualities that are too often overlooked. In fact, that’s kind of the whole point. She’s overlooked by so many people (Cletus among them) that when she finally shines, she’s dazzling. And she’s funny. Jennifer has a sly sense of humor that catches everyone off guard. She was the perfect foil for Cletus Winston.
With a character like Cletus, it’s very easy to let him take over the entire story, because he really is that funny and charismatic. But Reid never lets that happen. Jennifer is the perfectly unexpected love interest to a perfectly unpredictable character.
“Astute woman is… astute.”
(Yes, Cletus, she is astute. And lovely and real and vulnerable and just as sneaky and determined as you are in her own polite way.)
“Cletus Winston was the sneakiest, most manipulative, most powerful, and—as far as I was concerned—the most dangerous man in east Tennessee. Problem was, virtually no one else seemed to realize it. Everyone in town thought he was odd, but mostly harmless.”
Readers of previous Winston books are already acquainted with Cletus Winston and his particularly charming brand of weird. And he is weird. Delightfully weird. He’s also fiercely loyal, disarmingly insightful, and (just gonna say it) sexy as sin. Oh my Cletus. I like to be surprised, and let’s just say that Cletus’s inner dialogue more than delivered.
I’ll have to get a bigger car. And a desk. I’d like to take her on a desk.
I shook myself, coming back to the present, and realizing with some disappointment that we still had our clothes on and there wasn’t a desk in sight.
But there is a kitchen counter.
Watching the man who thinks he knows everything fall hard for the woman who everyone overlooks made Beard Science my favorite book of the Winston Brothers series so far.
“I can’t admit I’m wrong about two things in the same day. It might bring about the apocalypse.”
Beard Science is a pretty straightforward romantic comedy (if anything involving Cletus can be considered straightforward.) There are some welcome check-ins with previous characters, some intriguing teases for future plots (BILLY & CLAIRE FOREVAH!), and some wonderful growth in the complex family dynamic of the Winston boys, but the main focus is on Jennifer and Cletus, which is exactly where it needs to be.
I highly recommend Beard Science to my readers, men and women alike. Penny Reid’s romances are always fun and sexy, but this one has tremendous heart and insight, as well. Don’t miss it.