Romantic Comedy Recap 2.20.18
I am back again with more love for Penny Reid. The Winston Brothers series started as a spinoff from Ashley’s Knitting in the City book, Beauty and the Mustache. I fell in love with all of the Winston boys during Beauty and the Mustache. There are six Winston brothers: Jethro, Billy, Cletus, the twins Beau and Duane, and Roscoe. Ashley is between Cletus and the twins. I just adore these boys and their lives in Green Valley, Tennessee.
The first book is Truth or Beard, which focuses on Duane and his longtime crush Jessica James. Jessica grew up with Duane and Beau. She has always had a crush on Beau, and even though Beau and Duane look identical, she has never remotely been interested in Duane. Growing up, Jess and Duane always fought and argued. But when Jess moves back to town after college to teach at the high school, she mistakes Duane for Beau. And when Duane and Jess start making out at the Friday Night Jam at the Community Center, both feel something incredible. But once Jess realizes it is Duane she just kissed, not Beau, she is confused by her feelings. As they start spending more time together, Jess tells Duane that the only reason she is back in town is to save up enough money, before she travels the world. Duane has always planned to stay in Green Valley, so will they be able to overcome their own dreams? Also, there is a whole subplot about the local biker gang, the Iron Wraiths, and how they want to use the Winston Brothers Auto Shop for their local chop shop. Cletus, Duane, and Beau all own the auto shop, and all the Winston boys despise the Iron Wraiths because their good-for-nothing father Darrell is a member. So you get a little bit of adventure thrown in there too. Truth or Beard was an excellent start to the Winston Brothers series; it happens just after Bethany Winston dies, and before Ashley moves back to Tennessee.
The next book in the series, Grin and Beard It, is about Jethro and America’s sweetheart, Sienna Diaz. Sienna is the new It girl in Hollywood; she just won the Academy Award, becoming the first Latina to win, and for a comedy no less. But she desperately needs a vacation, so she takes off to Green Valley for a much needed retreat before her next movie starts filming nearby. When she gets lost on the mountain roads, Jethro finds her, and both are immediately attracted to each other and flirt like crazy. However, Jethro doesn’t recognize Sienna, and she doesn’t correct him. So when he asks her out, she is excited to go, but when everyone at the Front Porch recognizes Sienna, Jethro realizes he doesn’t really know her and understand her fame. As much as Jethro likes Sienna, he does not know if he can handle her celebrity. So while they stop seeing each other, Sienna begins writing a new script, and Jethro is grumpy all the time. But once they realize they do want to be together longterm, will they be able to overcome Sienna’s fame? I also loved how much Jethro has grown since he was a recruit for the Iron Wraiths. He is the oldest and should have been the one to protect the others from Darrell’s violence, but he idolized his father growing up, so Billy was the one to protect the family. Once Drew came along and offered to help Jethro, Jethro was able to turn his life around. I adored Grin and Beard It, and I really want Sienna (and Jethro for that matter) to be a real actress and feminist role model.
The third book, Beard Science, is about Cletus and the local Banana Cake Queen, Jennifer Sylvester. Cletus is the oddest of the Winston siblings, but he is a mastermind when it comes to using people. Jennifer’s whole life is completely run by her overbearing parents. She is the baking prodigy in Green Valley and has won the last several years at the County Fair for her banana cake. She works in her mother’s bakery at least 80 hours a week and doesn’t even get paid. But when she sees Cletus stealing evidence from the sheriff’s office, she decides to blackmail him into helping her find a husband and get out of her parents’ control. At first, Cletus is annoyed to be dealing with Jenn, but he quickly finds himself wrecked over her, but doesn’t even realize it. I absolutely love Cletus; he is quirky, but so incredibly thoughtful, not just with Jenn, but with all his siblings. Everyone in Green Valley sees Jenn as meek and odd, but as she spends more time with Cletus, she starts standing up for herself and coming into her own skin. I loved how out of control Cletus felt when he finally realizes his feelings for Jenn. He is just the best.
The fourth Winston Brothers book, Beard in Mind, tells the story of Beau and Shelly Sullivan, Quinn’s sister. When we first met Shelly all the way back in Neanderthal Seeks Human, she just seemed antisocial, but we actually find out that she suffers from OCD. She moves to Green Valley in order to see Dr. West, her therapist, in Knoxville. When she moves, Janie asks Ashley to help Shelly find a job, so she starts working at the Winston Brothers Auto Shop. She and Beau get off on the wrong foot right away, even though she seems to get along with Cletus and Duane. Shelly is stunning but has a hard time interacting with people, so she comes across as cold and unfeeling. Beau is the friendly twin, while Duane is almost always grumpy and surly. But Beau’s friendliness and charm does not work on Shelly at first; it bothers him so much that he cannot get along with her. But as Beau starts to watch and spend more time with Shelly, he begins to see her in a new light. I loved this book because Shelly is not your typical heroine. She struggles with things outside of her control, yet all she really wants is to be loved and take care of others. Penny Reid does what she does best: creating smart, witty, and real characters. I also loved how we got to see the brothers with their significant others from the previous books, as well as Ashley and Drew. And even Quinn and Janie make an appearance!
I cannot wait to read Roscoe’s and Billy’s books, out this summer and next spring, respectively. Dr. Strange Beard is about Roscoe and his childhood best friend, Simone Payton. I am really interested to see their story unfold, because we don’t know too much about Simone, and Roscoe is supposed to go to vet school. Beard Necessities is the story of Billy and Claire McClure. Billy and Claire dated briefly in high school, but Claire married Jethro’s best friend Ben McClure, who died in Afghanistan. Whatever happened between Billy and Claire in high school was tragic enough that they now cannot seem to be in the same room together without longing glances and heated exchanges. I have loved the little hints Penny has peppered throughout the first four books about Billy and Claire. I cannot wait for their story. I need Billy to be happy!
What are your favorite romantic comedy books with smart and witty characters?