Title: Beard Science
Series: Winston Brothers #3
Author: Penny Reid
Publication Date: October 11th, 2016
Shelves: New Adult; Contemporary; Romance
Format: eBook (384 pages)
Rating:★★★★☆ 4 stars
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.
How could I have disregarded her? How could I have looked at her with anything but wonder and respect and desire?
So happy to have my hands on this. I’ve been waiting for this since May!
In Green Valley, Tennessee, everybody knows everybody. Jennifer Sylvester is known as the Banana Cake Queen. Despite having a business and over a million Instagram followers due to her alias, Jennifer secretly loathes her celebrity status, but endures it, as she doesn’t want to let her parents down. In truth, all Jennifer wants is a husband and a family of her own, and when her mother starts talking about boosting the Banana Cake Queen’s image through TV commercials and cooking shows, she cracks under the pressure, and turns to who she believes to be one of the most dangerous men of Green Valley.
On the surface, Cletus Winston is nothing but friendly and innocent, but beneath this facade is a very vengeful and devious man. Cletus is very specific about the people he can tolerate – he only has time for twenty-four people (tops). So when the Banana Cake Queen makes a late-night visit to his homestead with video proof of him stealing important police evidence meant to take down the town’s motorcycle club, Cletus has no option but to do as Jennifer says, and what she wants is for Cletus to help her in her quest to find a husband.
The main thing I was looking forward to in this novel was Cletus. In the previous novels, he has been presented to us as a funny and rather odd character, but he was also shrouded in mystery. And his narrative and characterisation in Beard Science were fantastic. His narration was hilarious and unique. It was also surprisingly sweet and emotional at times. I was slightly nervous that his POV would fall short of my expectations going from his characterisation in the other two novels. But if anything it exceeded them. His narrative is something pretty special. His characterisation was also fab. It was nice to see him grow from a pretty manipulative man so hellbent on revenge, to an affectionate one. I actually wasn’t expecting him to be as caring as he was, not only toward Jenn but his ever-growing family.
Thankfully, Jennifer’s narrative didn’t pale in comparison to Cletus’. Behind her perfect Southern Belle exterior, she’s an incredibly unhappy and isolated young woman, and she’s a character you root for instantly (and I love these kinds of characters). I think Jennifer is also a pretty relatable character – she faces put downs on a daily basis, and seeing her endure this abuse was heartbreaking. I just wished Jenn spoke up for herself sooner, because the constant abuse she put up with from her parents was very frustrating to read. Jenn is such a sweetheart – she’s caring and incredibly kind and considerate. Not to mention funny (which I wasn’t expecting!) and very smart. But my favourite thing about this novel was watching these two characters individually grow and change.
Jenn and Cletus’ relationship was adorable! There’s no insta-love here (yay!), and their relationship is a very slow-burning one. They go from strangers to enemies to friends to inseparable lovers, and watching their relationship slowly develop was both realistic and very entertaining! I feel that some NA authors throw their two main characters together from the get go to avoid complaints that the novel is boring or lacks the erotica element. But Reid (from past reading experiences, anyways) writes great, slow-burning romances. Ones I greatly enjoy!
I actually went into this book without even reading the blurb. I knew which characters were going to be featured in it and that was enough incentive for me. But the plot was not what I was expecting – with Jenn initially blackmailing Cletus over his stealing evidence from the police station, with the plan to have him help her find a husband. This arrangement was humorous, especially given Jenn’s innocent, shy character. There isn’t much to say about the plot other than it’s about Jenn and Cletus’ growing relationship, and their individual problems – Jenn’s especially. The rest of the Winston clan also feature in this novel, and as always, it’s so fun to see all of them. I was especially happy to see more of Billy, who I become increasingly curious about with each novel!
This was a great book. So fun and surprisingly adorable. I flew through it and that rarely happens to me nowadays. I can’t wait for the next one! And the one after that. And the one after that…
Would you read this novel again? YES
Who would I recommend this novel to? Readers who love contemporary romances, fans of slow-burning romances, fans of the ‘enemies to lovers’ trope.