Grin and Beard It by Penny Reid
Series: Winston Brothers #2
Also in this series: Truth or Beard, Beard Science, Dr. Strange Beard
Published by Self-published on May 31st 2016
Genres: Contemporary Romance
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Sienna Diaz is everyone’s favorite “fat” funny lady. The movie studio executives can’t explain it, but her films are out-grossing all the fit and trim headliners and Hollywood’s most beautiful elite. The simple truth is, everyone loves plus-sized Sienna.
But she has a problem, she can’t read maps and her sense of direction is almost as bad as her comedic timing is stellar. Therefore, when Sienna’s latest starring role takes her to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park she finds herself continually lost while trying to navigate the backroads of Green Valley, Tennessee. Much to her consternation, Sienna’s most frequent savior is a ridiculously handsome, charming, and cheeky Park Ranger by the name of Jethro Winston.
Sienna is accustomed to high levels of man-handsome, so it’s not Jethro’s chiseled features or his perfect physique that make Sienna stutter. It’s his southern charm. And gentlemanly manners. And habit of looking at her too long and too often.
Sienna has successfully navigated the labyrinth of Hollywood heart-throbs. But can she traverse the tenuous trails of Tennessee without losing her head? Or worse, her heart?
I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book.
I think I’ve used up all my beard-words in my previous Winston Brothers book, so I’ll keep this one beard and simple.
Sienna has been everyone’s favorite funny lady for so long she feels that’s the only role she’ll ever play, even in her real life. When everyone sees you as your famous persona and not for the actual real person you truly are, it’s not easy to change. After years of working back to back with no breaks, Green Valley, Tennessee and the National Park seem like heaven. More so when it comes with being rescued by hunky angels in park ranger uniform.
Jethro is doing penance for the poor choices in his past. He’s determined to earn back trust from his family and friends but most importantly he wants to be able to trust himself again. His past has him thinking he doesn’t deserve happiness but running into the perfect woman on the side of the road assaulting a map has him wishing for it.
Sienna can’t believe Jethro doesn’t know who she is, so she takes her chance at normal. At least for a little while, until the truth comes out and things get weird. Then they get better. Then they get super weird until they finally get un-weird for good.
What I love most about Ms. Reid’s books is that all her heroines are weird, funny and quirky. They aren’t the same character over and over but with different looks, her characters are each unique and just plain awesome with their own voice. Of course, Sienna was not an exception.
I also like how some social issues are tackled, in this case, the hype around body types and society’s reaction to this. As always, it’s handled (in my opinion) in an impeccable and tasteful way with smart and witty humor.
I loved how Sienna didn’t care about Hollywood and the media’s hype about her every move, but she would take into consideration not only Jethro’s but both their family’s opinions.
¨My mantra since the success of my first film had been: Never care about media opinion. Work hard. Do what’s right”.
She was hilarious, obviously, but she was also sweet and caring. To watch her discover new things about herself was plain beautiful.
Jethro also had some very insightful moments. I found it inspiring how he felt about his past actions and how strongly motivated he was to change for the better. I can’t say he is my favorite because Duane was just as awesome in a completely different way so I’m thinking all six of the Winston Brothers will be a favorite of mine. I especially loved the inclusion of my favorite smart-dumb humor.
“So now you don’t want my papaya?”
“Oh, no. I very much want your papaya. And I want you sitting on my face while I take my time with your papaya.”
I laughed and I got all misty-eyed plus it had steam and lots of family time. I liked that we got to see more interaction from all the brothers, but especially from Cletus. That one is a very special snowflake and I can’t wait to get his story.
While it had everything I was hoping for and have come to expect from a Penny Reid book, for some unfathomable reason I felt something missing. Maybe they were just too grown up and mature or maybe there were not enough outside forces meddling in their lives. I’m not sure and I don’t know if I could pinpoint what my issue is exactly. There’s a song from Serrat that loosely says “I like everything about you, but not you.” I loved everything about this book, I just didn’t love it enough to want to name my future kids after the characters and make a stalker altar for Ms. Reid. That said, Grin and Beard It is a fantastic story that everyone should read.
Sparkles’ Rating: 4 “You Can Eat My Papaya Anytime” Stars
Jethro placed his coffee on the small table and leaned back at an angle on one arm, his long legs stretched out in front of him, crossed at the ankles. My tummy fluttered with excitement as I sat on the floor next to him and picked up the frosted confection. I was going to smudge the corner of my mouth with frosting.
And then he was going to lick it off.
And then we were going to kiss.
And then . . . good things after that. Hopefully including but not limited to rolling around and making out on the carpet. And then sex!
Holding Jethro’s eyes with mine, which were heavily lidded and hot with interest, I took a small bite, careful to dab the side of my mouth with the frosting.
But then something unexpected happened and it startled me out of my sexy thoughts.
The doughnut was insanely delicious.
It was still warm from the oven, and it melted on my tongue. It was sweet, but tempered by a center filled with rich, smooth, bitter high-quality chocolate crème.
Unable to help myself, I moaned, “Oh my God.”
Jethro’s lips quirked to the side, his eyes on my mouth, and—right on cue—he leaned forward. “You have something just there.”
I ignored him, swatting his hand away, and took another bite, speaking around a mouth full of heaven on earth. “Holy shit, this is the best thing I’ve ever tasted.”
Jethro rolled his lips between his teeth, his eyes bright with laughter, and watched me devour the doughnut.
I continued to moan with each bite, licking and sucking my fingers until it was gone. Completely preoccupied, I didn’t notice the shift in his mood. I was just about to lick off the last of the crème when he caught my wrist, forcing my attention to him. My protest died on my lips as the weight and intensity of his gaze hit me. He looked hungry.
To be more precise, he looked ravenous.
Jethro brought my finger to his lips and sucked it into his mouth, his tongue darting out to lick the junction between my index and middle finger. The light, slick touch sent unexpected trembles to my low belly and pulled a soft whimper from the back of my throat.
“As I was saying,” his darkened gaze drifted hotly from my eyes to my lips, and he used my hand as leverage to tug me forward, “you have something . . .”
He didn’t finish the sentence. Instead he licked the corner of my mouth and then delved his tongue ardently between my lips, caressing mine hungrily. Jethro’s grip on me shifted. His arm came around my waist, supporting me, while my hands cupped his jaw.
In a controlled and graceful movement, he rolled me onto my back, held himself above my body, and claimed my mouth. I felt his fingers on my thigh, sliding the hem of my skirt higher, skimming fingertips between my legs. Instinctively, I arched and strained, wanting to be touched, needing him to touch me.
“Undo your shirt,” he ordered, pulling his mouth from mine and fastening it to my neck.
“Why don’t you—”
“Because I’ll rip it off.”
I don’t know why, but I inserted myself between Cletus and Jethro. “Tom, this is Jethro and Cletus Winston. Cletus, Jethro, this is Tom Low.”
“Mr. Low,” Cletus said, not looking at him. “I enjoyed your film, The Wall Street Connection.”
“Thank you,” Tom responded, shaking each of their hands in turn. He scrutinized them both. Cletus kept his eyes on the grass, whereas Jethro met Tom’s gaze directly and gave him an easy smile, seemingly unaffected by the movie star’s presence.
Tom clearly noticed Jethro’s polite indifference to his star status. I watched with mounting trepidation as my costar affixed his narrowed glare on Jethro.
“Do you want an autograph?” he asked with forced graciousness. “I’m afraid I don’t have a pen.”
“That’s not necessary, sir.” Jethro waved off his offer with a friendly smile, but it was still obvious Jethro had no idea who Tom was. Nor did he care.
Tom studied Jethro for a beat longer, dislike evident in his expression, then turned his attention to me.
“Sí-sí, I’m so sorry about Smash-Girl.” He clicked his teeth. “Do you know why they changed their minds?”
“Uh . . .” my eyes flickered to Jethro then back to Tom, “I think they’re looking for someone shorter.”
Tom’s gaze slid down then up my body and I sensed Jethro stiffen. The ranger took a step closer, shifting his weight to his foot behind me.
“Have you thought about asking the production staff for the low-carb option? Both Elon and I are having our meals delivered to my trailer, and they’re honestly not bad. Well, not bad considering where we are.”
I gathered a deep breath for patience just as Jethro’s chest brushed against my back. I don’t know if he meant to do it, but it felt reassuring, as though he were silently communicating I’ve got your back.
“No,” I said, “I haven’t asked for the low-carb meals.”
Tom’s attention flickered to my boobs then back to my face. “You should. Just give it a try. Maybe they’ll reconsider you for Smash-Girl.”
Before I could respond with a subject change or an excuse to leave, Jethro asked with a hint of irritation, “How’s eating low-carb going to make Sienna shorter?”
Tom blinked once, his glare shifting to Jethro, the muscle at his jaw ticking. “I’ve been thinking of giving that look a try.” He lifted his chin toward Jethro. “Do you have any tips?”
Jethro’s chest pressed more fully against my back. “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
“Where I’m from,” Tom tilted his head to the side, “they call your kind a hipster or a lumbersexual, with the beard and flannel and such.”
Without missing beat, Jethro responded, “Ah. See, where I’m from, they call my kind a man.” Jethro gently placed his hand on my upper arm. “And this here is a woman, and so is that.” He pointed at Elon.
“Ha ha, you’re funny.” Tom’s voice lacked humor, and his grin resembled an aggressive baring of teeth. “What do they call my kind? Movie star, right?”
“Well then what?”
“I’d tell you, but you wouldn’t like the word.”
Finally releasing her hand, Cletus noted conversationally, “If you come next Wednesday, I’ll let you try my sausage.”
I gathered a breath for patience and squeezed Sienna’s waist.
“Here we go,” Drew said as he swapped a knowing look with my sister.
Meanwhile, Beau rolled his eyes and released a disgusted snort. “Not this again.”
“Cletus’s famous sausage is famous,” Jess added helpfully, her eyebrows bouncing. She was already giggling.
Not missing a beat, Sienna asked, “How do you make it? Do you bake it?”
“No way. The heat isn’t right. In order for the sausage to mature, it needs the right type and application of heat. It needs heat on all sides, and wet heat is best.”
“You are the worst,” Billy said, though his mouth hitched on one side.
“This joke never gets old.” Jess was now laughing so hard she’d gripped her stomach, tears leaking from her eyes.
“It does when you have to hear it every month for ten years,” Duane complained, but couldn’t quite manage a scowl.
“My sausage is no joke.” Cletus frowned, wagging his finger through the air like we were all juveniles.
“So you grill it,” Sienna supplied, moving the conversation back on track.
“Good.” She nodded once, sounding thoughtful. “In that case, I insist you taste my thighs and breasts.”
These words, so calmly and earnestly spoken, rendered us all speechless.
I do believe we stared at Sienna in a collective state of paralyzed suspension, no one quite knowing how to react to her offer.
I felt her shoulders shake, so I shifted to the side, wanting to catch her expression. Her irresistible dimples flashed in full force and she giggled as she explained, “I have a great mojo chicken recipe. We can grill the chicken and sausage together.” Then to Cletus she said, “It’ll help with the wet heat.”
I looked to the heavens, hidden by the porch ceiling. “God, thank you for sending me this woman.”
Meanwhile, Cletus blinked once as though startled, but then a slow grin spread over his typically solemn features.
Beau, holding his hand over his heart, took the bait. “Sienna, I would be honored to taste your thighs and breasts.”
I shot him a warning glare. “Don’t you say that to her.” But I couldn’t keep my face straight either.
“What? What did I say?” Beau tried to sound and look affronted. “I was talking about her chicken. Obviously.”
Cletus’s grin had grown into an immense smile as his gaze moved over my woman with plain appreciation. “Well played, Ms. Diaz. Well played.”
About Penny Reid
Penny Reid is the USA Today Best Selling Author of the Winston Brothers and Knitting in the City series. When she’s not immersed in penning smart romances, Penny works in the biotech industry as a researcher. She’s also a full time mom to three diminutive adults, wife, daughter, knitter, crocheter, sewer, general crafter, and thought ninja.
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