Thank you for the advanced copy of TRUTH OR BEARD by Penny Reid.  All opinions are my own.

Truth or Beard by Penny Reid

Beards, brothers, and bikers! Oh my! 

Identical twins Beau and Duane Winston might share the same devastatingly handsome face, but where Beau is outgoing and sociable, Duane is broody and reserved. This is why Jessica James, recent college graduate and perpetual level-headed good girl, has been in naïve and unhealthy infatuation with Beau Winston for most of her life. 

His friendly smiles make her tongue-tied and weak-kneed, and she’s never been able to move beyond her childhood crush. Whereas Duane and Jessica have always been adversaries. She can’t stand him, and she’s pretty sure he can’t stand the sight of her…

But after a case of mistaken identity, Jessica finds herself in a massive confusion kerfuffle. Jessica James has spent her whole life paralyzed by the fantasy of Beau and her assumptions of Duane’s disdain; therefore she’s unprepared for the reality that is Duane’s insatiable interest, as well as his hot hands and hot mouth and hotter looks. Not helping Jessica’s muddled mind and good girl sensibilities, Duane seems to have gotten himself in trouble with the local biker gang, the Iron Order.

Certainly, Beau’s magic spell is broken. Yet when Jessica finds herself drawn to the man who was always her adversary, now more dangerous than ever, how much of her level-head heart is she willing to risk?

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Truth or Beard

Review

Holy hillbilly hijinks, Batman! I couldn’t wait to get this book in my hot little hands, and I was definitely not disappointed. Truth or Beard is smart, entertaining, and totally irresistible. It is also quirky and unique, which is something I appreciate.

Penny Reid is one smart author (and by smart, I mean wicked smart–just read her bio). When she writes a story, she takes a beaker and mixes up a solution of sharp wit, charming humor, and endearing nerdiness to create a hilarious chemical reaction–and I am drawn to it like an electron to a proton.  Not even going to lie!

The “Beard” series takes place in the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee, and follows the adventures of the six Winston brothers.

First up is Duane. He is a total dreamboat with his hot looks, devilish smarts, and umm…agile hands (he’s a mechanic with a need for speed, after all). Duane is bold, daring, and he knows exactly what he wants. He’s a man with a plan—and that plan is to court Jessica.

Unfortunately, Jessica harbors an unhealthy crush (bordering on obsession) with Duane’s twin brother, Beau. Oh, and she can’t stand Duane. Minor details, right?

Jessica also has a plan. She is living at home and is the calculus teacher at the local high school, but only until she pays off her student loans. She is filled with an overwhelming case of wanderlust and doesn’t want to be trapped in Green Valley. I grew up in a tiny town that I couldn’t wait to leave, so I can totally relate to that feeling.

I feel like Jessica is perfectly suited for Duane. She’s smart, sassy, and able to keep up with antics the of the Winston brothers. While she can be a bit of a brat (especially where her brother is concerned), at least she is woman enough to admit it.

Maybe it is my proximity to the Smoky Mountains, but I had no problem imagining the world that Penny Reid has built for the Winston brothers. It’s a little bit Dukes of Hazzard, a little bit Beverly Hillbillies. They are as down-home country as sweet tea and biscuits, but have been raised by their mama with book smarts and Southern manners. We only get a small peek into a few of the brother’s stories, so I am anxious to read the rest of the series.

I found myself laughing out loud, sometimes to the point of tears, at the banter between the brothers. I absolutely LOVED Cletus. I know that I am not alone when I say that he stole the show several times during the story. I can’t wait for his book, Beard Science-Winston Brothers #3 (read my review here)!

I can’t recommend this book enough. Honestly, I’m not above begging you to read this book. It is my favorite read of the year (so far). Well done, Ms. Reid!

Excerpt

I was going to kiss her.

But first I was going to strangle her.

“Duane…” She said my name again in that breathless way, making my neck itch and my throat tight.

Jessica was looking at me expectantly. Her big amber eyes on mine like I was the center of her world. I liked it too much. It was also irritating because I didn’t know what it meant, what she was thinking. She hadn’t said a damn word to me on our walk back from the lake. She hadn’t called me. We hadn’t spoken since Friday.

Five days. Five days without touching or tasting her.

I was going to kiss her while I strangled her.

“Yeah?” I said, the edge of my irritation clear. I wasn’t trying to hide it, there was no need. One way or the other we were coming to an agreement that involved definites, not definitely maybes. Better she knew I wasn’t planning on rolling over unless it involved her beneath me.

Jessica blinked at me, likely because of my tone, and I watched her shake herself a little like I’d startled her.

“Uh, so… the truck.” She cleared her throat, her eyes sliding to the side and away from me.

“What about the truck?”

“You towed it.”

“Yes I did.” I allowed myself a moment to look at her body. She was wearing a pink shirt with buttons down the front, thin fabric with a white, lacy tank top under. It was tucked into a tan skirt that ended at her knees. She was also wearing brown high heeled boots, the kind that don’t make sense.

Boots are for working, for walking through wet mud, for keeping feet from getting shredded by broken glass and falling machine parts. Boots with spiked heels were just as practical as sandals with steel toes.

Still not looking at me, she asked, “So, you want to buy it?” Her voice was different, higher pitched.

“That’s what I just said.” Again, my irritation was clear.

Her eyes cut to mine, throwing me splinters of frustration. “Well there’s no need to be rude, Duane.”

“I’m sorry, was I being rude?” I couldn’t help myself, I took a full step forward, forcing her to lift her chin to keep eye contact. “Should I have called?”

“Yes.” She ground out, “You can’t just tow other peoples’ cars without asking.”

“Excuse me, princess. But Mike McClure called me and asked me if I minded moving the truck here. I figured he was calling on your behalf.”

“No he wasn’t calling on my behalf. If I wanted to call you, I would have just called you.”

I felt those words in my stomach, just under my ribs, a quick slice. I’m sure I winced because her expression changed, but before she could explain away her meaning, I cut her off.

“Fine, I get you, loud and clear.”

“Duane-”

I lifted my hands to keep her from talking. She was so lovely, even her voice was pretty. But suddenly I couldn’t wait for her to leave and put me out of this misery of being with her when she wasn’t interested in being mine.

“We want to buy the truck and I’m willing to offer you a fair amount.”

“Would you just hold on a sec-” Jessica took my hand between hers, her grip surprisingly strong, her skin against mine sending a shock up my arm. I ignored it and ground my teeth.

“You can use the money for a new car, something smaller that gets better mileage.”

Paying no heed, Jessica took a half step forward catching me unawares. One second she was glaring at me, the next she was lifting to her tip toes and brushing her lips against mine.

And that was it, I was done for.

About Penny Reid

Penny Reid is the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today Best Selling Author of the Winston Brothers, Knitting in the City, Rugby, and Hypothesis series. She used to spend her days writing federal grant proposals as a biomedical researcher, but now she just writes books. She’s also a full-time mom to three diminutive adults, wife, daughter, knitter, crocheter, sewer, general crafter, and thought ninja.