Beard in Mind
Winston Brothers 4
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All is fair in love and auto maintenance.
Beau Winston is the nicest, most accommodating guy in the world. Usually.
Handsome as the devil and twice as charismatic, Beau lives a charmed life as everyone’s favorite Winston Brother. But since his twin decided to leave town, and his other brother hired a stunning human-porcupine hybrid as a replacement mechanic for their auto shop, Beau Winston’s charmed life has gone to hell in a handbasket.
Shelly Sullivan is not nice and is never accommodating. Ever.
She mumbles to herself, but won’t respond when asked a question. She glares at everyone, especially babies. She won’t shake hands with or touch another person, but has no problems cuddling with a dog. And her damn parrot speaks only in curse words.
Beau wants her gone. He wants her out of his auto shop, out of Tennessee, and out of his life.
The only problem is, learning why this porcupine wears her coat of spikes opens a Pandora’s box of complexity—exquisite, tempting, heartbreaking complexity—and Beau Winston soon discovers being nice and accommodating might mean losing what matters most.
Oh. My. Heart -- Beard in Mind
This book. This book has left me with a torrent of emotion and once again, in complete awe of its author. Penny Reid has crafted a story is so unexpectedly powerful with characters who feel every bit real. I can't remember a book calling to my heart as deeply as Beard in Mind has. There were moments so familiar that I felt my lip quivering and tears building because I knew exactly what the characters were feeling.
At its very gorgeous heart, Beard in Mind is a love story between two people that are so completely different that words like "oil and water" or "match and flame" come to mind. And at first blush, Beau Winston and Shelly Sullivan are more the fiery, bad idea kind of match than a romantic one. BUT the power of this book lies in how they do become a pair, through understanding and a willingness to see more than what they each show the outside world.
If you have read the Knitting in the City series (If you have NOT read those books, please do it. They are amazing), you have met Shelly Sullivan in the first two books of the series. Outwardly, she is a beautiful woman with a blunt-force personality, those who meet her usually come away with perceptions of her that aren't so pleasant and write her off. But there is so much more to Shelly and getting to meet her through both Beau's eye and being inside her unquiet mind is one of the many joys of Beard in Mind. Shelly is fierce and determined to retrain her mind so that she can manage her OCD. Just know that depiction here is NOT the term appropriated for those who like order, it is a real and unflinching view of the struggle between a person's logical mind and their brain. It's in those moments that my affection for all of the Shelly's of the world grew exponentially. I felt that anxiety in the scenes where she didn't believe she could resist her compulsions. My heart broke just as hers did. I felt like I was there fighting back the need to go to her in comfort. That doesn't just happen. It is all from the need of Penny Reid to get the story right. Let me just tell you, she succeeds brilliantly.
Beau Winston is a charmer, but he only uses his charm for good, definitely not evil. Always affable, he impossible not to love and you absolutely do. The goodness of this man is soul-deep and it isn't that he saw Shelly as a project, but that he saw something in her that called to his own heart. I loved bearing witness as he unlocked each box that lead to the gift of this woman. But even more, his infinite patience and ability to stand back made me adore him all the more.
Together though, Shelly and Beau may have been oil and water, but were the right blend of each. In any given moment they are funny, combative or downright sexy. But ultimately it is in the depth of how much they love and value each other that brings this story all the way home for me.
In each their own way, the Winston kids suffered at the hands of their father and while his shadow still attempts to cast itself on them, it is the enduring strength of their mother Bethany that is woven into each of these seven people in a multitude of ways -- How much she loved of the arts, particularly the written word, her wit and humor, her absolute grace and most of all, her unconditional love for each one of her children. While her absence is felt, the best tribute to her is that each of the siblings know that they only have to reach across the supper table to find some level of comfort.
Bridging two series with so many moving parts is definitely not for the feint of heart. But Penny Reid manages like the boss (evil overlord) that she is. It's probably reason 1,000,002 why I am so in awe of her.
Beard in Mind is a clear the decks read, because once you start, putting it down will be impossible.
But it will be totally worth it.
Laurie's Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️➕➕➕➕➕➕➕