Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Review: Grin and Beard It by Penny Reid

Grin and Beard It by Penny Reid
(Winston Brothers #2)
May 31, 2016
Genre: Contemporary Romance 18+
Contains: some strong language, sex

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?

This was just the slow-burn romance I needed. I loved the build-up and the growing relationship between Jethro and Sienna. I loved the honest, realistic look at the obstacles of how to tackle a relationship between a big-time celebrity and a small-town guy with a checkered past. Setting the rose-colored glasses aside, there are legit things to consider here. But romance is not trumped. Even in the backwoods of Tennessee, love and romance and hope and heart are live and kickin'.

A few reasons why I LOVED this story:

1.) Jethro turned his life around prior to meeting Sienna. The miracle of love didn't change him. Other circumstances forced him to face the music, and he made those changes, and stuck to them like a trooper. We knew bits and pieces of Jethro's shady past prior to this book, but here we get the full picture. Jethro was a screw-up, no doubt about it. But when Jethro turns his life around, he really turns his life around. I loved Jethro!!

2.) Sienna didn't need the love of a man to validate herself. She was comfortable and content with being funny and full-figured (by Hollywood standards). Her self-exteem didn't come from her relationship with Jethro (or men or the public in general). Plus, she's Latina, and I'm a sucker for inter-racial relationships. I loved that this cast finally got some diversity, and Sienna was just the gal to do it.

3.) Then we get Jethro and Sienna together and they are magical. It's one of those "I was lost then I was found" sparks. Their chemistry and easy-going relationship, their genuine thoughtfulness of the other, their sweetness, and their heat - I loved it all! Now the path of love is not easy, especially for a celebrity. Jethro and Sienna face legitimate concerns about not only the probability of a relationship, but facing the future as a couple - celebrity and criminal record. They had real obstacles. But I loved the way they were dealt with. I felt the drama was legit, and not forced. I'm not a fan of forced drama for the sake of drama. And I loved this.

4.) Lots of Cletus!!! Cletus was quite the scene-stealer here, and I loved it. All I know is that his book is going to be epic!

5.) We get some great family dynamics. We get some great scenes, not only between the Winstons, but within Sienna's family as well. I loved the interactions between family members, both good and bad. I especially loved the Billy scene. Billy's book is going to be epic!

I will say there was on thing that I felt was random and didn't really fit into the story. Jethro was a silent partner at The Pink Pony. This felt like extra info, maybe to prove a point about not judging others, but it never played a part in the story. I kept waiting for it to mean something, and it never did. It felt random. Unless it was a device to show the difference between Hank and jethro, but even that seemed unnecessary. Oh well. Maybe I was looking for meaning where there was none to be found.

Overall, GRIN AND BEARD IT was a wonderful, slow burn that hit my need for romance and friendship and family in the sweetest spot. I'm in love with the Winston family, and I absolutely loved big brother Jethro and his beauty, Sienna.

Don't forget the rest of the Winston Siblings:
Book 0.5: Beauty and the Mustache

Book 1: Truth or Beard

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