Grin and Beard It
by Penny Reid
Winston Brothers #2
Publication Date: May 31, 2016
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Romantic Comedy
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 heartthrobs. But can she traverse the tenuous trails of Tennessee without losing her head? Or worse, her heart?
This book is not badly written. At all. It’s just … well … I expect great things from Penny. Big, passionate, soaring things. And for me, I’m afraid that this one didn’t quite meet those expectations.
Although I enjoyed reading about Sienna, and she was written in a genuinely humorous manner, her size and ethnicity seemed to me to be an irrelevance, and didn’t appear to add anything of substance to the story.
And the relationship between Jethro and Sienna was written in a very natural way. But I never really made an emotional connection with them that I’ve had with Penny’s other couples. That said, their interactions were well observed, and as always, the side characters added wonderful spots of colour to the narrative.
The story is very sweet. And funny. And competently written. It was just a little bit off the mark for me.
I received a copy in exchange for an honest review.
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.”
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.