Happy Saturday y’all! The closer the holidays get the less it seems I have time to read. Do any of you feel that way? As a result I move from my typical fantasies and sci-fis to short, contemporary romances. My pick to share with you this weekend is a fun series that I’ve seen floating around the blogosphere for a few years now, The Winston Brothers by Penny Reid. I finally broke down and picked up the first book in this series Truth or Beard back in September. I devoured it and before I knew it had read the rest of the series. Now I’m anxiously waiting on July for the next installment of the series. If you like small town romances, quirky family drama, and like to laugh, I highly recommend you grab this series. Bonus if you’re looking for holiday reads, the first four books in this series take place around Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas.
Oh The Winston Brothers!!! I fell in love with this series when I picked up the first book during a free promotion. I’d heard from several bloggers that I needed to read it and I finally did. When I picked up the first book, I was really just needing a break from my normal sci-fi reads, however just a few pages into the story I borrowed the rest of the series through Kindle Unlimited and the rest, as they say, is history 😀 I devoured this series in under a week! The brothers, the town, the love interests, and the humor….all of it works together perfectly. I feel as if the town they live in is just outside my door and I could walk down the street to the brothers’ auto shop or ask Jethro for help with the deer and turkey in my yard. Penny Reid has written fully fleshed characters that come to life on the pages and I couldn’t be more in love with them 😀 All of the books slightly overlap and while they can be read as standalone, I highly recommend reading the in order as previous characters do pop up in each book.
The first book of the series follows Duane Winston, one of the twins, and his long-time crunch Jessica James. I adored Jessica! She is feisty and oh so confused. For years she fooled herself into believing that the other twin Beau was who she was meant for and Duane was her annoying rival, someone she fought with and looking back really enjoyed the teasing banter they had. Duane had me swooning right from the start. This is a man who knows exactly what he wants and he’s not going to wait for it any longer. It’s now or never for him, and as scary as that is, he’s willing to risk it all for the girl of his dreams. I really enjoyed Jessica and Duane’s back and forth banter, their need to compete and their obvious love for one another. I like these friends to lovers story and while they started out as more rivals than friends it’s the same premise.
This may be my favorite of the series. It’s a hard choice between Jethro and his brother Cletus on my favorite so I won’t choose 😉 The second book follows Jethro the eldest Winston who has had the roughest life in my opinion. Jethro is a changed man. He was deep in the biker gang mentioned in the first book, but now it’s been five years and he’s turned his life around and is attempting to make amends with his family. While Jethro seems content, there’s also something missing. He’s passed thirty now and he wants to settle down, start a family of his own, but the question is with who. Enter Sienna Diaz, mega Hollywood actress who is in the small town while her movie is being filmed. Sienna is not at all who I’d have picked for Jethro, but somehow their relationship works. Sienna is a little high-maintenance, lots of drama for sure, yet Jethro who spends his life as a ranger in a truck has never heard of her. I think the big draw for Sienna to Jethro is that he treats her like he would any woman, not the A-list actress she is. It’s refreshing and I love the chemistry between these two characters, and y’all it’s immediate!
Oh Cletus Cletus is my favorite brother. He’s crazy, a genius, and you do NOT want to be on his bad side. He’s also extremely loyal to his family and would do anything for them and I do mean anything. So when Jennifer Sylvester the town’s sweetheart blackmails him into helping her, he’s intrigued, not threatened. He decides to help her. I love these two together. They are both quirky, and despite himself Cletus finds himself falling in love, though he doesn’t realize it. Jennifer is extremely sheltered and looking for a way to break free of her verbally abusive father. I love how subtly the author shows this. It’s interwoven into the story seamlessly and doesn’t feel forced or contrived to bring conflict. Instead the abuse just is and I think it does a good job of shining a light on just how verbal abuse can affect someone.
Of the whole series, Beau’s story was just okay for me. Don’t get me wrong, it’s good, but he isn’t my favorite brother by any stretch. Yet the longer I read his story, the more I realized just how wrong I was about his character. In the other books of the series, Beau is portrayed as the consummate good boy, the local heartthrob, and just genuinely a nice guy. But it’s all an act, or at least most of it is. Beau really is a good guy, but a lot of that comes from this need of his to please others and make up for the sins of his father. The last thing he wants is to become him and of all the brothers so far, Beau struggles with this the most. Then enters the new mechanic Cletus hired to take Duane’s place at the shop, Shelly. Shelly is the opposite of Beau. She’s cold, calculating, honest to a fault and it doesn’t take long into reading to figure out that she suffers from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. Like in the last book with abuse, I was blown away with how the author handled this sensitive subject. Shelly isn’t as severe as some cases, but I like how the author portrayed her. It was difficult and heart-breaking at times to read her POV chapters, especially when what Shelly wanted was in conflict with her disorder and she wound up hurting those around her. I love how Beau handles Shelly, how they go from a hateful working relationship to lovers and how he supports her and she in turn does the same for him. It’s a difficult read, but well worth it!