Engagement and Espionage, an all-new quirky and swoon-worthy romantic comedy featuring fan favorites Jenn and Cletus Winston from New York Times bestselling author Penny Reid is available now! Read on for my review of the book and an excerpt.
I received this book via the author, Penny Reid. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of this review.Engagement and Espionage by Penny Reid
Series: Solving for Pie: Cletus and Jenn Mysteries #1
Published by Cipher-Naught on 2020-07-14
Length: 350 pages
Reviewing eARC Rating:
Jennifer Sylvester made her deal with the devil . . . and now they’re engaged!
But all is not well in Green Valley. A chicken choker is on the loose, 61 dead birds most "fowl" need plucking, and no time remains for Jennifer and her devilish fiancé. Desperate to find a spare moment together, Jenn and Cletus’s attempts to reconnect are thwarted by one seemingly coincidental disaster after another. It’s not long before Cletus and Jenn see a pattern emerge and the truth becomes clear.
Will an undercover mission unmask the culprit? Or are these love-birds totally plucked?
'Engagement and Espionage' is the first book in the Solving for Pie: Cletus and Jenn Mysteries series, is a full-length cozy mystery, and is a spin-off of Penny Reid's Winston Brothers series. This novel is best read after 'Beard Science,' Winston Brothers #3.
Oh my chickens! Engagement and Espionage by Penny Reid is the first book in her new spin-off series Solving for Pie: Cletus and Jenn Mysteries. To all the fans out there that wanted more of Cletus and Jenn, this is it! Taking place after the events of Beard Science, the book follows Jenn and Cletus as they navigate their relationship and Jenn’s work with her mother. Engagement and Espionage is full of suspense as the two work together to find the chicken murderer (yes, you read that right).
Cletus is my favorite Winston brother, though if he was a real person that I had to interact with, we’d have issues. He plays mind games with everyone he encounters, purposefully makes himself look stupid so no one knows how intelligent he really is, and loves his family with a scary devotion. It’s that last one that makes me love him. He truly puts them first. Every maneuver and deal he makes is for his family. It’s kind of endearing. In this new book, we see a different side of the cunning Cletus. He’s insecure in his relationship with Jenn, not knowing where they stand after his impromptu proposal. He meant it, but did she?
Jenn is the complete opposite of Cletus, or at least that is what I thought. She was living in an abusive household before he helped her stand up for herself. He gave her the confidence to live her own life. However after her mother leaves her father and begs Jenn to return to the bakery, she falls back into her old routine: working long hours, doing all the chores, and breaking promises to Cletus. She hates herself for it because Cletus is the best thing to ever happen to her and she’s hurting him. Jenn wants to be there for her mother, but she needs Cletus more. How will she juggle her time and find a new balance before she loses the man she loves?
With all the problems in their relationship brewing under the surface, something is amiss. All of Jenn’s suppliers are no longer able to supply: chickens murdered, a dairy farm auctioned off, bees burned alive. Who is behind it? Cletus and Jenn hatch a plan to find the culprit, but it will test their relationship to the core. I love how Reid combines the mystery with the romance here. Suspense drives the plot, and I couldn’t be happier!
Overall I really enjoyed Engagement and Espionage. It was refreshing to return to Green Valley, see the family and friends, and fall in love with Jenn and Cletus again. While this could be read as a standalone series, I do not recommend it. I recommend at least reading the Winston Brothers series through Beard Science. I would’ve been lost if I hadn’t with the names and places mentioned in the story. If you enjoy cozy mystery with some steamy romance, you are in for a treat with this book. Can’t wait to read more of the series!
“Don’t stop.” She reached for my belt again, this time completely undoing it, the button of my pants, and my zipper at world-record speed.
Her phone buzzed. Then it chimed. Then it buzzed and chimed two more times. Then it rang again. Reba.
Cursing, Jenn pulled the phone from her pocket, once again her face illuminated, murderous rage in her eyes. Her finger moved to the power off button. She blinked, hesitating. Her eyes widened, her body stiffened, and she gasped.
Something about her tone, like she was horrified, and maybe a little afraid, cut through the heavy haze of lust inertia, and my hands stilled. Shaking myself, it took me a few moments to realize she was showing me the phone screen, and another few to bring the content of the text messages into focus.
Momma: Jennifer Anne Sylvester, pick up your phone. If you’re with Cletus, I need his help. Please.
Momma: ALL THE CHICKENS AND ROOSTERS ARE DEAD! PICK UP YOUR DAMN PHONE!
Momma: I’m calling you in a second, pick up the phone. Mr. Badcock’s chickens are dead. All of them. I got here and he’s running around, deranged, yelling about his dead chickens! I called the police and they’re on their way. Please, please, please pick up the phone!
At some point, I must’ve taken the phone from Jenn and stepped away, because I glanced up upon reading the messages for the third time, finding the phone in my hand and Jenn fixing her skirt.
“This is nuts.” Her big eyes searched mine imploringly. “Who could have done this?”
I shook my head, having not yet managed to fully shift head gears—you know, from that head to the one on my neck—and my gaze dropped to the wet patch on the front of her dress just visible in the swath of light. My erection throbbed.
So we’re . . . not having sex?
“Why? Why would they do it? And WHO?” She snatched her phone back, her tone bewildered, distracted, and distraught. She was distraught because of the dead chickens, like any normal person would be.
I was distraught also, but my distress had nothing to do with farm animals.
“We have to go.” Jenn grabbed my hand and began walking toward the direction of the hall. Meanwhile, it took me until her hand found the door handle to realize my zipper and belt were still undone.
“This is crazy.” She paused as I zipped up, her tone halting and distracted. “Poor Mr. Badcock. And those poor chickens.” A sound of distress escaped her throat. “This is terrible.”
It was terrible.
And I was going to hell.
Because all I could think was, Talk about a cock block.