Book Review (& Author Giveaway): BEARD WITH ME by Penny Reid

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“This is Penny Reid at her finest.” -- L.B. Dunbar, author

BEARD WITH ME, an epic and breathtaking story from New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestselling author Penny Reid, is available now!


No one is better at surviving than Scarlet St. Claire and making the best out of circumstances beyond her control is Scarlet’s specialty. In an apocalyptic situation, she’d be the last person on earth, hermitting like a pro, singing along to her CD Walkman, and dancing like no one is watching.

Scarlet is clever, Scarlet is careful, and Scarlet is smart . . . except when it comes to Billy Winston.

No one is better at fighting than Billy Winston and raging against his circumstances—because nothing is beyond his control—is Billy’s specialty. In an apocalyptic situation, he’d be the first person on earth to lead others to safety, overcome catastrophe, or die trying.

Billy is fearless, Billy is disciplined, and Billy is honorable . . . except when it comes to Scarlet St. Claire.

‘Beard With Me’ is the origin story of Billy Winston and Scarlet St. Claire (aka Claire McClure) and is just the beginning of their epic love story.


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My Thoughts

Well, you can certainly include me in the long list of people eagerly waiting for BEARD WITH ME. I’ve been a fan of the Winston Brothers series from the beginning, and with each book we learn a little more about the family and their loved ones. I suppose it’s fitting that Penny Reid made us wait until the very end for Scarlet and Billy. Their story has been fed to us piecemeal and anticipation was high, high, high!

Scarlet and Billy’s story is not a pretty one. It’s clear that both Scarlet and Billy were forced to grow up before their time. Circumstances, responsibilities, and the need to just plain survive drive these characters to act in ways well beyond their years. I really am surprised that the many characters we know from previous books managed to make it into adulthood as relatively well-adjusted as they did because for the most part, this story has a heavy grey cloud hanging over it. In a word it’s heartbreaking.

There was plenty to keep me immersed in this story, and my digital copy of this book is a rainbow of colour with the many sentences and passages I have highlighted. There was plenty of lyrical prose, several mysteries from the past were solved for me and even with all the heaviness, there were many poignant moments along with touches of humour here and there.

There are, however, several things that stopped me from loving this book. Firstly, I felt the pacing was a tad lop-sided. The last 30% is fast paced and action filled.  I was eagerly flipping those pages and my jaw was hanging open at what came to pass. I was enthralled! The earlier part of the book did hold my interest but several times I felt the messaging was repetitive and had us readers figuratively treading water.

Secondly, I did question the credibility of some of the speech. We are talking about teenagers and I personally feel it rings false when teens are talking about themselves in terms of their ‘sovereignty’ and ‘autonomy’.

Finally, I did feel a level of frustration that there were still so many questions left unanswered in my mind about the Green Valley world. Reid describes this book as the origin story, the foundation of this world. It’s certainly forms part of it but I expected more. That’ll teach me to get caught up in the hype!

Setting aside my nit-picking, I do have to mention that seeing a different side to some of the characters was a welcome eye-opener: Ben McClure, Jethro Winston, Cletus Winston, and of course Scarlet and Billy, all provided serious food for thought.

All that’s left now is to wait for Beard Necessities. 


Meet Penny Reid

Penny Reid is the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and USA Today Best Selling Author of the Winston Brothers, Knitting in the City, Rugby, and Hypothesis series. She used to spend her days writing federal grant proposals as a biomedical researcher, but now she just writes books. She’s also a full time mom to three diminutive adults, wife, daughter, knitter, crocheter, sewer, general crafter, and thought ninja.


Connect with Penny

Twitter: @ReidRomance