I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review.
This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
by Penny Reid
Released: September 16th 2019
Series: Winston Brothers #6
Published by Cipher-Naught
“Penny Reid has once again nailed it with her intelligent and prettily written prose.”
~ Under the Covers
Step into the TARDIS folks we’re about to go back in time. So far this series has been about the adult Winston brothers, in Beard WIth Me we travel back in time to when our boys (and one gal) are teenagers. The previous books have spoken about the troubled childhood the WInston’s have had; the domestic abuse, the poverty and also some goings-on between Billy Winston and Scarlet O’Claire aka Claire McClure. This book brings to you the beautiful and heart breaking beginning of their relationship. Prepare thyself, if you’ve read the previous books in the series – which you really should – then you know this isn’t going to end how you want it to, this is just the first act.
Why is it all the most tragic things tend to be the most beautiful? I knew going into this book that this wouldn’t end with the HEA I wanted. I have read the other books in the series, I’ve seen both Billy and Claire/Scarlet as adults and they aren’t the adoring married couple they should have been if fate and tragically (that word again) criminal fathers hadn’t interfered. Did that mean I was apprehensive and kind of reluctant to start this book with no HEA within my grasp? Kind of. Am I glad I picked it up anyways? Hell. Yes.
I adored this book. I loved seeing the Winstons as children and teenagers. I especially loved seeing their relationship with one another. This book especially concentrated on Billy and his role as de facto father to his brothers and sister. I feel like of all the Winston brothers Billy is the one we know least about, he is an impenetrable character in the previous books and this insight into their childhood and his inner thoughts made me see him in a brand new way. His utter focus on protecting those he loves to the detriment of his own self and his own desires was both painful and beautiful to behold.
Then we come to Scarlet (now Claire), she’s a survivor doing the best she can to keep her body and spirit safe from her father and his biker gang. And this isn’t the rose tinted MCs of romances. This is a dark, dangerous place where children and women are not safe. They’re property to be damaged and used at a whim. Which, is how 14 year old Scarlet finds herself homeless and living in the woods behind the Winston house. Scarlet has got to be one of my favourite heroines, she was clever and brave, and despite her horrific life managed to find happiness whenever she could.
A lot of this book was showing the pressures that life had put on the 16 year old Billy and 14 year old Scarlet. Then those lives crash into one another and we watch the inevitable explosion and much like an explosion it was hot, mesmerising and ultimately destructive. I finished Beard WIth Me feeling a singed around the edges. I didn’t mind though, in fact I relished it. Not that this book was all doom and gloom. Scarlet was a fun character and then there was Cletus, one of my all time favourite characters in all his teenage glory.
When a book can make you cry and laugh in equal measure you know you’re on to a winner. I really enjoyed Beard With Me and I cannot wait to get my hands on the next book. Penny Reid has once again nailed it with her intelligent and prettily written prose.
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Annnnnd I will stop myself there, before I start waxing lyrical about my love of historical romance and fantasy as well; no one needs to know about my elf fantasies. As you can tell, I adore and day dream about most romance genres, and my three big loves are 1) reading about romance 2) writing about romance and 3) talking about romance with my gals. Which, is why I love Under the Covers so much, I get all my bookish needs satisfied and don’t get judged when I talk about my favourite characters like they are real people. Which they are right?