I was in a slump and needed something to lift me out of it, so I turned to a favorite romance writer as one does. To be honest, even though it featured super memorable characters, Beard Science by Penny Reid didn’t live up to all of my expectations, but I still really enjoyed it.

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The summary, from Amazon:

*Goodreads Choice Award Finalist for Best Romance *
*Amazon Top 10 Romances of 2016*
*AAR Top 10 Romances of All Time*

From the NEW YORK TIMES, WALL STREET JOURNAL, & USA TODAY bestselling series.

Make a deal with the devil and you might get what you want, but will it be what you need?

Jennifer Sylvester wants one thing, and that one thing is NOT to be Tennessee’s reigning Banana Cake Queen. Ever the perpetual good girl and obedient daughter, Jennifer is buckling under the weight of her social media celebrity, her mother’s ambitions, and her father’s puritanical mandates. Jennifer is officially desperate.

And desperate times call for Cletus Winston.

Cletus Winston is a puzzle wrapped in a mystery covered in conundrum sauce, and now he’s in a pickle. Despite being convinced of his own omniscience, extortion by the exalted Banana Cake Queen of Green Valley has taken him completely by surprise. So… what’s a maniacal mastermind to do?

Likely, the last thing you expect.

Beard Science is book #1 in the Solving for Pie: Cletus and Jenn Mysteries series and Book #3 in the WInston Brothers series. Each book is a standalone, full length (110k words), contemporary romantic comedy novel, and follows the romantic exploits and adventures of one of the six Winston Brothers.

Buy Beard Science here.

(And don’t forget to check out my review for Book 2 in the Winston Brothers series, too.)

So first things first, Beard Science, like most romance novels, can operate as a standalone. However, it’s Book 3 in the Winston Brothers series, and Book 1 in a spin-off series, the Cletus and Jenn Mysteries. I was sooooo excited to read this one, because Cletus is easily my favorite Winston brother. He’s quirky and smart with the biggest beard, so what’s not to love?

Cletus has never paid too much attention to Jenn, also known as the Banana Cake Queen. Jenn has spent her entire life just doing what her family expects of her. She’s 22 and has been working for them at their bakery for no pay, living life according to their rules and desires. Though her mother cares for her, Jenn is absolutely miserable. She figures what she needs to do is get married. Marriage and motherhood is something she’s always wanted for herself, and it’s the only way she an see escaping her current life while still meeting her family’s expectations. When she catches Cletus doing something illegal, she blackmails him to help her find a husband. Of course, Jenn needs some dating experience, but Cletus struggles to be her wingman when feelings develop between them. But are the steamy kisses they share just more practice?

Honestly, this one didn’t live up to my expectations. The plot felt a little all over the place, but I guess that opened things up for the spin-off series. I really do love Jenn and Cletus though. Jenn has excellent character development and really comes into her own in this one, while Cletus remains as intelligent and unique as ever. Because I loved the characters so much, even if this book wasn’t my favorite, this was a 4 star read for me. Reid is always so clever, so I’ll share some of my favorite quotes from Beard Science:

I don’t like to judge people. I love it.

Beau only read two kinds of magazines. Both had pictures of headlights. Only one was about cars.

Saying someone would make a great politician is like saying someone would make a great serial killer. It’s not a compliment.

“Why do you wear that thing?” I lifted just my eyes from the page of my book and glared at Beau, the interrupter. “You’ll have to be more specific. Are you referring to my smoking jacket or my expression of concentration?”

Find out more about how I rate books here.

Beard Science (Winston Brothers, #3)Beard Science by Penny Reid
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Waffled between a 3 and a 4 for this one but while it was too slow of a slow burn for me, I loved Cletus and Jen as characters. Jen’s growth was awesome and Cletus had been my Winston crush since Book 1!!

View all my reviews

Book Club Questions

  1. Have you ever felt pressured to live up to the expectations of others? Is Jenn’s behavior in the beginning of this novel understandable?
  2. How are Jenn and Cletus good foils for one another?
  3. The theme of family is very present in this series. How do Cletus and Jenn’s individual families impact their relationship?
  4. Which of the Winston siblings is your favorite? Why?

P. S. Beard Science is free to read with Kindle. You can thank me later.


Interested? Buy Beard Science.
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