by Penny Reid
For my latest review I’ve penned a little love letter to my favorite author, Penny Reid. Don’t worry; you’re all welcome to read it!
How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
I love you for your humor. You make me giggle and sometimes, outright guffaw.
I love you for the depth of character you give to nearly every soul that inhabits your world.
I love you for your ability to write a story that makes me believe in happy endings.
But mostly I love you for your intelligence. You seem to know a lot about almost everything – cars, science, robotics, psychology, and of course KNITTING. Either you are a righteous researcher (I love alliteration) or a damn genius! My guess is both. You always make me think and consider things, and I finish your books feeling smarter than when I started them.
My friend laughs at me because after finishing a Penny Reid novel I always say, “That was her best book yet!” But it is the truth.
Your latest novel, Beard in Mind? Yup. It’s your best.
I love this book for all of the reasons above but also for so much more. You took this book to a whole new level. It goes so deep. It’s the first of your novels to make me cry tears of both sorrow and joy.
I have been infatuated with Beau Winston since your first book to feature the Winston brothers, Beauty and the Mustache. He is flirty and charming and funny and loyal. The fact that he can work side by side with his brothers – the cantankerous Duane (I ❤ him) and the conniving Cletus (I ❤ him too) – practically makes Beau a saint. But you and I, we know he ain’t no saint.
Shelly is not instantly likable. She is prickly. She will not shake hands and she rarely has a kind word for anyone. Beau takes an instant dislike to her and so do I, frankly. But Shelly has her reasons for keeping her distance from the world. And the way you let that story unfold is beautiful.
I was prepared to love Beau. What I was not prepared for was to fall so desperately in love with Shelly Sullivan.
I’ve never met anyone with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, the affliction that makes Shelly feel like she is a danger to those around her. But I have seen this video and I thought of it often while reading your book. It makes her tale all the more heartbreaking.
In Beard in Mind, you give us an intimate look into what it is like living with OCD. And what it’s like loving someone with it. It’s not always pretty.
Anyone who reads this book will fall in love with Shelly. So of course Beau does too.
And his patience with her – his acceptance even when she is being difficult – is a beautiful thing. He has officially shot into the position of my favorite Winston brother! (Though you have not yet written Roscoe’s book, so this could change. He is such a flirty little cutie.)
My only criticism is a small one. Beau is 24 and Shelly is, what? 36? 37? You mention that she’s older, but I didn’t put together how much older until later. What did Shelly’s brother, Quinn, think of her dating a man so much younger? Did any of the brothers give Beau a hard time for dating a “cougar?” The omission did not detract from the story in any way. I just wish you could’ve explored that a little more. I know there’s only so much you can cover in one book and this one was packed full of Beau and Shelly goodness!
What can I say, Penny? You’re my hero and this book is so near to perfection that (just as Beau described looking at Shelly), if it were a person, it would physically hurt to look at it.