Review: Truth or Beard by Penny Reid

Posted May 7, 2020 by Lucy D in Book Reviews, Contemporary / 1 Comment

Review:  Truth or Beard by Penny ReidTruth or Beard (Winston Brothers, #1) by Penny Reid
Series: Winston Brothers #1
Published by Caped Publishing on July 21, 2015
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 390
Format: eBook
amazon b-n

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From the NEW YORK TIMES, WALL STREET JOURNAL, & USA TODAY bestselling series
Beards, brothers, and bikers! Oh my!
Identical twins Beau and Duane Winston might share the same devastatingly handsome face, but where Beau is outgoing and sociable, Duane is broody and reserved. This is why Jessica James, recent college graduate and perpetual level-headed good girl, has been in naïve and unhealthy infatuation with Beau Winston for most of her life.
His friendly smiles make her tongue-tied and weak-kneed, and she’s never been able to move beyond her childhood crush. Whereas Duane and Jessica have always been adversaries. She can’t stand him, and she’s pretty sure he can’t stand the sight of her…
But after a case of mistaken identity, Jessica finds herself in a massive confusion kerfuffle. Jessica James has spent her whole life paralyzed by the fantasy of Beau and her assumptions of Duane’s disdain; therefore she’s unprepared for the reality that is Duane’s insatiable interest, as well as his hot hands and hot mouth and hotter looks. Not helping Jessica’s muddled mind and good girl sensibilities, Duane seems to have gotten himself in trouble with the local biker gang, the Iron Order.
Certainly, Beau’s magic spell is broken. Yet when Jessica finds herself drawn to the man who was always her adversary, now more dangerous than ever, how much of her level-head heart is she willing to risk?


DNF – I read so many glowing reviews about this book and series but it just didn’t click for me.

This goes to show you that all reviews are simply personal thoughts on a story and whether or not it clicks with the individual.   I recently read another glowing review for this book, the characters, the humor, etc., and I decided to take a break from my TBR and checked my eShelves. It turns out that I have a few books in this series and a few other Penny Reid books which have I have been collecting when they were on sale since this original release in 2015. I grabbed book 1 for this awesome series and after about 60 percent into it, I simply lost interest in the characters. 🙁

Jessica James, the daughter and sister of the local Sheriff and Deputy, has just returned home to teach advanced Calculus at the local High School. Jessica has always had a love/hate relationship with the Winston twins; she loves sweet Beau and hates always sour and grumpy Duane.

But when a near-sex experience with Beau, turns out to be Duane, Jessica starts re-thinking her stand on which twin is more her type. Beau has always been friendly and kind, but matching wits with Duane might be more interesting than annoying as she always thought.

What she doesn’t know is that Duane has been in love with Jessica since he was 16 and now that she’s back, Duane is planning on properly courting Jessica and hopes he can convince her to marry him. What Duane doesn’t know is that Jessica is only back in town long enough to payoff her student loans and save enough so she can travel and teach around the world.

While Duane is devastated that his plans for a future with Jessica are crashing and burning, his twin convinces him that he shouldn’t let an opportunity to spend time with his dream girl get away and they could date for the time she is in town. It isn’t what Duane wanted but he gets Jessica to agree to date for one year (time stamped to end on New Years Eve).

Let start with saying that I never clicked with Jessica at all. We are convinced that she is super-smart since she is the only one in the County certified to teach calculus and kids from each of the high schools are bused over to attend her class (even Duane’s older brother gets special permission to attend her class). She is also not a slut since she only had one sexual experience while she was away at college which was not good. Yet within five minutes of seeing who she thought was Beau (because he was smiling) she is all but having sex with him in a dark hallway of the rec center. It is only Duane’s desire to let her know who she is about to have sex with that stops the action, and then she is yelling at him for being a liar and deceiving her. What? If I was Duane, I would think knowing the girl of my dreams was willing to have sex in the hallway with my brother would have been a turn off.

Her almost combustion at the hands of Duane makes her start to re-think who is the hotter twin and matching wits with Duane all these years engaged her brain more than smiles from sweet Beau. Jessica quickly gets on board with riding the Duane-train (again she is very desperate for sex for someone who isn’t a bed-hopper) but Duane wants to go slow and court her. Being a small town girl, Jessica quickly realizes where Duane thinks this “courting” will blossom into kids and a picket fence, and Jessica has always wanted to travel the world so she lets him know that she has plans to take off from this backwoods asap.

Duane is heartbroken but agrees with his brother that he should take the opportunity to spend time with his love while she is around and thinks if he limits it to one year and they break up before she leaves town, there won’t be any heartbreak. Really?  Does that really sound like a good idea?  How about trying to date and maybe convince her that she can vacation the world and have a life with Duane and that might be better? Then again, Jessica has already determined that not traveling the world and just vacationing would be a compromise of what she always wanted, except Jessica has only even left her small town to go to college and that was not very far away. Maybe just spending a month somewhere would satisfy her need to visit places. She’s a teacher. She could summer wherever she wanted, see the world and still have a life with Duane. Her belief was that she could teach math anywhere in the world, but I would think that you need to understand the language and have a visa to teach and earn money in other countries. I don’t even know how that would work but her confusion of her feelings for Duane (again, insta-switch-love) and her life-long desire to travel obviously can’t work together and she won’t compromise.

A secondary plot to the romance is the fact that Duane’s father was the former leader of the motorcycle gang and he and two of the gang members are in prison for trying to kidnap Duane’s sister.  Duane and Beau  are mechanics and own a shop in town.   The new head of the motorcycle gang is trying to blackmail them with into running their chop shop for stolen vehicles since the guys arrested were the gang’s mechanics.  At one point during negotiations, the leader sees Jessica near Duane and he gets upset that Jessica is too good for Duane and he need to get away from her.  At this point I don’t understand why Duane doesn’t point out that he is a legitimate business owner who wants to marry Jessica, and it is the gang leader trying to blackmail him into becoming a criminal instead of just finding another criminal mechanic for their gang.  Maybe if he thought so highly of Jessica, he might rethink the blackmail, probably not, but what the hell?

I also had an issue with Duane’s off again/on again girlfriend/sex buddy for the last five years who was Jessica’s cousin.  They are off again at this point, especially since she is a stripper and sex-buddy for the whole biker gang, but it seems she wants Duane back.   Duane and Beau and Jessica and the cousin…it’s a little too all in the family for me.

Personally, I do have a problem relating to small town stories.  I know you think “everybody from New York thinks they are the center of the universe,” but…wait, we aren’t?    Seriously, I barely know my neighbors to wave to and you stick my in a story were everybody knows everybody in town.  I am already reaching to relate to this but then you give me hot brothers named Jethro and Cletus?  Go ahead and call me an ass, but I was having a hard time there.

No matter how many five star and glowing reviews I read for the Winston Brother series, I just hit a point where I realized I just didn’t care what happened, I wasn’t even excited about any secondary characters and I just had too many books to read to waste another couple hours here.

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