Beard in Mind, an all new standalone in the bestselling, romantic comedy Winston Brothers Series by Penny Reid, is available NOW!
All is fair in love and auto maintenance.
Beau Winston is the nicest, most accommodating guy in the world. Usually.
Handsome as the devil and twice as charismatic, Beau lives a charmed life as everyone’s favorite Winston Brother. But since his twin decided to leave town, and his other brother hired a stunning human-porcupine hybrid as a replacement mechanic for their auto shop, Beau Winston’s charmed life has gone to hell in a handbasket.
Shelly Sullivan is not nice and is never accommodating. Ever.
She mumbles to herself, but won’t respond when asked a question. She glares at everyone, especially babies. She won’t shake hands with or touch another person, but has no problems cuddling with a dog. And her damn parrot speaks only in curse words.
Beau wants her gone. He wants her out of his auto shop, out of Tennessee, and out of his life.
The only problem is, learning why this porcupine wears her coat of spikes opens a Pandora’s box of complexity—exquisite, tempting, heartbreaking complexity—and Beau Winston soon discovers being nice and accommodating might mean losing what matters most.
“If something breaks, we fix it. That’s what we do.”
As an auto mechanic, that’s Beau Winston’s objective for every car that comes to his garage. Once he identifies the issue, orders the parts he needs, and tweaks and adjusts the vehicle to resurrect it to its former glory, he can consider it a job well done…a problem corrected…an issue resolved.
But as Beau learns in Beard in Mind, the idea of ‘fixing’ a person – one whose mind is the very thing she needs to battle – the work on his end has extremely specific parameters – he’s an extra set of hands to step in and help make certain situations easier…to work with her to help her overcome her irrational fears and compulsions, but the only person who can truly ‘repair’ some of her issues is Shelly, herself, and to get to that point, she’s going to need Beau to see beneath her cool demeanor, irritating behavior, and rude comments, which shouldn’t be difficult for an easy going guy like Beau, but interestingly enough, it’s Beau who has the biggest issue with Shelly’s standoffishness for reasons that Penny Reid illuminates as Beau and Shelly’s story is told.
Beau and Shelly are actually a perfectly matched couple…even if they appear to loathe each other at the start of Beard in Mind. Because timeline of their story is side by side with the events in Cletus’ book, readers easily connect important information from Beard Science with new insights in Beau and Shelly’s story, which helps to paint a fuller picture of everything that is happening to the Winston brothers. Because the beginning chapters are told through Beau’s perspective, we only witness Shelly’s behavior through his eyes, which is important for this story line because everyone adores Beau and nothing riles him up, but for some reason, Shelly is a frigid witch during her first encounters with Beau and Beau readily judges her solely based on those interactions despite knowing that assuming things can lead to horrible misjudgments, which is exactly what occurs in this situation.
Since meeting Cletus in Ashley’s story, he’s always been my favorite Winston brother, but Beau is definitely a close second. He’s a lot more fragile than his family and the townspeople recognize, which is partially his fault because his charm and his goodness blind them to anything else. His demeanor, though, shouldn’t stop people from putting him first, worrying about how he is and what he’s going through, and Reid does a fabulous job of driving that idea home when Beau learns information about himself from an outside source – one who makes him question everything about his life and who he is, and as he deals with the fallout of that knowledge, he finds Shelly standing by his side and wanting him to lean on her as much as she leans on him.
The human mind is a fragile entity – one that can harm just as much as it can invigorate someone, and Beard in Mind illustrates that idea in a way that all readers can identify with, and while many may not have issues as big as Shelly’s when it comes to overcoming the obstacles that her head makes for her, her situation teaches us to be compassionate…to work harder to get beneath a person’s facade before judging…to be in awe of that person’s strength to battle something as domineering as the brain can be.
It’s clear through Shelly’s discussions with her therapist as well as when Shelly shares her diagnosis and her ‘crazy’ with Beau that Penny Reid researched and educated herself on Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, its treatment, its effects, and the preconceived assumptions that other people have about the illness. Every aspect of this particular story line was meticulously laid out and explained so that readers could truly understand the fight that Shelly was up against and what it would take for a significant other to go through the highs and lows, the hot and cold behavior and still maintain a loving relationship despite the frustrations that would surely present themselves in the constant battle to rationalize the irrational and to outsmart the mind – one that is always working to win.
Penny Reid’s brilliance as a writer stems from her ability to create realistically flawed characters – ones whose ‘realness’ make them imperfect human beings who don’t have cookie cutter personalities nor do they constantly pretend to be someone they’re not, especially in front of the people who they love the most. What sets her apart from other romance writers is her unique, multifaceted characters, her extensive use of intellectual and enlightened diction, and her quest to stay true to her characters’ voices regardless of how ‘weird’ or ‘nerdy’ they may be.
Whenever I finish reading a Penny Reid story, I always stand in awe of how effortless her prose flows and how deep she delves into her characters’ psyches so she can illustrate exactly who they are, providing readers with a true understanding of what motivates and guides these odd and extraordinary personalities – people readers can’t help but fall in love with because they are anything but ordinary.
5 Poison Apples
She’d taken the sofa, in her own house, and given me the bed. That didn’t make a lick of sense.
I crouched next to her, threading my fingers into the silky hair at her temples. “Honey.”
I bent to whisper, “Shelly.”
“I’m going to carry you to your bed. I’ll take the sofa.”
I grinned at her soft noises, at the untroubled expression on her face, and how her brow—even in sleep—still looked regal and stern.
Sliding my arms under her legs and shoulder, I picked her up. And, unfortunately, that woke her up.
She jerked in my arms. “What are you doing?”
“I’m taking you to the bed.”
“Don’t do that.”
“I don’t mind, I’ll take the sofa.” Our mouths were just inches apart, and hers was distracting.
She squirmed. “Put me down.”
Sighing unhappily, I did. I set her on her feet next to the couch. The blanket pooled at her feet and I stepped back to give her some space. It was dark, but I could see her just fine, and that meant I had to force my eyes to remain above her neck. The woman was wearing two pathetic scraps of fabric as pajamas. A thin little tank top and shorts. That’s it.
I set my jaw and turned to the side, waiting for her to walk past.
“Where are you?”
I glanced at her and realized she couldn’t see at all. She didn’t have a hand out, but the way her eyes were moving about the room gave away her blindness.
“I’m here.” I didn’t touch her, because if I did, I wouldn’t want to stop.
Shelly turned her head in my direction and took a deep breath. Still she didn’t reach for me. I didn’t know the specifics of what to expect after her Friday session, but I recalled Dr. West saying something about Shelly doing self-guided ERP exercises over this week.
“Can you see?” She licked her lips, her voice sandpapery. “Because I can’t see at all. It’s so dark.”
“I can see.” Unbidden, my eyes dropped to her body, to the swell of her breasts, the panel of bare stomach, the curve of her hips. Pinpricks of heat raised over my skin and I curled my hands into fists.
She shuffled forward and I caught her before she bumped into me, setting my hands gently at her waist.
“Let me take you to your room.” My voice was rough, for obvious reasons.
Saying nothing, she brought her hand to my forearm, her body gently colliding with mine. And then her hand on my arm slid up my bicep to my shoulder.
“Shelly.” I was running out of breath.
“I like this.”
I held still and endured her hands moving over my body, down the front of my shirt, stopping at the hem, then pushing it up.
“Take this off.”
I did. I pulled the T-shirt over my head and let it drop to the floor.
We stood there, facing each other in the dark, not touching. Despite the session on Friday and the progress that had been made, I realized she wasn’t quite there yet. Dr. West was right, Friday was just a step, the first step. Shelly wasn’t able to initiate contact. Not yet.
Her hands balled into fists and she swayed forward, her breath struggling little puffs.
If anything was going to happen tonight, I had to initiate it. I had to be the one to touch first.
God, how I wanted her. How I wanted her above me, beneath me, surrounding me. But how could I?
“I know why I hesitate,” her voice was breathless, “but why do you hesitate?”
“Lots of reasons.”
“Give me one.”
“I don’t want to you use you.”
“I wish you would.”
That pulled a laugh from me, just a small relief from the mounting tension. My eyes moved over her body, an undeniable impulse to devour the sight of her, her legs, stomach, chest, then up her neck to her lips.
“You asked me on Saturday if sex was a big deal for me, or if it was you. The answer is both.”
She held very still, and I got the sense she was holding her breath, straining to listen.
“You are a big deal to me. I don’t want a fling. I don’t want a flirtation. I want promises.”
“What can I promise you?”
That you’ll love me. That I’ll be your priority.
She shifted her weight from foot to foot. A spike of anxiety that she might leave me like this had me acting without forethought. I lifted my hands to her waist again and immediately, her fingertips skimmed over skin of my lower stomach in response, making my muscles tense in hot anticipation. She grew more assertive as she caressed my sides, abdomen, ribs, chest, shoulders, and then back down.
Shelly stepped closer, a hint of thrilling contact between her breasts and my torso, and all the words and worries melted from my mind, died on my tongue, suffocated by the feel of her body, and the possibility of this moment.
Her finger hooked in the waistband of my jeans. “Take these off.” Her hand turned, her fingers and palm cupping me over my zipper.
Instinctively, I pressed myself into her touch even as I grabbed her wrist.
“Beau, I promise—”
She didn’t get to speak, because I kissed her, hard and wild, unbuttoning and unzipping my fly with one hand and bringing her palm inside my boxers with the other.
(Free in Kindle Unlimited)
Amazon UK: http://amzn.to/2uRxDdZ
Amazon AU: http://amzn.to/2u0lZPk
Amazon CA: http://amzn.to/2whOBQB
Add to GoodReads: https://goo.gl/hsTLLC
Enter the Giveaway!
Meet Penny Reid
Penny Reid is the USA Today Bestselling Author of the Winston Brothers and Knitting in the City series. When she’s not immersed in penning smart romances, Penny works in the biotech industry as a researcher. She’s also a full time mom to three diminutive adults, wife, daughter, knitter, crocheter, sewer, general crafter, and thought ninja.
Connect with Penny