Beard in Mind (Winston Brothers #4) by Penny Reid


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Synopsis:

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 missing out on what matters most.

Review:

Beard in Mind was such a wonderful read. I was hooked from the very start and now I think I need to go re-read the Neanderthal books since I know Shelly now. I want to see the glimpse we got of her in those books and see how the interactions might be a bit different than what I remember. This is a new all time favorite reads.

Shelly comes across as not the nicest person. She is rude, she won't shake your hand, she glares at people, she just doesn't fit in Tennessee. She doesn't fit in a lot of places. I loved Shelly so so much. I...fall in love with characters in books all the time. Sometimes I wish they were real so I could hang out with them, etc, but they somehow are still characters in books. I never really noticed that until this story. Until I read Shelly. Shelly feels real. More real than just about anyone I have ever read. I don't know anyone like her in real life, she doesn't remind me of myself, but she is so real. I don't know if that will make sense, but it is true. Like I love most of Penny's works, her characters always feel realistic, but Shelly is more real than that. I feel like I know Shelly. I get her. I understand how she works even if I have never had the same issues that she has. I got her. She was subtle and understated a bit in her interactions with others, it was hard for others to get a read on her, but she also jumped off the page and was there. There is no ignoring Shelly. 

Besides Shelly leaping off the page at me I also loved so much how Penny dealt with the things Shelly is dealing with. How she wrote her and it was not cute and quirky. It was serious and an issue for her, but she deserves love also. She deserves to find her happily ever after. When I first met Shelly, and then Cletus, I thought the two of them would be perfect together. They would be odd together and it would be wonderful. Since reading this story I realized how wrong I really was. Cletus would be terrible for Shelly. She needs Beau, or someone like him. Someone that sees her, that wants to help and champions her on. That wants her for her, as she is, even if that is difficult at times. It was wonderful to read. 

Now Beau I never really thought much about in the prior books. He was there, the friendly guy everyone got along with. He was just fine. Nothing wrong with him, I liked him, but I wasn't eagerly anticipating his story like some of the other brothers. When I got it I would be happy with it, but I could wait as well. And man did he surprise me in this story. I should have been waiting for his story like all the others. I loved how his depth, his layers, were slowly revealed. How there is so much more to Beau than a pretty face and easy smile. How he is deeper than that. It was surprising in the best of ways. Really this whole story was. I cannot say enough good things about it. I loved Shelly, I loved Beau, and I loved Shelly with Beau. These two have some ups and downs, but together they can get through it. And that ending! Oh, I teared up because it was so happy touching. I had the same thing happen with the knitting ladies, and I always wished I were a part of their group, but now I want to be in the Winston clan. I want to be a part of that. I love them all so much and I can't wait for the rest of the brothers' stories. I am sure they will be just as wonderful as these first ones have been.

*Note: I received a free copy of this book for voluntary review consideration

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★


Excerpt:

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.”

“Mmm.”

I bent to whisper, “Shelly.”

“Hmm?”

“I’m going to carry you to your bed. I’ll take the sofa.”

“Mmm.”

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.”

“What?”

“Touching you.”

Oh fuck.

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.

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About the Author:
PennyReidPenny 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.

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