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.
Keep reading for an excerpt!
I’m going to start this with a bit of a warning about Beard in Mind which is also a teeny, tiny bit of a spoiler of the plot, but mostly a short love note to my husband. My review follows.
Beard in Mind features a heroine that suffers from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD).
I’ve lived with OCD for most of my life, though I wasn’t diagnosed until I was almost 30 and had been married for 8 years. After I had my second child, postpartum depression brought the OCD out in a way that sent me into a major depression, a 10 day stay in a facility, and a lifetime of developing coping skills. I’m a better person today because of this breakdown as it led to my diagnosis. More importantly, I’m a better mother and wife. My husband didn’t officially know what he was getting into when he married me, but he had to know I had some serious anxiety issues. He loved me anyway. When I had my breakdown and was diagnosed, he could’ve bailed. He could’ve dismissed what was going on. Instead, like Beau in Beard in Mind, he stood by me every step of the way, loving me, giving me strength, stepping up with the kids when I couldn’t function, being my sounding board, and reminding me every day how strong I was. OCD is something that only I can fight on a daily basis. But, the acceptance and support I received from my husband leaves me in awe.
I honestly had no idea what Beard in Mind was about, that Penny Reid was going to give her readers a heroine that suffered from OCD. Ironically, I struggled to connect with Shelly, even after her illness was revealed. I even suffered a little anxiety and considered putting the book down. But, I did connect with Beau and was intrigued to see how this unique romance would play out. As I read on and Shelly emerged from her protective shell (Wow, just occurred to me that Shelly’s name was intentional!), I couldn’t stop reading and did so well into the night. While my OCD doesn’t play out like Shelly’s, I started to connect and empathize with her struggles. More importantly, Reid slowly reveals that despite her illness, Shelly longed for-and deserved-to be loved just like any of us. When the book started I couldn’t imagine her in a loving relationship but, wow, did Penny Reid peel back the onion on this wonderful character.
Beau does his name justice. He’s beautiful in every way and just as Shelly slowly reveals herself, Beau does too. It would be easy to describe him as one-dimensional, especially if you’ve read any of the previous books in the Winston Brothers series. He’s the good one, the charming one, the nice one that everyone loves. But, we see as the book goes on that he’s holding back. Like all the Winstons, he’s suffered from his father’s abuse, mourns his mother’s death, and his dreading being parted from his identical twin, Duane (who’s leaving for Europe). After a high school pregnancy scare with his girlfriend, he hasn’t been intimate with anyone fearing rejection after she told him she’d give their baby away before agreeing to marry him. When his current girlfriend, Darlene, makes it clear that she only wants him for sex, he realizes that he isn’t anyone’s priority. Boy, did this made my heart hurt.
My heart got a serious workout reading this book.
On the surface, Beau and Shelly are an unlikely couple. But, as Beard in Mind goes on, it becomes clear that they are perfect for each other. Through laughter and tears and some angry moments, they draw out the best in each other, learn to trust each other, and stand by each other as they take on what life throws at them. There are a lot of revelations in this book, laugh out loud moments (Beau is the primary narrator and it’s not possible for him to be more perfect), and scenes that flat-out made me cry. This book overlaps with book 3 in the series, Beard Science. Even so, this is easily a standalone. I haven’t read any of the previous books in the series, but had no trouble connecting with any of the characters from the earlier books and there aren’t any plot points that were confusing.
5 Stars for Beard in Mind. Heat level: 3
I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for honest feedback.
Beard in Mind was published in July 2017 by Cipher-Naught.
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
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: