Sienna Diaz is everyone’s favorite “fat” funny lady. The movie studio executives can’t explain it, but her films are out-grossing all the fit and trim headliners and Hollywood’s most beautiful elite. The simple truth is, everyone loves plus-sized Sienna.
But she has a problem, she can’t read maps and her sense of direction is almost as bad as her comedic timing is stellar. Therefore, when Sienna’s latest starring role takes her to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park she finds herself continually lost while trying to navigate the backroads of Green Valley, Tennessee. Much to her consternation, Sienna’s most frequent savior is a ridiculously handsome, charming, and cheeky Park Ranger by the name of Jethro Winston.
Sienna is accustomed to high levels of man-handsome, so it’s not Jethro’s chiseled features or his perfect physique that make Sienna stutter. It’s his southern charm. And gentlemanly manners. And habit of looking at her too long and too often.
Sienna has successfully navigated the labyrinth of Hollywood heart-throbs. But can she traverse the tenuous trails of Tennessee without losing her head? Or worse, her heart?
As always, I thoroughly enjoyed this story by Penny Reid. Her writing is intelligent, unique, and clever, and it never fails to make me laugh. The Winston Brothers series is no different, and I am always charmed by this group of men.
Jethro is endearing. The most like his father, he has spent the last five years of his life atoning for the crimes he feels he committed during his youth and under the guidance of his dad. This thought has completely shaped who he is as a man. It has made him thoughtful and kind and often gets in the way of his own happiness, as he feels unworthy of finding any contentment in his life.
Sienna is America’s sweetheart. She is the funny woman in acting, and she is touted as a successful plus-size actress, even though she is the average American female size. She struggles with this label, as she sees all women as beautiful, and Penny Reid did a wonderful job conveying the message while not beating it to death. In Jethro, she finds someone who only cares about her and her happiness versus what he can get from her.
Their romance is a slow burn, as both are avoiding the relationship for various reasons, but I love the progress in the book. It never felt like it took too long, and, in the romance world, some romance books skip the development of characters and their relationship to get right to the sex. It was a breathe of fresh air to see a courtship and to see the characters care about their forever. I also thoroughly enjoyed Cletus’s involvement in their relationship! He meddled with their relationship the whole way through the book, and theses scenes were some of the funniest in the book. I love that in the end they take Cletus’s advice, “Own your s***, Sienna. And let Jethro own his…and own that s*** together.”
While I delighted in the development of their relationship, I felt like the conflict was lagging. Part of this might be because the conflict from book one involved the father, and there was mention of the dad causing issues with Jethro and Sienna, but this never came to fruition. Maybe it was mentioned to lay ground work for Cletus’s book, but the way it was brought up during the exposition of the book made it seem like the father, especially since he influenced Jethro at a younger age, would have more of an impact on their relationship.
One of the funniest parts in the book for me is the many references to food. Jethro eating Sienna’s papaya, Cletus wanting a woman that keeps a clean kitchen but knows how to bake, and donut fantasies. I also laughed several times at Sienna’s bodyguards. Their hero worship of Jethro and their commentary on loud sex just made me laugh out-loud. As always, even Penny Reid’s secondary characters are lovable.
The reader also gets to enjoy some scenes with the brothers and Drew and Ashley, who are completely hilarious. The love these characters have for each other is clear on the page. You get to see them banter, get angry with each other, and support each other with their struggles. These scenes leave the reader with so many questions for the next book: What happened between Billy and Claire? Will Jennifer Slyvester stop making banana cake and find love with one of the Winston Brothers? Will Cletus fall in love with Quinn’s sister, and does this mean we will see more characters from the Knitting series? I just can’t wait, so well played, Penny Reid.
What I ultimately learned from these characters is that it doesn’t matter what other people think of you. The only opinions that should matter are those of the people who matter to you. Penny Reid conveys this message beautifully when she writes, “Our past would always be a part of us, but it would never wholly define us, either together or as individuals. Each moment was a decision. We could either live up or down to people’s expectations, or blow them completely away. We had no control over what other people decided to think, but we did have control over our own actions, who we wanted to be, and how we lived our lives.”
Grin and Beard It is certainly another outstanding read, and I can’t wait to get my hands on Cletus’s book. If the previous books are any indication, it is going to be a crazy ride watching this man fall in love.