Truth or Beard by Penny Reid
My rating: 2 of 5 stars
Part of a series?: Yes; spinoff from Knitting in the City, Book #1 of Winston Brothers
Genre: Contemporary romance with motorcycle club and new adult elements
Format read: E-book borrowed from local library
Sweet or hot?: Medium heat level; although it is somewhat sweet, you would have to cut large chunks out to make this a Hallmark movie.
Disclosure: “Some of the links in this post are affiliate links. This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission.”
This was my first time reading a Penny Reid book and, despite the fact that I only gave it two stars on Goodreads, I am looking forward to reading the first book in her Knitting in the City series. The majority of books I read get three stars, so a two-star rating from me isn't necessarily bad. It just means that there were a few elements of the style that I had trouble reconciling.
Truth or Beard is the story of Jess and Duane, a couple who were enemies as children but find that their adversarial passion has turned into something more complicated (but no less heated) as adults. Duane has an outgoing and sociable identical twin named Beau who inspired a monumental case of hero worship in Jess, while Duane was the brooding brother who couldn't stand the sight of her -- or so she thought. Just as Duane and Jess discover that they are attracted to each other, a new obstacle comes into play: Duane is all about home and family and has strong roots in their hometown of Green Valley, while Jess has only come home long enough to save money for her dream of traveling the world. Add in a subplot involving a local motorcycle club and illegal activities, and you have the main conflicts of this book.
The hurdle I had to overcome with this book was the tone. Reid has a light, fun style that is quite enjoyable, so I was brought up short when there was a heavy make-out scene about 15 pages into the story. Although the majority of romances that I read would be classified as "sweet", I am not a prude. However, the heavy petting that soon in the story made me feel exposed. If this story were a house, then the sex started on the porch when I was expecting to get up to the bedroom first. After that, the story seems to back up into sweet romance territory for a little while. Duane's desire to take the relationship slowly and treat Jess with respect is lovely, and I enjoyed reading how Jess was learning to interpret what she had always thought was Duane's brooding nature. When the sex comes back, it feels more natural.
One of the reasons I picked up this book is because I've been hearing other romance readers mention the motorcycle-club subgenre as a favorite. I'm trying to branch out and read something other than the historical Christian romances that are a staple of my reading list. This was my first romance where a motorcycle club is part of the plot, and I am still undecided as to whether it is for me. I didn't get much of a sense of danger, and it took a bit of willpower for me to read the scenes with the Iron Wraiths instead of just skimming them. The Iron Wraiths reminded me of that rowdy element most small towns have, and you can easily avoid any trouble with them simply by staying away from their side of town.
Although this book follows minor characters from Beauty and the Mustache, the fourth book in Reid's Knitting in the City series, it is definitely a standalone novel. It is very difficult for me to enjoy series books out of sequence, yet I didn't get the feeling that I was missing anything from not reading the previous book. If I hadn't already known that this book was a spinoff, I wouldn't have suspected until the very end.
Truth or Beard at Overdrive
Truth or Beard at Amazon
Truth or Beard at Book Depository