Truth or Beard (Winston Brothers #1) by Penny Reid
Published by Cipher-Naught on July 21, 2015
my rating: ★★★.5
Goodreads avg: 3.96 (as of 2019-08-04)
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Identical twins Beau and Duane Winston might share the same devastatingly handsome face, but where Beau is outgoing and sociable, Duane is broody and reserved. This is why Jessica James, recent college graduate and perpetual level-headed good girl, has been in naïve and unhealthy infatuation with Beau Winston for most of her life.
His friendly smiles make her tongue-tied and weak-kneed, and she’s never been able to move beyond her childhood crush. Whereas Duane and Jessica have always been adversaries. She can’t stand him, and she’s pretty sure he can’t stand the sight of her…
But after a case of mistaken identity, Jessica finds herself in a massive confusion kerfuffle. Jessica James has spent her whole life paralyzed by the fantasy of Beau and her assumptions of Duane’s disdain; therefore she’s unprepared for the reality that is Duane’s insatiable interest, as well as his hot hands and hot mouth and hotter looks. Not helping Jessica’s muddled mind and good girl sensibilities, Duane seems to have gotten himself in trouble with the local biker gang, the Iron Order.
Certainly, Beau’s magic spell is broken. Yet when Jessica finds herself drawn to the man who was always her adversary, now more dangerous than ever, how much of her level-head heart is she willing to risk?
This was the first book I read out of the Hilariously Ever After collection, which I snagged while it was free on Amazon. I’ve been in such a bad slump recently and decided some romance might help me through. And boy, was I right! I devoured Truth or Beard in one lengthy sitting, finishing sometime around 2:30am with no regrets.
I’ll get the things I didn’t like out of the way first, because there were a few. The first is probably the most minor and it’s the writing style. I literally almost DNFed on the second page because I couldn’t stand how it was written, but I persevered and ended up adjusting to it very quickly. There were still a few moments where I was thrown out of the story by the writing, but for the most part it wasn’t too bad.
There were also quite a few moments of questionable consent, which really rubbed me the wrong way. First and foremost is a scene where Jess thinks she’s getting hot and heavy with one twin when it turns out to be another. But throughout the whole book, Jess keeps physically accosting Duane even when he is definitely not giving enthusiastic consent — and she’s noticing that he’s not! I know that this kind of portrayal is common in romance novels, but I just couldn’t help but feel really icky every time it came up.
Thirdly was the slut-shaming leveled at Jess’ cousin Tina, who is a stripper and groupie for the local biker gang. One line about her was literally “I couldn’t talk to her about anything, because she didn’t know about anything other than townie gossip, biker gossip, how to work a pole, and how to spread her legs.” Loove the air-headed slut trope, thanks /sarcasm. On a related note, the last thing that I didn’t like was everything involving the biker gang. I agree with Destiny that it actually subtracted from the plot, and that I ended up skimming a lot of those interactions.
But, there was still plenty to like! The characters were all super well-fleshed out. There were plenty of funny lines to laugh at, too. Duane’s relationships with his brothers basically made the whole book for me. I adored them all so much and am actually quite excited to continue the series so I can get some more time with them. The chemistry between Duane and Jess, while perhaps overemphasized, was legit as well.
While it looks like there’s a lot more to dislike than to like, I really found this to be quite a fun read. If you’re looking for some easy-to-read romance, this is definitely a good candidate. I’m hoping some of the issues I had are remedied in the rest of the series, and I’ll definitely be trying them out.