Review: Grin and Beard It by Penny Reid (2016)


My Rating: 5 stars                                          Read: 3/10/2017

Lists: None


  • New Releases Challenge
  • My Romance Challenge


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?


I love humorous romance, and it’s so hard to find great authors in this niche. So when I find one, I’m incredibly grateful and loyal. In m/f romance, a couple of my go-to authors are Tessa Dare in regency and Penny Reid in contemporary. I only found Penny Reid last fall, but she is awesome!

This is the second book in the “Winston Brothers” series that I’ve read. The first was “Beard Science”, book #3, and I loved that book so much. “Grin and Beard It” doesn’t quite match up to Cletus and the Banana Bread Queen (in book #3), which was fricking hilarious. However, “Grin and Beard It” is still an amazing 5 star read.

“Grin and Beard It” started out a little slow for me. It felt like there was a lot of back story fill in for the first 20%. Also, I wasn’t into all the Hollywood/movie star stuff about Sienna. I’m usually not a fan of movie star characters for the same reason that I’m not a fan of billionaire heros. I’m just not that impressed and googly-eyed over success and fame. In fact, I prefer “down homey” stories, which is one of the huge charms of this series. It features a family of brothers in the Great Smokey Mountains of Tennessee. In other words, the series is about as non Hollywood as you can get.

However, Sierra’s character won me over. She’s a comedian, a Latina, and a size 14-18 (depending on the proximity of cookies and holidays, she says). So that went a long way to nixing her Hollywood patina. Mainly, she’s funny and is always cracking jokes, which made for fun reading. The hero, Jethro, is a reformed bad boy turned park ranger and head of the Winston clan. He’s a smooth flirt and a serious guy trying to make up for past mistakes. He meets Sierra when she comes to the Great Smokey Mountains to shoot a film, gets lost on the mountain roads, and he rescues her.

Besides the just sheer fun writing, which is top notch, I enjoyed the entire Winston clan, especially seeing Cletus again. There’s a folksy, small town voice in this series. The brothers all talk with a southern hillbilly twang that manages to be very intelligent, and they say things like this:
“We don’t believe in false pleasantries in these parts, nor do we kick a fella when he’s down. So I’ll just say, bless your heart, and leave it at that.”

I have no idea why, but I find that folksy voice really appealing. It reminds me of Pamela Morsi’s books. LOVE.

As for the romance, the obstacles mainly revolve around Sienna’s fame and her manager/sister trying to force her to a) stay focused on her work and b) go out with other stars who can increase her exposure. Meanwhile, Jethro is a nice guy with no intention of leaving Tennessee and no interest in being paparazzi fodder, especially given his shaky past. I enjoyed their love story, and the progression of it. The angst point wasn’t too drawn out or ugly, which I appreciated. There’s not a ton of detailed sex, which is fine by me. I much prefer an actual plot in my romances, and the UST was palpable. When the sex did happen, there was a real connection there.  I liked that Sienna was still funny, and thought funny things during sex, even though it was heated.

My only nit is that I would have liked more closure on several issues. Sienna really looks forward to having her parents meet Jethro, but we don’t get to see that happen. Nor do we get any idea of the Hollywood fallout of Jethro being exposed as her boyfriend, even though that’s a big fear throughout the book. Also, I feel like the sister/manager Marta just sort of gave up and is dropped out of the tale, but there’s not an active, on page resolution between the sisters. Why does Marta push Sienna so hard? And what happens to Smash Girl?  But I suppose those points may be covered later in the series.

By Rodan’s ceiling fan (Sienna), this is a delightful book and series and I absolutely, whole-heartedly recommend it to all romance lovers.

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