If you’re looking for non-stop laughs to accompany your romance, then Penny Reid is likely to sooth your palate. This story also touches upon some very important issues in our society, including the treatment of minorities (in this case, the heroine is Hispanic) as well as body size issues (again which impact the heroine who is a size 14 actress). Ms. Reid does an admirable job of pointing out some of the difficulties that the heroine has to maneuver and overcome as a “plus-size,” Latina actress in Hollywood, as well as delivering a compelling love story and entertaining scenes that are sure to keep you glued to your earbuds. Added to that, the talented narration by Cielo Camargo and Chris Brinkley make this a good title to experience in audio format.
Grin and Beard It, the second book in the Winston Brothers series, continues the story of the love lives and trials and tribulations of six bearded brothers from the mountains of Green Valley, Tennessee. They all share some similarities as part of their growing up in the small town that is dominated by a local motorcycle club (MC) of the illegal variety and to which their father (who has been a father only in name) belonged to until he landed himself in jail for a long term for various crimes. That notwithstanding, however, each brother has his own unique attributes and challenges and in Book 2 we are treated to the story of Jethro Winston, the oldest brother. While it certainly is helpful to have read or listened to Book 1, Truth or Beard, for some of the family background, it is not absolutely necessary, as the hero’s background and the hero’s and heroine’s love story is fully contained within this book.
Sienna Diaz is Hollywood royalty as she has not only starred in but also written many recent box office comedy hits. Stunning studio executives with her wild popularity, notwithstanding that she doesn’t fit the typical Hollywood size 2 actress mold, Sienna nonetheless frequently is reminded by her co-star and former boyfriend (Tom) how she should be watching what she eats and is constantly hounded by her sister and manager to attend openings and other gatherings for Hollywood’s elite with another handsome actor on her arm. But Sienna is tired of having to attend events with Tom in tow just for the Hollywood cameras. Moreover, she’s exhausted with the crazy schedule she has been keeping to make Hollywood happy, and while grateful for her success, is ready to slow things down and take a vacation away from the limelight. But when her sister insists that she take on one more writing/acting role in Green Valley, Tennessee, Sienna does what she has been doing for years and hits the road for her next gig.
However, once she finds herself in the rural mountains of Tennessee, she gets lost until a very handsome, bearded Park Ranger spots her on the side of the road trying to make heads or tails of a map and comes to her rescue. Jethro Winston, however, is likely the only person in the US who hasn’t heard of Sienna Diaz, so imagine her surprise when she finds he has no clue who she is and misunderstands her mumbled introduction such that he thinks her name is “Sarah.” Moreover, he seems genuinely attracted to her (not to her stardom but actually her) and is as good a flirt as she is!
So Sienna decides to roll with it and doesn’t dispel his misunderstanding. However, a secret this big can’t remain unknown for long, and Jethro has his own background secrets that he is afraid may cause Sienna to run, including a stint as a thief for the MC until the death of his best friend caused him to reevaluate his priorities, including his prior treatment of women when he was an MC member. As a consequence, he’s been celibate for 5 years and plans to remain that way until he marries. Can there possibly be a HEA under these circumstances, especially once the media gets involved?
Cielo Camargo and Chris Brinkley narrate this story in the typical fashion for stories told from dual point of views, with Ms. Camargo reading the chapters from Sienna’s perspective, and Chris the ones from Jethro’s. This style works generally well for this story, and for the most part, I enjoyed both of their renditions.
In particular, I thought Ms. Camargo had great timing with the plentiful comical lines. As Sienna is a comedian, and she also resorts to jokes as a crutch when she feels uncomfortable, Ms. Camargo is tasked with the heavy load of the jokes in Grin and Beard It and she delivers them well, eliciting maximum impact. Ms. Camargo also is able to create various degrees of Hispanic accents for Sienna, her sister and her mother, with Sienna’s being nearly undetectable, her sister’s a tad bit more pronounced, and her mother’s being quite heavy. This works well for differentiation of these characters.
Mr. Brinkley also delivers a good narration. His voice is quite deep and he’s able to give Jethro and his brothers a slight mountain, back country twang so that it’s believable that they are from Tennessee. He also has a sexy tone to his delivery which imparts believable chemistry into Jethro’s various flirtatious dialogues with Sienna. Perhaps my only critical observation of Mr. Brinkley’s rendition is that the brothers all had a similar sound to them making it difficult to tell them apart without dialogue tags. Then again with 6 brothers, all from Green Valley, Tennessee, it would likely be difficult for any narrator to produce 6 different distinguishable voices for each brother.
All in all, I really enjoyed listening to Grin and Beard It and I can’t wait to continue with the Winston Brothers’ stories in Book 3, Beard Science, which has already been released in audio format.
Narration: Cielo Camargo B+/Chris Brinkley B
Book Content: B+
Steam Factor: Glad I had my earbuds in
Violence Rating: None
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Publisher: Penny Reid
Grin & Beard It was provided to AudioGals for a review.