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Desert Isle Keeper

Beard in Mind

Penny Reid

WARNING: This book contains a main character with severe OCD who self-harms.  If you find this subject matter triggering – even though the author handles it with tact – then this might not be a comfortable read for you.  Proceed with caution.

Everyone loves those Winston boys.  And who can blame them?  They’re funny, sexy, charming, charismatic and good at soothing the most severe of tempers.  In Beard in Mind, a heart-gladdening, serio-comic fourth volume chronicling the lives and loves of these seven southern-born siblings, kindly Beau gets a shot at romance with a prickly new girl who’s come to the garage to replace his twin brother Duane.

Beau Winston is the kind of guy who hangs out with little old ladies and helps out with repairs at his best friend’s strip club for free.  He’s also the kind of man who mistakes Shelly Sullivan for the stripper that said best friend has sent to him as a thank-you for doing him a big favor.  Beau and Shelly proceed to get on like oil and water, and even though Beau finds her devastatingly attractive, Shelly is cold and off-putting to everyone from crude bikers to kind firemen to tiny, cute children.  He soon wants the insolent  Shelly out of the garage; unfortunately, with his twin brother, Duane, preparing to set off on a voyage around the world with his new girlfriend, the garage needs another mechanic, and Shelly’s the best at what she does.  His brother Cletus refuses to fire her and Beau makes do – and soon comes to appreciate and resent Shelly’s moxie in equal doses.

It turns out there’s a very serious reason for Shelly’s attitude – she has a severe case of OCD that, among other severe symptoms, causes her to cut herself.  Her fear of touching others has placed a wall between her, her family back in Chicago and anyone who’s tried to befriend her since.  Beau’s attraction isn’t as one-sided as it seems, but Shelly has no plans to stay in Tennessee once her treatment is complete and a secret past to return to once she feels comfortable. Beau, meanwhile, is in a one-sided relationship with Darlene Simmons, with whom he’s conducting a long-distance romance while she goes to med school.  And if that isn’t enough, he’s trying to wage peace with the town’s motorcycle club, who want revenge because their founder is in prison thanks to his ne’er-do-well father.  Can Shelly and Beau find a way to be together even with the weight of their troubles?

Beard In Mind isn’t quite the book you think it’s going to be when you pick it up.  While it starts out as a light comedy, it quickly becomes a beautiful romance, a dramatic character study and a motorcycle gang related action drama.  The narrative evolves into something both deep and rich, accessible and easy to leap into. Reid has a marvelous way with words.  She also knows her cars and vehicles and her pastries and her salty-mouthed birds.  The end result is an adventure and a feast for the mind and a lovely romance that provokes and intrigues.

Reid’s characters are complex, funny individuals – sometimes they’re wonderful, but sometimes their personalities grate.  Beau can be sweet, but he can also be a bit childish.   Shelly can be condescending and icy in degrees that are confusing until we’re made aware of the difficulties under which she’s operating.  She’s a purveyor of wit (“If I wanted commentary on my ass I’d go to a proctologist” after she fends off unwanted comments from a biker is my favorite line), but the book’s swing toward drama doesn’t allow for much of that.  When Shelly is fearlessly staring down an angry motorcycle gang member and saving Beau from harm, she’s amazing.  Reid takes Shelly’s OCD seriously, and it’s nice to have a heroine who has a psychotherapist, who has OCD and isn’t demonized for it, and who strongly reject’s her hero’s initial reaction, which is filled with frantic pity.

Beau, too, is a wonderful hero.  Kind, strong, tender, a tad frantic, and brilliant with both a car and with the womenfolk, when Beau’s hanging out with his brothers and friends, he’s amazing.  His reaction to Shelly’s OCD is both realistic and tender

Together they evolve strongly into a lovely couple.  There’s steamy physical attraction, soul-shaking tenderness and fierce loyalty.  It’s a treat to watch the two of them get together.

There’s only one big flaw with the book, and that is that there’s a lot of drama going on at once, which can leave the reader feeling emotionally exhausted.  Perhaps there are too many plot twists, and perhaps the Darlene mini-plot could’ve been sliced out without much fuss.

But that’s a minor problem in the grand scheme of things.  As Ms. Reid says in her author’s note, every single person on the planet deserves love.  Here’s to Beau and Shelly – two imperfect but memorable characters worthy of the same, from readers and from one another.

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Book Details

Reviewer :      Lisa Fernandes


Grade :     A-


Sensuality :      Warm


Book Type :     


Review Tags :     


Recent Comments

21 Comments

  1. Blackjack
    Blackjack August 1, 2017 at 5:32 pm - Reply

    Just downloaded it to read today!

  2. amers August 1, 2017 at 6:05 pm - Reply

    So bummed about your “trigger warning”. What an abrupt spoiler to a book I was looking forward to.

    When I questioned use of a “trigger warning” tags last year in an author commentary, I was told it was done at the author’s request. Has AAR changed their process?

    Not a fan.

    • Dabney Grinnan
      Dabney Grinnan August 1, 2017 at 6:41 pm - Reply

      Our reviewer felt it wasn’t a spoiler–I asked her before we posted it. I have to say, there’s no easy way to win with this. We take each case on an individual basis and, when a reviewer asks to put in a trigger warning, I ask her/him to explain why it is needed and we take steps to make sure there are no spoilers. I’m sorry that, in this case, our process didn’t work for you.

    • Blackjack August 1, 2017 at 7:26 pm - Reply

      I don’t really think the heroine’s OCD and self-harm is a spoiler since it has been openly discussed everywhere I’ve seen the book mentioned that this is what the book is about. Penny Reid has been posting very openly and frequently that this is the primary theme of the book, and I think she wants readers to be aware before reading it. I personally hate the words “trigger warning” and the protection from ideas readers seem to expect in our culture, but I don’t mind reviewers discussing the main themes of a book so that readers/consumers can make informed purchasing decisions.

    • Lisa Fernandes
      Lisa Fernandes August 2, 2017 at 5:59 am - Reply

      Sorry you felt like my review spoiled you -as Dabney and Blackjack have said, I felt it was truly necessary to warn readers, and most of the publicity Ms. Reid has done for the book speaks to the research she applied to it. In addition, Shelly’s self-harming and OCD come up very quickly – the first scene we have in the book with Shelly alone outside of the scope of Beau’s POV reveals this information.

      While the author handled it with tact and a lot of feeling, I felt that Shelly’s intense sense of panic (which the author describes very vividly) and the description of the cuts on her body at least warranted something of a warning; I have had friends that have OCD with similar symptoms to Shelly’s, and the book’s depiction would have likely set them into a self-harming episode if they weren’t warned beforehand of the book’s content. I just didn’t want to risk someone getting hurt on my watch because I’d kept that under wraps!

      Hopefully you’ll enjoy the book, as I kept a large number of plot twists and juicy details out of the review!

  3. LeeF August 1, 2017 at 11:50 pm - Reply

    I have so enjoyed this series and every book from Penny Reid that I am more than willing to take a risk on ” a lot of drama going on at once”. Even the current price tag, usually a deal breaker for me, isn’t keeping me from a one-click purchase. Here I go!

  4. Robin August 2, 2017 at 10:12 am - Reply

    Since this is part of a series, should I read the first three volumes first – or can I dive right into this one?

    • Dabney Grinnan
      Dabney Grinnan August 2, 2017 at 12:18 pm - Reply

      They all work just fine as stand-alones although the one before this was more rewarding for having read the first three.

    • Lisa Fernandes
      Lisa Fernandes August 8, 2017 at 8:28 am - Reply

      As someone who’s a complete newbie to the series, I can honestly say that I was able to easily jump in without any prior knowledge of the other books. The other brothers were used perfectly; In fact, it made me want to read their books!

  5. Emily August 2, 2017 at 11:21 am - Reply

    Thank you so much for being up front about the self-harm themes of this book. I hadn’t seen this yet, and I plan to read the book. As someone who has struggled with self-harm in the past and can feel shaky around descriptions of it, I appreciate knowing what I am getting into with this book.

  6. Em Wittmann
    Em Wittmann August 4, 2017 at 10:01 am - Reply

    I loved this. It’s – by far – my favorite Penny Reid novel yet. I loved this pairing and their affection for each other. I love loved it! The epilogue…sigh. wow this was good. And long!!!!! I never wanted it to end.

    Re: the trigger warning. We rate movies and videogames to help audiences decide if something is appropriate for them. Those ratings are followed by a list of content to further distinguish why/how the rating was earned – e.g. sexual violence, guns, language… Books and trigger warnings – to me – are much the same AND to way protect those vulnerable to the content. I think, in this case especially, they are a good and necessary ‘evil,’ and the benefits outweighed the negatives.

    • Dabney Grinnan
      Dabney Grinnan August 4, 2017 at 4:23 pm - Reply

      I am deeply ambivalent about them. If we’d given trigger warnings for Gather the Daughters, we would have ruined the book for our readers. I think rating a movie is so much more general so that analogy doesn’t work for me. It’s easy enough to Google books and most Amazon books have reviews in them that have those sorts of warnings. That said, I don’t wish to inflict pain on anyone.

      • amers August 4, 2017 at 6:22 pm - Reply

        Dabney, What I found interesting in Lisa’s response to her reason for asking to have a trigger warning included, is that I found her reason much more thoughtful, helpful and meaningful than the trigger warning was! I would have had no problem inserting a version of Lisa’s 2nd paragraph of why, into the review itself. It could easily have fit within the first few paragraphs.
        I am not opposed to sharing the info (I too don’t want to hurt anyone!), I just feel the “trigger warning” label is often too generic and doesn’t do justice to the readers and in a sense makes us all victims. Whereas honest commentary within the body of the review keeps it specific to the book/characters, and allows for awareness based on this specificity. And rather than being bashed over the head with a generic warning, I instead feel a strong sense of compassion and an awaren

    • Lisa Fernandes
      Lisa Fernandes August 8, 2017 at 8:38 am - Reply

      The romance sets this one sailing, doesn’t it? I just loved Shelly and Beau by the time they got past their initial oil and water phase.

  7. Em Wittmann
    Em Wittmann August 4, 2017 at 10:05 am - Reply

    ALSO. the parrot. OMG I laughed so hard everytime he appeared in the page.

    COCKS ARE FOR CLOSERS.

  8. Wendy August 4, 2017 at 4:29 pm - Reply

    I was rereading Beard Science last night (went back to check some scenes that are in both books then got sucked in again) and I realized why I didn’t like Beard In Mind as much as Beard Science. Beard Science has much more of Jennifer’s POV. Cletus is a hilarious POV and yet I enjoyed Jennifer just as much. In Beard In Mind it was mostly Beau, and he is not nearly as devious or interesting as Cletus, Jennifer or (my other favorite) Sienna. There were few Shelly POV scenes, and the ones that were there she was really down on herself.

    I also don’t see the point of the spoiler relating to Beau’s issue except maybe for future books? I can be patient, I guess.

    • Blackjack August 4, 2017 at 7:32 pm - Reply

      I’m only about 60% through Beard in Mind but I too am missing more of Shelly’s perspective. You have a good observation too that Shelly’s point of view is often of a negative nature and it would be nice to hear more positive views on her life as she does have many wonderful things that make her happy and proud. I am really enjoying the book but Dating-ish far surpasses it for me, as does last year’s Beard Science. No one yet beats Cletus as a Reid hero.

    • Lisa Fernandes
      Lisa Fernandes August 8, 2017 at 8:58 am - Reply

      You and Blackjack both have an excellent point. I think Reid’s narrative choice likely came about because she wanted to be thorough and authentic with Shelly’s OCD and ultimately she didn’t have time to even the field. It’s unfortunate because Beau has his (Plot Spoiler) happen and gets to have and experience things not directly connected to his romance with Shelly.

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