Daisy Payton and Trevor Boone are two of the most likeable characters I have come across in a long time and their HEA is a sweet yet realistic coming-of-age story. Set in 1975 at Fisk University – an historically Black university in Nashville, Tennessee – Upsy Daisy tells the origin story of two beloved characters from Penny Reid’s The Winston Brothers series.
First, a little context: A few years ago, Penny Reid offered her universe of characters to other authors to expand upon. In the words of her publishing company, Smartypants Romance:
Penny Reid opened up her Universe to allow several different authors to publish stories set there, either new stories about characters readers are already familiar with, or brand new characters. Smartypants Romance is the umbrella under which they are published. The goal is to give Penny Reid’s readership new stories about the worlds/characters they love to read about while also providing a platform for talented authors (as well as mentorship and guidance behind the scenes).
And so we have Upsy Daisy, which gives us the romantic history of Daisy and Trevor Payton, parents to Simone Payton, heroine of Dr. Strange Beard, and owners of the much visited Daisy’s Nut House in Green Valley, Tennessee.
Upsy Daisy begins with Daisy Payton, freshman, moving into her dorm at Fisk. Trevor Boone, senior, is assisting the freshmen. Eyes meet and hearts are moved! Daisy is excited to be away from her family – the Paytons are the wealthy owners of one of the biggest lumber mills in Tennessee – and Daisy has been weighed down by all the responsibility and isolation that this brings. She’s also weighed down by grief. She lost her brother a few years earlier to the Vietnam War and her mother to cancer just the year before. What Daisy wants most of all is a fresh start and a chance to be out from under the Payton name. She manages to convince the registrar that her name is Paxton not Payton and begins to reinvent her history.
Trevor Boone wouldn’t mind rewriting history either. He was abandoned by his parents as a child and sent to live with cold, selfish relatives who, although wealthy themselves, always made Trevor feel guilty for trespassing on their ‘kindness’. The best thing Trevor got from them is his cousin and best friend Julian. Trevor has had a stellar college experience and plans to quickly move on to business school and financial independence. He’s got a plan and nothing is going to stand in his way.
Until he gets distracted by Daisy.
Upsy Daisy switches PoVs between Trevor and Daisy and it is a great format for this book. Both characters have a lot on their plates and both have history that makes it difficult to be together, so it was perfect to be able to see what exactly they were thinking. The book also does a good job talking about racism, issues around gender identity, the socio-economic divide and more basic concerns like what it means to be part of a family. There is a lot packed into these pages but the story flows smoothly from start to finish, tackling the issues and giving the reader an enjoyable tale.
I have read all the Winston Brothers books so I was already a fan of the very upstanding and kind couple Daisy and Trevor Payton are. They are the parents every child hopes for, so it was a delight to see them as kids themselves and to see that they, too, had a bumpy start and made some questionable decisions in their college days. There is hope for us all.
Quick side note. Although I’ve given this one a ‘warm’ sensuality rating – and it has loads of mental undressing and shenanigans – there’s only one sex scene near the end, so if you like your romances steamy, it may not suit you.
There are over twenty books already released in the ‘Pennyverse’, including the Knitting in the City series as well as the Winston Brothers. Thank you Penny Reid for offering your universe to other talented writers. Fans of the Green Valley characters will definitely enjoy Upsy Daisy, but it has a much broader appeal – it is also a great story on its own. Recommended!