Monday, July 30, 2018

ARC Review: Dr. Strange Beard by Penny Reid

Series:Winston Brothers #5
Pub. Date:July 30, 2018
Length:350 pgs

Dr. Strange Beard is the fifth installment of Penny Reid's Winston Brothers series, set in one of my favorite fictional locations - Green Valley, Tennessee. If you haven't been following the series, I guess you could technically read this one as a standalone, but why would you? Start at the beginning so you get the full affect of this beautiful small southern town on the cusp of the Smoky Mountains, and come to know and love the Winston brothers (and sister) as much as I do. 

Our featured Winston brother in this installment is Roscoe, the youngest Winston. Roscoe was a bit of an enigma in earlier stories, he was in the picture but not fully, if you know what I mean. We always caught glimpses of him heading off into the woods, or coming in from the woods, and just didn't get to know him as well as the other family members. But now we learn all about Roscoe and the reasons behind his aloof behavior. Roscoe was a unique hero and I really liked him. He has an eidetic memory, a la Sheldon Cooper, but his is specific to situations and he definitely doesn't give off that Cooper nerdy vibe. No, Roscoe may be smart and aloof, but he is also charming and flirty. Those things aren't quite compliments to Roscoe, however, as you will come to learn throughout the story. He was quite broody and had a tendency to run away from his problems until he could get things all sorted out in his own head. Sometimes that was frustrating, but I understood why things got to be too much for him... especially when you could never forget. As I said, I liked his character and his uniqueness. All of the Winston brothers have been special, and he was no different. I commend Penny for giving them all their special features, showing that not all heroes have to be absolute alpha males to win the reader over.

Our heroine is Simone Payton, who we also caught glimpses of in other installments of the series. Her family is well-known in Green Valley, and her and Roscoe have a history going back to their childhood. She has now returned as an undercover FBI agent, working in her mama's diner, Daisy's Nut House (home of those famous doughnuts!). Simone was smart and sassy, like most of Penny's heroines. I loved her intelligence and her ability to take care of herself, physically speaking. She wasn't quite sure what to do about Roscoe. Seeing him after ten years brought up a lot of feelings. And Simone doesn't seem to do well with feelings. She has always been determined not to fall in love, thinking it just wasn't for her. But she and Roscoe had a special relationship, and she has missed him. Simone also had a somewhat dichotomous feature... she was a bad liar, but was able to work successfully in this undercover assignment. Sometimes that seemed odd, but I guess she tried to stay to the truth as much as possible. Penny worked in some social justice issues with Simone's character, and I thought those were well-written and salient points.

Given the history between Simone and Roscoe, their relationship was hot and cold. They had to get past unresolved feelings and past hurts, and there was the little matter that Simone couldn't be 100% honest with Roscoe. But once they got everything worked out, I absolutely loved them together. I actually wish there had been more time spent with them together as a couple, because I wanted to see how they got along.

As rumored in the last book, Beard in Mind, Darrell Winston was likely getting out of prison and headed back to Green Valley. He is determined to drag his children, specifically Roscoe, back into his life and problems. Of course this gave us our secondary plot line and provided an alternate focus and a little suspense for the story. I thought this was integrated well and helped advance the plot when Simone and Roscoe were being stubborn.

Family was not as heavily involved in this installment. They were still there, just not butting in at every turn like they sometimes do. The Winstons are scattered across the globe now. I kinda wish they were all staying in Green Valley, as I love the setting. And the Winstons help to make up the setting and town. I am still the most intrigued by Billy Winston, and there is some foreshadowing for his character in this book. I can't wait to get my grabby hands on his story.

I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book that I received from the author.

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