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Also in this series: Grin & Beard It, Beard Science, A Beard In Mind
Published by Cipher-Naught on November 4, 2019
Genres: Contemporary, Romance
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Billy Winston’s family is going to see him happy and in love if it’s the last thing they do.
No one deserves a happily-ever-after quite as much as the second oldest Winston brother and his lady love, Claire McClure (aka Scarlet St. Claire). Cruelty and circumstance tore them apart almost twenty years ago. Secrecy and bitterness kept them separated.
But you know who's tired of their separation and stubbornness? Everyone. Especially Billy Winston’s family. And now they're going to do something about it.
Well-meaning interference means the star-crossed lovers can’t stop tripping over each other in the hills of Tuscany, the catacombs of Rome, and the waterways of Venice. Billy and Claire find themselves thrown together and at the mercy of the Winston siblings’ shenanigans.
But will their forced proximity bring them together? Or push them even further apart?
This second-chance romance brings back the entire Winston gang, playing cupid in one last story of love, hi-jinks, and family collusion.
BEARD NECESSITIES is a full-length contemporary romantic comedy, and can be read as a stand-alone, but it’s probably best read after books 0.5, 2, 3, 5, and 6 of the Winston Brothers series.
I was provided a review copy by Penny Reid; this did not influence my opinion of the book.
❝The soul becomes dyed with the color of its thoughts and my soul was still Scarlet.❞
Wow. Just wow! I ended this book with a face full of tears and a tinge of melancholy in my heart. This series is more than “just a series” to me, and as this chapter closes on the Winston clan, I am left an irrational sense of emptiness. I remind myself that these are just characters in a story, but then I laugh at the ridiculousness, because I know I’m lying as I try to deny that they have become like a family to me. I’ve loved them, been mad at them, rejoiced with them, and cried with them.
Billy Winston, the stalwart protector of his family, has been the one person we never knew much about but always felt like we knew. He was strong, stubborn, and an unfailing protector. He took care of what was his despite his safety. Billy didn’t have a selfish bone in his body, and that would come back to haunt him. Because his need to protect kept him away from the only person he ever loved (outside of his family), but the one person who was always outside his reach.
❝You are the architect and artist of my own personal paradise.❞
Meanwhile, Claire was filled with guilt of loving and desiring a man other than her husband. A man who was always hers but never within her reach. Guilt kept her away from Billy.
But the Winston clan would bring them together again. Lead by Cletus, his family realized it was time for them to put Billy first, and to intervene in his life, to take charge. And take charge they did! They schemed, they manipulated, they lied, and they pulled pranks, all with the end goal of bringing Claire and Billy together once and for all.
Billy’s devotion to and love for Claire was so pure and grounded in their rich history. Not always good and not always bad, the two shared experiences that no one else had or ever would. Their experiences bonded them with the strength of steel. It was unbreakable. It may have taken them a while to find their way back to each other, but Billy needed to hate Claire to love her, and Claire needed to lose Billy to love him.
Y’all! Reid killed it with her quote-worthy phrases. I could seriously gather them all and put them on throw pillows around my home!
❝Nothing lasts forever. Not a song, not happiness, not misery. Mere survival was no safer than living for hopes and dreams. At the end, there will always be the end.
So why not dream? Why not hope? Why not live life with wild faith and abandon? Why not take the risk? Otherwise, all these moments–small or momentous, heaven on earth–would be lost to fear.❞
Saying goodbye is not easy! This has been a top favorite series, and even though I know Reid has more books in store, I’m not sure there will ever be another series that I love as much as this one.
Strolling to the desk, I set down the milk and cookies, crossed my arms and turned to face my brother. “You’re pointing out that Scarlet and I will see each other during various family functions.”
“And, therefore,” I continued reasonably, “I need to be nice to her.” I knew that already, and tonight—after watching her face crumple and feeling a part of my soul shrivel at the sight—I’d finally accepted it. I would be nice. I would be so damn nice. I’d be a saint.
But then Cletus said, “No, Billy. Not nice. Nice is for tea parties and doctor’s visits. You need to woo her.”
I blinked once. “Woo her.”
“That’s right. You need to woo the pants off her, hopefully literally, and then make that woman yours. Permanently. Once and for all. Put a ring on it. Woo is where it’s at. Jenn still has the centerpieces from our wedding if you’d like to borrow them.” During this enlightening monologue, he’d moseyed over and picked up the glass of milk and a cookie, dunked the cookie into the milk, and then took a bite just as he’d finished his listings of delusions.
“That’s never going to happen.”
“Why not? Those centerpieces are lovely. You don’t know your color scheme yet. Ask Scarlet before you decide.”
I ground my teeth. “Scarlet and I are never going to happen, Cletus.”
He shook his head firmly. “I’m disappointed in your lack of ambition, Billy. I thought we’d be on the same page. But I see now, I’m going to have to take a tough love approach.”
“I’m going to give you one chance,” he said, then pushed the rest of the cookie in his mouth and spoke around it as he continued, “One more chance is all you get. I’ve waited long enough for this and you know my feelings on delayed gratification.”
“It’s overrated.” He took a gulp of milk and picked up another cookie.
“No, Cletus. One chance on what?”
“I’m giving you one chance. One.” He pointed the cookie at me. “Tomorrow, you’re going to go find her, apologize to her for whatever that kerflufflefuck was I walked in on. Tell her you were suffering from temporary insanity, hopped up on illicit drugs, abducted by asshole probing aliens, whatever. I’m giving you one chance to make this right, and if you don’t take it, you are not going to like what happens next.”