Donna Reads: Truth or Beard (Winston Brothers #1) by Penny Reid

duaneJessica James returns home after college to take a teaching job as a Calculus teacher at the local high school. She is the Sheriff’s daughter, and her brother is the deputy. It’s a small town where everyone knows everyone else, and weekend nights are spent at the community center listening to locals making music. She’s grown up with the Winston family (there are six boys and one girl). Jess has always had a thing for Beau Winston, but she’s tongue-tied and awkward in his presence, never able to tell him how she feels. She doesn’t suffer the same affliction with his identical twin brother, Duane. She and Duane have spent their entire lives battling. They are like oil and water. One night at the community center Jess gets up the nerve to talk to Beau, and she is stunned when he leads her to a private spot and kisses her. The chemistry between them is immediate. She’s even more stunned when she discovers Beau is not Beau. He’s Duane.

Parts of this romance were sweet, and parts of it were frustrating. I liked Duane. He’s moody, quiet and not always able to express himself as well as his more outgoing twin. I liked him a lot better than Beau. Duane has always loved Jess; he was just never able to tell her. Jess is a bit of a dimwit at times. That was frustrating. She was supposed to be super smart, and at times she came off as seriously stupid. I do like that once she figured out how she felt about Duane, she was all-in and wouldn’t let him walk away. Her lifelong dream has always been to leave the small town and travel the world, living other places and experiencing life elsewhere. She can’t see past that and at first refuses to commit to a relationship with Duane because that would stifle her dreams. He loves her enough that he can let her go and he won’t hold her back. Her siren call has always been to travel; I loved it when he told her that she was his siren call.

I did find the Winston brothers themselves to be a bit goofy, and it got more pronounced as the book went on. The heroine even called them a bunch of hillbillies. They all have beards, most of them live together in the family homestead, and they drink moonshine. The hillbilly vibe and even the way the characters spoke became more rural as the novel progressed. That was a little bizarre. Otherwise, this was a decent read.

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