Mini Review: Grin and Beard It by Penny Reid

About mini reviews:

Maybe you’re not an audio book person, or maybe you are. I provide mini reviews of audio books and give a recommendation on the format. Was this book improved by a voice actor? Would a physical copy have been better? Perhaps they complement each other? Read on. . .

Sienna Diaz is the biggest name in Hollywood. She’s a writer and lead actress, and she won an Academic Award for best actress — in a comedy no less. She’s also on the fat side, her manipulative younger sister is her manager, and male actors try to cling to her in hopes that fame will rub off. When Sienna heads to Tennessee to start her next picture, she ends up lost on the Appalachia mountains, where Jethro Winston finds her. A wildlife ranger who has worked for five years to get back into everyone’s good graces after stealing cars, gang activity, and sleeping with every woman in town, Jethro is looking to stay on the right path. But when these two meet, yada, yada, yada.

Penny Reid wisely choose to write a large family; there are six Winston brothers and one sister, so that’s a guaranteed seven books to lasso readers with. I didn’t read the first book, and it seems to make no difference. Every Winston brother is bearded in the way that craft brewery dudes are now, and gorgeous, which to makes me roll my eyes. I know it’s trendy to be a woodland hipster, but not every guy looks great with a beard, and not everyone is factory-made perfect. Sienna describes herself as the “fat funny” Latina, but annoyingly she excuses her size by explaining she exercises daily. People do not need to excuse or explain their bodies to justify their existence. Yes, Sienna eats a cookie or donut if she wants to, but she also shares her clothes sizes, which is a big no from me. Penny Reid gives readers an opportunity to think, “Oh, she’s not that fat.” Jethro almost always explains his love for Sienna with a comment about her body.

On the other hand, Chris Brinkley and Cielo Camargo are the perfect choices to narrate Jethro and Sienna. Thanks to their natural accents and ability to capture one another (e.g. when Camargo narrators and reads dialogue from Jethro), I enjoyed listening to this book for quite a while. However, I got impatient and wanted the story over when there were still about four hours left (it’s twelve hours total) because it felt like nothing was happening. There was excessive talking about how much Sienna and Jethro love each other, they’re so perfect for each other, she doesn’t care if she hurts her career when the media learns about his past, etc. And Reid lays several of Chekhov’s guns all over the place without firing them, meaning her book is a terrible tease in an unacceptable way.

Pros: good audiobook readers, warm and fuzzies, fat main character.

Cons: fat character “acceptably” fat, plot could be shorter, lacks conflict.

This may be the perfect book if you’re in a reading slump or want something light, so if you do check out Grin and Beard It, I would recommend the audio version.

31 comments

  1. I’ve been tempted by this series because I do happen to like bearded guys generally, and I like the idea of a larger than usual size leading lady in this instalment, but I’m not keen on the Hollywood angle.
    Thanks for sharing your thoughts

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    • The Hollywood angle doesn’t play a big part. Personally, I would have liked more of her movie life to seep into the story, as celebrities never get a break from being themselves. However, Reid basically transplants the leading lady to Tennessee, and it’s like the outside world doesn’t exist. As I was listening, I think one thing I was hyper-aware of was the lack of real, meaningful flaws in the characters, ones that they would have to grow from. In Grin and Beard it, the characters need to ask themselves if they choose love or work, and the answer seemed too obvious. BUT! It was a fun, sexy read, so based on your interest and enjoyment of the bearded folk, I would say go for it!

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    • I don’t think you would like it, as you’re not quite warm and squishy in the way some folks are. I didn’t realize it would be quite so squishy myself. I think it’s likely everywhere because A) beards are in right now, and B) those fun cross-stitch covers are hard to resist.

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  2. Bah. This sounds like a dud. It sounds like you skipped book #1 in this series. Is that because this book has a fat protagonist and the first did not? I love the covers, but these books don’t really appeal to me in any other way.

    I’m so glad to hear about the audiobook narrators, though! That’s so important. Bad narrators can ruin a book. Do you feel like these narrators improved the book over all for you?

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    • I picked the book because it had a fat protagonist. Then, I learned that the book is part of a series, so I didn’t mean to skip book one. However, I think Reid developed the books so you get more out of reading them all, but you don’t have to read them all to get one of them.

      I think if the narrators had been other people, and not done as good of a job, I likely would have quit listening and had a DNF on my hands!

      You know who is a great narrator but it surprises me? Bronson Pinchot, the guy who famously played Balki Bartokomous back in the 80s and 90s. Since then, he’s been doing all kinds of voice work, and he’s fantastic. I’m listening to Wise Blood by Flannery O’Connor, and he’s got these great inflections for various Southern people.

      Liked by 1 person

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