Truth or Beard — Penny Reid

November 19, 2018


TITLE: Truth or Beard
AUTHOR: Penny Reid
SERIES: Winston Brothers, #1
RELEASED: July 21st, 2015
GENRE: Contemporary
AGE RANGE: New Adult



When Jessica James returns home to Tennessee, it’s only for a year or two—just long enough to pay off her student loans and start her big adventure of dreaming the world, just like she’s always planned. The only problem is, that plan doesn’t allow any room for love or commitment—especially not to the boy she’s known her whole life but never gotten along with, all grown up into a red-bearded bear of a man who’s hellbent on winning her affection once and for all.


I’d heard a little about Penny Reid’s books but hadn’t gotten around to checking them out until my friend Sionna suggested I give this one a try for a monthly reading challenge we both joined. I was slumping pretty hard, and a good, fluffy contemporary can usually do the trick, so I decided to give Truth or Beard a try.


“You’re a siren who doesn’t need to sing.”

First, I’m such a sucker for childhood friends growing up to be lovers, especially when one of them has pined over the other for a long time, so I was immediately sucked in to the plotline. I’ve never read a romance with twins before, either, so that was new and I was a little worried some super cringe-y stuff would happen, but instead, I love Duane and Beau’s “twin moments” and thought they were really precious.

“I’d kiss you but I don’t want our beards to tangle.”

On top of that, the Winston family as a whole is so charming, which should let you know I definitely plan on continuing the series now that I know the following books follow different Winston family members. The brothers’ exchanges are all so fun and heartwarming, and Cletus is a damn treat with his awkward sense of humor and brutal honesty.

“Don’t Drink and DERIVE, Alcohol and Calculus Don’t Mix.”

Finally, Truth or Beard is just a pretty fun read and it’s easy to lose yourself in. Even though it wasn’t perfect, it sets the stage for what I think is going to be a very beloved series of mine.


“Because when a guy sees a car he likes, all he can think about is getting under the hood or taking her for a ride.”

Unfortunately, like I said, it’s not a perfect story. Duane has his really great moments for sure, but sometimes, his attitude just made me cringe. Really, I think my problem is that Duane is too much of a “southern gentleman” type for my taste—I’ve never been one to appreciate that sort of persona and it doesn’t work for me in books, either. He also makes so many weird comments that I’m sure are really cute to a lot of people, but I’m just not one of them. (Like the quote above this paragraph—gross.)

He was so silly. So I said, “Duane, you are so silly.”

Beyond that, some of Jessica’s internal monologue is just eyeroll-inducing. She isn’t unintelligent by any means—she’s actually really bright and clever and I enjoyed all of those aspects of her personality—but then she’ll go and say something so childish and cringe-inducing, like calling her breasts “coconuts” as a joke once and then repeating it in all seriousness for chapters on end. I just couldn’t take her seriously! It even continues on into the sex scenes.

“Don’t change a thing. God, Jess. Don’t change a single thing. Be wild for me, be reckless. I love your kind of wild.”

The final nail in the coffin of my chances of raving about this book was the subplot with the Winston brothers and the Iron Wraiths, the local biker gang trying to blackmail them. I know the stakes were supposed to be high and I was expected to be terrified of this biker gang, but like much else in this book, it felt so over-the-top that it just made it cringe-y, and I honestly didn’t care. I reached the point of skimming every interaction with the Wraiths because they weren’t interesting at all.


At the end of the day, I had a lot of issues with Truth or Beard, but the fact remains that it was a fun read that I was able to get into despite being in the worst slump of the year, and it set the stage with a lot of interesting characters that definitely have me planning to return for more books in the series.


I would honestly recommend this to anyone who enjoys a fluffy, generic adult contemporary romance, because even if you have the same issues I had, it’s still a fun read worth picking up. If you don’t have issues with things like overbearing “country gentlemen” and really weird, corny euphemisms being thrown around nonstop by the heroine, then I really recommend this to you, because if I hadn’t minded those two things, this easily would have been a 4-star read for me!




More about Destiny @ Howling Libraries

Just a horror aficionado/geek girl trying to juggle motherhood, reading, blogging, gaming, and everyday life.

    1. Yay glad you liked it! I totally understand your issues. The iron wraiths never have a chance to show how scary they are, it is all talk of the past.
      If you do give the series one more try, I think #3, Beard Science, is the best of the bunch!

      1. I definitely will be checking out more of the series! I usually am a stickler for reading series in order but I might skip ahead to #3 because I loved Cletus soooo much and I really need more of him lol! Thank you again for the recommendation! ♥

    1. Great review! Firstly, I love the title of this book. It made me chuckle. Lol. But I’m not sure I would be able to get past the corny lines and cringy monologue. Maybe I’ll give it a try some day though!

      1. Thank you! Haha the title is so good. It does definitely get cheesy at points! I’ll make sure and let you know if the later books are as cheesy because I don’t think it’s a series you have to read in publication order or anything. 🙂

    1. Great review! I’m glad you enjoyed it. I think the series gets better and better as it goes along. I loved Cletus’ book the most.

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