Book review: Grin and Beard It by Penny Reid

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Famous comedian Sienna Diaz is filming a new movie in rural Tennessee.  Although she has no sense of direction and doesn’t seem to know how to read a map, she decides to drive herself to her new, temporary home. Park ranger Jethro Winston finds her pulled over, hopelessly lost, and incredibly frustrated. He doesn’t recognize her and offers to drive her home, beginning a tentative new friendship that slowly blossoms into something more.

I really enjoyed Truth or Beard and thought that I would enjoy Grin and Beard It more than I did.  Sure, Jethro and Sienna were cute together.  They had chemistry and I liked both of them individually, but they sure jumped into things quickly.  Both of them seemed to have a lot of issues to work through and I never really got the impression that they dealt with them.

I mean, Sienna was super insecure and always convinced that Jethro was going to leave her, but then she just… wasn’t.  And Jethro was super worried about his past and his dad coming back to haunt him and Sienna, and then all of a sudden, he’s just… not.  These aren’t conflicts that can automatically resolve themselves.  What happened?

I liked and appreciated the feminist messages throughout this book.  Sienna isn’t shy about the fact that she’s fat, and there’s a definite body positivity message running through the plot.  But, despite all of this, Sienna’s attitude toward Jethro’s celibacy kind of grossed me out.  I mean, if it had been Sienna who decided to save herself for marriage and Jethro was complaining and yelling, “BUT I’M HORNY THOUGH,” while constantly pressuring her and pouting around because he wasn’t getting laid, we’d all agree that he’s a terrible person, right? But since it was flipped and it was Sienna complaining about Jethro not wanting to have sex, it’s supposed to be this feminist message or something?  No.  I get that Sienna was insecure, but Jethro matters too.

Aside from that whole thing, I laughed out loud a lot and thought that the book was pretty cute.  It definitely needed an editor – so many unnecessary, repetitive, and drawn out scenes – and I was surprised at the direction Reid took the plot, particularly with Marta.  I wanted to like the book more than I did. It just didn’t quite do it for me.

Still, I’m looking forward to the books featuring Billy, Cletus, and Roscoe.

Final rating: ★★★☆☆

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