Beauty and the Mustache by Penny Reid
Series: Knitting in the City #4
Publication Date: August 24, 2014
Genres: Romance, Contemporary
There are three things you need to know about Ashley Winston: 1) She has six brothers and they all have beards, 2) She is a reader, and 3) She knows how to knit.
Former beauty queen, Ashley Winston’s preferred coping strategy is escapism. She escaped her Tennessee small town, loathsome father, and six brothers eight years ago. Now she escapes life daily via her Amazon kindle one-click addiction. However, when a family tragedy forces her to return home, Ashley can’t escape the notice of Drew Runous— local Game Warden, reclusive mountain man, bear wrestler, philosopher, and everyone’s favorite guy. Drew’s irksome philosophizing in particular makes Ashley want to run for the skyscrapers, especially since he can’t seem to keep his exasperating opinions— or his soulful poetry, steadfast support, and delightful hands— to himself. Pretty soon the girl who wanted nothing more than the escape of the big city finds she’s lost her heart in small town Tennessee.
This is a full-length novel, can be read as a standalone, and is the fourth book in the ‘Knitting in the City’ series. It can also be considered a prequel to the Winston Brother series, being the .5 book in the series.
If you like poetry wielding Vikings, then hold on to your horses because this book will make you swoooooooooooon.
This is the story of Ashley, her family, and a deeply sensitive, extremely well-read, gentle man named Drew. As a late discoverer of Reid’s work, I read the Knitting in the City Series out of order. My first Reid book was Truth or Beard, which is a spin-off of Beauty and the Mustache, and tells the story of Ashley’s brother Duane Winston and his lady love. So when I read Ashley’s story, I was already familiar with the Winston family. Whether you read them in order or not, you need to read them all!
The Winston family has my heart. They’ve had their difficult times. Ashley has pretty much been estranged from her brothers for the past eight years. She left her small Tennessee town to attend college, and happy to escape her horrible father, and delinquent brothers, she stayed away. Ashley still had a very close relationship with her mother, Bethany. They had frequent visits, and spoke on the phone daily. But when Bethany falls ill, Ashley returns home to figure out what is going on, and ends up staying to take care of her.
Since Ashley had been away from home for so long, and didn’t keep in touch with her brothers, she was astonished, flabbergasted, even confused, to see how much these no-good boys she had known, had grown into responsible men. I loved her interactions with her brothers. For those of you who aren’t familiar, there’s Jethro, Billy, Cletus, the twins Duane & Beau, and Roscoe. (Duane’s book is Truth or Beard, Jethro’s is Grin and Beard it, and Cletus’s is Beard Science – again, READ THEM ALL!!!!). Due to circumstances in the book, we get to see all the brothers together and I loved every minute! If it weren’t for their mother falling ill, I’m not sure Ashley would have spent the time needed to repair her relationships with her brothers. So while it is bittersweet, I’m so happy they had the opportunity.
Now, onto the incredible romance of this romance book. Drew. He is probably the most romantic hero I have ever read about. He recites poetry like it’s his second language. He’s fluent in it, and I could listen to him speak all the live long day. He isn’t an open book, which at times was a bit frustrating, I’ll admit. I just wanted him to open up to Ashley earlier on, or at least be clearer with her in some aspects. There was some miscommunications I think could have been avoided, had the two of them just been more vulnerable with each other. But being vulnerable is difficult. Especially with what these two people had dealt with in their pasts. I don’t blame either one of them for being a bit guarded with their hearts. In that aspect, they felt like very real people to me.
What I love most about Reid’s books, and Beauty and the Mustache is no exception, is that they are smart. The characters in this one quote Nietzsche for goodness sake! I’d heard of the guy, but didn’t know anything about him. This book got me to look him up and in turn made me a smarter person! Also, the heroines in Reid’s books deal with real issues and problems. They are educated and smart, but also funny, vulnerable, and imperfect. Her heroes aren’t perfect either. When everything goes right in a book, or everything is perfect in the end, I have a difficult time relating to those stories. I need my romance books to hold some semblance of reality to keep me coming back. Reid’s books do that for me. Not everything is perfect in Ashely and Drew’s world. The people in their life aren’t perfect. They aren’t perfect. Not everything goes according to plan. But they make it work. They work together. And they try every day to be the best possible version of themselves. Even if they fail sometimes.
Reid has the uncanny ability to make you laugh one second, cry the next, then hit you square between the eyes with some prose that will change your life. This one in particular in Beauty and the Mustache did that for me:
“Apathy between family members makes the blood they share turn to water.”
I’ll let that sit in now…
While the subject matter is a little heavier than some of the other Knitting in the City books, I still found myself laughing and truly enjoyed every minute of this book. If you are looking for an inspiring, funny, smart, heart-wrenching, sweet, swoony, romance read… Beauty and the Mustache is the one for you.
*My review of Cletus Winston’s book, Beard Science, can be read here.
**Cover Art Note: The image at the top of the review is the original cover for this book. There is another cover, the one below, made to match the Winston Brothers series. These books are exactly the same on the inside; the only difference is the cover art.