Beard in Mind (by Penny Reid)

Contemporary Romance

There is a story about the disciple of a famous master of the Tea Ceremony. He had made a beautiful bowl and when his master visited one day he served him tea in it. The master didn’t comment on the bowl, didn’t even seem to notice it and the heart-broken disciple threw the bowl into the garden after his master left, smashing it.

He immediately regretted his actions and collected the pieces, then sent them to the pottery repairer to fix.

The next time his master visited, he served him tea in that same bowl, now with visible cracks and staples where it had been repaired.

After finishing his tea the master carefully examined the bowl before saying, “Now it is perfect.”

(Bowl repair from the movie The Road Home starring Zhang Ziyi)


That’s all. If you want to know what that story has to do with anything, you’ll have to read the book and find out for yourself.

5 Stars

Grin & Beard It (by Penny Reid)

In the world of Contemporary Romance there is a lot of chaff. In musical terms 90% of it is bad 1980s karaoke. It’s your boss up there on stage belting out bad renditions of Air Supply and REO Speedwagon love songs.

Don’t get me wrong, I love the 1980s and yeah I’ll sing along even to the schmaltziest love song. I’ll admit it –– I know all the words to Moonlight Shadow by Mike Oldfield and I even sang the damned song to a girl I was keen on in Art Class. But It didn’t work! I didn’t get the girl! And rightly so because my voice is deplorable.

But that isn’t Penny Reid. In a genre dominated by hack renditions of Billy Joel and Chris de Burgh, Penny Reid is Lykke Li.

She’s Imelda May.

She’s the Avett Brothers.

5 Stars.

Truth or Beard (by Penny Reid)

Contemporary Romance

After graduating from college, Jessica returns to her home town of Green Valley, TN to pay off her student loan and save some money before following her dreams and exploring the world.

Duane is anything but subtle. He’s honest to a fault, stand-offish and of the Winston brothers he’s the wall-flower. But he’s always loved Jessica and when she returns he sees his chance, plucks up the courage and makes his intentions known.

Unfortunately, settling down is not for her and it’s all there is for him. They grow to love each other, but with different life-goals, love just isn’t enough.


 
So…I was listening to an interview with the author and I think I’m going to contradict her here. One of the things I found most interesting about this book was that the typical archetypes of male and female characters were flipped. In this book Jessica was the one who couldn’t commit, the one who was going to leave while Duane was the one who wanted to settle down and have a family.

It isn’t surprising. In a genre that is dominated by books written for the lowest common denominator Penny Reid writes books that demand your attention and honestly make you feel a little smarter. She never plays by the rules and her books are better for it.

I don’t have a problem with those by the numbers romances. Honestly, I enjoy them –– they’re a bit like an apple pie bought from your local supermarket. They taste pretty damned good. But they can’t hold a candle to a homemade apple pie. There’s just no comparing the two.

 

Screen Shot 2015-11-09 at 4.24.20 PMOrange, Red, Yellow. What it means:  YOR-Guide

Elements of Chemistry series (by Penny Reid)

New Adult

Kaitlyn has spent her life hiding in closets and generally being invisible. And the one person she is hiding from more than any other is Martin Sandeke, her lab partner.  He has a reputation as a love ’em and leave ’em kind of guy. Someone who breaks a woman’s heart and leaves her in tears.

After one of her closet excursions she overhears two students plotting against Martin. Disgusted with what they are planning she sets about saving him from their scheme.  But it seems that in saving him she has inadvertently come to his notice.

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Elements of Chemistry is a three book series that to be honest is a single book in three acts. It has all the things you expect in New Adult novels –– infatuation, lust, misunderstandings, jealousy, angst –– but those elements aren’t overplayed and the series is better for it.

I do think parts one and two are a little stronger than part three which seemed to drag a little but I’m still more than happy to say this is probably the best New Adult series I’ve read.

Oh…and the answer is Oxytocin if you were wondering.

Screen Shot 2014-03-10 at 6.08.18 pmOrange, Red, Yellow. What it means: red-orange-yellow-guide

 

Friends Without Benefits (by Penny Reid)

Contemporary Romance

Elizabeth’s earliest memories are of Nico teasing her. All through high school he picked on her but with the support of her one true love Garrett she was able to get through it. Then Garrett died of a terminal illness and Elizabeth was left alone.

Ten years have passed and Elizabeth is now a doctor. When Nico turns up at the hospital with Angelica, a young child who has a rare disease, it falls to Elizabeth to treat her. And with three treatments a days for 30 days, avoidance isn’t going to work. Despite their attraction to each other, the shadow of the past hangs over them and threatens any chance of a future together.

Friends Without Benefits is a very smart love story. There is no dumbing down in this book and it occasionally pushes the boundary between contemporary romance and chick lit. I loved that one of the characters would switch to Italian and it was just put out there with no translation. I love that Penny Reid uses medical jargon without explaining it. It’s just so nice to come across an author who has that level of respect for her readers.

It’s witty, occasionally very funny, a lot longer than most of the books I read but all in all, great fun.

Many thanks to Penny Reid for providing me with this ARC

Neanderthal seeks Human: a smart romance (by Penny Reid)

Contemporary Romance

He looked lost and a little vulnerable. Smash, smash, smash.
I took this opportunity to rapidly pull on some sweatpants and a sweatshirt from my suitcase. The sweatshirt was on backwards, with the little ‘V’ at the back and the tag in the front, but I ignored it and grabbed a jacket from the closet behind me and soundlessly slipped it on too.
He walked to the window and surveyed the view as I hurriedly pushed my feet into socks and hand knit slippers, given to me by Elizabeth last Christmas.
I was a tornado of frenzied activity, indiscriminately and quietly pulling on clothes. I may have been overcompensating for my earlier state of undress. However it wasn’t until he, with leisurely languid movements, turned toward me that I finally stopped dressing; my hands froze on my head as I pulled on a white cabled hat, another gift from Elizabeth.

On the worst day of her life, Janie discovers her boyfriend had sex with another woman; she was fired from her job; found herself in a toilet cubicle with no toilet paper; and was escorted from the building by the security guard she has been secretly lusting after.

Quinn, the aforementioned security guard isn’t just a guard, he owns the company. He makes stone faced stoicism an art form and nobody is able to break through his tough shell. Until Janie that is. With her insecurity and habit of spouting odd trivia she manages to   draw him out and get him talking. He starts sharing things with her that he has kept hidden from everyone.

Neanderthal Seeks Human is everything I expect from contemporary romance. It’s cute and quirky with likeable characters. The story isn’t overly complicated but it’s told well and is a lot of fun. A book you can’t put down.