Dr. Strange Beard, an all-new standalone in the bestselling, romantic comedy Winston Brothers Series by Wall Street Journal and USA Today bestselling author Penny Reid, is LIVE!
Hunches, horse races, and heartbreak
Ten years after Simone Payton broke his heart, all Roscoe Winston wants is a doughnut. He’d also like to forget her entirely, but that’s never going to happen. Roscoe Winston remembers everything—every look, every word, every single unrequited second—and the last thing he needs is another memory of Simone.
Unfortunately, after one chance encounter, Simone keeps popping up everywhere he happens to be . . .
Ten years after Roscoe Winston dropped out of her life, all Simone Payton wants is to exploit him. She’d also like some answers from her former best friend about why he ghosted her, but if she never gets those answers, that’s a-okay. Simone let go of the past a long time ago. Seriously, she has. She totally, totally has. She is definitely not still thinking about Roscoe. Nope. She’s more than happy to forget he exists.
But first, she needs just one teeny-tiny favor . . .
Dr. Strange Beard is a full-length romantic comedy novel, can be read as a stand-alone, and is the fifth book in the USA TODAY bestselling Winston Brothers series.
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Oscar Wilde once said, ‘Memory…is the diary that we all carry about with us.’
But, the way that we ‘carry’ our recollections is not universal, meaning that the ability to reminisce as well as recall childhood memories or even memories that occurred within the past decade or so varies, and while some might find the capacity to remember everything about their lives a valuable asset, for Roscoe Winston, it’s more of a curse than a blessing because his eidetic memory makes it extremely difficult to interact with others and not recall every conversation he has had with them and the stories that they have shared with him.
It seems like an incredible burden to carry, but Roscoe has found ways to cope with his memories and protect himself and those he encounters, but with one person in particular, the inability to forget the last memory he has of her has forced him to ghost her for the past 10 years, but now she’s back in Green Valley, and she’s hellbent on finding out why he stopped being her best friend all those years ago, and if he doesn’t figure out how to make new memories with her, the complexity of their relationship and his feelings for her will continue to be based on their last interaction when they were 16 years old.
Roscoe Winston is definitely an intriguing hero, and as the youngest Winston, he has witnessed his older siblings find their perfect other half while never putting himself in a position to find the woman for him because it always was and it will always be Simone Payton, even if they never talk or see each other again.
I adored the chapters told from Roscoe’s perspective. It’s clear that Penny Reid did her due diligence when it comes to Roscoe’s better than average memory. Learning about what his mind forces him to endure and the ways that he has gone about trouble shooting his encounters with others helps readers to truly comprehend how overwhelming it is for Roscoe to ‘go down memory lane,’ especially when it comes to the woman he has loved since he was a teenager.
While I quickly connected with Roscoe and his idiosyncrasies, I struggled with understanding why Simone approaches her life the way she does and how her scientific mind guides her decisions, avoiding anything emotional or sentimental…at least that how she thought she lived her life until she was reunited with her childhood best friend. It took me a bit to warm up to her personality and to see beyond her primary reason for befriending Roscoe 10 years later. BUT, I will say that once Simone starts to be honest with herself and with Roscoe, I found her extremely likable and loved how Penny Reid crafted Simone’s personal revelations and how difficult it becomes for her to separate her personal and professional life given that the one she wants to be a significant person in her life is involved in the case she’s working for the FBI.
In order for Roscoe and Simone to move forward, they need to make new memories together – ones that replace Roscoe’s old recollections, and the scenes where they work towards that goal are well written and quite emotional, and regardless of how analytical and logical these two people are, when it comes to what they mean to one another and what they want from each other in the future is highly emotional and something that cannot be solved without their hearts factoring into their situation.
Due to Simone’s undercover operation and where Roscoe factors into her assignment, Dr. Strange Beard takes on quite a suspenseful aspect and it’s clear that before Simone can resolve this case, the truth will be revealed and the role Simone plays will be a point of contention for Roscoe and perhaps a memory that he’ll never be able to forgot or move on from when everything comes out.
I’m a lover of smart romance, and in my opinion, Penny Reid epitomizes all of the qualities that I adore about this style of writing, and while it took a bit for me to see who Simone truly is, once I did, I couldn’t get enough of her and Roscoe’s analytical thoughts as well as their journey to an emotional connection that focuses more on their hearts than their heads.
4.5 Poison Apples
“Simone, this is not one of our adventures from when we were kids. This is not finding Blithe Tanner’s cat. These men are murderers, drug dealers, thieves.”
“I know.” Boy oh boy, did I know. I didn’t want to be here anymore than he did. I was frightened. Yet allowing Roscoe to be taken on his own hadn’t been an option. “I can handle myself, and I can provide backup for you, if you need it.”
Roscoe gripped my shoulders. “Nothing can happen to you, do you understand?” His words were emphatic, his gaze disoriented, desolate, frantic. “If anything happens to you, I’ll . . .” He swallowed, apparently unable to finish the sentence.
My heart twisted to see him like this. I wished there were some way to show him what I could do, what I was capable of, so he would stop seeing me as a liability.
Well, why can’t you?
Now there was a thought.
Stepping out of his grip, I walked backward to the other side of the room and took a deep breath. “Okay. Come at me.”
He blinked. “What?”
“I want you to come at me.”
“Simone,” he seethed.
“Come at me, bro.” I did that little movement with my fingers, my palm turned upwards. “Come at me or I’ll start singing again.”
“I’m not doing this.”
“Fine.”Frustrating. “I’ll come at you.”
He stood there, features set, looking raw.
Moving quickly forward, staying light on my feet, I faked right and then went left, hooking him behind the back of his leg, catching his arm to twist behind his back, and sending him to the ground—face-first—with a thud.
I winced as he grunted, my knee at the base of his spine, his arm restrained behind his back. “Sorry! But you wouldn’t listen to me.” Leaning forward, I whispered in his ear, “Are you okay? Did I hurt you?”
Roscoe’s back and shoulders rose and fell with an expansive breath, like he was about to respond, but in the next moment he’d spun his legs to the right, leveraged my knee on his back to throw me off-balance, and slipped his wrist from my hold.
In my defense, my grip had been lax as I was purposefully trying not to injure him.
The next thing I knew, Roscoe had me pinned to the ground, air knocked out of me, him hovering above, and my gun digging into my ribs beneath my shirt. He’d been careful to subdue my legs, likely so he wouldn’t end up with a bruised ballsack.
His stare more probing than angry—which I took as a good sign—he said, “I didn’t teach you that. Where’d you learn that?”
Even though I was still coughing, I smiled and rasped, “Since college, take judo.”
He nodded faintly, his eyes moving between mine, looking concerned. “Are you okay? Did I hurt you?”
“No.” Endeavoring to catch my breath, I said, “I took it easy on you because I didn’t want to hurt you either, but I’m an asset, not a liability.”
“You’re definitely an asset.” Roscoe frowned, his gaze dropping to my mouth. “And a distraction,” he said, his voice rough.
“I’m a distraction?” I asked, my words still breathy.
I bucked, but he held me fast.
“Yes. . .” His stare turned inward. “You are most definitely a distraction.”
Even though I’d had plenty of time to recover and we’d been holding still for close to a minute, I was still breathing hard. This might have been because of my lingering irritation. Or, maybe it was because the length of Roscoe’s lean body was lying on mine. He held my hands on either side of my head, our faces even, his mouth just inches away.
Was it insane that I hoped he kissed me?
Let’s go with no.
He gave me his eyes again and I saw something there, a battle. He looked undecided, at war with himself, straining against something I couldn’t see.
“Roscoe?” I whispered.
Roscoe closed his eyes, and I thought he was going to let me go, but in the next second his lips descended, capturing my mouth in a tender kiss.
I kissed him back.
That’s what one does when Roscoe Winston kisses one. Moan and kiss. Repeat. Because not doing so would be a travesty.
His hold on my hands slacked, his fingers seeking and threading with mine. He settled his hips between my legs, his form relaxing. The weight of him was different now, warmer somehow. At least I felt warm. I also felt cherished as his tongue sought mine, again tenderly, stroking, causing my abdomen to twist and tighten into delicious knots.
He broke the kiss and a protest died on my lips as his mouth trailed down my jaw to the sensitive skin of my neck, sucking, licking, savoring me. What had felt warm and cherishing heated, and my hips tilted reflexively as he nibbled on my ear, cradling his rapidly growing erection.
We both gasped as his hips rocked in an answering yet inelegant movement. It felt perfect and essential in the moment.
“Oh God.” His hot breath spilled against my jaw, a ragged sigh. “What are we doing?”
“I don’t know, but don’t stop.”
Meet Penny Reid
Penny Reid is the Wall Street Journal and USA Today Bestselling Author of the Winston Brothers and Knitting in the City series. She used to spend her days writing federal grant proposals as a biomedical researcher, but now she just writes books. She’s also a full time mom to three diminutive adults, wife, daughter, knitter, crocheter, sewer, general crafter, and thought ninja.
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