Jenny's Review: Dr. Strange Beard by Penny Reid

Title: Dr. Strange Beard
Series: Winston Brothers #5

Author: Penny Reid
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Publisher: Cipher-Naught

Pub Date: July 30, 2018
Rating: 3 Stars

Our thoughts...

Dr. Strange Beard is the fifth installment in the well-loved Winston Brothers series by Penny Reid. This book is centered around the youngest of the siblings, Roscoe, and Simone, the girl (now woman) he grew up with. This book jumps five years after the previous book in the series, Beard in Mind, and takes place ten years after Roscoe and Simone stopped being best friends.

Let's start with the time jump. I had no idea this book was going to fast forward five years through the lives of characters I enjoy. I wish I could have been a voyeur to some of the milestones mentioned in this story. I think I understand the need for the gap but it still leaves me a little sad. I think the surprise of it added to that. The blurb mentions that ten years have passed since Roscoe left Simone's life but that doesn't give me an obvious indicator that years have passed since the last book. I would have had to check a chart or have a memory much better than I possess.

There are two things Penny Reid has never shied away from: Difficult subject-matter and Current events. To top that off, she enlists "Sensitivity Readers" to assess the story and writing to help ensure she represents her characters properly and sensitively (this is my impression, not the author's words). I wish more authors would do this. Dr. Strange Beard has an element that is rooted in history and present time. I have seen authors use similar situations as something that comes across as a thoughtless gimmick done more for attention than any real purpose. Reid manages to incorporate a social injustice in an informative and organic way but also changes the perspective so the other main character lives through something that has him coming to a similar conclusion in his life that leads to a lovely lightbulb moment. The same can be said for Roscoe's challenges; they are handled well and bring awareness to something I didn't know I needed a better perspective of. That most likely doesn't make much sense but I don't want to give anything away and I don't have sensitivity readers. Just know the writing is smart and aware.

The overall storyline feels realistic to me (for a story involving an undercover FBI agent). The relationship between Roscoe and Simone is genuine and I really appreciate what it takes to make it feel that way. They have challenges together and apart but they act their age and work through issues. I will say this story feels denser to me than the others in the series. There are many moments where the descriptions are long-winded and plentiful and I found myself skimming (I've never done this with a Penny Reid book). That was surprising to me but not off-putting, either.

Dr. Strange Beard is not my favorite in the Winston Brothers series but I still enjoyed it and felt it was worth every minute of my time. The story is relevant, meaningful, and has great lead-ins for future books. I only wish the story was thinned out a little bit and I was better prepared for the jump in time. Those two issues took a little bit of adjusting and that is why my rating is a 3. Definitely pick this one up and if you haven't started this series yet, get on that!

Dr. Strange Beard on Goodreads

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