Reading Truth or Beard not too long ago reminded me of just how much I like Penny Reid's books, so I immediately stocked up on a few more--the next two in the Winston Brothers series but also the fourth book in the Knitting in the City series, which happens to be Beauty and the Mustache...and is also a tie-in to the Winston Brothers. How convenient.
The heroine here is Ashley Winston, who has six older brothers and who has returned home to Green Valley, Tennessee from her life in Chicago because her mother is in the hospital and refuses to see any of Ashley's brothers. Upon her arrival, she finds an interloper in her family: Drew Runous, a game warden for the Great Smoky Mountains that surround Ashley's home. He's heard about her from her mother, but is surprised to see that "Ash" is, in fact, a woman, and not another of the Winston brothers. And he seems to hate her. Or adore her. One or the other, and it seems to swing between them.
As always, Reid's romances are charming. I really liked Ashley as a main character. She left Tennessee because pretty much everyone except her mother treated her awfully, and never looked back. Now, when she's forced to, she has to acknowledge how everyone else she knew has grown and changed, just as she has. And while she's had an independent life in Chicago, she also has to re-learn (or maybe learn in the first place) how to rely on others in the course of caring for her mother. Drew is charming but reserved, more so than Reid's other heroes that I can recall, and that was frustrating to both me and Ashley; I wasn't really sure what to make of him, and while I ultimately liked him alright, his propensities for doing what he sees as doing "the right thing" without consulting anyone else involved int he matter were a little crazy-making; I definitely empathized with Ashley on that front! And of course, there's a pretty extensive supporting cast made up of Ashley's brothers (man, I really should have read this one before Truth or Beard) and also her knitter friends from Chicago, who brought some levity to what could have otherwise been a very heavy story, romance or no romance.
Is this really "A Philosophical Romance," as its tagline brands it? Well...not really. There's some quoting of Nietzche and poetry and some dropping of random wisdom bombs by Ashley's mother, but I wouldn't use those to label it as "philosophical." It's not like anyone here does any deep pondering on the meaning of life, and Ashley herself prefers reading romances to pondering anything in the real world. But still, this was light, despite my initial concerns that the plot with Ashley's mother would not make for a good romantic background. I did enjoy it, as I enjoy all of Reid's books, and look forward to reading the other ones in both the Knitting and Winston Brothers series.
But what the heck was up with the ketamine, anyway?
4 stars out of 5.