Dr. Strange Beard (Winston Brothers #5) by Penny Reid

Dr. Strange Beard book coverAt 26, Roscoe Winston is the youngest of the Winston clan and a vet(erinarian) in Nashville. We’ve also seen him to be a bit of a flirt in previous books. We come to learn why he’s that way, and how he’d had his heart broken in high school by Simone Payton.

Simone’s a cool chick—she’s currently working as an undercover FBI agent even though that’s not really her calling (which is in a research lab). It’s a temporary assignment. There’s been a string of murders in East Tennessee that the FBI knows are being perpetrated by the president of the biker club the Winstons’ father is in. The fact that Simone’s from there gets her assigned to the case. She’s working at the diner her mom runs in Green Valley. Simone is focused on her career and believes that the whole idea of love is stupid. She doesn’t like feelings and never has. But unfortunately for her feelings, her assignment brings her in contact with Roscoe.

Roscoe, for his part, isn’t happy to see her because she rejected him in high school after they’d been best friends forever, and the memories still pain him. He has a fantastic memory, so he relives the whole rejection any time he sees her. And he keeps seeing her pop up inexplicably everywhere he goes.

What Roscoe doesn’t know is that she’s trying to protect him and break the case at the same time. He’s become important because his father wants to talk to him for some reason. And Simone can’t let that just happen without inserting herself.

Dr. Strange Beard does start off a little slow, I have to admit. Simone in particular was hard to get into because she’s very logical and tries to deny emotion. But by a quarter in, it started to pick up more and then got good—and Simone is great. Roscoe’s sweet and different from his brothers. The book leans a bit toward romantic suspense, especially in the second half, which isn’t surprising given Simone’s profession. The build-up with the suspense delivers with an emotional and riveting grand finale in the diner.

My recommendation is pretty much the same as it is for all of Reid’s books: read it if you’re a fan or if you like quirky and smart heroines.