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Beard With Me, an epic and breathtaking story from New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestselling author Penny Reid, is available now!
No one is better at surviving than Scarlet St. Claire and making the best out of circumstances beyond her control is Scarlet’s specialty. In an apocalyptic situation, she’d be the last person on earth, hermitting like a pro, singing along to her CD Walkman, and dancing like no one is watching.
Scarlet is clever, Scarlet is careful, and Scarlet is smart . . . except when it comes to Billy Winston.
No one is better at fighting than Billy Winston and raging against his circumstances—because nothing is beyond his control—is Billy’s specialty. In an apocalyptic situation, he’d be the first person on earth to lead others to safety, overcome catastrophe, or die trying.
Billy is fearless, Billy is disciplined, and Billy is honorable . . . except when it comes to Scarlet St. Claire.
‘Beard With Me’ is the origin story of Billy Winston and Scarlet St. Claire (aka Claire McClure) and is just the beginning of their epic love story.
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“Do you want me to leave?”
Yes. That would be best, a wise voice said between my ears.
So of course I inhaled deeply and said as calmly as I could manage, “I thought we were going to go get firewood.”
“But then,” I blurted, flustered and irritated with myself for not speaking wisdom, “You should go. You can’t tell me carting firewood back and forth between your house and here is how you want to spend the last of your Thanksgiving weekend.”
“I didn’t say it was.” He began making his way up the incline.
“But you just said—”
“How about we make a deal.” Billy dropped the kindling next to my little woodpile, dusting his hands off on his pants. “I’ll cart the firewood, and you sing.”
“You want me to serenade you while we carry firewood?”
He smiled, slow and easy as he walked to me and reached out his hand. On autopilot, I accepted it and allowed him to help me up.
As soon as I was standing, his gaze moved from my hairline down to my nose, lips, and then chin, saying quietly, “I’ll take a serenade from you anytime.”
Thunk ka-thunk. That was my heart. It had been doing the thunk ka-thunk quite a lot around him. I ignored it, because what else could I do?
“And you’re not carrying the wood.” He tugged on my hand, pulling me out of my daze and past my tent.
“I will too carry wood.” Struggling to find my bearings, I stumbled after him. “I can carry logs just fine.”
“You’ll carry a log.” Billy fit his fingers between mine, pressing our palms together and grinning at me like he was waiting for me to argue and he couldn’t wait.
Snapping my mouth shut, I glared at him.
“Nothing to say?”
Maintaining my glare, I walked next to him. I wasn’t being led anywhere I didn’t wish to go. Not anymore. He wasn’t talking me into anything else.
“That’s an awfully mean look, Scarlet.” His grin grew, his brutally attractive eyes glowing happily as he peered down at me.
“Well, you deserve it. Always trying to tell me what I can and can’t do. I’m not arguing with you about this. I’m carrying as much wood as I want and you can take your stupid, chauvinistic opinions and shove them up your pretty-boy ass.”
Goodness. Where had that come from?
Billy’s steps faltered and his mouth fell open, his eyebrows rising high on his forehead. He stared at me, looking shocked as hell. And then in the next moment, he threw his head back and laughed. But he did not let go of me, instead bringing my knuckles to his chest as his deep, rumbly laughter filled the empty spaces between the trees, surrounding us.
Yes. I was well and truly crushed as I could only watch Billy Winston laugh, desperately basking in the image of him so delighted and relaxed. I had the odd sense that his laughter also filled the empty spaces inside of me, the neglected, vacant rooms, and even a few places that felt brand-new, like he’d created them.
All that noble honesty he carried around like a boulder abruptly lifted, revealing him. Just him. Carefree and young and happy. Someone he might’ve been if his burdens hadn’t been so heavy, his responsibilities so broad.
It lasted only a minute, maybe two, maybe less, but I had the sense of being caught afterward. Billy’s laughter had receded, but he’d spun a web while I’d been staring at him, holding his hand.
His grin became smaller and he bit his bottom lip, his gaze dropped to my mouth. “You think I’m pretty?”
“You know you’re pretty,” I said, bizarrely out of breath, rattled, needing to anchor my focus to a tree beyond him and waging war against the heat climbing up my neck to my cheeks. Oddly, my eyes stung. I blinked.
His attention was still on me. I felt it, but I didn’t dare look at him. I couldn’t handle one of Billy Winston’s intense stares right now. He’d probably use my scattered wits to his advantage, talk me into something I shouldn’t want to do, and then I’d be kicking myself later.
“What’s wrong?” he asked, his voice deep with concern, all trace of his earlier humor gone.
I huffed, trying half-heartedly to steal my hand back from him. He didn’t let it go, instead taking my tugging as a signal to step closer, filling my vision.
“Are you ever going to teach me how to play the guitar?” I closed my eyes.
He didn’t answer right away, and I felt him hesitate, his mind work before he muttered, “It’s only been a week.”
A quality to his voice made me think he wasn’t answering the question I’d asked, but rather he was reminding himself that it had only been a week since we’d struck the deal.
Was that only last week? Why does it feel like so much has changed?
Then he said, “Don’t be angry.”
“I’m not angry.” I was muddled, my head and heart hurt, I was incredibly confused, but I wasn’t angry.
The air shifted and I felt him move closer. A second later, the fingers of his free hand were at my ear, tucking my hair behind it, his fingertips lingering at my neck, sending wave after wave of goose bumps every which way. I couldn’t breathe. I couldn’t swallow. I couldn’t think. Every nerve in my body strained toward him and I didn’t understand it. What is happening?
“Have you ever been kissed, Scarlet?”
Nothing about Scarlet’s life in Green Valley is ‘ordinary’. As the daughter of an Iron Wraith member, Scarlet knows a thing or two about survival. In an effort to avoid her father, Scarlet finds herself living in harsh conditions, even during the best type of weather. All of the trials and tribulations are soothed whenever Scarlet is around the Winston family.
No one could imagine the responsibilities that go along with living in a large family, unless they experienced it. For Billy Winston – the task of helping take care of his siblings and act as the man of the house is a daily occurrence. With football, school, and a job – Billy is loaded down with tasks that the teen still manages to pull off with the appearance of ease. While the rest of the Winston household may seem to be in chaos, Billy always manages to show his resilience during the difficult times.
Billy finds that his arms of protection are now including Scarlet. Both know how deadly the members of the Iron Wraiths can be, and neither family is immune to the chaos that follows. With Scarlet determined to escape the tendrils that come with being Razor’s kid, Billy finds that he cannot help but want to shelter Scarlet from the storms. As with all things Winston, Billy knows that helping Scarlet may come with a price.
Be still my heart…….how do you lay out the details of Beard With Me without giving anything away?? I will start by saying that Penny Reid has taken her Winston Brothers series to an epic level. Nothing about this story is ‘ordinary’. The plot fills in missing years with the entire Winston family that fans have been dying to know. The result….an explosion of information that will grip your heart and take you on a ‘ride’ that sets the scene for many books to come.
There are so many hardships that family members of the Iron Wraiths have had to endure. Billy, Scarlet and the entire town of Green Valley are all too aware of the path of destruction that burns in the path of this band of bikers. The Winston family has tried to escape the tendrils of that life, but knows that it can change on a dime. Now Billy finds himself longing to extend his arms of protection to Scarlet.
Scarlet is unbelievable in this story. Her pain is unlike anything most individuals have experienced. Without either parent to protect her, Scarlet forages her way through the trials and tribulations of life at a very young age. Billy Winston wants nothing more than to give Scarlet the stability and protection that he feels at the Winston home. With everything that Scarlet has gone through, you can’t help but hope that Billy can be the shining light in the chaos of Scarlet’s life.
Did I mention Cletus?? Cletus…..oh Cletus…..you have stolen my heart once again!! There are tidbits of information about Cletus’ childhood that just ‘clicks’ when you reflect back on the man we have come to love in the series. The friendship that Cletus and Scarlet share in the story is endearing and warmed my heart.
Simply put…..you MUST dive into Beard With Me with your heart wide open. Soak up every nuance of the history in this novel. Penny Reid is a master of the written word, and this story only pushes that envelope even further. This story is a legacy of all things Winston, and it only pulls us deeper into the world of the bearded men of Tennessee that we have all come to love.