Book review day!!!
“All that is rare is for the rare….”Frederick Nietzsche
“You’re really going to quote Nietzsche to me? To me? The sole female in the room…When I first wake up? Before I’ve had coffee? After finding one of my brothers mating with his hand upstairs for the second time in as many days, and I’m the cow??” –Ashley Winston Beauty and the Mustache
We as readers have all been there. We’ve all experienced the chapping of our psyche when we let our mind cast itself into the maelstrom of an unexpectedly gripping work of fiction. Sometimes, the conclusion of the work provides an unguent for the wound it has created, and you feel relief. But during the enjoying of it, the fevered reading of its pages, you’re forced to balkanize your emotions into tight constraints, so that you can get on to the next page without having the words blurred by YOUR FEELINGS ESCAPING THROUGH YOUR EYEHOLES.(Shibari of the feels, anyone?)
Most books, we can anticipate the storm. We are more like “Al Roker predicting a Sharknado,” less “Al Roker getting knocked on his ass by some rain and wind.”
No. (man up, Roker.)
Sometimes, we’re caught off-guard. The first time we find out that Rochester is married. Dr Sheppard being discovered. Cecelia and Robbie. (GAH!! poor Robbie.) I wanted to hate Catherine and Heathcliffe, but I couldn’t.
It’s good to be taken aback by a book. If you read enough romance novels, you eventually hit a critical mass of predictability and eye-rolling.
A gillionaire with a giant….heart meets a down on her luck lady of reasonable attractiveness, sparks fly, panties are ripped, happily ever after is achieved.
Beauty and the Mustache is not that book. It’s Cecelia and Robbie if they were real. It’s waiting in the burned-out husk of a home, missing a hand, a ruined face, and still being loved by one for whom you are the world. It’s that guy who always remembers just how you take your coffee (served shirtless) and knows how wonderful comfortable silence can be.
There are three things you need to know about Ashley Winston: 1) She has six brothers and they all have beards, 2) She is a reader, and 3) She knows how to knit.
Former beauty queen, Ashley Winston’s preferred coping strategy is escapism. She escaped her Tennessee small town, loathsome father, and six brothers eight years ago. Now she escapes life daily via her Amazon kindle one-click addiction. However, when a family tragedy forces her to return home, Ashley can’t escape the notice of Drew Runous— local Game Warden, bear wrestler, philosopher, and everyone’s favorite guy. Drew’s irksome philosophizing in particular makes Ashley want to run for the skyscrapers, especially since he can’t seem to keep his exasperating opinions— or his soulful poetry, steadfast support, and delightful hands— to himself. Pretty soon the girl who wanted nothing more than the escape of the big city finds she’s lost her heart in small town Tennessee.
We first met Ashley in Neanderthal Marries Human: Knitting in the City I. This is where we learn that she’s a PICU RN in the same hospital as Sandra and Elizabeth. She comes across as a bookish gal with sharp wit and grace under pressure. *you never know when knitting needles are for more than just knitting a fetus coin purse. We see her a bit through Friends Without Benefits, Neanderthal Marries Human, and Love Hacked, but this is HER book.
We get to meet Ashley’s bearded, banjo-loving brothers, and the unexpected *cough*surprises that come with living in a home with six men…six STRAIGHT men. I’ve lived in an apartment with three gay men. That was interesting. One was a drag queen, one my BFF, one was, well…revolving. It was a tidy and clean apartment. This house is sort of like an Augusten Burroughs-style shrink’s masturbatorium on moonshine. Just never go in the bathroom. Ever.
We are also shown how they’ve grown into great, loving, protective men in the years since Ashley has moved away. Then we meet Drew Runous. *insert lady-growl.* A bearded, philosophizing, poet-penning, banjo-playing, big-hearted–and still manly–ball of hotness. We are witness as they grow together through tragedy and connection.
The romance, though!! If you’ve read Penny’s other books (that I’ve much vaunted.see here, here, and here.) You are pretty sure you’d recognize her stories anywhere. Yes, Neanderthal Marries Human was more “and then this is reality” than “Once upon a time…” but the story is still quite quirky.
This book? It was so deeply romantic and darkly funny that I was never sure which end was up. I was guessing the entire time, and that was GOOD. I never knew if I was expecting Drew and Ashley to turn out to be Darcy and Miss Bennett or a completelyfictionalizednoteventruetohistory John Smith and Pocahontas.
For those of you who are given to the notion that sweeping, deep romances cannot be also modern, and funny, and heartbreaking, I challenge you: READ Beauty and the Mustache by Penny Reid. The darkest sadnesses in the novel are counter-weighted by the richness of the highs, and folly of the fraternity.