So, thanks for reading my emo post! The emails were really lovely.
I think you all know that I am a Penny Reid sycophant at this point. I love her stuff. I just do. It almost seems redundant at this point to fawn over her books as much as I do. Both on here, and in real life.
So my review of Grin and Beard It shouldn’t be a surprise.
Sienna Diaz is everyone’s favorite “fat” funny lady. The movie studio executives can’t explain it, but her films are out-grossing all the fit and trim headliners and Hollywood’s most beautiful elite. The simple truth is, everyone loves plus-sized Sienna.
But she has a problem, she can’t read maps and her sense of direction is almost as bad as her comedic timing is stellar. Therefore, when Sienna’s latest starring role takes her to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park she finds herself continually lost while trying to navigate the backroads of Green Valley, Tennessee. Much to her consternation, Sienna’s most frequent savior is a ridiculously handsome, charming, and cheeky Park Ranger by the name of Jethro Winston.
Sienna is accustomed to high levels of man-handsome, so it’s not Jethro’s chiseled features or his perfect physique that make Sienna stutter. It’s his southern charm. And gentlemanly manners. And habit of looking at her too long and too often.
Sienna has successfully navigated the labyrinth of Hollywood heart-throbs. But can she traverse the tenuous trails of Tennessee without losing her head? Or worse, her heart?
I will admit I was hesitant about this installment going into the book. I wasn’t sure Ms Reid could make it feel genuine. To be fair, I am very much over the BBW/Hot dude trope which is so pervasive in romance right now. I know that’s a very UNpopular opinion, but it’s mine. I get that romance is fantasy. I get that most of the shit that goes down in a contemporary romance novel is beyond extremely unlikely to happen. If they were real, we’d have far fewer billionaire stepbrothers banging and marrying their stepsisters, and far more “we met on Tinder, and decided that we’d like be more than just DTF. I mean, we both like Top Chef!!!”
Mostly, the BBW/SHG (super hot guy)trope bugs me because it’s never reversed. Unless it’s in lit fic or horror, or let’s face it, non-fiction, the guy is almost never softer than the woman. There are no cuddly types who forget to manscape, but who make up for their bearyness by becoming really good at oral–or something. There’s not a dude who gains sympathy weight with his wife’s pregnancies–which is a thing. It just feels so one-sided. I want to see normal guys being amazing. (Incidentally, I’m about 50k words into a new CR novel featuring just this. I’m so nervous to send it to my PSM to read!!!)
I was worried that the dynamic of a heavier woman (and remember, I used to be a heavier woman!! A LOT heavier!!) and a hot park ranger would bug the crap out of me.
But, unsurprisingly, it didn’t.
I think maybe it helped that Sienna Diaz is brimming with awesome personality, and as far as looks, she’s described much like an Ashley Graham type actress. Sexy AF, tits for days, and someone everyone wants to be friends with. And she’s not unhealthy. She works out and does yoga. That’s pretty boss if you ask me. However, like most people alive ever, she hates cardio–“unless it’s sex or dancing. Then I’ll do the fuck out of that cardio.”
Might I suggest porn cardio, Sienna?
And Jethro? Well, he’s seen and done some shit. Stuff that only a very specific person could deal with. That person would have to be as bold and as bawdy as Sienna.
Together they just work.
Penny Reid’s signature style is definitely present in this installment of The Winston Brothers. Her sharp and witty dialogue, her over-the-top-but-relatable characters, and her somewhat alarming penchant for violence! (Not like, awful violence. Just, you know, the occasional knitting needle as sword, or pimping your sister. Stuff like that.)
This is how I imagine Penny Reid coming up on the next chapter.
Grin and Beard It succeeds where other BBW books fail in that it isn’t about her weight as the man appreciates it, it’s about her weight as she accepts it. Having Jethro purr over her boobs like a kitten on a mission isn’t what makes Sienna love her body. Sienna understanding her own beauty and innate value is what makes Sienna love her body. And that’s awesome.
I vacillated on this, but ultimately, the main food in this book is donuts, (so good you could go nuts!) so that’s what I made.
But I wanted to capture Sienna and Jethro in my donuts, so I made a jelly donut that would crisp up on the edges, and fill it with the tastes of the mid-south that I grew up with at my MawMaw’s knee.
Rhubarb-Filled Churro Donuts
Now, most rhubarb pies and fillings use only strawberries to diminish the tartness of the rhubarb, but my recipe calls for peaches as well. It really makes the filling, well, filling. When it’s pureed, it’s just so silky.
Rhubarb-Filled Churro Donuts
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Keywords: fry breakfast bread dessert side snack vegan
Ingredients (8 donuts)
For the Donuts
- 1 can Pillsbury Grands Homestyle Biscuits (they’re vegan!)
- 1 cup sugar
- 3 tbsp cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp nutmeg
- Your favorite oil for frying. I use a coconut blend.
For the Filling
- 2 cups chopped rhubarb
- 2 peaches, chopped
- 4 large strawberries, chopped
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 2 tbsp coconut oil
- 4 tbsp water
- 1 tbsp cornstarch
Cook the filling first, and let it cool entirely
This is very simple
cook the fruit in a large saucepan with the oil on medium high until soft
add the sugar and cook another minute
stir together the water with the cornstarch
turn off the fruit and add the cornstarch slurry
let cool a few minutes and blend in a blender or puree in a food pro until smooth.
for the donuts
heat the oil to 350F in a large, cast-iron skillet
fry each round of biscuit dough 2 minutes per side, or until each side is golden brown.
don’t crowd the pan!!
while that is going, whisk together the sugar and spices
remove the donuts one at a time and place it directly in the sugar mixture
toss in the sugar mix
make a small slice into each donut with a paring knife
place the rhubarb mixture in a pastry bag with a round, large tip
squeeze about 3-4 tbsp of the rhubarb mix into each donut