Would it be weird to write a sonnet about a character? Granted, I am TURRRRIBLE at the sonnetting. I can’t sonnet to save my bonnet. Three quatrains and a couplet. That seems really difficult for a blog post. Plus, there’s all that shit about iambs–I WILL GIVE YOU A HAIKU! (And later? The best banana cake you’ve ever tasted.)
They’e so much easier.
Oh, how I love thee,
You bearded thing of hotness,
You, Cletus Winston.
So, why write a shitty poem about an awesome character? Because I have been WAITING SO LONG for this installment of Penny Reid‘s Winston Brothers. Since her Knitting in the Series installment of Beauty and the Mustache. Because, Cletus. And I’m not alone. Basically my cadre of book loving friends, have all been waiting with rapt anticipation for Beard Science.
He’s the weird one. The outcast. The one who is just too smart. He’s the one with the sausage.
Most of my friends are very sympathetic to Reid’s first heroine, Jane. Jane is that girl who says the wrong thing, spouts the wrong facts at the wrong time, maybe expects less because she knows too much. Cletus is along the same vein.
But he’s only overlooked because he wants to be. The major difference between Jane and Cletus is that no one misses Jane–no one sees Cletus coming. He’s like the Spanish Inquisition.
Except Jennifer–the Banana Cake Queen.
Make a deal with the devil and you might get what you want, but will it be what you need?
Jennifer Sylvester wants one thing, and that one thing is NOT to be Tennessee’s reigning Banana Cake Queen. Ever the perpetual good girl and obedient daughter, Jennifer is buckling under the weight of her social media celebrity, her mother’s ambitions, and her father’s puritanical mandates. Jennifer is officially desperate.
And desperate times call for Cletus Winston.
Cletus Winston is a puzzle wrapped in a mystery covered in conundrum sauce, and now he’s in a pickle. Despite being convinced of his own omniscience, extortion by the exalted Banana Cake Queen of Green Valley has taken him completely by surprise. So… what’s a maniacal mastermind to do?
Likely, the last thing you expect.
Did it live up to my unreasonably high expectations and deepest Cletus desires?
In a word? Sausage.
That made no sense, but it totally did. When I got my ARC for this book, I almost didn’t open it. I fretted. I thought, there’s just no way I’ll love Cletus as much as I hope I love Cletus. I was worried it would end up in a Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory pile of disappointment. You know what that is, right? You walk by that alluring window of chocolate covered caramel apples, and it is like a siren’s song. You hear it, you see it, you smell it, and mothereffer, you neeeeed to taste it. You go in and buy the $12 monstrosity of M&M and graham cracker coated goodness. The nice teenager behind the counter slices it up for you, gently placing the six slices in a clamshell container like the most beautiful flower that ever did bloom. (Unlike me, I was an early bloomer, and that wasn’t pretty. 6′ in the 6th grade, with boobs and–no idea how to dress them.)
Anyway, you lift the delicate petal of chocolate loveliness to your lips and take a really indelicate bite.
And it’s foul. It’s chocolate that tastes of plastic and regret. It’s caramel that smells like the burned pubic hair of Willy Wonka. It immediately reminds you of that first boy who shoved his tongue down your throat after eating onion rings and a chocolate malt.
To put it lightly–it was a tad disappointing.
Cletus and Jennifer? Beard Science? It was that marathon you thought you were prepared for, and somehow ran it thirty minutes faster than you thought possible. It was that dinner at Shake Shack wherein the fries were perfectly salty and crisp, and they didn’t charge you for cheese and shack sauce. It was the nooner you didn’t think you were going to get, but your SO ends up getting the day off, and the kids are at school, and you have TWO WHOLE HOURS to be together. (30 minutes in the sexy, hour and a half with tea and Netflix–chill.)
Jennifer is so unassuming, and honestly, at first, I wasn’t even sure she was going to be the love interest. You see, I didn’t read the blurb before I read the book because I knew it was Cletus, and I knew it was Penny Reid, and that’s all I needed. In Beauty and the Mustache, I thought Jennifer was sort of a dud. A dolt. A doll. And that is precisely the trap that Penny Reid wanted us in. Because it opens up a new world of opportunities for change and evolution of a character of whom we mostly neglected in our reading. And she rocks. Yes, at first, I wanted to kick her ass for her. I wanted her to grow a vag and move on!
I needn’t have worried.
Cletus and Jennifer made me positively purple with pleasure, and I inhaled their book like so much banana cake.
Four Point Five Stars.
Eating Bananas in Public! Cletus forever. #bookreview #BeardScience @reidromance Click To Tweet
Could I make anything BUT banana cake? No. I could not. But I could make the
Best Banana Cake with Coconut Cream Cheese Frosting.
The BEST BANANA CAKE IN THE HISTORY OF BANANA CAKE. #cake #dessertme Click To Tweet
What Goes In?
- For the Cake!
- 3 ripe bananas (medium)
- 1 cup white sugar
- 1 cup packed light brown sugar
- 1/2 cup canola oil
- 3/4 cup whole milk
- 3 eggs, beaten until frothy
- 1.5 tsp vanilla
- 3 cups AP flour
- 1 scant tbsp baking powder
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp allspice
- For the Frosting!
- 1, 14 oz can condensed milk
- 2, 8 oz packages of cream cheese--completely softened
- 1/2 cup butter--softened
- 1/2 tsp vanilla
- 1 small package (8-10 oz) sweetened flaked coconut, toasted
- Make frosting first, refrigerate at least 2 hours.
- MAKE SURE THE CREAM CHEESE IS ROOM TEMP!!
- Whip all ingredients save coconut on high for 2 minutes.
- FOR THE CAKE!
- preheat oven to 350F
- grease and flour 2, 9" cake pans or 1, 9"-13" cake pan
- mash the bananas
- add in remaining wet ingredients, SLOWLY!!
- sift together dry ingredients
- SLOWLY spoon dry ingredients into wet while mixer is running on low setting until just combined
- pour evenly into cake pans
- bake 25 minutes or until skewer inserted in center comes out clean
- let cool completely
- frost and top with coconut.