I’m starting to see this book on a number of Best of 2016 lists and what I have to say is, “What she said!”
It’s certainly going on mine too. This book is “fabulous, dahling, simply fabulous.” This one is Cletus’ story, and while it’s not necessary to have read the first two books to pick up on this one, you will probably want to anyway since Cletus is a scene stealer from even before we first ‘meet’ him. His name alone is a scene stealer. He is the third in line of the Winston brothers, and a more complex, funny, devious, scheming hero I don’t think I’ve ever come across and I know I sure wouldn’t want to be his enemy. But as all of his wily ways are because of his deep love for his family, well, it just makes him an adorable schemer.
But first, a brief outline. Cletus obviously is the hero and Jennifer Sylvester is the heroine. Jennifer is a heroine who we readers have a great deal of sympathy for. She was home schooled, constantly denigrated by her father all her life, and completely under her mother’s thumb. Known in the community as the Banana Bake Queen, she has no real friends and indeed is made fun of a lot. But when she catches Cletus doing something that he shouldn’t be doing, she sees it as her opportunity to change her life. She blackmails him into helping her find a husband.
Jennifer Sylvester wasn’t even really on Cletus’ radar until she blackmails, and then he really notices her and she really discombobulates him. And Cletus does not like to be discombobulated. He is the puppet master and always in charge, but Jennifer doesn’t act and react the way she is supposed to. So, of course, the only thing he can really do, somewhat against his will, is fall totally and completely and deeply and forever in love with her. Until the fall, he does try to help her in his own unique way of doing things. He sees the real issue is that even though she is in her 20s, she’s completely under the rule of her parents, and he gently, without her really being aware of it, encourages her to rebel and become her own person. And as she does, he starts to fall, and, of course, she reciprocates his love.
That’s a brief outline, but this book is so much more than the outline. I think Penny Reid is brilliant and hilarious and I’m reading this book for the second time, since just reading a book of hers once isn’t enough. It’s much too easy to miss some of the more subtle treasures. For example, there is a character in this book, one who drives Cletus crazy and is a possible rival for Jennifer’s affection. Cletus seriously wants to place an armadillo in his rival’s path so he can catch leprosy. I missed the uproarious humor of this the first reading. And while Cletus abandons the leprosy plan, because of people who owe him favors and his own deviousness, he does manage to have itching powder put into his foe’s collar, and there is a scene that is so easy to miss, where there is some serious neck scratching going on. And just in case anyone is wondering, I googled it and armadillos can cause leprosy, though only the nine-banded species and ‘the risk of transmission to humans is low and it’s highly treatable and not nearly as contagious as once believed.’
I’ve barely scratched the surface of how good and funny and wonderful and all that is good in a book with this review. Best I can say is “Read It. Read It Now. Or better yet, Read It After You Read The First Two Books.”
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.
No excerpt available.
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