ENGAGEMENT AND ESPIONAGE by Penny Reid – double review!

Jennifer Sylvester made her deal with the devil . . . and now they’re engaged!

But all is not well in Green Valley. A chicken choker is on the loose, 61 dead birds most “fowl” need plucking, and no time remains for Jennifer and her devilish fiancé. Desperate to find a spare moment together, Jenn and Cletus’s attempts to reconnect are thwarted by one seemingly coincidental disaster after another. It’s not long before Cletus and Jenn see a pattern emerge and the truth becomes clear.
Sabotage!
Will an undercover mission unmask the culprit? Or are these love-birds totally plucked?

‘Engagement and Espionage’ is the first book in the Solving for Pie: Cletus and Jenn Mysteries series, is a full-length cozy mystery, and is a spin-off of Penny Reid’s Winston Brothers series. This novel is best read after ‘Beard Science,’ Winston Brothers #3. 


Title : Engagement and Espionage
Author : Penny Reid
Series : Solving for Pie: Cletus and Jenn Mysteries Series #1
Format : eARC
Page Count : 350
Genre : Cosy Mystery
Publisher : Indie
Release Date : July 14, 2020

Reviewer : Micky / Hollis
Rating  : ★ ★ ★ ★ / ★ ★ ★.5


Micky’s 4 star review

What a delight it was to be back with Cletus and Jenn in ENGAGEMENT & ESPIONAGE. I wasn’t sure what to expect with the idea of a mystery series but it felt all the Winston familiarity I desired alongside a compelling set of circumstances. These characters (okay Cletus) had all the quirkiness and oddities you would expect, wrapped up in funny shennanigans. I was fully entertained from start to finish.

I love that Penny Reid has the confidence to drop you in a timeline you don’t expect and it 100% works. Cletus and Jenn weren’t that long past their origin story and I loved being able to pick back up with them there and see how they fared with the challenges that came. I hope you’re ready for the frustration and ancitipation of a sloooooowww burn.

This story had chickens as you might expect but it went from ooh to arghhh as the tale took some sinister turns. Cletus and Jenn made a great team, not quite in tune, not quite communicating brilliantly but with a connection that grounded them to a common goal…their bedroom. Jenn’s mother and father were central to events and they took some figuring out. The Winston brothers’ were ever present and I was pretty happy when they were on-page.

There were some fantastic moments involving emergency lasagna, rings, mistaken identities and bottoms. I laughed out loud many times and this was just ideal entertainment for my weekend.

“Bakers is one vowel away from being ‘bikers’.”

Penny Reid’s brand of humour, intelligent, odd and unusual totally floats my boat and I cannot wait for more from this series.

Thank you to the author for the early review copy




Hollis’ 3.5 star review

BEARD SCIENCE is one of my favourite Winston Brothers books so I was thrilled to hear that Reid was bringing Cletus and Jenn back into the forefront (though lets be honest, Cletus steals the show in pretty much all the books) for their own spinoff that bridges some of the time jumps in the main series.

Getting even was a waste of time. Why would I get even when I could get the advantage?

I think what I loved most, beyond being reunited with this family (even if it’s back in time and not everything is in the HEA-state that we’ve already seen), was the realism in the post-BEARD SCIENCE reality that just because the couple ended up together, doesn’t mean everything is magically perfect after the book closes. Jenn and Cletus are still working through some things, both individually and as a couple, and they are struggling to find time for each other, to keep to their commitments, to keep their promises. I liked that.

What I didn’t like? Jenn’s mother. Her father. The fact that the population of this town is 90% lunatic. Seriously, is there something in the water in Green Valley?

What’s the difference between the Emergency Lasagna and the Lasagna Emergency?
One fixes an emergency, the other causes an emergency.”

Everything not related to shitty parents and the mystery itself were great. I loved seeing old faces, the games Cletus plays, and I loved every page that featured Shelly (because of course I do). I also loved all the literal cock blocking, even the non-literal cocks that blocked, that set us on the road for a slow build to finally getting this couple to, well, couple.

Cletus, don’t you realize? You already have me. Stop being so careful.
And if I make a mistake?
Trust me to forgive you.

Overall this was a great way to spend a sunday and I have no doubt this will delight Jenntus fans and general Winston Brothers fans alike.

** I received an ARC from the author (thank you!) in exchange for an honest review. **

KISSING GALILEO by Penny Reid

Her professor just saw her mostly naked. Awkwardness is guaranteed to ensue.

What do you do when your freakishly smart and wickedly sarcastic Research Methods professor sees you mostly naked? You befriend him, of course.

‘Kissing Galileo’ is the second book in the Dear Professor series, is 74k words, and can be read as a standalone. A shorter version of this story (40k words) was entitled ‘Nobody Looks Good Naked’ and was available via Penny Reid’s newsletter for free over the course of 2018-19.


Title : Kissing Galileo
Author : Penny Reid
Series : Dear Professor #2
Format : library ebook
Page Count : 294
Genre : Contemporary Romance
Publisher : Cipher-Naught
Release Date : June 17, 2019

Reviewer : Micky
Rating : ★ ★ .5


Micky’s 2.5 star review

I really enjoyed Kissing Tolstoy but Galileo just left me a little disconnected, to be honest. Emily and Victor were not opposites, they felt like twins and their similarties actually got on nerves. Core to this story is once again a relationship between professor and student. For me, this storyline was not resolved as one minute there was high concern about the ethics of the relationship and later, none at all.

I normally find Penny Reid’s quirkiness of characters and narrative endearing but in this instance, I didn’t. In fact, I found the whole repetitive reciting of data, statistics and research methods annoying (and I am an academic with a PhD). Perhaps I just don’t like my fiction with such a big slice of work in it but for me it really detracted from the enjoyment. The ‘constant comparion’ (excuse my pun – Penny Reid now has me at research euphemisms) of their friendship and later relationship to statistical analysis or data, got old for me. The eventual relationship came to late for me to truly enjoy it.

The flip of body image issues from the male perpective was a welcome storyline. This topic was handled with realism and I could credibly appreciate Victor’s journey and feelings…bravo! I wanted a bit more from Lavender, I was sad that initial scene was never revisted (or tied up).

This is one of those rare moments where I didn’t really enjoy a Penny Reid book but considering I adore the vast amount, I won’t worry. There are many fans of this book, just not me.

LOVE HACKED by Penny Reid – reread 🎧

There are three things you need to know about Sandra Fielding: 
1) She makes all her first dates cry, 2) She hasn’t been kissed in over two years, and 3) She knows how to knit.

Sandra has difficulty removing her psychotherapist hat. Of her last 30 dates, 29 have ended the same way: the man sobbing uncontrollably. After one such disaster, Sandra–near desperation and maybe a little tipsy–gives in to a seemingly harmless encounter with her hot waiter, Alex. Argumentative, secretive, and hostile Alex may be the opposite of everything Sandra knows is right for her. But now, the girl who has spent all her life helping others change for the better, must find a way to cope with falling for someone who refuses to change at all.

This is a full-length, 110k word novel and is the third book in the Knitting in the City series. All books in the series can be read as a standalone.


Title : Love Hacked
Author : Penny Reid
Narrator : Devra Woodward
Series : Knitting in the City #3
Format : Audiobook
Length : 13 hr 56 min
Genre : Contemporary Romance
Publisher : Audible Audio
Release Date : March 2, 2014

Reviewer : Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★ ★


This was a most intriguing story from Penny Reid; it’s full of mystery and fun. Alex is the most curious hero, a waiter who is clearly something more but that’s the big mystery. What or who is Alex? I’ve liked Sandra from the knitting crew but not really had the measure of her character properly until now. Sandra was a smart, witty lady, often found being sarcastic or self deprecating. I really liked her. Her lack of love life was hilarious and she was the woman who made men weep then get therapy.

The direction of this storyline was unexpected, unusual and had me reaching for the Internet to do some research. That’s not to say that background isn’t explained adequately, I just found myself curious as to the reality of the story context and it’s grounded in fact. Penny Reid bring her signature wit and intelligence to this series but I found this book a little hotter than previous books in the series. this was a slow burn connection with all the heat boiling to a frenzy; such a delight to listen to.

I drank in the connection between Alex and Sandra. I swallowed my frustration with Alex at times. I revelled in what could be. Most of all, I sat back and enjoyed almost every minute of this book.

This was a re-read by audio and second time round, it was a dream. The audio was a single pov, single narration audio and Devra Woodward did a fantastic job in general but also with male dialogue. She captured the snark and humour so well and brought these characters alive.

You can totally just listen to this as a standalone but to appreciate the full knitting crew, start at the beginning with Janie.