I don`t have the best thoughts on Penny, to be honest. She is not the worst I have ever had, but she is far from the best. When the author is in command of their craft there is actually an amount of bull I can take. Not so much when the author doesn`t really THINK much.
Especially when they don`t think enough about sentences like: “We stood there for a bit—not long, but not super short—with him hugging me and me crying on his suit jacket.”
OR: “Everything heterosexually feminine in me loved the hard muscled planes of
his stomach and sides and back.”
What makes it even worse is the fact that I took those out of a short story, maybe a page apart.
But ok, let me be a bit less dramatic and a bit more factual. I did read a number of her books (trying to escape actual life) and I owe her at least that.
So, Amazon (the devil`s pit) told me I should give her a go. And the book was about a bearded man and a prickly lady, so I read it. Sue me. And then I read the series. And then I figured out that it is linked to another series and I just couldn`t leave it alone.
I lost days.
All in all, there are some good and ok sides to them, and there are inescapable bad sides. There is a DNF in there too.
I read the Winston Brothers and Knitting in the City, so about a dozen books (I know, I am an idiot). And if I had to be quick about it, I would say they were ok. If you need a recommendation I would say go for Happily Ever Ninja, Beard Science and Beard in Mind. Most definitely avoid Friends Without Benefits. A cute philosophical idea is introduced in Dating-ish, so it might work for you.
They are all written in first person, and it took some time for me to get used to that. There are problems with continuity and timeline, and the author seems to go on train of thought tangents that make the characters seem like a slightly different version of the same thing. We are getting the info trough internal monolog, so I guess train-of-thought should be expected. But it is not executed “all that great”. Some characters end up putting me of because of their inner crap (Elizabeth in Friends Without Benefits), others turn out to be great in comparison (Happily Ever Ninja).
The good news is that Penny seems to be getting better with time, and with characters she has more time (or pages) for. She is also trying to diversify her characters, and I like how she deals with mental issues and health.
She is similar to S. E. Phillips in the way she makes her characters do questionable and just plain wrong things, but she fails in the redemption part of the equation. In order for me to carry on, and understand (even justify) the happy end for those characters, I need more insight, more blood, sweat and tears on the road to self betterment. I personally dislike black-and-white situations and I am inclined to look deeper, but if there is nowhere to look…
Most of my dislikes are in relation to my valuation of the books as easy beach reads or time-wasters. One can forgive lack of depth but one shouldn`t have to suffer trough shallow things like poorly written sentences. Or the fact that the knitting group labels themselves with “drinking, cussing and sex talk” while they actually “sip, knit and talk about boys, with a random reference to cunnilingus for spice”. If you try to read them in order you will end up even more confused.
Finally, if you are getting a book for a groundhog day present, and it must be Peeny Reid, choose wisely and hope for the best. You might have a shot at not hating what you get, but the odds are not in your favor.