I received this book for free by the author for an honest and impartial review. My receiving the book in no way affects my review.
AUTHOR: Julia Talbot
GENRE: LGBT Romance, Shifter
TAG LINE: “He always wanted a bear to keep him warm at night…”
RATING: 2 Stars
SUMMARY: Lane knows want he wants in a lover, but hasn’t been able to find the perfect bear of a man in his small Colorado hometown. So he turns to the Grizzly List, a regional personal ad service for bears and their lovers. He’s not sure what to expect when he meets Fin, but what he gets might be his perfect man.
Bear shifter Fin has been looking for someone with whom to spend his days, nights, and winter hibernation. He’s a happy guy, but needs someone who wants a big, burly, slightly dominant mate. When he meets Lane, Fin knows he’s found what he needs, but will he be able to convince Lane that they’re made for one another, in human form and bear?
BUY LINKS: Amazon
I didn’t expect much when I started Bear Wanted. It’s a bear shifter story, so I can’t take it too seriously. I did have some expectations though—basic ones that all readers have, including quality writing, engaging characters, and a sense of belief. The concept behind Bear Wanted is a really fun idea. I think shifter stories, when done right, can be really fun quick readers. They’re great for when you’re killing time and want something light to get lost in. Plus, some of them can be really steamy. I love bears. They’re cuddly and cute. I also like the other bears, the big burly men with a thatch of hair on their chest and a well-groomed beard (yum!). This story was supposed to encompass both of those things, and it did.
For the most part, Ms. Talbot’s writing wasn’t bad. I think the biggest issue with the story was that she took a story that needed to be more than 80 some pages and condensed it down, so her writing was stilted and the characters didn’t have enough time to develop a true voice. While Lane and Fin each have their own personalities, they start to blend together rather quickly, until neither voice is distinguishing.
I have to give props to Ms. Talbot though for writing an authentic first day. When Lane and Fin meet its awkward, but not in a bad way. It’s the kind of awkward you get when you’re meeting a blind date. As someone who has done her fair share of the online dating, I can say that she accurately showed how anxiously and fumbling those first few moments in your date can be.
Of course, after the initial first date, my belief starts to go out the window. Lane and Fin sleep together on the first date. Which, sure, that happens. But it was really random and felt rushed and forced, like she was trying to get the sex out there immediately to snag the reader.
Then there was the issue with the lore of the story. I wasn’t sure what was going on. Fin is not only a bear as in a big hairy man, but he’s also a bear shifter. Okay, that’s fine. That’s what I expected when I went into this story. But nothing is explained about shifters. Are they accepted? Does society know about them? Are there others? Ms. Talbot gives us a vague and convoluted answer, which only makes me more confused. So there are others, but not everyone knows about them…but they’re accepted? And then there are some people who don’t even know they’re shifters, even when they’re well into their twenties? Wouldn’t they have been affected by the moon? Or by a heat cycle? Or something!?
Once Lane started finding out he was a shifter (because he had sex with Fin??), that’s when the story really lost me. My sense of belief went out the window. Plus, Lane’s dependency on Fin and the abrupt way their relationship developed really turned me off. Their relationship didn’t feel authentic. It felt written.
The idea she had was good. I think if she’d allowed herself another hundred pages or so to develop Lane and Fin’s relationship healthily and to focus on world building, than this story would have been a four star story. It has potential, but right now it feels like a first draft.