Review: In Bear Country by Keirnan Kelly

Pride hasn’t had an easy life. No matter what he does, things seem to go bad. This time, though, he’s not sure he can get out of his predicament, and he figures he might just have to call it quits. Bear is a mountain of a man, making a home where most folks wouldn’t, and he comes across Pride right when the other man’s irons are all hanging in the fire. Bear doesn’t even hesitate, he just barges in and saves Pride’s bacon, taking the man home with him to give him a second chance.

Review by Erastes

I admit freely that I went into this book a little jaded because I could pretty much tell what was going to happen.  The blurb rather over simplifies things, in my opinion though – but if it does one thing right it gives a hint that there’s more to these characters than just a Bear and a Twink having a damned good shagfest in the wilderness.

The feel is right; I was convinced by the era from page one without the necessity to be pumelled over the head with details. Pride is a man pretty much at the end of his rope leaving a certain unpleasant present for a hopeful better future with just enough resources (a little money, a gun, a horse) to get there. If he’s lucky.

He’s not, and that’s when the story kicks in, weaving Pride’s story with Bear’s – a reclusive mountain man who acts and looks like his namesake.  You are fairly sure conflict must be coming soon enough – but there’s a great character building section as both men comes to terms with each other and the fact that due to the bad weather (oh noes!) they are likely to be holed up in the remote cabin for the entire winter. (That’s not the conflict though!)

The characters are what saved this book from being another run-of-the-mill straight man/gay man shag story. They are very male in as much as they find it almost impossible to express their feelings, take umbrage at the slightest thing and grab the wrong end of every stick they are given.  If it weren’t for the fact that I felt their coming together was far far too early (after only three days or so) this first section would have been just about perfect.

The period details were excellent. I know nothing about wilderness cabin life in the late 19th century, but it was clear that the author had spent some time learning about it; how much provisions would be needed, aspects of skinning, preserving meat – all that kind of thing. Details, yes. Infodumping, no.

I liked the way that they weren’t soppy with each other, even kissing doesn’t come naturally to them terribly well at the first, and it takes them settling into a reverse dependency for Bear to be able to cope with giving affection rather than just having sex.

When they do become more easy with each other, they are almost lickable. Their easy banter, the constant teasing – and the fact that they DON’T get on all the time is well written and believable.

In all respects, the book could easily have been spread out into a novel as I was dissapointed as it was a short as it was. I am happy to hear from the author that there is a sequel in the offing, and I’ll certainly be getting it.

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One Response

  1. Thank you so much for the review, Erastes! I’m glad you enjoyed it, and doubly glad that the research I put in to it didn’t go unnoticed!

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