Book Review: The Witness and the Bear by T. S. Joyce

The Witness and the Bear (Bear Valley Shifters, #1)

The Witness and the Bear was a short story that depressed me as a reader. In my opinion, it started out mediocre and only got worse as the story progressed.

Book synopsis: Hannah Michaels is on the run, and the protection detail assigned to her case have her wondering who, or what, she’s trusting her life with. After testifying against a criminal with a long reach, her days are numbered if her handler, Jeremy, can’t find a safe place for her. Out of options and with nowhere to go, she’s dropped off in the Big Horn Mountains of Montana with a duffle bag of her belongings and little explanation.

Jeremy swears she’ll be safe in this wilderness sanctuary, but when she meets Benson Riker, leader of the bear shifter clan of Big Horn Valley, she doesn’t feel safe at all. In fact, the man is just about as feral as they come.

In a bout of epically bad timing, she accidentally vies to be mated to the alpha, and no matter how much she tries to escape the competition for Riker’s affection, he is having none of it. He cites upholding clan law as his reasons for wanting her to stay, but the hungry look in his eyes says it’s more personal than that.

Weathering deep secrets and danger from all sides, she’ll have to decide if Riker is the shifter who deserves her heart.

My review: I say it often but I am not a fan of romances that appear out of the ether and The Witness and the Bear had ether in spades.  Not only did the romance – such as it was – appear out of nothing, so did the majority of the plot line also.

The plot jumped to about five different tangents within the 115 pages but all those tangents were supposed to be along the same lines as the main story.  I didn’t feel it at all.  The characters were basic and had little to no background story to make you connect with them, what background there was, was delivered to the other characters in a way where we didn’t get to know the details.

Not only was there that lack of detail, the history of the main female character was hashed out badly, the history of her ‘protector’ was just as bad, the male character didn’t appear to have much of a history at all apart from the “premonition about the woman with the heart shaped scar.”

The way in which the bear shifters ran their ‘clan’ was I suppose different to the way I’ve read others but even then it was supremely archaic in that the Alpha male not only has to fight for his position but he has to have sex with multiple women to find his mate.  That’s basically 21st century techniques with a rule imposed on it – men and women in the 21st century sleep with multiple partners in order to find the right one.

Right on cue though, Benson Riker (the lead) doesn’t want to sleep with multiple partners. Oh boo hoo, he didn’t even like the female lead when he first met her, basically told her to fuck off and die – literally – and now all of a sudden he’s “forced” to have sex with her because of some stupid law.  You are the motherfucking Alpha! Act like it and say no or you might as well roll over and show them your soft underbelly so the people you’ve just beat can rip it from you.

Don’t forget that due to this ‘law’ our hero goes to fuck another woman after mating with his heroine. Yeah so his bear flips his shit but the man didn’t seem all that bothered at first until his bear rips through his human skin.  Going against instinct will do that to a lot of animals.

The sex scenes were minimal and couldn’t really be considered sex or even smut when you consider it was approximately 2, maybe 3 paragraphs of bare minimum description.  It brings a new meaning to “one pump chump”.

I didn’t enjoy this one bit and found it took me longer to finish because I felt that it dragged on.  I won’t be reading the rest of the series that’s for sure.

Series: Bear Valley Shifters

The Verdict: 1.5 stars

For: Lovers of bear shifters

Publication details: July 2nd, 2014

Format: Kindle, 115 pages

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