Flora Reviews… Bears Behaving Badly (BeWare My Heart #1) by MaryJanice Davidson
Read: 10th March – 10th April 2020
Publication Date: 31st March 2020
My Overall Rating: 2/5
Plot: 3/5 – Flow: 1/5 – Character Development: 2/5 – World Building: 2/5
Quote from Bears Behaving Badly
“Breakfast. She loved their sun-filled kitchen, with bold, black appliances (easy cleanup) and lots of counter space (room to spread out the junk mail, tape, more mail, books, pens, junk mail), and the island, which was usually Pat’s domain for his project de la semaine. She went straight to the fridge, took inventory of the pitiful contents, and grabbed staples. She sniffed at the eggs and, satisfied, cracked three, whisked them, added the last of the half-and-half, then swirled them into the softly bubbling butter.
“Oh, Gawd, I can’t watch.”
“And yet,” Pat whispered, round eyed, “I cannot look away. This is what people see just before they die.”
Bears Behaving Badly is the first book (approx 320 pages) in MaryJanice Davidson’s new paranormal romance series, BeWare My Heart. This story is set in America, with the bulk of the action taking place in and around Saint Paul, Minnesota.
If you’ve read any of my reviews before, you’ll know that I write about how the story was told rather than the plot itself, which means that my reviews don’t contain spoilers of any kind or reveal any plot twists, so here’s what the official blurb has to say about the story:
These social worker bear shifters give the term “mama bear” a whole new meaning! Bestselling author MaryJanice Davidson is back with this brand-new paranormal romance series featuring a foster care system for at-risk shifter babies and teens.
Werebear shifter Annette Garsea is a caseworker for the Interspecies Placement Agency. When a selectively mute and freakishly strong teen werewolf is put in her custody, Annette has to uncover the young girl’s secrets if she’s to have any hopes of helping her. And not even the growling of a scruffy private investigator can distract her from her mission…
Bear shifter David Auberon appreciates Annette’s work with at-risk teen shifters, but he’s not sure if her latest charge is so much a vulnerable teen as a predator who should be locked up. All that changes when he, Annette, and her motley band of juveniles find themselves dodging multiple murder attempts and uncovering a trafficking cartel that doesn’t just threaten the kids, but risks discovery of the shifters by the wider world of homo sapiens.
So, before we get into what I thought about this book, I want you to know that I was given an unedited digital version of this book for free from the publisher (Sourcebooks Cassablanca) after making a request via Netgally.com in exchange for an honest review.
This does not affect my opinion or my review. These are my words; I’m giving you my honest thoughts here.
I requested Bears Behaving Badly for a number of reasons; the front cover caught my eye – you’ve got to agree, that cover model is hot 🔥 and I love the bear they used too, the story description piqued my interest – a main character who helps disadvantaged and at-risk children, uncovering a trafficking ring, secrets, peril, , yes please, and of course, I 💜 love 💜 paranormal romances – they’re my thing. Unfortunately, Bears Behaving Badly didn’t turn out to be quite what I expected or live up to my expectations.
I liked the premise of non-shifters being called “Stables” i.e. not being able to change their form, it’s original and made sense. The underlying plot about the trafficking cartel was gripping and I liked this grittier aspect of the book, although some of the twists and the big reveal came as no surprise.
I really loved the idea of our female protagonist, Annette (or Net as the kids call her) growing up in the Foster care system and then working to protect kids as an adult, I have read this in other books and love this troupe as it gives the character a further depth of understanding for their charges. There are several key characters in this book, and I liked how the various personalities were different from each other, including the villains of the story.
As you can tell from my low rating, I thought this book was OK but there was a lot that didn’t work for me. I need to be honest and admit that I started skim reading after reaching the halfway point. I’m not going to list everything that I didn’t enjoy, however, I will highlight my main grumbles.
Firstly, I struggled with the writing style. I understand that I read an Advanced Reader Copy that was pre-publication, so I expected to see the many proofreading needs, what frustrated me was Davidson’s writing style. This story is missing any carefully woven world building. We’re thrown in the deep end into this world, so much so, that it felt more like a second or third book in a series instead of an opener. The flow didn’t feel smooth. There were a lot of times where the scenes just confused me so much that I had to reread them. In short, there was head jumping galore, whole scenes of dialogue where I didn’t know who was saying what and there was far too much “tell” instead of “show” which all hindered my enjoyment of this book.
Secondly, this book is marketed as a “fun, sexy, paranormal romance” but I didn’t get some of the humour, the characters would laugh at something that I’d obviously missed (oh, and in my opinion, men don’t “giggle” they “chuckle” instead. “Giggle” is certainly not a word that I’d associate with a stoic alpha male). It was baffling.
And finally, I felt disappointed with our heroine, Annette. If you’ve read my reviews before, you’ll know that I crave leading female characters that are intelligent, resilient, resourceful and have plenty of gumption; Annette seemed to have these qualities but a lot of the time, I couldn’t understand why she reacted to situations the way she did, why she didn’t solve mysteries when I did and I got very frustrated. We are continually told she was soft-hearted but we weren’t shown it very often.
Although Bears Behaving Badly wasn’t the book for me, I’m sure plenty of readers will love the mix. The story has plenty of tension, conflict, humour and banter with a generous helping of sexual anticipation and a slow-burn romance.
Due to some of the themes of abuse, violence and sexual content, I’d recommend Bears Behaving Badly to adults who aren’t offended by content of this nature and are fans of relationship tales set against a dark backstory within the paranormal romance genre.
So, although BEARS BEHAVING BADLY (BEWARE MY HEART #1) was not the book for me, I hope my review still may encourage you to find out more? As I write this, it has received some glowing 4 and 5 star reviews from other readers. Just click on any of the links below to check out the book yourself or to find out more about the author.
Buy BEARS BEHAVING BADLY in print, audio and ebook formats through the usual sources, including:
(I am part of Amazon , Audible , The Book Depository , Foyles Book Shop and Waterstones affiliate programmes, which means when you use those links to buy a copy of this book, I will get a (very) small % from the sale.)
MaryJanice Davidson is the NYT and USA Today best-selling author of several novels and is published across multiple genres, including the UNDEAD series and the Tropes Trilogy. Her books have been published in over a dozen languages and have been on best-seller lists all over the world. She has published books, novellas, articles, short stories, recipes, reviews, and rants, and writes a bi-weekly column for USA Today.
A former model and medical test subject, she has been sentenced to live in St. Paul, MN, with her husband, children, and dogs.
Thank you for stopping by and taking the time to read my review. Although this one wasn’t the story for me, I hope you still found my post interesting and click on a few of the links to find out about the book yourself.
Stay safe and happy reading. 💜