Bear Necessities, Dana Marie Bell

Title: Bear Necessities

Author: Dana Marie Bell

Sub-genre: Shifters. Werebears!

Rating: meh.


How ridiculous is this title? I have had Bear Necessities stuck in my head for the past month because of this book. It just gets worse, by the way. Here are some more titles from this series:

2.5) Bear With Me

3) Bear Naked

And, how great is it that it is a pun? I’ve already gone through all of the OverDrive audiobooks to find all the books about dukes, and then to read all the books that are Regency. What if my next thing is to read all the books with puns for titles? Regency romance in particular is pretty great about using puns for their titles. See Sarah Maclean: Scot in the Dark. Every Good Earl Deserves a Lover. The Rogue Not Taken. Need I go on?

So, pun for a title? Check.

Trying to make something sexy, all the while getting a Disney song by a cheerful but slovenly bear stuck in readers’ heads? Check. 

Besides the pun, there was only one more reason why I picked up this book.

One word:


Werebears, or bear shapeshifters, crack me up. I prefer the term werebears because it sounds silly and rhymes. In the shifter novels I’ve read, werebears are usually the jolly giants of the shapeshifter community. While wolves and wildcats are often mired in shifter politics, pack politics, weird rituals, and angst enough to hit the broad side of barn, werebears are somewhat set apart from the drama. They participate, backup when needed, but are generally less drama than all that hierarchy bullshit that goes on in shifter novels. They are usually big, bearded, and cheerfully no-nonsense. Think Little John from Robin Hood. Or, I guess, Baloo.

More Sexy Than Complex-y

As much as I love werebears, I have to admit that I skimmed this book. It was, shall we say, More Sexy Than Complex-y. More Hotty Than Plot-y. In short, it wasn’t that great.

I’ve been toying with ideas to better quantify the smuttiness of romance novels. The romance novel to erotica spectrum is not very clearly delineated, and I think it would help the female population to know! There are visual cues by the cover, of course, standards in particular sub-genres that you come to expect, but you never really know what you are getting into until you start reading.

One of my latest theories is to make an XY graph of Kinkiness and Frequency of smuttiness. I could predetermine it so I don’t have to get into the nitty-gritty each time I want to tell you how smutty this book is.

I would give this book a C4 on my hypothetical graph, I think. Which is pretty standard for shifter novels, if not a teensy bit on the high end. You will never know what that means, probably.

Bitches Always Be Mate Claiming

Also, what’s with the mate determination in this series? Apparently, each shifter has one mystical “mate” for them in the world, a sci-fi take on the whole One True Love story. Pretty standard, but with this one, the two characters knew that they were each others’ mates before they even saw each other. He just walked into the tattoo shop where she worked, and he was like “my mate’s in here behind the curtain.” And she was like “my mate’s out there.” And then they were mated. That easy, huh? Boring.

So what is it? Smell? Pheromones? Some kind of mystical gut feeling? Obviously not sight. And then you don’t fight against it at all? It’s just smooth sailing from here on out?

Even though this is the first of the bear series, it’s building off of a previous series of the characters in the same town, so I’m guessing I missed the initial explanation of how that whole thing works.

Superman Syndrome

Silly me for wanting some actual romancing in my romance novels. Not much in the back and forth of figuring each other out here.

This series has a bad case of the Superman Syndrome. You know how Superman is kind of boring because he’s just so invincible? Too many superpowers, too much strength, too much resilience. I mean, it’s so hard to create conflict when the only people who can take him down are the few left from his stupid dead planet.

Magic of all kinds is fun, don’t get me wrong, but sometimes magic puts the plot at risk by making things just a little too easy for the characters. The mate theory in this book is so easy, it kind of takes the fun out of the book.


I probably won’t seek out any more of Dania Marie Bell’s books, unless I somehow come across them in audiobook form.

Until then, look for the bare necessities, the simple bare necessities, forget about your worry and your strife…



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