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Book Review: Lions, Tigers, and Sexy Bears, Oh My! By Candace Havens

Title: Lions, Tigers, and Sexy Bears, Oh My!
Author: Candace Havens
Genre: paranormal romance
Published: 2013
Rating: 2 1/2 stars

Heiress Ainsely McLeon is in trouble…someone’s trying to kill her, and the remaining members of her family may—or may not be involved. She’s escaped LA to arrive in the middle of Montana, where she promptly plows her new POS truck into a tree. During a blizzard. While trying to prevent hitting a tiger that had been standing in the middle of the road. Yeah, not her finest hour; nor, possibly, her sanest. Now she needs two thousand dollars to fix her truck so she can get out of Clarksville, and for that she needs a job. She can’t access her bank accounts or use her credit cards, since that would be like sending up a signal flare to the guys who want her dead.

Bar owner and shapeshifting bear Lucas lost his family once and isn’t about to take that chance again. But there’s something about the new waitress that he just can’t say no to, no matter how much he knows he should….

Lions, Tigers, and Sexy Bears, Oh My! had a really strong beginning and some darn funny moments throughout. One of my favorite scenes was when Ainsely just up and started working at the bar, even though Luc had specifically told her he wasn’t interested in hiring her. She charms the guy behind the bar into giving her an apron—after sweetly informing him that she has no way to pay for the coffee he just served her otherwise—and then proceeds to put every single one of the rowdy bar patrons in their place, all without them even suspecting a thing. Except the guy who ill-advisedly decides to grab her butt. Him she lays low with a well-timed judo move and a sternly delivered, “Would you do that to your mother?”

Another part I really liked happened the next night when Ainsely is nearly hurt in a bar brawl. In his anger and haste to get to her, Luc half shifts into a bear—and his secret (and that of the rest of the town, since it turns out most of them are at least part shifter) is out. Ainsley hides herself in a closet in an attempt to deal. With a full pan of Luc’s freshly baked brownies.

He glanced down at the pan in her lap. “By any chance are you a stress eater?”

“What makes you say that?” Her mouth was still full of brownie.

Ainsley downs a glass of milk and finishes the pan, then:

“How long is it going to take you to make some more?” She didn’t meet his eyes, but she pointed at the pan.

“Forty-five minutes at least.”

She stared down at the floor. “If it’s okay with you, I’d like to stay in her a little while longer.” Reaching up, she closed the pantry door, and then opened it again. “I don’t suppose you have any cookies to tide me over until the brownies are done. Or pie. That pie last night was really good.”

I also liked some of the little details about this world of shifters, like the fact that Luc had to keep his apartment freezing cold in the winter months to avoid his body’s natural urge to hibernate. Clever idea!

However, on the whole I found this novel lacked focus and detail. Once the action of the plot really got underway, it bounced around a lot. High stakes embezzlement, FBI involvement, murderous cartels—readers are given just the barest of hints about these dire proceedings, only to find them quickly resolved with very little explanation. More than once things were mentioned by characters—an allusion to Doc’s good news toward the end?—and then never explained to readers. I couldn’t help but wonder if a higher word count wasn’t needed to really flesh out the plot and action, because a lot of times it felt like I was missing something.

It also felt more like we were being told that the hero and heroine had chemistry rather than actually seeing it in action. Luc and Ainsley’s relationship goes very quickly from mutual attraction to house-destroying sex to not being able to imagine life without each other in it. Not that they tell each other this, of course. They just think it to themselves. A lot.

Which leads us to a rather anti-climactic climax caused by a misunderstanding and fixed by a bar fight—which apparently is the shifter equivalent of a jump over a broom handle. And then a several months later-style epilogue that didn’t add a whole lot to the overall picture.

In a nutshell: this book had promise and more than a few cute moments, but in the end it needed more. 2 1/2 stars.

I received an ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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