Bears are the next werewolves and werecats. Skeptical? Hear me out: Many writers have featured bears in a number of their books. Early adopters of the werebear protagonists and prominent figures in the paranormal romance community include Sherrilyn Kenyon, whose Bad Moon Rising and No Mercy feature members of the beloved Peltier clan, which has been a fixture in the Dark Hunter universe for quiet a while, but have more recently been in books within the overall Dark Hunter canon.
Jessica Sims’s Midnight Liaisons series features a bear hero in Desperately Seeking Shapeshifter and the same hero’s jilted fiancée from an arranged marriage in Bear Naked, a Midnight Liaisons novella. The bear hero, Ramsey, and the novella heroine, Nikolina, come from a pretty conservative bear clan.
The use of the bear clan or pack or whatever as a conservative society can be found in other novels such as D’Elan McClain’s Fang Chronicles: Mandy’s Story. Mandy falls in love with a bear and the two are mates, but werewolf Mandy has to get used to the male-dominated as well as conservative bear clan.
The idea of bear clans having a strict set of codes and morals isn’t limited to romance fiction. Just look at Philip Pullman’s The Golden Compass; the armored bear, Iorek Bryninson, lives in a society determined by a number of codes, including those of honor.
Some writers prefer to portray bears as a more relaxed culture such as Shelly Laurenston in her books, The Mane Squeeze, Beast Behaving Badly and Bear Meets Girl. The bear heroes, Lock, Crush and bear-hybrid, Bo, tend to leave things well enough alone. Sure, Bo is OCD about scheduling and Lock has a strange fascination with honey and Crush is a diehard hockey fan, but these are more the quirks of Laurenston’s characters than bear society itself. In fact, Beast Behaving Badly has the heroine, Blayne, visiting bear territory where the bears are reluctantly affable, partly due to Blayne’s charm.
Another romantic comedy writer who takes on werebears is Eve Langlais in her Furry United Coalition Series (FUC). The first two books, Bunny and the Bear and The Swan and the Bear feature a pair of bear brothers. The first is the grumpy Chase who falls in love with the bunny-shifter Miranda, while his brother, Mason, is a ladies man and generally more likeable than Chase. Generally, the romantic comedy books do not focus so much on bear society themselves but rather developing individual characters.
Bears are not limited to adult romances; Lila Felix just took on bears living in a New Orleans swamp in her paranormal book, Burden. The NA title deals with black and brown bears living in the Louisiana swamps. There are also a number of young adult books that take on the fable “East of the Sun, West of the Moon,” an almost Beauty and the Beast like tale which prominently features the hero trapped in the form of a polar bear. Books that play on this fable include East by Edith Pattou, Sun Moon Ice and Snow by Jessica Day George and Ice by Sarah Beth Durst.
No matter how they are portrayed, bears aren’t going anywhere and are increasing in relevance in the space of paranormal romance. Whether they’re cranky, conservative, goofy or just plain honey loving beta heroes, more authors are finding the appeal of werebears unbearably irresistible.
Do you have a favorite bear hero? Did I miss one? Do you see the appeal? If so, why, if not, what’s your favorite shifter type?
Sahara Hoshi reviews for Wicked Lil Pixie and is a lifelong reader of romance. Favorite genres include new adult, paranormal romance, contemporary romance and erotica.