Three years ago, Bear McKenna’s mother took off for parts unknown with her new boyfriend, leaving Bear to raise his six-year-old brother Tyson, aka the Kid. Somehow they’ve muddled through, but since he’s totally devoted to the Kid, Bear isn’t actually doing much living—with a few exceptions, he’s retreated from the world, and he’s mostly okay with that. Until Otter comes home.
Otter is Bear’s best friend’s older brother, and as they’ve done for their whole lives, Bear and Otter crash and collide in ways neither expect. This time, though, there’s nowhere to run from the depth of emotion between them. Bear still believes his place is as the Kid’s guardian, but he can’t help thinking there could be something more for him in the world… something or someone.
You know that you’re in for an emotional roller coaster of a read when you’re shedding tears within the first three chapters. Really!?! I didn’t even know all the characters yet. *sigh*
Bear, Otter & the Kid is told from Bear’s perspective. Just so you know going in, Bear’s head isn’t always a comfortable place to be. He’s brutally honest with himself. His inner commentaries are some of the most unique perspectives I’ve ever read. Just because he was honest with himself doesn’t mean that he saw himself clearly or the way others saw him. More often than not, he was way too hard on himself. Needless to say I loved Bear.
Then there was Otter. He was a mystery in the beginning, but the more I got to know him, the more I liked him. Even when I probably wasn’t supposed to. Even though he was older, he had always been part of the family core that these friends represented. He was a source of love and support. He sacrificed his own happiness regardless of the fall out. I ended up both admiring him and hating him just a little at the same time.
Last, but most definitely not least is the Kid. I’m one of those readers that both loves and potentially hates it when a young child is included as a prominent character in an adult romance. If there is a child character I want them to be an integral part of the story, not just a prop. I also want them to be smart, witty, charming and not written ‘down.’ Yeah, I have high standards when it comes to kids in books. Kid met those expectations and then some. I loved his intelligence and unique perspective that could only come from a child as well as his innocence. Seems contradictory I know, but not really. If you’ve been around a child that was wiser than their years, or one who had an ‘old soul’ you know exactly where I’m coming from. As smart and witty as the Kid was, he had his issues. Not giving him those issues wouldn’t have been true to his character and what he experienced. T.J. Klune handled this aspect of the Kid beautifully. It made me fall in love with these three characters, as well as the author, even more.
Bear, Otter & the Kid had some wonderful supporting characters. Anne & Creed were just as important to the story as the main characters. As crazy, dramatic and broken as Bear and the Kid’s family dynamic was, they had a huge source of love and support. Family isn’t always blood and that was proven more than once in Bear, Otter & the Kid.
This book was not only a character driven story, but an emotionally driven one. It was funny, smart, heartbreaking and real…. sometimes painfully so. There were times when I wanted to shake Bear and hug him at the same time. I wanted to go find someone who could fix things for him and make sure that no one – especially HER – did anything to cause them any more confusion and pain. I wanted to tell him that he was doing an amazing job at being who the Kid needed him to be. I wanted to remind him that he was just a ‘little guy’ and it was OK to let someone bigger and stronger take care of him for a change. I wanted to remind him that he wasn’t alone. But, that’s what Otter was for.
So yeah, this one got to me… and yes, I can still say that I loved every minute of it. So much so that I already have the next two books on my Kindle ready and waiting. Who We Are and The Art of Breathing have just been moved way up on my TBR list and T.J. Klune has been added to my authors to watch. 😉