Bear Necessities by Dana Marie Bell
Once a Bear sets his mind on a mission, it's best to stay out of his way. Alexander "Bunny" Bunsun is that Bear. Something's not right with his cousin Chloe, and he's come to Halle, PA to sort it out, turn his Harley around and head home to Oregon. Until an enticing scent lures him into the local tattoo shop.
There she is. An inked, Southern-drawled she-Wolf with lime-green hair. His perfect mate.
Tabitha Garwood's rotten day just got worse. Her Outcast status makes her a target for harassment with alarming regularity. And now, in the middle of a root touch-up, looking like a half-melted Skittle, she's met her destined mate. The only upside? She finally has protector in the form of a huge, tattooed, shaved-head Bear who vibrates with carefully restrained power.
When Chloe is left for dead and Tabby is threatened, only Alex can keep his growing family safe. Giving Tabby the loving home she needs, though, could come at a price--Alex must give up the control he's worked a lifetime to attain.
Which means someone could die at the hands--and claws--of his beast.
This was my first book by Dana Marie Bell but it will not be my last! At one point I laughed so hard I struggled to catch my breath and my stomach was sore when I finished. This is the first book in the Halle Shifters series but it is related to other series that this author has written also based in Halle, PA. There were definitely times I knew I was missing out on backstory and it was difficult to always keep secondary characters straight at times but it didn't diminish my overall enjoyment in any way.
Tabby is struggling with a stalker named Gary, who feels that he can harass her anytime he wants because she is Outcast, or without a pack. One of the opening scenes shows Gary coming close to sexually assaulting Tabby when she returns to her car from a run. This is the first of many altercations that steadily increase in both frequency and severity. When a Bear walks in smelling of her mate and she is sitting with her head in the sink getting her roots bleached out so she can touch up her lime green bob, she can't quite believe it. Then next time she sees him she is holding a LOT of condoms due to roommate trickery. At the end of their date, they find Bunny's cousin, bleeding out in the middle of the street. Not an auspicious beginning by any means, but it gives both Bunny and Tabby true insight into how the other reacts in unusual circumstances.
Bear has worked all his life to master his rage...being a Grizzly Bear comes with a lot of aggression and Bunny has more than most. His daily Yoga and meditation allow him to keep control of his Bear although learning about Gary's assaults on Tabby is straining his Bear's patience. Bunny is a man who loves his family and wants cubs, a wife, and a happy ever after.
Tabby was betrayed by all who should have loved her when her former Alpha accused her of a crime she didn't commit and named her Outcast. Nobody spoke up on her behalf and she spent the next eight years in wolf form wandering until she stumbled upon the town of Halle. She has been doing everything she can to build a life she can enjoy and to be a contributing member of society. She has a job she loves, roommates she would take a bullet for, has almost earned her GED, and feels like she can make a real home. The only thing lacking is being a true pack member but she likes the other shifters in Halle so at least she isn't so alone anymore.
With all of the problems with Gary, finding out who has harmed Chloe and why, learning that there are quite a few couples-in-the-making for future books, and watching Tabby and Bunny fall in love all within 261 pages this is a quick read for sure...but it never felt like too much. However, not all of your questions will be answered, particularly concerning Chloe so go into this knowing that you will need to commit to at least one more book in the series before you get all of the answers...As for me, I am happily adding this to my series-to-keep-an-eye-out-for list and am off to put the next installment on hold at my library.
Dana Marie Bell has a way of writing that reminds me of Shelly Laurenston and Eve Langlais. Lots of clever dialogue, creating characters who aren't perfect in all the best ways, and laugh out loud scenes that can turn serious in a heartbeat and then back again. I look forward to reading more of her work...