Reviewed by Dan
This is a Series Review of Smokey Mountain Bears
AUTHOR: Toni Griffin
PUBLISHER: Mischief Corner Books, LLC
The Smokey Mountain Bears series from Toni Griffin was a nice little read that I picked up right after having read a really, really long book. It was just what I needed to get out of my book hangover, with its cute, easy to read bear romance theme. I’ve reviewed all three books in the series that are currently out, and those individual reviews are below. Of the three, I would say the latest, A Bear’s Bear was my favorite, but I enjoyed them all for what they were.
I thought the first two installments were too short. I felt that A Bear in the Woods, in particular could have been better with some beefing up. It was just way too short and didn’t have enough details to make me completely happy, but that might be because I’m a page number and detail pig! Many of you might enjoy the shorter format.
The only big question I had with the books was the lack of any sort of safe sex negotiation or even comment in any of them. I understand for bear mating it has to be bareback, but Vincent in book one was a human, non-shifter. He had never heard of shifters, so jumping right into bareback sex with some guy he just met, would appear to be highly unlikely. I felt there should have been some sort of quick commentary somewhere.
Other than that issue though, I liked the series. Since I liked the third installment a lot, I’m recommending that one, and honestly, if you’re into shorter stories that have HEAs and don’t really care for a lot of detail, then the other two would work for you as well.
TITLE: A Bear in the Woods
LENGTH: 53 Pages
RELEASE DATE: September 5, 2013
Vincent Marsden is a gay romance author with writers block. After being forced to take a vacation by his best friend, Vincent arrives at his destination. A stunning cabin in the Smokey Mountains. Vincent starts to think there could be something to this whole vacation thing until he steps out onto the balcony and comes face to face with a sleeping bear.
After being attacked and drugged Christian Packard finds a safe place to sleep it off. When he wakes, the last thing he expects to find is his mate. Between Vincent’s uncertainty about the world he’s suddenly found himself in, and someone out to kill Christian, they have their work cut out for them on the road to their happily ever after.
This was a cute little story. I think it had a lot of potential for expansion, but I was happy enough with what we got.
Vincent Marsden writes the same kind of books we review here at Love Bytes! I’m not sure I remember reading another same sex book since I joined Love Bytes that had a gay romance author as the MC. Vincent, as the blurb states has a pretty major case of writer’s block, and his friend Mandy has taken things into her own hands and rented him a cabin outside Gatlinburg, Tennessee for 10 days, and has even included his airfare.
When a trip from hell, full of cancelled flights and delays ends with Vincent arriving at a spectacular mountain cabin, he is overjoyed. But when he wanders out on the balcony and finds a big black bear…well, you can imagine! What will happen when the bear turns out to be sexy shifter Christian Packard?
The novella was an enjoyable read, but it was way too short for me. I would really have liked to see a little more background, and more detail throughout the story. I’m not doing further spoilers, but the backstory was a little weak where it related to the drugging of Christian that is mentioned in the blurb.
Overall, I liked the story. I’ll be interested in seeing what happens with book two and book three which will be reviewed below!
TITLE: Wreath of Fire
LENGTH: 89 Pages
RELEASE DATE: December 24, 2014
Michael’s trying to start a new life away from his abusive father, but he’s drifting and not sure what he wants. When he accidentally starts a kitchen fire, the hot new fireman who comes to the rescue is not only another bear shifter. He’s Michael’s mate. Michael desperately needs to get his act together and figure out what he wants if he has any hope of claiming the bear fated to be his.
Wreath of Fire picks about four months or so after the events in A Bear in the Woods. I was happy to see that it is a continuation of the story of the Packard family, even though Christian and Vincent move to non-MC roles in this one.
In the previous book, we met the character of Micky, whose father and brother were the ones that tried to poison and kill Christian. In this book, Micky, or Michael as he prefers to be called, is the MC. Michael has moved in with Christian’s parents, but still feels a low sense of self-worth based on his poor background and lack of education.
When he accidentally burns up the kitchen at the Packard’s house, it is a blessing in disguise when a big hot grizzly bear shifter shows up as one of the firemen!
I enjoyed this installment. It was enough longer than the first one that I felt a little better connect with the story and the characters. Now on to book three!
TITLE: A Bear’s Bear
LENGTH: 140 Pages
RELEASE DATE: January 13, 2016
Matthew Warner’s been a Chicago Bears fan as far back as he can remember. What other team was a young bear shifter from the Smokey Mountains supposed to root for? When his college friend gets tickets to the next home game, Matthew jumps at the chance for a holiday. It’s his favorite time of year and Nic promises him pumpkin carving and a visit to the world’s largest corn maze, what more could he want?
What Matthew doesn’t expect is finding out the defensive tackle for the Bears is his mate. Between fainting at the realization, meeting family, and dealing with the media fallout of his mate’s coming out Matthew is in for a hell of a rocky Halloween.
By far the best of the three book series! I really enjoyed the story of Matthew and Hudson. What is not to love…a big, bald, furry, NFL Football player is one of the characters!
For anyone who has ever fantasized about one of those big strapping football players, imagine if you went on a trip to Chicago, and while there discovered that one of those players was your fated mate!
This story at times had me smiling and even chuckling, and the storyline was well written. I enjoyed the characters, even though at one point I wanted to reach in and shake Matthew…
My only disappointment in the book was that although the characters from the first installment are mentioned in this book, there is no mention at all of the characters from the second installment. I like reading series books, but I would have loved to see more of a tie in between the three. I kind of feel like we’re left with snippets of a much bigger story revolving around the bear shifters of Gatlinburg.
I’m going to recommend this particular installment to anyone who is into bear shifters. This is the longest installment, and my favorite of the three. I think you’ll enjoy it, and it could easily be read as a standalone since it doesn’t tie back really to the earlier installments.