Reviewed by Dan
Contains references to Past Non-Consensual Stepfather/Stepson relations
TITLE: Bear Among The Books
AUTHOR: T. J. Masters
PUBLISHER: Dreamspinner Press
LENGTH: 232 Pages
RELEASE DATE: September 2, 2016
Forty-eight-year-old Ben Thompson is a librarian, a passionate book lover, and a man who embodies the definition of a bear. He’s also lonely after the loss of his long-term partner. Young ex-gymnast Jason Barnes piques his interest, but Ben quickly realizes there’s more to Jason than his good looks. While Jason visits the library almost every day, he never checks out a book.
With gentle persistence, Ben befriends Jason and learns the nineteen-year-old’s tragic secrets. After years of abuse at his father’s hands, Jason was kicked out of his family home for being gay. And despite his apparent love of books, Jason never learned to read. Ben offers to teach him, and the two men bond over their lessons. Ben can’t deny his attraction to Jason, but he wonders if Jason is too young and too handsome to return his interest. With the help of the close-knit library team and Jason’s growing self-confidence, they move beyond the books and into the bedroom, where their own story is just beginning.
So I’m a little conflicted on this one. I picked it up because of the “bear” librarian. As a guy who helps run a local gay bear group, and leads weekly bear hikes, I’m an avid fan of the bear culture. I thought there would be more bear related stuff in the book, but there really wasn’t.
Ben Thompson is a librarian, who at forty-eight is a widower. He lost his partner to a brain tumor and has been alone ever since. As the story begins, Ben’s assistant librarian, Daisy, points out a “shady” young man in a hoodie. Daisy is convinced that the lad is up to no good and bears watching. Ben is intrigued, and soon the “bear” is indeed watching. But he doesn’t see anything that would justify Daisy’s concern. Once Ben meets the young man, Jason Barnes, he quickly realizes there is more to the boy that meets the eye.
Jason Barnes can’t read. He loves to look at the books in the library, and dreams of one day being able to read them. He knows it will never happen though because he isn’t worthy. His stepfather has forced himself on Jason for years, and after that level of abuse, Jason’s feeling of self-worth is non-existent.
Ben and Jason become friends, and one thing leads to another. They end up in a May/December relationship, which frankly, in my opinion happened awfully damn fast. Jason’s grandmother is instantly on-board, which read a little strange to me, as did Jason’s desire for an older man, after having been molested by an older man for years. I had some stumbling blocks and had trouble getting past the 48/19 ages. Not so much for the age difference, but more so for the trust that Jason just instantly has with Ben. It didn’t read completely believable to me, and I think my read suffered because of it.
I liked the book…I didn’t love it, so I’m capping it at a 3.5 which means on our scale that I liked it and the writing was above average. I think this book would be great for anyone who enjoys a May/December relationship type book. This is my first May/December book, and I personally didn’t enjoy that aspect of it. This was also my first book from this author, so I had nothing else to compare it to. If I’m being honest, the age difference, the brain tumor (personal trigger), and the insta-trust/insta-love things kept me from loving it, but the rest of you might disagree with my hesitation.