About the Book: 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.
M/M Contemporary Romance
You were the only thing that made me feel safe when the earthquakes threatened to break me. I needed you here because when you’re not here, I don’t have a home. – Bear, Otter, and the Kid
Bear, Otter, and the Kid has been on my radar for a long time now. You can’t be a reader of the M/M romance genre without hearing about TJ Klune, and since I’d already plowed through three of Klune’s other books, (How to be a Normal Person, Tell Me It’s Real, and Wolfsong), I figured it was time to set aside my apprehension and just get the trilogy read already. If you didn’t see my review of How to be a Normal Person, then you’re probably wondering why I’d be apprehensive. It’s simple, there are some books that are so built up, so beloved, that it makes me scared to read them. I’m afraid because I don’t want to be the one person who didn’t like the book. I hate that feeling.
Thankfully, I didn’t feel that way about Bear, Otter, and the Kid (book 1). I was enthralled. I’d always thought I wasn’t a fan of angsty books, but Bear, Otter, and the Kid made me realize that what I’m really not a fan of is when the angst is unnecessary. I guess what I really hate are stupid characters who create angst for stupid reasons. (I know, I’m super eloquent, right?) Anyway, there were a lot of reasons for the heartache in Bear, Otter, and the Kid. Bear and the Kid had gone through so much, it made you feel like they had every right to hold onto hurt and protect themselves. Then, despite everything, they didn’t hold onto that anger forever, it just took them time to work through their issues. We got a happy ending, and I still couldn’t stop myself from immediately reading the second book.
Who We Are picks up at the end of Bear, Otter, and the Kid (if you don’t count its epilogue). The second installment was really darn good. Really good. Just not quite as good and here’s why- In Bear, Otter, and the Kid there were mountains to overcome. You started with all sorts of strife, and none of it felt contrived. Generally I think that’s the problem in contemporary romance sequels. I think it’s usually hard to create drama in a relationship after you’ve already given them a happy ending. I think I mention this a lot, but Us was similar to Who We Are, in the way that it was the story of a couple after they’d decided to be together. It was exceptional though, in how at the end of the first book Jamie and Wes still had problems. The authors didn’t have to create problems to be dealt with, they’d left them from the first book. In Who We Are, while it was still good, I felt like TJ was working hard to create drama between the characters. It felt just a little forced.
Going into the final book, The Art of Breathing, I had really high hopes because it was switching POV. I thought it would give us a fresh take on the story by switching to the Kid, Ty, as an adult. We know that Ty still struggles emotionally, but for the last 6-9 years he’s been living a relatively secure life with a large loving family. Knowing that, knowing the security that Ty has had, it made the events that unfolded in The Art of Breathing harder to swallow. In this final book I got the unnecessary angst that made it sooo hard to read. I just wanted to throttle Ty and tell him to grow the eff up! I couldn’t handle it. In addition to that, I felt like not enough of the story focused on Ty and Dom and too much was focused on the side characters. It was all just too much, and my least favorite installment.
After finishing all three books I think I liked reading from Bear’s perspective the most. There was something that felt so natural about his voice, and I loved getting an inside look on how deeply he loves his brother. I know that there is still one more book to come, the final book in the saga. With how The Art of Breathing wraps up, I think we may be flipping back to Bear for the MC. If I’m right, I’m super excited for that last book!
I hope I’m right.
He sighs and bows his head, burying his face in his hands. I touch his hair. His ears. Bear may be my rock, but Dom is the force that moves me. – The Art of Breathing
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