My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Grizzly bear shifter Sunshine Blackthorn arrived in Fate Valley, Missouri, before Christmas to be the maid of honor at the wedding of her good friend from school, Melody Banks. Like Sunshine, Melody is also a shifter, a cougar, and she had discovered her fated mate, a rare shifter-human match, through the matching program, Mate.com. The first order of business is for a memorable bachelorette party, and after a fun night of dancing and not a few drinks, Melody and the other bridesmaids talk Sunshine into signing up on the site to find her own match.
Former Marine, Harrison Cole, came to Fate Valley after his enlistment was complete to work as a firefighter. But after a close call at a fire, he begins to think that maybe there should be more to his life than just service to the community. Also a grizzly bear shifter, he, too, signs up to see if Mate.com can give him a hand in finding his fated mate.The day of the wedding is gorgeous, but during the ceremony, a fire suspiciously breaks out in the Fate Rock Chapel. Rather than letting it ruin the whole event, though, the wedding is quickly moved to the wine cellar adjacent to the chapel where the reception was to be held. Harrison is one of the responding firefighters, and he and Sunshine are drawn to each other by their grizzly bear instincts over the surrounding chaos. Their realization that they are fated mates in seconded when the Mate.com program matches them up as well. They immediately work to getting to know each other better while they search for the chapel arsonist among the wedding guests, not all of whom are precisely ecstatic about the human groom wedding the shifter bride.
Hero Bear has a nice mystery and investigation going on, but the focus of the story is really the romance of the two grizzly shifters getting together. This is apparently a spin-off story from an earlier series, and although it can be read on its own, I have the feeling it would have been more enjoyable if I’d read the previous series beforehand. There were a few references and cameo appearances from characters from these books. Alert: the book does contain explicit sex scenes.
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