Title: Loaded for Bear (Shifter Hardball #2)
Author: Cheyenne Meadows
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Release Date: May 11, 2016
Genre(s): Paranormal, Shifters
Page Count: 192
Reviewed by: Vallie
Heat Level: 5 flames out of 5
Rating: 2.5 stars out of 5
Polar bear shifter Graham Tundra can’t believe his bad luck. Not only is he traded to another baseball team midseason, but he’s also teamed up with Trigger Mallow: widely considered the best player in the game—but with the worst attitude.
Trigger is on the fence about Graham. As a grizzly bear shifter, he’s relieved to have another ursine on the team, even if they are different species. The problem is Trigger is in the middle of his natural mating season, and Graham looks too damn good to pass up.
What begins as friends with benefits shows potential to grow into a deeper connection. If only they can put aside their differences, learn to trust, listen to their feelings, and realize it’s more than just a bear thing.
So I thought I’d expand my repertoire of shifters to…bears.
Graham is a polar bear shifter while Trigger is a grizzly. They are baseball players in a world populated by humans and shifters of all kinds, and it seems like they all know about one another. I haven’t read the first book in the series but it seemed to me that this could be read as a standalone. The plot revolves around Graham and Trigger as baseball players –practising together, rooming together, travelling to games, and eventually becoming friends with benefits. Tempers flare hot in the field and in the bedroom pretty quickly.
While I appreciated the idea of the story, it left me wanting in many ways.
First, there was no world-building. There was no information about the shifters, other than some titbits about matings, interspecies pairings, mating seasons, and a few details about the personalities of grizzlies vs polars. We were just told of this shifter-human world with no idea about how it remains harmonious.
Graham and Trigger developed a sexual relationship which was described as something almost clinical. They were hot for each other, Trigger was in his mating season so he was horny a lot, and they had a ton of sex. The sex scenes themselves failed to convey any form of bonding or intimacy. It was crude f@cking. The dirty talk was weird at times:
“‘Oh yeah.’ Graham ran his fingers over Trigger’s erection, setting off small cherry bombs in Trigger’s heated blood.”
Cherry bombs? In his blood? No idea what that was.
I also got the impression they were just using each other. No emotions were involved. They just kept going at it until one of them dropped an “I love you” towards the end and the other reciprocated. It was like it happened more because the story was supposed to come to an end and not because they were actually getting there.
There was a subplot with Graham’s dad that was completely underdeveloped and I am not sure that it added much to the character’s background. There was a HEA, of course, and like any shifter book that respects itself, it came with the mating bite.
But then… “You never said. Are you okay with my claiming you as a mate?” That could have easily been: “Do you want mushrooms on your pizza?” as far as I’m concerned. There was no build-up and nothing special about the mating itself. I was disappointed in that because if all else fails, I can usually count on an extra cheesy intense mating scene to make a shifter story for me. I can’t say the same about this.