From the back of Bear Best Friend: Dan proves too camp for his boyfriend Tom and is single once more. Burly bear Brian is relieved Dan’s finally rid of Tom-the-bully. Snowed into a cottage over Christmas, emotions reach boiling point. With the help of no-nonsense best friends, time apart, lots of gin and sadness, and two huge leaps of faith, they begin a bumpy journey from friends to lovers. Bear Best Friend is a sweet opposites-attract, friends to lovers stand-alone gay romance novella about learning to love yourself and finding the special someone who appreciates you for being you. A Sweet Christmas Gay Romance.
I really liked Bear Best Friend. This was my first book by Liam Livings, and my first M/M romance, so I wasn’t sure how I was going to like it. But Liam is great at creating well-rounded characters and that won me over with this book.
The term “Christmas romance” should be loosely applied to this book. When I think of Christmas romance, I think of books like Emma Jackson’s A Mistletoe Miracle which really has Christmas at its centre. Bear Best Friend took place around Christmas but didn’t have that fuzzy Christmas feeling. Even Christmas Day kind of seemed to come and go without too much emphasis. Which is fine with me – I’m not particularly a big lover of Christmas – but if you’re looking for a fuzzy Christmas story, this isn’t it.
Having said that, Bear Best Friend is still a really sweet story. I didn’t initially like Dan, one of the main characters of the book. I thought he was weak and whiny and I wanted to slap him to tell him to get things straight. However, that’s exactly what he is supposed to be. He is like that for a reason – many bad, bad boyfriends in the past. His motivations are clear, even if we don’t like what the past has done to sweet Dan. I came to love Dan and I really rooted for him.
Brian was well-drawn as a character as well. I loved how he held a torch for Dan for so long. He really was Dan’s Bear Best Friend. I loved the chemistry between Dan and Brian and I loved watching Dan fall in love – or allow himself to fall in love – with Brian. The book has a really nice happy ending (which is a must for me in romance!).
Dan’s abusive boyfriend Tom was great as well. Well, he wasn’t great, of course, he was an asshole, but a very believable one. He wasn’t a caricature of a bad guy either. I have known men like Tom and they can be very charming if they want, only to turn around and be horrible when they don’t get their way. I am happy how Dan handled Tom in the end. I think it was very important for Dan as a person to deal with Tom himself, rather than be rescued from Tom.
I have a few niggles with Bear Best Friend. I think the writing could be a bit tighter. At times things were repeated in one person’s point of view that had already been explained in the other’s POV. Also, I thought the book was a bit too short to take place over a month. I understand why it couldn’t have been set in just a week, but considering the length of the book, the story would have been tighter had it taken place in the span of two weeks (from just before Christmas until New Year’s). But these are small niggles.
Overall, this was a very sweet romance which made me feel all the fuzzy happy feels and that’s what I’m looking for in a romance