On his first night renting a cottage on the Cornish coast, widower John Tennant comes face to face with, of all things, a grizzly bear. Fearing for his life, John tries to convince the animal he isn't worth eating, and is relieved when the bear ambles away.
Maintenance man Mitch Benjamin is two hundred years old but doesn’t look a day over forty. As a werebear, he needs to stay under the radar. The new renter is making that difficult. Not only is John attractive, but his vulnerability triggers all of Mitch’s protective instincts. If that wasn’t trouble enough, Mitch is struggling with his inner bear’s desire to befriend John. He knows what his bear is up to, but Mitch doesn’t want another mate. His last one was murdered ninety years ago, and he’s still grieving.
John is confused by Mitch’s mixed signals. Physically, Mitch -- with his bulging muscles and hulking frame -- is a gay man’s wet dream come true. But emotionally, he keeps closing down. John discovers more comfort with the magnificent grizzly bear he occasionally meets on his evening walks along the beach.
In an effort to help, Morwenna, the owner of the cottages, uses her psychic gifts to give John a message from his dead lover, George. Far from helping, it adds another layer of strangeness to what’s already turning out to be the strangest summer John can remember.
Can a well-meaning medium and a determined grizzly bring John and Mitch together? Will Mitch come clean about his werebear nature? If he does, can John accept that a man and bear exist in the same body?
John took in another deep breath of fresh sea air, opened his eyes and started to turn back to the cottage. He might as well go to bed -- not that there was any prospect of sleep; he hadn’t had a single night of uninterrupted rest since George’s passing. Although, maybe the crashing waves, the long journey from London, and Morwenna’s wine might just ...
He gasped and froze in place. There, not fifteen feet in front of him, between him and the sanctuary of the cottage, was a huge -- no, make that enormous -- brown bear.
The creature turned its head and stared at him. The bear’s blue eyes narrowed and he could hear the animal’s steady breathing. He was drawn back to the eyes. Do bears have blue eyes? Does blue show up in moonlight? Or maybe it’s the light spilling out from the open kitchen door that allows the colour to show. And why the hell am I dwelling on colour perception when I should be running for my life?
He couldn’t move. His brain was telling him he should be shitting in his underwear, but instead he felt a curious calmness wash over him. It had to be that bloody wine. He’d definitely pour the rest of it down the sink when he got back into the kitchen. Assuming I ever get back into the kitchen and don’t end up as dinner for a hungry bear, he thought.
“Uh, nice teddy.” Jesus, what was he saying?
The bear continued to stare at him.
“Nice night, isn’t it?” John shut his mouth, knowing he was sounding like a total prat. Definitely the alcohol.
But drunk or not, what did one say to a bear? He imagined the books on etiquette so beloved by his social-climbing mother would be silent on the subject.
John was pretty sure bears weren’t native to Britain, or at least hadn’t been for about a thousand years. Maybe Teddy -- John suppressed a giggle at the silly name he’d come up with -- had escaped from a zoo or a circus or something. Perhaps that meant he was tame, or as tame as such a creature could be. He certainly was magnificent, all raw power, muscle and strength. So animalistic. Jesus, am I getting a bloody hard-on over a wild, escaped bear?
Teddy sniffed the air.
“Uh, I don’t think I’d make a very tasty snack for you.” John chuckled. “But I might have something in the cottage.” He pointed to the open kitchen door behind the bear. “Although I haven’t managed to go to the supermarket yet.” Shut the hell up! John told himself.
With a snort, Teddy shook his head and ambled away, his gait loping but unhurried.
Weirdly John felt sorry to see the huge creature leave. And with his -- John didn’t know why he’d assumed the bear was male – departure, John felt panic rush in. He stumbled for the cottage’s back door, locking and bolting it behind him, despite what Morwenna had said about how it wasn’t necessary in their little community.