Reviewed by Kiwi
TITLE: Bear Among The Books
AUTHOR: TJ Masters
PUBLISHER: Dreamspinner Press
RELEASE DATE: September 2 , 2016
BLURB: Forty-eight-year-old Ben Thompson is a librarian, a passionate book lover, and a man who embodies the definition of a bear. He’s also lonely after the loss of his long-term partner. Young ex-gymnast Jason Barnes piques his interest, but Ben quickly realizes there’s more to Jason than his good looks. While Jason visits the library almost every day, he never checks out a book.
With gentle persistence, Ben befriends Jason and learns the nineteen-year-old’s tragic secrets. After years of abuse at his father’s hands, Jason was kicked out of his family home for being gay. And despite his apparent love of books, Jason never learned to read. Ben offers to teach him, and the two men bond over their lessons. Ben can’t deny his attraction to Jason, but he wonders if Jason is too young and too handsome to return his interest. With the help of the close-knit library team and Jason’s growing self-confidence, they move beyond the books and into the bedroom, where their own story is just beginning.
REVIEW: I didn’t think that this book would hold my interests hen it was first presented to me but I was pleasantly surprised. Very much so.
Here you have this young man, Jason, who at nineteen doesn’t know how to read. He’s a sweet young man, bright but had learning difficulties where left him illiterate. Let’s talk about him a bit more. This young man was in no way lazy or uninterested in learning, he was quite the opposite. He was passionate about books and his thirst for knowledge was obvious. There was just never anyone who actually took the time to take a vested interest in helping him learn until he meets Ben.
Ben. Sweet, gentle, intelligent, soft spoken Ben. He’s a librarian, a gentlemen of 48, whose just decided to live his life as it is. He has his books, his colleagues that he likes in a job that he loves. You get the sense that he wasn’t not looking to fall in love that he’s just sort of put that part of himself away after the passing of his husband/long term partner.
I think initially, when he notices Jason, he’s intrigued and notices how attractive he is in passing; it wasn’t overwhelming. But once he discovers the young man’s secret, he wants to help him.
I really like this book. When many think of a May/ December or older man/younger man romance, there’s a tendency to tell the story with certain slant. I was really glad to see that it wasn’t the case with this book. Ben genuinely cares about Jason, he has a vested interest in helping this young man live up to his full potential. It’s actually sad that people in the education system failed this young man.
The romance aspect wasn’t as believable as I would’ve expectedly to be. I just couldn’t see these two as a couple not because of the age difference but because of the tone of the relationship. Oh, don’t get me wrong, Ben does in no way take advantage of Jason, I just felt that the relationship was driven by feelings other than love and attraction. I think for Jason it was more of an attraction to his mentor and for Ben it was driven by loneliness and a bit of lust. But it was in no way disgusting.
This aside, I think the book was well very written. There wasn’t any heat between the two characters in my opinion but then again, that’s quite alright because I think these two men made better friends than lovers. The chemistry between the two was a slow burn that never truly turns into a raging fire and that is okay.
All things considered, I think the story worked out rather nicely.