Book Review: Bear With Me Now by Katie Shepard

Bear with Me. Image courtesy Berkley.
Bear with Me. Image courtesy Berkley. /

In 2022, mental health started to play a big role in romance novels. For 2023’s Bear With Me Now by Katie Shepard, it’s all that and more.

Looking back at 2022, there were a few predictions about romance books I thought would come true. One was that we’d continue to see mental health play a role in more romance books and honestly, that’s exactly what Bear With Me Now did.

Even so, Bear With Me Now is so much more than a romance book featuring mental health representation. In a way, this book is a culmination of so many different thoughts and ideas yet the story never felt disjointed.

If anything, I feel like Bear With Me Now by Katie Shepard is exactly what the romance world is moving toward slowly but surely.

Bear With Me Now by Katie Shepard is an unorthodox romance.

Using the term unorthodox might seem a bit unusual, but trust me, you’ll understand. Bear With Me Now begins with siblings: Teagan and Sloane who are in rehab. While we eventually find out why, it does give us the crux of our romance which is between Teagan and one of the workers at the rehab, Darcy. While Teagan and Darcy seem like an unlikely match, the two end up forming a sort of kinship that eventually develops into more after she saves him from almost being eaten by a bear.

While the romance is a majority of the story, I really think Bear With Me Now shines when it focuses on the characters. Teagan has an extremely stressful job and his mental health has tanked yet he’s trying to do everything he can to get back to work. It’s a sad but true portrayal of what a lot of us go through or have gone through. Even so, it serves to make him an even more relatable character.

As for Darcy, she’s struggling with going to school and finding a job. Darcy feels like a failure as she’s dyslexic and can’t seem to get a grip on what she wants. Every time she thinks he’s almost there, things tend to slip through her fingers. What I loved about her is that she didn’t try to change herself but knew she needed to do things to be better. While she didn’t have as much development as Teagan, it was nice.

As previously mentioned the book does deal a lot with mental health, especially for Teagan. He’s dealing with anxiety and panic attacks. I really appreciated how open Teagan was with Darcy and how the two were able to find comfort in each other. I especially enjoyed the intimate scenes between the two as that’s something I’ve never really seen before. It was such a refreshing change of pace and something I’m sure some of us have dealt with in the past.

While I really did enjoy the characters and their romance, there was one major plotline I couldn’t get behind. At first, Darcy believes that Teagan is in rehab for alcoholism and he never corrects her about the real reason why until almost the very end. To me, it felt like that plotline could have been tweaked a bit as it left a bad taste in my mouth. I knew it was coming but still, I didn’t like seeing how it played out.

Despite the third-act conflict, I still recommend Bear With Me Now. It was the perfect blend of romance and mental health without having one take the backseat to the other. I adored these characters, their meet-cute, and the mental health representation. Frankly, I can’t wait to see what Katie Shepard writes next.

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Bear With Me Now by Katie Shepard is out now wherever books are sold. 

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