Sunday, September 14, 2014
Review: The Bears of Winter ed. Jerry L. Wheeler
This collection flows beautifully with variety instead of sameness. It kicks off strongly beginning with the erotically enticing contemporary foodie piece "Don't Feed the Bear" by R.W. Clinger, Jeff Mann's vampire tale of domination and submission, control and surrender courtesy of a forceful but loving hunkalicious biker in "Snow on Scrabble Creek," and 'Nathan Burgoine's exquisitely executed speculative fiction piece "Psychometry of Snow."
Frank Muse's amusing "Little Suzie" with an erotic Santa – think snicker doodles and black leather jockstrap -- as the ultimate winter Daddy bear fantasy is followed by “Snowblind,” Jeffrey Ricker's creative science fiction tale set in a distant frozen planet, and Max Vos’ extremely heated “Mountain Bear,” a story set in the cold mountains of Tennessee featuring gay bashing southern style, as well as raw lovin' between a writer and a reclusive bear. Serving as a heavy contrast, Jay Neal's reflective poet/writer sets off in an adventure to research early Antarctica explorers and finds hot romance with a devious bear in "Miles, of the Antarctic."
Up next is Xavier Axelson's fabulous speculative fiction/horror tale detailing a bear's quest for justice in the chilling "Sleeping Bear," followed by the emotional roller coaster "Feast of January” by Roscoe Hudson with a wickedly funny beginning and romantic cookfest that quickly turns into a reflective piece about a past loss and grabbing that second chance at life. And Daniel M. Jaffe serves a different sort of romantic holiday treat as his Jewish sex angel finally finds the love of his life at Christmas time in "Romancing the Pole."
The reader is then transported to 1878 and big, hairy lumberjacks and ice harvesters toiling, bunking together, and tenderly caring for each other in "Truckee," one of Dale Chase’s deliciously raw, bearishly hot and gritty stories. It is a smooth transition to contemporary times and a fabulous bear erotic fiction piece by Lewis DeSimone who with his finely tuned insight into men needing hope or a way to move forward utilizes friendship and a new acquaintance to pave the way for that to happen in "The Bears of Winter." This grouping ends with the futuristic "Thaw" by Hank Edwards, a short story memorable for its excellent world-building, fantastic atmosphere, and a dystopian frozen earth that serves as the perfect setting for a dangerous cute-meet between two surviving bears.
In Phillip Williams' rough and tender erotic tale "World of Men," a young, isolated cub desperately wants to experience the world of men and gets his wishes (and then some) when a bear gives him a few lessons in desire. Everything shifts when a man faces reality as friends help him come to terms with his beloved partner's long-term illness in Charles Hopwood's truly touching "Cold Comfort." And, the anthology ends with a contemporary piece that relies on the character's fantasies and fixation on a bear for most of its eroticism. "The Balaclava" by Nathan Sims is a story that surprises the reader by ending just as it should for the character.
I usually read anthologies in slow motion -- one, maybe two stories at a time -- but with The Bears of Winter it was different. I read one story after another without stopping for a breath in between. It is true that I am a sucker for stories about bears and that in my estimation Jerry L. Wheeler is a fabulous editor, but in this case the proof is in the pudding. All 16 stories meet the required theme, hibernating bears in all sorts of winter landscapes, however, it is quality writing by the contributing authors and the variety and caliber of the stories chosen by Wheeler that keep this anthology fresh and engaging, driving the reader forward until the very end. Highly recommended. Enjoy.
Category: LGBT - Gay/Bear Erotic Fiction/Anthology
Publisher: Bear Bones Books
Release Date: Digital Ed. August 23, 2014 / Paperback: November 1, 2014
Other anthologies ed. by Jerry L. Wheeler
Tented: Gay Erotic Tales Under the Big Top, Riding the Rails , The Dirty Diner: Gay Erotica on the Menu, On The Run: Tales of Gay Pursuit and Passion