The Clawed Squad: Stetson (The Bear Shifters of Clawed Ranch Book 1)

"Well, if it isn't Sheriff sexy," a slurred voice called out as Kylee stepped out of her police cruiser.

Shit. These guys again.

"It's Sheriff Black," she corrected, slamming the door closed as she glared at the three young punks standing across the street. They were from Arlington, the town next to the town that she presided over: Colwood, Montana. They kept coming over here lately and causing trouble. Mostly getting drunk and harassing the locals. Harold, the owner of the bakery, was furious when his shop window had been broken and the side of his building was tagged with graffiti. He was convinced that it was them and he was probably right.

Kylee would have to deal with them soon, but right now Wasn't the time. She had more pressing matters to attend to.

"Sheriff Black with the sexy rack," one of them called out and they all burst out laughing.

Kylee took a deep breath and tried to slow her pulse that was beginning to race. These three were getting bolder lately. It wasn't a good sign.

Shifters, wide-open country, trouble brewing with the townsfolk, a sexy independent lady sheriff, a sexy polar bear shifter, and a whole lot of trouble brewing up makes its way to my e-reader today for a wild and adventurous romp through a backwoods town. This is part of a series, a hooking up the sexy brothers type of book where we get to see a group of hot hunks hook up and find love - or else they lose the ranch. It all sounds like a made-for-television movie, but in a good way. I liked the sort of campy, backwoods country, rough men and sexy women sexual tension and hard drinking ways of this crew of misfits and small town types.

Did I find all of it to my liking? Well, I wanted more longing and desire between our heroine and the main fuzzy man in her life. You know, those moments where they meet and she walks away with her head spinning at the thought of him getting all warm and cuddly with her. And him fighting mother nature and that urge to settle down, find a mate, and hibernate with her after the two of them eat a winter's full of food at the local comfort food chain restaurant. The proceedings seemed rushed a little, and I wanted time to slow down a little here as I took in 'big country' with these small-town folks.

Those little moments in small towns where the air is crisp and cold and the coffee hot. Picking up groceries at that little place on the corner. Meeting the same locals, day after day. Roads that go on for miles. The rolling hills. The tall pines. The big expanses of nothing. Snow capped peaks.

Thoughts of him.

I feel this is one of the problems of group-romance books, we are so eager to check off each brother finding love I feel none of them get the attention they deserve. I like them because I am instantly familiar with the cast, and it is fun seeing recurring characters, but I wonder if slowing down and just focusing on one hunky bear would do it for me. I wanted more between them, her special power, his destiny, their shared fate. Those seeking to keep them apart. The tangled mess and close joy of small town life. Rumors that fly around town of him seeing her. The whispers at the coffee shop when she walks in.

How could she be seeing him?

Doesn't she know her responsibility?

Love making all of that trouble and all of those voices ultimately worthless.

And finding acceptance and their place together in this tiny world.

I love that stuff, small town gossip and trouble from the busybodies that think they run the place. It is natural, because these small, remote places are microcosms for the larger world around us. The people there fall into the roles we find on a macro sense, the opinion shaper, the rumor spreader, the pious one, the moral authority, the wise one, the town official, and even the authority figure. We find the larger world in the tiny worlds around us.

It is drama, and how they deal with these conflicts means a lot to us as people who live in a larger world every day.

This could be just 'me wanting more' and that is usually a good sign.

I liked the conflict here, and our writer knows how to throw a twist in to shake things up. I also wanted more of the two of them together, sharing little moments, and figuring out that chemistry thing together. The moment we have are good, and I get that familiar feeling of wanting more when I get invested in the characters.
He threaded his hands through her wavy hair, stroking her to sleep as he stared up at the billions of bright stars in the sky. Her fingers went limp on his stomach as her breathing slowed to a peaceful rhythm that was only found in deep sleep. Stetson never thought that he was mate material. He never thought that he was good enough. But in that moment with this beauty by his side, he vowed that if he wasn't mate material, he would work on himself until he was. Kylee made him want to be a better man. He wanted to be worthy of her because he didn't ever want to let her go. Ever.

When the fire died down and the wind grew cold, Stetson scooped her up in his strong arms and brought her to his cabin.

Where she belonged.
And then the book turns sweet and I am lost in its fuzzy and warm embrace. I am such a sucker for romance, I know. Part of why I like shifter romance is the strong sense of metaphor here. He is literally a huge bear when he turns into his other form. that is symbolic for a lot of things, his strength, his power, and his ability to protect her. You get that primal connection between basic instincts of 'protecting the pack' that a strong man naturally falls into.

This is nature, and try as we may distance ourselves from it, we shall never escape its bonds.

We come from this world, nature. At times, civilization is no better than the savagery of the wild. And at other times, civilization, in its closest bonds, lives up to the best parts of what nature teaches us.

The family unit. The bonding between mates. The sense of family and belonging. Protecting the ones we love. Raising young. Letting them go. Growing old. Passing on what we had to others.

I have this feeling a big part of why the world seems so screwed up is we think we are better than this. That somehow the rules of nature do not apply to us. That we are somehow immune to these primal forces. That we are somehow special. That we can wear global warming or some other cause-de-jour on our sleeve as a badge of honor and reject the notion of our place in nature. That we somehow spend a lot of time trying to prove to ourselves that the natural order does not apply to us.

I feel we are not so special.

We are still creatures of nature.

I feel these forces still apply to us, and if we accept them we can live in a more balanced way with the world and who we want to be.

I don't see this as somehow anti-feminist and wanting to go back to the 'strong male' paternalistic society. But these feelings do exist. I reject racism and sexism and all sorts of -isms in real life, but in books? This is good character stuff, pile my plate high and let me see the screwed up people of the world. It is my right as a reader, and as a writer. The 'male dominance' forces and feelings are powerful, they are primal, and they provide a ingrained point of conflict with today's world. It is great 'writer stuff' in a way, and wonderful fodder for characters to explore. I have my own feelings, but this book stuck a chord with me and brought this up in my mind again.

A fun start to a series by one of the greats in the genre. It gets my blood pumping for that small-town, who-slept-with-who gut feeling, and that cold, crisp morning air of the mountains. It captures that essential, out west feeling nicely. A bit fast moving for my slow-moving country life desires, but clearly a worthy read and recommended.