Review by Gabrielle

“You’ve got the wrong idea,” Darcy said. “Teagan is not a horny mistake. I am not going to lay his pipe, even though I totally could, and that would probably fix all his substance abuse issues, add five years to his life, and show him the very face of God. No, I’m helping him. Therapeutically.”

Bear With Me Now is a rom-com with a lot of heart.

After being hospitalized for panic attacks two years after his mother’s death, charitable foundation executive Teagan van Zijl is dragged by his sister to a wilderness therapy retreat in Montana. Lost in the woods, Teagan nearly gets eaten by a bear but is saved by an angel in muddy hiking boots—the program’s handywoman, Darcy Albano, that is. After spending the summer with Darcy, Teagan realizes he doesn’t want to return to New York without her. He hires Darcy as his sober companion—a position he doesn’t actually need filled and for which Darcy is completely unqualified—hoping she can help him figure out how to move forward. But once they get to the city, all Teagan can think of is how to confess the truth while keeping her in his life.

Darcy Albano thought she was going to work as a wilderness guide when she was hired on the camp staff, but ended up a handywoman instead—only the latest screwing-over she’s endured since her ex stole her car and her parents ruined her credit score. But Teagan van Zijl is the silver lining she didn’t expect to appear—clearly going through something but willing to commit to Darcy’s unique brand of wilderness education as the cure for what ails him. They form an unlikely bond based on the unexpected support they provide each other. Darcy never imagined staying in the city, but with Teagan’s unshakeable belief in her abilities, anything seems possible.

This one started off strong for me. I love a wilderness theme and a good pun, so I was all in. There are enough funny moments to land this one firmly in rom-com territory as advertised, but it has a lot more depth and angst than I expected. Not a bad thing, just something to be aware of. If you are looking for a total fluff read, this one isn’t it.

I loved Darcy’s character. She is strong, smart and capable. She loves nature and animals and is passionate about her chosen career as a wilderness guide. She has strong opinions and isn’t afraid to share them (most of the time). Life continues to kick her ass, but she keeps going with tenacity. 

Teagan was a little harder for me to like as a book boyfriend, but only because he isn’t my particular brand of book boyfriend. And that’s okay. There is a book boyfriend out there for everyone, right? Teagan is sweet and kind, generous and thoughtful. He is also painfully shy and has a hard time articulating his thoughts and emotions. Although he wasn’t my cup of tea, I loved him for Darcy. Together they were yin and yang, a perfect fit. If only they could get out of their own way. I did find the last quarter of this book a little angsty for my taste, as both Darcy and Teagan’s self-doubt got in the way of their being together. Again, not a bad thing necessarily, just not something I personally enjoy.

One thing I appreciated about this book was the in-depth look at both characters’ challenges; Teagan with his anxiety and Darcy with her dyslexia. Through the eyes of these characters, readers get insight into what it is like to live with either of these conditions. I can’t speak to the dyslexia experience personally, but I can say Katie accurately captured Teagan’s experience of anxiety. I love that more and more authors are exploring these issues. It’s about time, in my opinion, and Katie did a great job of exploring these topics in a sensitive and caring manner. It helped both Darcy and Teagan feel real and fully developed as characters.

If you like your rom-coms with a little more depth, give Bear With Me a try.

Thank you, Berkeley for the ARC in exchange for an honest review.