#Bookreview of POLAR HEAT by Simone Beaudelaire
Polar bear shapeshifter Russell Tadzea is content with his rather isolated life in a small central Alaskan town. He has friends, work and a congenial, yet cautious relationship with his family.
That is until the arrival of a kindergarten teacher from the lower 48 blows Russell’s comfortable world to pieces. One whiff of Riley Jenkins’ compelling scent, and Russ is a goner.
But how can he explain all that he is to this innocent young woman? And will her own dark past interfere with their ability to turn a fated love into a happily-ever-after?
I’ve read two of the Hearts In Winter books from Simone, When the Music Ends and When the Words are Spoken, and I absolutely loved them, so I was looking forward to reading Polar Heat.
The story takes place in Alaska, which is a place I’ve always wanted to visit, so that gave this tale a special appeal. Russell is a Native American who also happens to be a shapeshifting polar bear. When Russ meets Riley, the new kindergartner teacher, it’s love at first sight, or scent for him. Has he finally found his lifetime mate? Will she accept him, and his polar bear? And what about her secret past? Will she be able to overcome her previous abuser?
I really enjoyed the metaphysical elements of this story. I could tell Simone did a lot of research regarding dream walking, spiritual bonds, and herbalism. There is some action, especially toward the end, but mainly it’s a romance story, so the pace is slower as Russell and Riley do their get-to-know-each-other dance. Riley is hesitant about starting a relationship as Russ is much older than her, plus she has a dark past she’s escaping from.
I really liked Russ’ character, and I wouldn’t mind meeting a person like him myself. On the other hand, I had trouble with Riley. Most of the first half of the book is from Russ’ POV, so we’re not really introduced to Riley’s feelings or motivations other than through dialogue or dream sharing. Even knowing the abusive life she had as a child, I felt she was too weak. I think Simone tried explaining some of that by the psychic bond that her half-brother had over her, but still, she never balked at finding out about Russ. She just calmly accepted everything that happened between them, her step-brother, and Russ’ mixed family. For me, she had no heart and I found her unrelatable.
All-in-all, I did enjoy the adventure in the great state of Alaska, but I was also disappointed as I was really looking forward to an awesome love story that just wasn’t there. This book would be perfect for readers who love romantic shapeshifter stories.
Character Believability: 4
Flow and Pace: 4
Book Cover: 5
Reader Engagement: 4
Reader Enjoyment: 5
Overall Rate: 4.4 out of 5 feathers