Bear Hunter by Albert Nothlit

Rating: 7/10 ★★★★★★★☆☆☆ 
Title: Bear Hunter
Author: Albert Nothlit
Genre: M/M Romance
URL: MLR Press
Price: US $6.99
Other Information/warnings: Intense erotic scenes, explicit violence
Summary [from the publisher]:
Sven is on the run. He kidnaps Matt to hide in his house, but Matt is going to fight back…

Sven had to get away. He escaped to Alaska trying to disappear, but the cops are still on his trail. Desperate, he kidnaps Matt and hides in his house. He has to keep Matt tied up, and Sven is surprised and turned on at the fact that Matt refuses to be intimidated. Matt fights back every single time, waiting for the moment to turn the tables. Every day of captivity, Sven gets to know Matt better. Enough to feel bad about what he’s doing. He can’t let his guard down, though. If he does, he knows Matt won’t hesitate in getting his revenge.

My review:
I was very intrigued by the blurb and the cover, but still had no idea what to expect. The author’s bio says he “creates science fiction worlds that defy convention.” The title leads me to think there will be a bear involved.

Is it this bear?

Or this one?

I’m very glad I took a chance on this unknown to me author. I liked how the blurb enticed without giving too much of the plot away, and I liked how the story kept me on the edge of my seat much of the time.

Sven Madison flees to a small Alaska town after leaving the scene of a brutal crime. Still worried that the cops are after him, Sven looks for a boat to steal during an approaching storm. He then kidnaps its handsome owner, Matt, at gunpoint and forces him to sail out on a choppy sea toward his isolated house.

“I can tie you up, or I can shoot you in both knees so I can sleep easy knowing you won’t try anything. Your choice.”

Matt is no pushover, though. Even with a gun pointed to his head, he’s full of attitude, stubbornness, and determination to escape his precarious situation.

“And you’d better be as good with that gun as you say you are. Or you might find out that it’s me trying to decide whether to shoot you or not.”

Their time together is fraught with anger, tension, and smoldering lust. In more ways than one, it appears that Sven has finally met his match.

“I felt a throb of desire that I tried to hide by backing away from him a bit. I wished he’d try to punch me, or tackle me, or something. He did no such thing.”

Sven’s and Matt’s time in close quarters forced them to bond over commonalities and traumatic events and explore their deepening feelings for each other. The clipped prose built up tension and helped the action scenes flow very quickly, but there were also heartwarming moments and hot sexy times.

I loved the detailed descriptions of Alaska’s natural beauty and extreme weather.

“I don’t know how long we sat there, but I do know that for the first time in my life I felt something approaching complete, enveloping peace. I thought that I could spend the rest of my life in these woods, and it would be okay. The fact that this breathtaking beauty was so short-lived, giving way to the icy majesty of wintertime every year, made it even more astounding, more humbling to watch. I didn’t know why I was feeling this way, but I didn’t question it. I welcomed the fact that there were no doubts whirling around in my head. Here was simplicity. Here was nature’s beautiful and cruel hand. If you could not survive here, you died, simple as that. But if you could, then this place was yours to enjoy.”

A few eye-rolling moments caused me to drop my rating a little:

– When Matt hung up on the 911 operator, no one called back. Really? In 1971, I got a call back from the 911 operator. She asked why I called and where my parents were. The incident freaked me out so much that I wouldn’t think of hanging up on 911 ever again.
– I love and appreciate wildlife, and fully support their ethical treatment. Still, wild animals are unpredictable, and people are asking for trouble when they attribute human characteristics to them. Bears do not commit murder, nor do they forgive.
– As much as I felt that Sven and Matt deserved happiness after all they have been through together, their premature declarations of love and the speed with which Matt made up a room for Sven in his house had me wondering if they were lesbians.

Despite the story’s flaws, this was a thoroughly enjoyable read with engaging characters and a vibrant setting.