Title: Bear with Me, Strawberry Shifters Book 1
Author: Marilyn Barr
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Blue eyes, dimples, and silky brown hair; Grant Luther has all of Alison's weaknesses.
When he asks for one last chance to save their marriage, she agrees to relocate their family to isolated Strawberry, Kentucky in pursuit of his career dreams. Grant views Alison's sensory issues as limitations and protects her from outside threats. When he finds his new job includes changing him into a shifter in a war against the soul-sucking Sluagh he vows to keep the changes a secret. What he doesn't know is Alison has been hiding a magical secret of her own. One that makes her a target of the Sluagh.
Will Alison emerge from Grant's shadow to protect her family? And can Grant learn that being different can be a strength not a weakness?
To ease some of the tension between us and scout out our new life, Grant moved to Strawberry, Kentucky ten months ago. Even today when the relocation company is unloading our belongings in our new home, no one is there to supervise. Grant has an FDA response letter that must be addressed. Tomorrow Henrik and I will bring the plants and sort through the chaos left in their wake.
As if on cue, I’m pulled from my thoughts by the slam of our back door. Henrik, now twelve years old, steps into the garden to put his arms around me. “I know you don’t want to move but thank you for taking me away from here,” he says. His beaming smile is framed by two small dimples and shaggy light brown hair. Blue eyes highlighted with a yellow star surrounding their pupils crinkle at the edges in the same manner as his father’s eyes.
“You are just looking forward to being homeschooled. When I withdrew you today, the principal called me into his office to talk about your behavior again. He thought I was removing you, so we didn’t have to deal with all the disciplinary actions. I had to assure him we were moving to a town so small that the local school was an hour away.” I frown at my son. Pulling him out to homeschool in another state is the best news Henrik’s heard all year. I hand him some newspaper to help me wrap the tops of the plants for the ride in the morning.
“I couldn’t help drumming on the desk, Mom. I had a melody in my head, and I needed to compose the song for it. I couldn’t hear myself think with my math teacher talking. Then he called my songs a waste of time. Do you believe that?” he asks, accepting the paper from my hands to get to work. Despite his problems at school, he has always been helpful around the house. Homeschooling may as well be his best fit, as his need for a sensory reset comes from my genetics. Music helps him calm his senses the way the earth calms mine.
“In the context of math class, your songs are a waste of time. You must learn a whole math book before the state tests which are your gateway to a conservatory of music. Better grades would get you to a school with more music classes. However, we couldn’t get you into a specialized school with your disciplinary status. Did you really need to yell at the teacher?” I ask in response. I give him a stern look and he has the grace to look sheepish. However, his impish smile tells me his remorse is all for show. Little Dickens.
“He threw my song in the trash! Besides my disciplinary record doesn’t matter now that you are my teacher. I like how you teach math. You taught fractions using notes in a measure instead of pizzas. How many pizzas need to be cut in a day and who spends time measuring each piece?” He says throwing his arms in the air.
I must laugh at my precocious son. His ambition to fulfill his dream of becoming a composer comes from his father. Not that Grant can carry a tune in a bucket but the two of them bulldoze anyone in their way of success. This has been celebrated by pharmaceutical industries recruiting Grant. Too bad Henrik, as just a kid, has only met condemnation and opposition in public schools. It was Grant’s idea to homeschool him, citing Henrik’s need for focused education as his main reason.
However, the more Grant talked about it, the more I got the feeling he was trying to accommodate my disorder by isolating us. If only he paid attention to my work at the garden center. I have created an environment where I can add to society without melting down in sensory overload.
The whole idea to move came when Grant got that sparkle, a few months ago. His dancing blue eyes told me he’d been contacted by a company that wanted to steal him from his current job. The potential employers dazzled my husband with ideas for a new life-saving drug over lunch at some fancy restaurant again. This will be his fifth job move in eight years. Grant’s resume looks like he’s a reprobate but each company offers considerably more money than the previous one so he must be doing something right. However, I would be the last to know because he’s never home.
“It’s our adventure, Henrik. We can make of it whatever we please. However, one thing is set in stone. You are going to spend more time in the fresh air and sunshine. I had materials delivered to the new house. Together we will build raised beds, hoop houses, and even mini-greenhouses. You need to work more of your body than just your ears.” I try to sound excited. When I fail miserably, Henrik hugs me for the second time in this conversation. My little tough guy hasn’t let me hug him in days.
“Yes, surprises and adventure around every corner! Unbridled Kentucky is awaiting your participation!” rumbles a masculine voice. The backdoor slams and Grant’s footsteps thunder into the garden. Grant is not a tall man, but his presence makes him larger than life. My heart skips a beat as his voice projects across the garden. Between the caress of the sound waves and the vibrations of his footsteps, I am swept away in the sensations he brings. My heightened senses are delighted every time he is near, whether we are getting along or not.
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Bear with Me tells the tale of the power struggle when one spouse leaves the workforce. Alison the Green Witch must rediscover her identity within the pressures of her new title of Stay-At-Home Mom. She meets best friend and fellow homeschool mom, Rosie, when she relocates to the creepy town of Strawberry, KY. The two women teach their sons together, but you won’t catch them sitting quietly in denim jumpers. They are confident, modern, strong role models who run businesses, manage families, and kick paranormal butt – all while turning up the heat.
One of the themes in Bear with Me is if the chemistry was hot before marriage…it will continue to sizzle after marriage. Grant finds he wishes for more romance with Alison just as his new job takes over his life and covers it with fur. Will this workaholic put the company that stole his humanity aside to save his marriage or will he take Alison for granted again? While Grant is making his transition, so is Alison. She finds she can be anything she sets her mind to, including the magical witch she hides from the world…
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Marilyn Barr currently resides in the wilds of Kentucky with her husband, son, and rescue cats. She has a diverse background containing experiences as a child prodigy turned medical school reject, published microbiologist, special education/inclusion science teacher, homeschool mother of a savant, certified spiritual & energy healer, and advocate for the autistic community. This puts her in the position to bring tales containing heroes who are regular people with different ability levels and body types, in a light where they are powerful, lovable, and appreciated.
When engaging with the real world, she is collecting characters, empty coffee cups, and unused homeschool curricula. She is a sucker (haha) for cheesy horror movies, Italian food, punk music, black cats, bad puns, and all things witchy.
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