Gay Bear Romance: A Tale of Two Bears Chilling In A Hot Tub

Years ago, those two guys were five feet apart and not gay! They are now. We’re talking Gay Bear Romance, a subgenre that has two meanings? We can hardly bear it!

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Recently, we’ve been exploring a number of the more outgoing(!) subgenres of the Romance genre. So far, we’ve covered Alien, Supernatural, Fairy or Faerie–both adult and YA–Horror, Rockstar/Musician, and even Amish! But today, we’re diving a different way into the wading pool. That’s right folks! It’s time for the lovers of Gay Bear Romance to rise because your time to shine is upon you!

If you don’t know who I am–hi! I’m Gracie, more commonly known here as the Resident Romance Redneck because I never (ever, ever, ever) shut up about Romance. In this series–our Crazy Book Genre series–we get into the nitty gritty and the who’s who of these random subgenres that we find entertaining. Fun fact for y’all–Gay Bear Romance is actually the root of this entire series! You heard it here first people, Gay Bear Romance is a trendsetter! Our CEO, Scott Richmond, was showing us book covers that he couldn’t stop giggling about–and boom! Crazy Book Genres was born unto the world.

There are two ways to interpret this genre, and we are going to through both of them. The first–Gay Bear Romance–refers to bear shifter romance where both the main character and the love interest are the same sex. The second–Gay Bear Romance–refers to the categorization of gay men that are often larger and hairier than the average bear (get it?). As I said we’re going to be discussing both of them, so don’t worry!

Gay Bear Romance, Vol. 1

Gay Bear Romance book covers (in order, left to right)

Bear's Baby by Sy Walker
Trusting the Bear Shifter by JW Constantine
His Child to Bear by Wolf Specter
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As I mentioned, the first kind of Gay Bear Romance that exists in the world is the kind that refers to shifter romance–which partially falls into a paranormal or speculative romance. These books are easy to spot on the shelves. Like many typical mass-market romance books, these covers feature shirtless men with abs that you could wash your Sunday laundry on. The twist with Gay Bear Romance is that you’re almost always going to have either a brown or black bear on the cover as well–usually a brown bear for aesthetic purposes.

The only difference between the Gay Bear Romance books and other shifter books is that the MCs are gay. That’s literally it. You’re still going to get all the iconic tropes and cliches of straight shifter romances. One character will inevitably become the weakness of the brooding love interest and get themselves into a tough spot. Or they’ll be complete enemies, but because of extenuating circumstances, they’re left in a room with one bed. Like there’s no difference other than the sexual orientation of the MCs.

Gay Bear Romance, Vol. 2

Gay Bear Romance book covers (in order, from left to right)

His Spanish Bear by Theo Stone (Bear/Chaser Gay Erotica)
Bear Hunting by Nathan Bay (Older/Younger Gay Chastity)
One Night Stand by Colin Dereham (Bear Affair, Blinder Bourbon & Cigarettes)
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The second kind of Gay Bear Romance is exactly that–a romance story about gay men, at least one of whom identifies as a bear. Like all romance, there are levels to this and there are different nuances that need to be considered within those levels. At the base level, you’ve got the sappy love stories between two men. Sometimes there are a few steamier scenes, but for the most part, these stories aren’t going to be crazy out of pocket. Books like The House in the Cerulean Sea by TJ Klune are good examples of the more base-level type of volume two Gay Bear Romance.

A medium level would be books like Denim by KC Wells, which feature a healthy–hear the sarcasm–balance of both genuine plot and intimate sections. The interesting thing about mid-level books, in my opinion, is that they’re closer to real life than anything else. Of course, take my voice on that with a grain of salt–seeing as how I’m a woman and not gay.

A higher level of these romances would result in lots of spicy scenes, riddled with popular kinks and content warnings–wink wonk. Books like that of the Four Bears Construction series by K.M. Neuhold are going to feature a higher number of boink buddy scenes.

There definitely isn’t as much information on the genre as some of the others we’ve done in this series. There aren’t any popular adaptations of these books and there isn’t one authority voice who people are consistently recommending. However, this does have some of the best covers–only slightly derogatory–out of the genres that I’ve personally covered. And I’ve talked about this before, which you can check out here!

If you want to learn about more obscure and crazy book genres, click here!