Although the cover depicts three lovely teddy bears, The Teddy Bear Chronicles is definitely not for children as it deals with the adult issues of mental and physical abuse, stalking, and life-endangering relationships. Kelly Donovan is in a relationship with Mark who has funded her nursing studies. Mark is a self-made man who is comfortable in his life but insists that he remain the sole focus of Kelly’s life. He controls her activities, her funds, her relationships with anyone other than himself, and he makes almost each and every decision. If Kelly deviates from any of Mark’s directives she is usually on the receiving end of his wrath – from verbal to physical abuse. We enter their lives just prior to Kelly taking her final exams and her licensing tests. Mark is skeptical of a phone call she receives from someone named Kyle (definitely a man) who Kelly portrays as a friend from school who is old enough to be her father and casts him in the role of study partner. She even puts the man on speaker phone so that Mark can hear their conversation. Throughout the last year of the relationship Kelly has made her plans and with the help of friends and supposedly estranged family she makes her escape and heads to Paris where her sister, whom she hasn’t seen in three years, now lives and works. Will she have gone far enough to be safe? Are those who gave her aid safe from the wrath and mental illness that is Mark? And who is Mark really?
What drew me to this book is the fact that the entire story is told by three adorable narrators: Fair Bear, Love Bear, and Sleepy Time Bear. Unlike Teddy Blue, a character in one of my own books who is a confidante, these bears share the tale of Kelly and Mark from their unique viewpoints. The slight shift in voice between the bears is enough to keep readers on the edge of their seats. I was riveted throughout the first half of the book and the story flowed seamlessly. However, the second half of the book was a bit different. It almost seemed to me as though the editor got half-way through and gave up. There were grammatical inconsistencies that actually made this reader pause long enough to interrupt the story flow. This could have easily been corrected with at least one more round of editing.
That said, the story is original although the manner of using an inanimate object to tell a story is not new. This humble reader/author has used that narrative device several times and I’m sure there are other authors who have done so as well. I must add that I did enjoy this story and read it in one long night (about three and a half hours). As this appears to be volume one of a series I look forward to what Donnalyn Vojta will offer for volume two.
Rating: 3 stars (due to the aforementioned grammar, etc.)