Folks say he’s the best river guide in the region, with an uncanny knack for finding the hottest fishing spots.
And he has a good friend again, a guy he likes more than he should.
Everything will be fine, as long as nobody—especially Mac—finds out he used to be Charlie Beauchamp, a covert-ops rescue swimmer who failed to save the one person he loved most.
Then the real Nate Landry shows up, dragging Charlie’s grief and guilt out of the depths.
McKinley Greer knows how to keep a secret.
Like where a bear shifter might find the best honey trees.
Or why he brews beer but doesn’t drink a drop of it.
Or why the vids he watches at night feature guys who look a helluva lot like his best friend.
But suddenly Nate isn’t Nate—he’s a freaking hero named Charlie—and when he begins to share his own secrets…
It’s only a matter of time before all the things Mac’s stashed in the darkest den of his heart get hauled into the light.
EMBRACE THE BEAST is the 3rd standalone novel in the GRIZZLY RIM m/m shifter series.
Brace yourself for a bear with a sweet tooth, an otter who knows how to use maple syrup, some very sticky sheets, and…well…it’s not called Grizzly Rim for nothin’, y’all.
Tropes: friends to lovers, secret identity, size difference, introvert vs extrovert
Content Notes: This story includes depictions of sibling grief, alcohol sobriety, memory of alcohol abuse, a high-water rescue, and self-harm (cuts and scrapes) as a result of loss of control.
Originally published in 2015 & 2016 as novellas, the Grizzly Rim novel editions were extensively revised and expanded for republication in 2019.
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Mac paced around the kitchen until well after closing.
This was why he rarely got involved in anything. If things went to hell and he couldn’t fix them, he was left with this—feeling completely useless. What was worse than some numb-nut standing around with nothing to offer? Even when he wanted to.
He’d cleaned everything once already. It all gleamed, even the plastic tray that held the bills in the cash register. Tomorrow’s stuff was already prepped. It was too dark to tinker on the Trans Am. The taps out front, the spigots in the brew room—they were calling him, hard. His throat felt sore, parched, and swallowing made him cough. He took a long drink of water. Got out the stepladder, dropped open a ceiling vent, and started to brush it clean.
Nate had been in the Coast Guard. He’d rescued people in the ocean. He was a fucking hero. Sure, he went and bailed locals out now and then, when they tried to drive through deep water and got stranded. But he was the same guy who made the worst beer puns Mac had ever heard. The same guy who had baked him cookies that morning.
Which were delicious. And almost gone.
He tried to picture him in his uniform. What did Coast Guard uniforms even look like?
That got him out of the kitchen. A couple minutes later, hunched in front of his laptop, he was looking at images of enlisted guys in their uniforms. Light blue shirt, dark blue pants and coat. A blue and white hat. He tried to imagine Nate in one. Had he worn the hat? Of course, he would have been required to, and his hair would’ve been shorter, which was too bad. Mac sort of liked how it curled. But the shirt would have stretched smoothly over his chest, no wrinkles at all. The pants—would he have ironed them to get that crease, or was it manufactured into them? And the belt.
Christ, why was the belt so fucking interesting? It was just one of those standard-issue woven strap things with the plain, square buckle. He could hear the crimped-metal end of the belt clinking as it slipped through the mechanism—
He slammed his laptop shut.
And his name was Charlie, not Nate. Mac wondered if he would start going by Charlie now that he’d been busted. He wasn’t sure he’d remember to call him anything else. Wasn’t sure he wanted to. Charlie wasn’t even close to the sound Mac panted through clenched teeth when he was alone in the dark of his room.
Nate had always had a special talent for getting under Mac’s skin until he wanted to claw it off. But it wasn’t the otter’s fault Mac crushed on him. Or that he set himself up, not letting Nate get too close but not telling him to piss off either because he was too fucking weak to do the hard thing.
So Nate couldn’t know what it had done to him to find out he hadn’t even known his real name.
But then, Mac was keeping his own secrets, wasn’t he? And prime honey stashes were the least of them.