As far as I'm concerned, Anne McCaffrey's heroines are the best in current fiction. From Restoree to Pern to the BB quasi-series, her heroines are intelligent, caring, and, yes, dangerous in one fashion or another. Tia may be her best. Stricken in childhood by a terrible nerve disease, Tia is on life support and deprived of human touch for life. Rather than be institutionalized, she chooses to become a Brainship. The hospital scene is everything you've heard. Get a hanky. Get two.
She is tormented both by her inability to touch anyone, since she grew up in a loving family (not selected at birth like the other Brains) and the need to find the source of the virus that got her. Acquiring an unorthodox "brawn", off she goes on her career as a courier, with an unannounced agenda of her own.
The book is episodic, but leads to a very nice conclusion that my wife predicted but I didn't. Oh, yes, the "bear" is Theodore Edward Bear, a childhood keepsake who is the center of a charming but strange "marriage" ritual.
If you read only one BB book, make it this one.