Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5
Bad boy BC Brooks screwed up his lifelong dream of being captain of the English national rugby team. Lost and confused, he hides from his failures until an unexpected inheritance forces him to make a change.
Graham Hodson lives for travel, adventure, and one-night stands. Wanderlust rules his life. He never expects a brief encounter with a stranger to haunt his dreams and follow him across the world.
One diagnosis shakes both men to their core.
One journey through the depths of recovery brings two perpetual bachelors into the unknown territory of love.
Through one book (The Royal Marine), I found a new author, a new series, and even a new publishing house. I consider myself three times lucky indeed for that rarely happens, although yes it was because I stumbled into all three when I was offered the fourth book in the series to read. So back I went to start the series from the beginning with The Wanderer.
Turns out I had to figure out what a Sin Bin was to get the gist of the series. For us Americans, it’s the penalty box. For rugby or soccer (yes, yes, I know I can you all abroad shouting ‘it’s football’ lol), that area of the the field where players are sent to wait out the allotted penalty time after having being called foul. The Sin Bin series is about a group of close rugby players, teammates, whose careers are over and now need to figure out the rest of their lives without the game they loved so much. It then makes sense for them to feel as though they are permanently living in a Sin Bin, lost until they are able to move on.
That’s exactly what BC Brooks is trying to do when he runs into Graham Hodson at Graham’s twin brother’s wedding. A closet quickie, an indelible impression plus an explosive chemistry changes both of their lives forever.
The Wanderer (The Sin Bin #1) by Dahlia Donovan is told from both points of view, necessary as Graham, the wanderer of the title, is often in other parts of the world. For some stories separating the two main characters doesn’t work well for the romance. Here it does. Dahlia Donovan is able to make us believe in that absolute weirdest of creatures, that indefinable chemistry that won’t allow you to forget someone. Here neither man is able to let the other go in their minds or even in lust. They have an absolute need to reconnect that the readers get. And no, it’s not instalove.
BC and Graham also have pasts that have precluded them from even wanting relationships…a term that they have fled from along with the actual thing. These characterizations are so well done that the fumbling towards anything resembling a relationship is so awkward and needlessly full of self made pitfalls that you find yourself sighing and shaking your head in fond frustration.
Then one of the men receives a diagnosis and again everything changes. I won’t go into who or what but the story throws enough clues that you have an idea what’s coming. That doesn’t make what follows any easier to take. I wept along with both men, watched the relationship deepen as the circumstances altered them forever. And held out hope for their future with them too.
For those readers, this is also a book that shows what happens to a relationship when dealing with a serious illness. It’s dealt with an authenticity, grit, and sensitivity that makes this story work so well because it shows what can happen when you least expect it. BC and Graham feel so real, especially after this section of the story. I’m so happy to know that I will continue to see them in the books that follow.
What a way to start a series! I noticed the characters in book 4 referenced to here. So now it’s on to The Caretaker (The Sin Bin, #2) and Freddie Whittle’s story, a man who had a huge part to play here. I can’t wait.
From just the two books that I’ve read, I can’ tell this is a series not to be missed. I highly recommend the two that I’ve read. But unlike me, start here and work your way through the series.
Cover art is ok. I don’t know what it is about those figures that make me think of teenagers instead of grown men. It just throws me off.
ebook, 191 pages
Published April 29th 2017 by Hot Tree Publishing (first published April 8th 2017)
Series The Sin Bin #1 setting Cornwall (United Kingdom)