Rating: 4.75 stars out of 5
Aled Demers prefers plants over people. He survives an attack in Anguilla alive but emotionally and physically scarred. Back home in Cardiff, he struggles with PTSD and his unraveling life.
Wyatt “Earp” Hardy lives for his SEAL brothers. Retiring from military service brings new challenges for him to face. The last thing he expects is for his next mission to involve falling for the much younger botanist.
If the botanist has the strength to heal, can Wyatt find the courage to love?
If someone wanted a quick introduction to the writing style of Dahlia Donovan and a reason why they should definitely read her stories, then look no further than her novelette The Botanist (The Sin Bin #3). At 84 pages, it has the emotional heft you would expect of a much larger novel, layered characters and relationships so fully developed that their range and dynamics flow off the page and into your heart.
It starts off with a rescue where Wyatt meet Aled, a victim of mistaken identity. The result of that leaves Aled a mass of scars, inward and outward, unable to function. Donovan is able to paint a clear picture of a man crumbling under the effects of PTSD, it’s painful and you hurt for this gentle young botanist. So does Wyatt.
This is a gentle story that starts from an act of extreme violence. Of one man working to free another from the walls of fear and the horrors of his torture that now bind him. Along the way they fall in love. It’s the trust, the easing into each others lives, and finally the bravery to go forward…this time in tandem.
This is more a romance, there’s very little actual sex. That makes sense when you consider that most of the story Aled is so damaged that he is not feeding himself. To have them jump into sex would destroy any authenticity the author is building up between her characters and her readers. No, the beauty lies in the conciseness of the narrative and the future unfolding for them both.
You don’t need to read the other stories in The Sin Bin but I absolutely recommend that you do. The series is about a group of men that support each other and their partners. Their lives are intertwined and they make appearances in each others tales. To read them in order is to have a great understanding of each man, their “larger family” and back history. Plus each story is such a wonder in itself, why miss them?
My only reason in not giving this 5 stars is a snippy one, I wanted more. You will too.
Cover art by Claire Smith is lovely. I love the Ginko leaf overlay and the faded background that binds all the series together. Great job.
ebook, 84 pages
Published August 26th 2017 by Hot Tree Publishing
Series The Sin Bin #3
1. The Wanderer – BC & Graham
2. The Caretaker – Tens & Freddie
3. The Botanist (short story) – Aled & Wyatt
4. The Royal Marine – Hamish & Akash
5 The Unexpected Santa (short story) – Gray & Scottie
6. The Lion Tamer – Gray & Scottie
7. The Haka Ever After (short story) – Tens & Freddie
8. TBD – Zeb & Silus