Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5
When Caddock Stanford loses his brother and his rugby career, two of the most important parts of his life are gone forever. Now raising his young nephew, he seeks a quieter place away from the paparazzi and all the vices of his old life. Lust and love in the form of an eccentric man weren’t even on his horizon.
Francis Keen talks to his dog and his car. In his experience, people are less predictable and safe. His crippling anxiety keeps him anchored to his grandmother’s home. He wonders if he’ll ever find the courage to live—and to love.
Two men, so different, on track for a romantic collision… can they survive the impact?
I’ve read all the Sin Bin series and I’m eagerly awaiting the next installment. So it occurred to me that I never read the very first book that started it all…After the Scrum! This is the novel that launched the series and started to introducing the characters that appears throughout the stories that followed. Of course I had to read it. And see what the hell scrum meant.
Scrum. A rugby term that means an ordered formation of players used to restart play, in which the forward of a team huddle together to gain possession of the ball. Got that from the small glossary Dahlia Donovan gives us at the beginning of After the Scrum to clue us “Yanks” and non – Rugby oriented people into the various lingo, colloquialisms, and sports terms we will encounter therein. [Note: I will admit to watching rugby without every actually caring about the game outcome or who’s playing…draw your own conclusions.] It’s a marvelous use here in the title.
Caddock Stanford aka ‘the Brute’ had been the star player for years on the national team until a injury sidelined him for good. Then life hit him again when his beloved younger brother, Had, died during a diving accident, leaving him the guardian of Had’s four year old son, Devlin. Overwhelmed, Caddock takes a chance on a new life in a seaside village in Cornwall called Looe. A whole restart on life.
But Uncle “Boo” as Devlin calls him really doesn’t get the romantic start until decorator Francis Keen and his therapy dog Sherlock enter his bar and life. Francis is needing that restart as much as Caddock does after a traumatic past and PTSD has made it hard for him to move forward.
I loved these characters and easily connected with them. As with all her stories, the author’s dialog and narrative drew me into the characters and their relationship. I felt apart of their lives in such a close knit manner. In a way, you felt steeped in the very life of Looe itself….whether wandering down to the Bakery or to Gran’s or the path to the sea. Donovan pulls you into the small village dynamics and how it interacts upon individuals and their relationships. Lovely.
I actually wanted more here as I enjoyed these two men and the family they become with Devlin and “Lock”. I could have enjoyed a book twice this size because I just wasn’t prepared to let them go at the end. Of course I feel that way at every one of her stories. Still, this one is special. Caddock and Francis are special. And now I’ll have to reread all the stories for the parts about them all over again.
Loved the ending.
I love this story and all the Sin Bin books. Start here! This is one great couple you shouldn’t miss out on. I highly recommend it.
Cover art: Claire Smith. I like the cover. It has the softness that brands all the following stories.
ebook, 163 pages
Published April 2016 by Hot Tree Publishing