Love a Contemporary Romance? Check Out the Tour for “Pure Dumb Luck” by Dahlia Donovan (excerpt and giveaway)

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Pure Dumb Luck

Dahlia Donovan has a new contemporary MM romance out: Pure Dumb Luck.

When two small-town country dudes win the lottery, they finally find the courage to speak their truth.

An unexpected adventure follows.

Linwood “Woody” Robinson has a routine. He works for his baby brother in construction, buys three lottery tickets every week, and lusts after his best friend from high school. He’s done the same thing for twenty years.

Eddison “Eddie” Howard owns the only gas station in their small South Carolina town, sells lottery tickets, and lusts after his best friend from afar. They joke around but never speak their truth. He knows they’re cowards but can’t seem to find the courage to bridge the gulf between them.

And then they win eighty million dollars.

Life changes.

They go from never talking about their feelings to facing the world together.

Can anything pull them apart?

Hot Tree Publishing | Amazon | Amazon UK | Amazon CAN | iBooks | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | QueeRomance Ink | Goodreads


Giveaway

Dahlia is giving away a $5 Amazon gift card with this tour – enter via Rafflecopter:

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Excerpt

Pure Dumb Luck meme - Dahlia Donovan

“Go inside. Buy your lottery tickets. Shoot the shit—all calm and natural-like.” Woody gripped the steering wheel of his pickup truck tightly, trying to talk himself into getting out of it. A familiar pep talk. Familiar and oft repeated. “You’ve known Eddie since elementary school. You’ve been staring at his ass since he played quarterback to your running back in junior high. No point in getting all fucking weird around him now.”

Patting the bobblehead football player on his dashboard for good luck, Woody reluctantly slipped out of his truck. He slammed the door and plastered a grin on his face. Lottery tickets wouldn’t buy themselves.

And Eddie had already seen his truck. If he ran away now, he’d never hear the end of it. The temptation to get back into his vehicle was strong.

C’mon.

This is not even close to the hardest part of your day.

Except it had definitely become the most difficult daily event. Woody had never considered himself a coward, yet every single morning, he walked into the gas station to see his best friend, the person he’d been in love with for years, and said nothing beyond small talk.

He never told the truth of the ache in his heart growing too painful to ignore. He couldn’t. What if Eddie rejected him?

“Your usual?”

Woody grinned at Eddie, who ran thefamily-ownedgas station in their little country town nestled in the middle of a national forest in the southern Appalachian Mountains. “You know me. Boring as shit. I’m consistent, at least.”

“One large coffee, one pack of powdered donuts, and three lottery tickets. Two for you, one for me.” Eddie rolled his dark brown eyes and held out a large hand for the card Woody held out to him. “You never change, dude. You’ve been doing this for twenty years—since high school. I know Coach said you were full of dumb luck, but I don’t think he meant with the Mega Millions.”

“Have a little faith, Eddie.” He grabbed both his breakfast and the lottery tickets, winking at his oldest friend, who hadn’t changed much in the thirty years since they’d known each other. Still as fucking hot as the day I first saw him in the shower at the gym. His warm brown skin had glistened under the shower. Maybe stop thinking about Eddie naked in the middle of the gas station. “We still on for fishing this weekend?”

“Unless you get lucky with your numbers. If you do, we’ll go fishing on a yacht instead of your granddaddy’s rickety old boat.” He tapped a finger against the ticket stub in Woody’s hand. “Go on. Get your ass out of here. You’re ruining the atmosphere. Plus, I like watching you leave.”

For the past twenty years, they’d danced around each other. Woody had given up on anything happening between them outside of harmless flirting. Maybe it was too clichéd—two former jocks who fell in love on the football field finally getting their chance in their late thirties.

It sounded like a cheesy movie plot.

The only way I’m getting lucky at this point is with the lottery tickets.

And I’m all out of luck with that as well.


Author Bio

Dahlia Donovan wrote her first romance series after a crazy dream about shifters and damsels in distress. She prefers irreverent humour and unconventional characters. An autistic and occasional hermit, her life wouldn’t be complete without her husband and her massive collection of books and video games.

Author Website: https://dahliadonovan.com/

Author Facebook (Author Page): https://www.facebook.com/dahliadonovan

Author Twitter: https://twitter.com/DahliaDonovan

Author Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/dahliadonovanauthor/

Author Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/8184061.Dahlia_Donovan

Author QueeRomance Ink: https://www.queeromanceink.com/mbm-book-author/dahlia-donovan/

Author Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Dahlia-Donovan/e/B00KFNZFHU/

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Love SciFy Romance? Check Out the New Release Tour and Giveaway for Here Comes the Son by Dahlia Donovan

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Title: Here Comes the Son
Genre: M/M Urban Fantasy Romance
Release Date: July 27, 2019
Publisher: Hot Tree Publishing
Cover Designer: FuriousFotog Covers
 Add to TBR
 Available now! 
All other links: books2read.com/hcts
When evil stirs in the shadow of the Rocky Mountains, heroes come in both ordinary and extraordinary packages.
Ignatius Faber knows a few things for absolute certain. He’s half-demon, his father is the unequivocal prince of darkness, and demons want to destroy his city. And if he doesn’t make the first move on his crush, they’re never going to be anything more than a teenage fantasy that’s lasted into his thirties.
Lalo Pavia grew up hard and fast, orphaned at a young age.  As an autistic, he’s learned to approach life cautiously. He throws his energy into gardening and photography—allowing both to provide a buffer between himself and the rest of the world.
Except for Iggy.
Can they find triumph, life, and even love in the middle of a city in flames?
 
Their fight for the mile high city has just begun.
 

 

Dahlia Donovan wrote her first romance series after a crazy dream about shifters and damsels in distress. She prefers irreverent humour and unconventional characters. An autistic and occasional hermit, her life wouldn’t be complete without her husband and her massive collection of books and video games.

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Read Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words 5 star Review here.

A MelanieM Review: Here Comes the Son by Dahlia Donovan

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Rating: 4.75 stars out  of 5

When evil stirs in the shadow of the Rocky Mountains, heroes come in both ordinary and extraordinary packages.

Ignatius Faber knows a few things for absolute certain. He’s half-demon, his father is the unequivocal prince of darkness, and demons want to destroy his city. And if he doesn’t make the first move on his crush, they’re never going to be anything more than a teenage fantasy that’s lasted into his thirties.

Lalo Pavia grew up hard and fast, orphaned at a young age. As an autistic, he’s learned to approach life cautiously. He throws his energy into gardening and photography—allowing both to provide a buffer between himself and the rest of the world.

Except for Iggy.

Can they find triumph, life, and even love in the middle of a city in flames?

Their fight for the mile high city has just begun

Well this was just superb!  Long a fan of Dahlia Donovan’s stories, her contemporary romances, her mystery cozies here springs a totally engrossing supernatural urban fantasy yarn so full of twist, turns and great characters that I was up until the wee hours reading until I was finished.

Yes, Here Comes the Son by Dahlia Donovan is a book whose characters I embraced and whose plot kept me guessing.

Don’t you love it when that happens?

Not only that but the relationships are so remarkable.  Starting with Ignatius Faber, aka Iggy,  and Lalo Pavia .  Their tight, bond and love for each other is so deep, compounded by Lalo’s autism and Iggy’s understanding of Lalo’s special needs and drive to insure that Lalo can live as best as possible within their universe, given his autism.  And it’s quite the universe.

Donovan has taken her time building a world full of demons, priests, levels at war with each other, scary scientists, and even Lucifer himself.  And none are exactly what you might think.  So many twists here that the plot at points resembles a maze of story threads and wandering possibilities.    None of which I will discuss, but the payoffs are tremendous as far as the narrative are concerned.

The author has built in depth everywhere you look. Layers to her characters.  She has certainly done her homework with regard to people with autism and it shows in Lalo’s character, mannerisms, and behavior.  Lalo is real!  And so is Iggy and his love and commitment to him.

The world building has just as many layers to meet this convoluted plot.  If I had any issues it’s that i  wanted more.  More of the characters, more of Lucifer, more  past the ending.  It’s that sort of story.  Your mind keeps racing past the ending into the thousands of “what ifs” the characters and story keep generating.

Here Comes the Son by Dahlia Donovan is a splendid example of how imagination and plot plus characters and worldbuilding send a novel soaring….it grabs your heart, messes with  your mind, and leaves you wanting more. How great is that?

Cover art is just wonderful.  Works for the character and novel.

Sales Links: Hot Tree Publishing | Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon CAN | iBooks | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | QueeRomance Ink | Goodreads

Book Details:

ebook
Published July 27th 2019
ISBN 139781925853568
Edition Language English

A MelanieM Review: At War with a Broken Heart by Dahlia Donovan

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Rating: 4 stars out of 5

A May-to-December MMM Romance.

What’s the perfect recipe for an emotional MMM romance?

One autistic coffee shop owner, one morose mug maker, and a mostly cheerful police detective.

Fie Morogh Russell goes off to war with a broken heart and returns with a shattered spirit. He hermits away in Bideford, Devon, making mugs, with his service dog, Haggard, for company. Post-traumatic stress turns every memory into a minefield, and life is dismal with one or two rare exceptions.

Davet Heuse drags his younger brother to Bideford for a new start. Both autistic, the two siblings have fought hard to enjoy freedom by the seaside. While Davet runs a coffee shop from his tiny house, his brother pursues his dream at university.

Detective Sidney Little has transitioned from military service to the police force easily. His unrequited crushes and his estranged father are the only points of frustration in his life. He hasn’t quite figured out how to deal with either problem.

When a tragic accident brings Davet’s world crashing down around him, can Fie and Sid help him through the pain of loss?

In this May-December romance with a twist, three men struggle through one obstacle after the other to somehow find themselves in love on the other side.

At War with a Broken Heart by Dahlia Donovan is the second book(s) that feature an autistic main character.  The other being her marvelous Grasmere Cottage Mystery series that I adored so.  Each character has been someone unique, just as there is such a large autism spectrum.  Donovan includes the behaviors and traits that go along with someone who is autistic without making it a screaming element of the story or character,  It simply is part of him.  Just as red hair or being a Scot is part of the others. I love that about her characterizations.  They are solid people, complete with a past, family, baggage (huge or small), secrets, and a need to be loved.

I really like the title here because it applies to more than just one character.  Each of the three men has a wounded heart that needs mending,  At first it’s only one character so damaged that he’s broken inside, needing others to help him to recover and go forward.  But as the story progresses, it becomes a path strewn with angst and past abuse for more than just Fie.  Since the blurb gives little away, neither will I.  I will mention there’s a mystery to solve, a bit of a red herring thrown in, a delight of a police station, and , a few holes I wish the author had filled in before the ending came.

I liked the relationships that developed between the three men.  Nothing instant as they had known each other for some time or in the case of Fie and Sid, actually served  together. Friendship was already established so to make a leap into romance for them and the reader wasn’t a big step.  But actually a natural one.

My only reservations here are that I wanted more about Davet’s background, his family, and the “red herring” I felt the author kept throwing at us, the readers with regard ot his parents and what they wanted.  That was frustrating and never really resolved.  Unless , of course, there intends to be a sequel.  I’m on board with that!

This is a charming, and different contemporary love story from an author I’m addicted to.  Whether it was her Sin Bin series or that terrific Grasmere Cottage Mystery Trilogy, now I can add this one as well.  I highly recommend them all.

Cover art: Soxsational Cover Art.  Complete fail imo.  Doesn’t match up to any of the characters, doesn’t contain any story element, could be a cover to any book. This is a story about 3 men in a small village, each has nothing to do with that model. Instead of being broken he looks like he’s going ‘huh”. smh.

Sales Links: Amazon

Book Detail:

Kindle Edition, 205 pages
Expected publication: February 26th 2019 by Hot Tree Publishing
ASINB 07L7XSWVW
Edition Language English

A MelanieM Review: Grasmere Cottage Mystery Trilogy by Dahlia Donovan

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

A Romantic Cosy Mystery Trilogy by  author Dahlia Donovan on a cosy mystery adventure in Grasmere Cottage. With love, wit, and a murder to solve, life for Valor and Bishan is about to get bloomin’ complicated in this sweet gay romance that covers three stories and will leave you wanting more. 

The stories appear together under one cover in paperback format at Hot Tree Publishing, also separately in all eBook formats wherein lies the rub for me.  See, I was lucky to read it as one story (still not sure how the author and publisher gave me the paperback version in e format).  Cal them.  Because read in one flowing story?  The best thing ever!!

I didn’t realize they were actual separate stories until I went back to the author to beg her to write more Grasmere Cottage cosies. That’s when I found out these were three stories not one and this couple was, at least, temporarily on hold for more.  But after reading these amazing tales you will see why I’m holding out  for the trilogy to   turn into a series.  Why Valor and Bish have captured my imagination along with my heart.

Especially when the author hooks them up with one really ugly serial killer intent on destroying their hard won love and  sanctuary in Grasmere Cottage. Oh what a marvelous couple Dahlia Donovan has created here.  Unusual and perfect for each other, each with their own fascinating back histories and personalities that when mixed together become a complex, highly intelligent, loving, and absolutely unique crime fighting couple.

Talk about your layers!  Valor Tarquin Scott, tossed out of the family (for being gay) highly bred society son, now running a niche bakery and living happily with Bish in what his family refers to as his grubby little cottage.  Bishan Tambol, autistic, has been able to turn his love of music into a career with the London Symphony Orchestra. That together with their cat, and a love of the stories of the detective Poirot given them a contented and lovely life together.  Plus the support of Bish’s huge family too.

Then the killer strikes in their garden and nothing is the same.

Donovan’s character of Bish, his struggles with his autism, especially once his routine’s are destroyed when the killer infiltrates their lives is incredibly realistic and often painful.  You’ve come to care so quickly for this pair and Bish.  And to see how shattered Bish becomes at points just hurts.  And how amazing when he finds his strength and methods to cope to work the puzzles to help find the killer.  And Valor too is just that splendid bundle of depth and determination that makes you to just cheer him on, him and Bish naturally.  To push through all the vile threats of not just a murderer but that of Valor’s family also intent on derailing his life for their own purposes as well.

This book, oops, these books truly have everything to keep you glued to the pages.  A plot that will keep you guessing right up until the end, so many twists and turns that the suspense is a white knuckle read all the way, so much heart and love because the relationship is just so  endearing. And  finally, because these are people/characters you may never have met before, loving each other, and succeeding to vanquish evil and live happily, we assume, ever after in Grasmere Cottage.  Fighting the righteous gnome/frog wars!

Really, Dahlia Donovan!  If for no other reason.  I need more gnome/frog wars!

So pick these up.  They will do great things for your heart.  Stupendous characters who love each other in a cottage complete with cat and crazy neighbor.    The plots are terrific, the writing marvelous, and all things combined…makes these the cosies of your heart.  Don’t miss out.  I highly recommend them one and all.

 

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Book Covers:  Claire Smith.  I love the covers for the whole series.  Fun, out of the box for an english cozie but this artist has always surprised me and continues to do so.  I like it.Grasmere Cottage Mystery Trilogy by Dahlia Donovan  Paperback     Hot Tree Publishing 

 

Dead in the Garden (Grasmere Mystery #1):

Dead body in the garden? Check.

Mystery to solve? Check.

Police focused on the wrong person? Not good.
All grown up and graduated, Valor Tarquin Scott, son to Earl and Countess Scott, owns The Ginger’s Bread, a biscuit shop, in Grasmere in the Lake District. The love of his life, Bishan Tamboli, has turned his music studies into a successful career playing with the London Symphony Orchestra. It’s a perfect life with their cat, spending evenings watching Poirot on the television.

The nightmare begins with one dead former schoolmate, leading police to believe Bishan is responsible.

Valor struggles to solve the cryptic puzzles left behind in a race to prove Bishan’s innocence.

He can’t help wondering how far the body count will rise before they manage to stop the killer.

 

Sales Links:   Hot Tree Publishing | Amazon

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 128 pages
Published October 6th 2018 by Hot Tree Publishing
ASIN B07FLVZR68
Edition Language English

Dead in the Pond (Grasmere Cottage Mystery #2)

Killer on the loose? Check.

Frogs in the garden? Check.

Playing a twisted game with a killer? Not good.

Bishan Tamboli struggles to recover from his false arrest. He worries the police still aren’t as convinced about his innocence. With his longtime boyfriend, Valor, at his side, he intends to solve the puzzles and catch the murderer amongst their former schoolmates.

He’s fought hard for his independence as an autistic and refuses to throw it all away because of a nameless monster. With friends and family in the killer’s crosshairs, Bishan fears the mystery will bring the end of everything and everyone he loves.

 

 

Sales Links:  Hot Tree Publishing | Amazon

Book Details: Kindle Edition, 120 pages
Expected publication: October 13th 2018 by Hot Tree Publishing
ASINB07FM3FL2V
Edition LanguageEnglish
Series Grasmere Cottage Mystery #2

Dead in the Shop (Grasmere Cottage Mystery #3) :

Deadly fire? Check.

Fear-induced heart attack imminent? Check.

Time running out on them? Not good.

Valor Scott wants nothing more than to enjoy life in his little cottage with his boyfriend. The shadows of a serial killer continue to haunt him, though. He only wants the living nightmare to end. He battles one catastrophic event after the other, intent on bringing his loved ones through to the other side safely.

As their killer finally comes out into the open, Valor finds himself face-to-face with an obsessed murderer intent on destroying everyone in their path.

 

 

 

Sales Links:  Hot Tree Publishing Amazon

Book Details:Kindle

Edition, 121 pages
Expected publication: October 20th 2018 by Hot Tree Publishing
ASINB07FW12FR8
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesGrasmere Cottage Mystery #3

 

 

A MelanieM Review: Forged in Flood by Dahlia Donovan

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

 

When one drunken night forever scars three best friends, will they ever find a way to pick up the pieces?

Eaten up with guilt, Ivan Black spends ten years hiding from the world. He retreats to his family forge to wallow in misery. Alone. So lonely his heart aches with it.

Wesley Cook and Rolland Spence have been together since university. They struggle through the physical scars of the accident, building a life in the ruins of their dreams. They find happiness but continue to miss their angry ginger Viking—Ivan.

In all the anger of wasted years, the three men find a way to forge a relationship as hot as the fires in the smithy.

I’ve long been a fan of the novels of Dahlia Donovan, but Forged in Fire may be her best story yet.  It is a deeply moving love story between three men who lost each other and their chance at major careers in rugby directly after the university. Young men drove drunk and disastrously crashed, rolling the car, ending their triad through grievous injuries and the guilt one still carries to this day.  That would be the driver Ivan.

All this we learn in bitter bits and pieces one wet, flooded night as the waters rise about the village of Boscastle and Ivan’s family’s forge high on the hill.  It’s over a decade after the accident and “Ivan the Terrible” as his family calls him has fully retreated from life to his forge, shutting off all contact, including the two men who used to mean the most to him.  He’s plagued by memory loss from brain damage, deep guilt, and a deep seated rage that is his legacy from his father, now in prison.  His past not only haunts him but he fights it every second of the day.  And it mostly wins and tears him down.

Ivan is a savage portraiture of a man.  Driven by his demons yet Donovan continues to make us understand him as she reveals more and more of his past and his struggles to get by them.  They include his father who we meet in prison and who Ivan is named after.

But the heart and soul of this story is the dynamics, return of love and relationship of the triad. Born in the rising flood waters in Boscastle, it’s painful, so slow its like slogging through the rising tide, full of anger, resentment, pain, and loss.  They have a decade of issues to work through…even abandonment.  Incredibly, the author also manages to bring in laughter, giggles, light touches, and some incredibly  sexy scenes that show that the pull between all three men isn’t just some surface attraction.  No, it’s cellular.  These men need each other in order to be complete.  Donovan makes us believe it absolutely.  We feel it as much as the men do.

If Ivan is a complete character, so is Wesley Cook and Rolland “Rolly” Spence, who have been together as an existing couple since the accident.  They have returned to get their third, Ivan, and bring him “home”.  Each one of them, so clearly defined and beautifully written that its a joy to meet them and be included in their relationship.  It’s fun to watch and listen to, the dialog shows the ease of a couple who has been together for years as does the sex between them.  Loving, quick, and warmhearted.  Yet still they yearn for Ivan, all prickles and anger who they’ve missed all this time.  And he’s missed them as well.

The emotions here are huge, the growth, the pain, the fear the oozes off of Ivan as he faces his past, his father, his disabilities and even his future, it will scare even you.  Bring tissues.  For 130 pages, this is a big book.

I can’t begin to tell you all how much I love it and the men here.  It will leave a lasting impact.  One incredibly stupid decision and three lives changed forever.  Now we how the aftermath turns out and lives change again.

I highly recommend this story. The writing is incredible, the descriptions vivid and carry such emotional heft, and the characters so real you believe in them and invest in them absolutely.

And for those of you who are wondering, no this is not connected to her Sin Bin series other than a brief mention of Taine Afoa.  It’s completely standalone.

So yes, go pick it up, dive in and lose yourself in these men and their road back to each other.

Cover art: Claire Smith.  I love this artist’s work and this cover is no different.  It’s perfect for this story.

Sales Links:  Hot Tree Publishing  | Amazon

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 130 pages
Published July 14th 2018 by Hot Tree Publishing
ASINB07DS6HLPJ
Edition LanguageEnglish

Forged in Flood is a British contemporary M/M/M romance. With heartache, hot men with foul mouths, and plenty of heat, enjoy getting to know Ivan, Wesley, and Roland.

A MelanieM Review: Haka Ever After (The Sin Bin #7) by Dahlia Donovan

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Rating: 4.75 stars out of 5

You are cordially invited to the Sin Bin wedding of the year—kilts required, undergarments optional.

Taine Afoa has faced opponents on the rugby pitch without an ounce of fear. He hopes to find the same courage when asking the love of his life to marry him. First, though, he has to ask Freddie’s fathers for their blessing.

If Taine survives, popping the question should be a breeze.

Freddie Whittle knows Taine has something up his sleeve. A yes forms on his lips before the question is even asked. But can they survive the madness of friends and family, all wanting to help plan their wedding?

As their May-December romance tumbles into happily ever after, one surprise after the other brings them more joy than they ever imagined possible.

The short story Haka Ever After is the seventh (and last) book in Dahlia Donovan’s international bestselling gay romance series, The Sin Bin. Each one features hot rugby players and the men who steal their hearts.

Haka Ever After (The Sin Bin #7) by Dahlia Donovan is, as a certain someone would say, practically perfect in every way.  It’s one flaw?  It’s just too short.  I love this series and it’s flawed, amazing, and totally endearing couples.  The synopsis indicates that this is to be the last in the series although from the author’s site list she had planned for just one more so I’m not sure what’s to become of Zeb & Silius.

Still, if no further stories appear, I will be thrilled that Donovan ended it here with Haka Ever After.  It’s certainly a most suitable way for the series to go out, on the wedding of Taine and Freddie with the involvement of all the rugby brotherhood and their partners and  amazing circle of family and friends.  Everyone we have gotten to know and love over the course of six stories, their troubles and their journey forward to love and HEA, they are here, enthusing this tale with warmth and laughter.  And joy.

Our connection to them all has remained strong and snaps smartly back into place as each couple makes their appearance here helping Taine and Freddie get married.  Such an special celebration warrants special heartwarming events…I won’t spoil them but get your tissues handy.   Maybe even a box.

This story was just too short.  Those wedding presents to each other needed several chapters more per present.  I needed to know more about those travels in depth.  It was special, and moving, and I could see it all so clearly.  Yes, I may start sniffling again.

From kilts to an amazing send off, it’s so hard to let these men go.  I may have to start re-reading this series all over again.  If you are new to the series, treat yourself and head immediately to The Wanderer and begin your journey with The Sin Bin series there.  I highly recommend them all, including this amazing farewell story.

Cover art: Claire Smith.  This is probably my favorite cover of the entire series.  Beautifully done while still continuing to brand the series in style and color.

Sales Links:  Hot Tree Publishing  | Amazon

Book Details:Kindle Edition
Published July 28th 2018 by Hot Tree Publishing
ASINB07DL6LB7X
Edition LanguageEnglish
Series The Sin Bin #7

The Sin Bin Series:

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

 

A MelanieM Review: The Lion Tamer (The Sin Bin #6) by Dahlia Donovan

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

One dominant Marine.

One troubled rugby player.

The Sin Bin will never be the same.

Gray Baird’s to-do list for the year includes starting a restaurant, claiming his submissive, and keeping his nosy friends out of his business. He has his work seriously cut out for him.

Scottie Monk prides himself on bullying his way through problems—and sometimes even people. His life is spiralling out of his control, but he refuses to break. The last thing he expects is to find peace in the confines of submission.

One man will try to tame a lion.

One man will try to heal.

And both men will have to join forces to deal with a toxic family and invasive paparazzi.

Each new story in The Sin Bin series made me sure I’d found the favorite  story and couple out of all of them…and I had. Until the next one.  This pattern held true with The Lion Tamer.  Dahlia Donovan has taken a sad and sometimes unlikable character that’s been appearing in every  previous story and slowly turned him into someone I not only connected deeply with but rooted for his happiness with everything I had.  That would be Scottie Monk,  a ex rugby alcoholic with anger issues up the wazoo.  Nasty to friends, unreliable, he’s on a downward spiral that anyone familiar with his  family would recognize.  And up until the previous story, The Unexpected Santa (The Sin Bin, #5), I wasn’t sure where Dahlia Donovan was going to take or leave him.

Gray Baird, an ex Marine and transplant to the UK is both the key to Scottie’s change in path and a whole new wonderful character.  Gray wants a sea change in his life and makes it.  New career as a chef, new home, and slowly, ever so slowly, a whole new set of people that become his family, including the autistic twins that he befriended in The Unexpected Santa.  The person he also wants to include in this new life is Scottie, but Scottie has to want to change his life, go to rehab, make his own drastic changes ..not for Gray but for himself.

This book has a gritty, realistic side (as does the entire series).  Donovan doesn’t spare the ugliness that is Scottie at his worst.  We  see the effects alcoholism has not only on the person deep in his addiction but on all of those around him.  The strains on the few friendships he has left, the growing exclusions from functions because of his behavior, and always the anger.  When submission and dominance start to help Gray and Scottie, both as a initial doorway to their relationship and as a revelation for Scottie, for whom love has always been an unknown factor in life, we get it.

You can’t separate out sections of this story as all threads flow naturally together into one vivid indelible tapestry.  The bdsm elements which are unbelievably hot and sexy, the raw and painful road to recovery for Scottie to sobriety,  the endearing and moving continued incorporation of twins Alice and Alex into Gray’s home and life.  Finally, their love and relationship along with all their friends and loved ones.  I can’t believe how much I love this story.

It’s so great to see all the other couples popping up to support this couple in whatever fashion is needed.  All the books and characters are so tightly intertwined that I may just start the series over reading them one right after the other.

The Lion Tamer (The Sin Bin #6) by Dahlia Donovan is one remarkable, warmhearted contemporary romance.  It’s moving, and oh so memorable.  I absolutely recommend it and the entire Sin Bin series.

Cover art:  Claire Smith.  I love the cover but it doesn’t fit in with the rest of the series.

Sales Links:  Hot  Tree Publishing | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook
Published February 20th 2018 by Hot Tree Publishing
ISBN139781925655520
Edition LanguageEnglish
Series The Sin Bin #6

The Sin Bin Series:

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

A MelanieM Review: After the Scrum by Dahlia Donovan

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Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

 

When a former rugby player reinventing himself meets a man who’s afraid to move on, can love offer a path for them both?

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.

Yet.
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.

Sales Links:  Hot Tree Publishing| Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 163 pages
Published April 2016 by Hot Tree Publishing
ISBN132940152823578
Edition LanguageEnglish

A MelanieM Review: The Unexpected Santa (The Sin Bin #5) by Dahlia Donovan

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Ratings: 4.5 stars out of 5

When a rugby bad boy butts heads with a retired Marine, which alpha male becomes top dog?

Scottie Monk came out of the womb angry at the world. He’s selfish and bitter. “Bah humbug!” rolls off his tongue far easier than “Happy Christmas.”

Gray Baird has dedicated his life to public service as a Marine Corps officer and later as a police chief. The decorated hero finds it impossible to ignore autistic twins in desperate need of holiday spirit. He’ll be the grumpiest Santa in the world if it puts a smile their faces. And he’ll drag a reluctant Scottie along for the ride.

This December, Gray and Scottie collide while unexpectedly playing Santa.

The Unexpected Santa (The Sin Bin #5) by Dahlia Donovan is more like a prelude to the next story, a setup really,  to the much anticipated full blown clash that’s coming between Scottie Monk and Gray Baird in The Lion Tamer.

However, taken within that context?  It’s a wonderful anticipatory delight of a short story.  For all of the previous four novels, Scottie Monk’s atrocious behavior within the close group of ex rugby players has gone from extremely annoying to using hate language, stalking,  and throwing punches.  He’s constantly drunk and when sober, his behavior is sometimes even worse.  One by one his former teammates and friends are excluding him from their circle and events.  His  reaction is anger and self pity.

I’ve wondered what Dahlia Donovan was going to do with Scottie.  An unflattering character in the first book, he’s progressed to a horror of self indulgence and denial, certainly not someone a reader could connect with.  When we last saw him, he was being thrown out of a wedding by Gray Baird (laughing…yes love that  name).  The Unexpected Santa picks up directly after that incident.

The autistic twins in the story come from The Royal Marine (The Sin Bin #4, one of my favorites in the series.  They worked then for Akash Robinson, a baker. It’s he who is marrying his former marine, Hamish Ross, friend of Gray Baird.  Yes, the two groups are now deeply intertwined and no story within this series is a standalone.   Like a rich tapestry, the narrative threads run heavy through each tale and couple, twisting and twirling about, tugging the groups closer until they are forming a mesh of relationship dynamics that can’t really be separated out from one another.

Gray is a fascinating character, he has his hidden needs and has been wondering if he will fit in within this group and new location.  Once he sees Scottie Monk, Scottie’s pain, and his actions that seem a cry for stability as well as a cry for someone to take control of his life, well,  Gray responds to Scottie with his corresponding need to do just that. Yes, there will be hot kink involved…most likely in their story The Lion Tamer.  Again, this is just the beginning.

Here we start to see  just how badly messed up Scottie is and what has brought him to this state.  But it’s clear that for Scottie and Gray this is but the tantalizing first dance.  There are so many lovely scenes between Gray and the twins here, (they now work for Aled the Botanist).  The author contrasting the delicacy of paper cranes with the fragility of the twins.  In many ways it is a Christmas story.

The Unexpected Santa is a terrific Christmas prelude for all fans and readers of Dahlia Donovan’s The Sin Bin series.  It’s that delicious taste of what’s to come, combined with the sweetness and joy of the holiday season when the twins come into the picture.

I highly recommend this entire series.  I have listed them all at the bottom of the review.  Read them in the order they were written, enjoy the characters and the men they love.

Cover art by Claire Smith again works beautifully.  Love the coloration and the single snowflake that stands for the book.

Sales Links: Hot Tree Publishing | Amazon

Book Details:

Kindle Edition
Published November 11th 2017 by Hot Tree Publishing
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesThe Sin Bin #5

The Sin Bin Series:

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