Title: After the Scrum
Author: Dahlia Donovan
Publisher: Hot Tree Publishing
Length: 163 pages
At a Glance: This is a charming story of two very different men who are serendipitously brought together to create a rather unconventional family.
Reviewed By: Sadonna
Blurb: Caddock ‘The Brute’ Stanford lost his brother and rugby career within the same year. The once man-about-town is now a has-been and guardian to his young nephew. Not sure where life will go after the scrum, he decides to purchase a pub in the Cornwall village of Looe. He never expects to fall in lust—and then love.
Francis Keen hides his crippling anxiety behind his eccentric habits, lush interior design, and beloved dog, Sherlock. Alone by choice after an attack in college left him emotionally scarred, he lives by the sea with his gran, resigned to working small jobs for local businesses. Revamping the pub for the new owner is right up his alley—especially when he realizes who the owner is.
Two men, so different, on track for a romantic collision. Can they survive the impact?
Review: Caddock “The Brute” Stanford has been forced to retire from professional rugby because of injury. On top of that, he’s lost his brother and inherited his young nephew, Devlin. He’s ill-prepared for either one. He’s absolutely determined to raise his nephew as his brother wished, but he doesn’t think his current living situation is ideal. So, he decides to buy a pub in a small village and run the business while raising the boy. It’ll be a slower pace and a better environment for him and also will get him away from any temptations, he thinks.
He buys the pub pretty much sight unseen, and he knows it needs some work. Through his business manager, he ends up connecting to a local interior designer named Francis. Caddock mistakenly assumes that Francis is a woman. When he realizes how wrong he is, he is not at all sorry. 🙂
Francis has had a bit of a difficult life. He’s been raised by and still lives with his gran. She’s quite the character and she just wants Francis to be happy. While at uni, he went through a terrible bashing and as a result, suffers from panic attacks and anxiety. To assist him with his issues, he has an assist dog named Sherlock whom he adores.
Francis and Caddock get off to a slightly rough start, but that’s out of the way rather quickly. They are definitely attracted to each other, but things don’t always seem to go smoothly. Whether it’s Devlin, the townsfolk, Francis’s gran, or Caddock’s homophobic parents, there always seems to be something that comes up.
As Francis and Caddock grow closer, there are a lot of obstacles that pop up. Caddock has never exactly hidden his orientation, but he wasn’t exactly out and proud either. His parents are quite a pain in the behind through most of the story, and I couldn’t help be feel a bit badly for Caddock and Devlin. Francis, for all of his issues, does stick up for himself and doesn’t allow himself to be bullied by anyone.
I found this story to be a charming and easy read. I liked both Caddock and Francis and am always a sucker for opposites attract stories. I loved Francis’s gran and bet she has an amazing story to tell! While perhaps the climax of the story was tied up a bit neatly, I still enjoyed the ride to getting there.
You can buy After the Scrum here: