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Sin Bin Series: Box Set

Tuesday, March 16, 2021

Sin Bin Series: Box Set (2020) Dahlia Donovan

Sin Bin SeriesThis is seven stories (and three short stories) around a group of former rugby players and friends and the men they fall in love with.

The Wanderer (2017)
The Caretaker (2017)
The Botanist (2017)
The Royal Marine (2017)
The Unexpected Santa (2017)
The Lion Tamer (2018)
Haka Ever After (2018)

Let me be clear that these are not seven short stories, but five books and two novellas, so the whole thing comes in at 974 pages.

The book opens with The Wanderer (2017), which is the story of BC–the retired rugby player–and Graham, a travel photographer. Graham has spent his entire adult life avoiding serious relationships, wanting only to be free to travel and go where he pleases. He enjoys his time with BC, but doesn’t expect anything more–until life unexpectedly changes everything.

Non est ad astra mollis e terris via.
There is no easy way from earth to the stars.

The Caretaker (2017) features Taine, the Samoan-Scottish rugby player, and Freddy, the oncology Nurse Practitioner with an almost disturbing fondness for cheese.

After tooling around the various stalls, Freddie dragged him to the Cheese Museum. Who has a museum dedicated to cheese? And who visits it? Apparently me.

This was one of my favorite stories, because I adored both Freddy and Taine, and I also liked that the story never went where I was expecting it too. And that Taine was able to figure out what Freddy needed to help him cope with the stress and strain of his job.

Also, I adored Taine’s adopted father.

“Are you travelling somewhere? Off to Scotland to see your priest?”

“Amsterdam, actually. Though I’m not sure how to feel about Father Wilson sounding like a tawdry port of call.”

Freddy and Taine are just lovely together.

The Botanist (2017) is a shorter novella, about Wyatt, an American SEAL, and the botanist his helps to rescue.

This story takes place over (I think) seven years, starting with the rescue of Aled, through Hamish and Wyatt trying to draw the young man out after he closes himself off from the world in fear, to the long very slow courtship between Wyatt and Aled and Wyatt’s retirement from the Navy and starting his security business with Hamish.

I was also amused the number of Britishisms the American used. It’s fascinating the terms that we think of as being just English but that are in fact distinctly British or American.

The Royal Marine (2017) is the story of Hamish and Akash. Hamish is Wyatt’s partner in the security business, and Akash is a baker in Cardiff who is friends with Francis and Freddy and Graham. We’re also introduced to the twins, who work in Akash’s bakery and become a part of the extended family. (They appear prominently in the next two stories as well.)

Hamish tried to assure them if their stepdad had been responsible, then he would be punished for it. The look they sent him spoke of a lengthy history of similar assurances eventually coming to nothing.

Like the previous two stories, I enjoyed that the story took unexpected turns.

We also see Scottie, BC and Taine’s teammate starting to really go off the rails.

The Unexpected Santa (2017) is a short story that features Gray, a retired drill sergeant, Scottie (who is well off the rails now), and the twins.

For all that he is intimidating and brusque, it’s clear Gray is actually a good human, even if he refuses to take shit from anyone.

“You two doing all right?” Gray crouched down by their table to avoid towering over them. He saved intimidation by looming for those who deserved it.

The Lion Tamer (2018) is finally Scottie’s story, and you come into it wondering precisely how Scottie is going to be redeemed–and if you even care if he is.

Gray’s involvement with the Sin Bin’s new restaurant had been kept a secret to ensure maximum amusement for all of them when Scottie found out.

Let me be clear: This is a BDSM story. But it’s not BDSM that “fixes” Scottie. It is, however, a way he learns to deal with some of his anger and his rage.

In some ways, it feels like this story is what the previous stories were building towards–slowly watching Scottie come apart, and then now watching him rebuild himself.

And it’s not easy. There is back-sliding and continued problems, but you eventually see why his friends put up with him for so long.

Haka Ever After (2018) is the final story, and it’s Taine and Freddy’s wedding. It’s quite sweet (all things considered) and a satisfying conclusion to the series (although there are some additional outtakes in this collection).

Publisher: Hot Tree Publishing
Rating: 8.5/10




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