Book Review: Haka Ever After

“Haka Ever After is an absolutely delightful conclusion to the Sin Bin series. The story focuses on Taine and Freddie, and they are adorable together. We also get to visit with some past favorites from the series as this sweet couple gets ready to tie the knot. This one is easily read in an hour or less and is a great mix of sweet, sexy, witty, and charming. With zero angst, Freddie and Taine’s happily ever after is lighthearted fun with plenty of reasons to smile. ” Four Stars from Momma Says

So Long Farewell.

(Ten points if the song is now stuck in your head. Sorry, not sorry.)

Saying goodbye to a book series is always bittersweet as an author…and as a reader. Saturday was a book release day for me. Haka Ever After came out and is the last of my Sin Bin series. I’m excited to move forward to new projects but heartbroken to leave my retired rugby lads behind.

It’s tricky, I think, to figure out where a series should end. There’s always a part of me that wonders about different characters whose story I didn’t tell. But then, my muse runs away toward a new shiny idea, and I don’t get a chance to be sad about ending my series.

I never intended to write The Sin Bin. In fact, I wasn’t supposed to write the story that inspired the series–After the Scrum. I had a completely different idea planned for NaNoWriMo 2015, but I made the mistake of watching a rugby match.

Big mistake.

Francis and Caddock sprung to life, giving me barely a week or two to prepare before November. And then, somehow, Graham decided his story wanted out in The Wanderer. Each tale led into the next.

It’s quite strange to look back on the series now. One of those moments where you can’t quite believe what you’ve accomplished. All those words on paper. It’s exhausting just to think about.

I’m proud of my rugby lads.

I’ll miss them.

But, I’m no to the next adventure.

If you’re a writer, do you find yourself missing a series when you’ve finished it?

Or as a reader, do you prefer to read a series or standalones?

 

 

The Peanut Gallery (A Sin Bin Flash Fiction)

In celebration of my upcoming Sin Bin release, Haka Ever After. I decided to do a small flash fiction event. Today’s the third (and last) one titled, The Peanut Gallery. It features several characters from the series.


“Ten quid says they break a hip.” Graham dropped onto the grass in between Freddie and Francis. Several of their other friends sat on either side of them, watching the group of former rugby players tossing around a ball. “Who thought a game in the back garden of the Inn was a brilliant plan?”

“You.” Francis nudged him in the side and laughed when Graham stuck his tongue out at him. “You and your twin thought this nonsense up. We tried to talk you out of it.”

“What’s this we shit?” Freddie snickered on the other side of him. “I’ve no issues watching Taine strut his stuff without a shirt on. Plus, I’ve got twenty quid that says one of them goes tumbling off the cliff.”

“They’d better not.” Sarah, Remi’s wife, glared fiercely at the group of men on the makeshift field of play. “Why aren’t any of you playing?”

“I’m the medic.” Freddie lifted the first aid kit that he’d brought with him. “And I have a brain in my head that tells me I’d be squashed like a bug underneath the louts.”

Francis dropped his hand on the head of his ever-present service dog, Sherlock. “I don’t run for anything other than antiques.”

“Bet you’d run to catch up with Caddock.” Rupert ruffled Francis’s hair on his way past them. He glanced back at his twin with a smirk. “Not joining us, Grimmie?”

“Me?” Graham shook his head with a laugh. “Dr Gen told me not to risk a concussion.”

“Dr Gen didn’t tell you shit.” Genevieve threw a tiny pebble at him. “Dr Gen is keeping herself out of this.”

“Aren’t you supposed to protect your patients?” Graham caught the pebble and tossed it to the side. “I might bruise. I’m a sensitive sort.”

“Oh, you’re something.” She laughed.

“Why don’t you and Sarah play?” Graham shot back at her.

“And show them up by kicking their arses?” Sarah grinned over her cup of tea. “Besides, can you see Remi’s reaction if someone so much as bumped me on the field?”

“Right. Pancaked into the ground in a second flat.” Graham had seen how overly protective the massive Frenchman tended to get with his wife, even though Sarah could handle herself quite well. “Might be amusing to watch.”

“Have they figured out we’re laughing at them?” Francis handed over the bowl of popcorn. They’d come prepared for the entertainment with a variety of snacks and tea. “Is an ambulance on standby just in case?”

Freddie snagged the bowl from him. “Not a chance. Let them enjoy their delusions of grandeur.”

“They’re not half bad.” Graham’s gaze followed BC as he ploughed through his friends with the ball tucked tightly under his arm. “Not convinced it won’t end up in broken bones.”

“Bones do get brittle as we age,” Freddie commented.

“As long as they don’t break the important bits.” Sarah laughed when her husband knocked BC off his feet.

“Like the ones between their legs.” Graham managed to keep a straight face until Freddie choked on a kernel of popcorn. “Most important bone in the body.”


The Peanut Gallery © 2018 by Dahlia Donovan

All rights reserved. No part of this eBook may be used or reproduced in any written, electronic, recorded, or photocopied format without the express permission from the author or publisher as allowed under the terms and conditions with which it was purchased or as strictly permitted by applicable copyright law. Any unauthorized distribution, circulation or use of this text may be a direct infringement of the author’s rights, and those responsible may be liable in law accordingly. Thank you for respecting the work of this author.

The Peanut Gallery is a work of fiction. All names, characters, events and places found therein are either from the author’s imagination or used fictitiously. Any similarity to persons alive or dead, actual events, locations, or organizations is entirely coincidental and not intended by the author.

The Peanut Gallery by Dahlia Donovan (.pdf)

Cheese Addicts Anonymous (A Sin Bin Flash Fiction)

In celebration of my upcoming Sin Bin release, Haka Ever After. I decided to do a small flash fiction event. Today’s the second one titled, Cheese Addicts Anonymous. It features Freddie & Tens from The Caretaker.


Poke.

Poke.

Waving a hand absently, Taine tried to dislodge whatever had slapped him in the face. He’d barely drifted off when it whacked him again. The lack of snickering from Freddie made him slowly wake himself up.

Frederick?”

With a groggy grunt, Taine opened his eyes in the middle of the night to find himself in bed alone. Well, not completely alone. Freddie’s monster of a cat sat firmly on his chest. One paw continued to periodically poke him in the face, which explained what had been the cause of waking up so early.

“All right, you obnoxious beast.” Taine plucked Bitsy off his chest to avoid being cat-slapped for the umpteenth time. “Let’s go find our wayward Freddie.”

Padding barefoot through their house, Taine checked the bathroom, spare bedrooms, and office. Where’s he gone? He eventually found Freddie in the kitchen.

What in the world is he doing?

Is he actually… where the hell is my phone?

Quietly retracing his steps, Taine grabbed his phone from the nightstand. He had every intention of obtaining video proof to use to tease Freddie. Bitsy definitely deserved the most massive piece of tuna he could find for the cat.

With phone recording, Taine watched his beloved Freddie hold a small grater in one hand and a block of cheese in the other. He had his head tilted back with his arms up, grating the cheddar straight into his mouth. It was like being David Attenborough and observing a rare species in their natural habitat.

And here we have a lone cheese addict, partaking in his secretive ritual never before seen by man.

Taine stared in pure amusement as Freddie grated his favourite cheddar cheese directly into his mouth. “Is this what you get up to when I’m asleep?”

Freddie froze mid-grate and peered over at Taine with wide eyes. “Hello.”

“Do we need to talk about your addiction?” He chuckled at the flush on Freddie’s cheeks. “Is there a Cheese Addicts Anonymous out there? Twelve steps to resisting the siren call of cheddar?”

“You’re not funny.” Freddie set the grater on the counter. “I was hungry.”

“And grating cheddar into your mouth seemed the most logical way to solve the problem?” Taine leaned against the counter. “Is this what you do every night when I fall asleep?”

“Not every night.” Freddie toyed with the grater.

“Do you dream about me grating cheese into your mouth?” Taine watched Freddie turn immediately to clean up the counter. “Am I naked or wearing a tongue? Are we going to need to get a chaise lounge for you to recline on?”

“Tens,” Freddie groaned. “Can’t you pretend this never happened?”

“No.”

Coc y gath.” Freddie finished washing the grater and set it aside. He moved to rewrap the cheddar, returning it to the fridge. “I should be glad you didn’t capture photographic evidence. You didn’t, did you?”

“Freddie, I need to ask you a serious question.” Taine moved further into the kitchen. “How often do you do this?”

Cach.” Freddie dropped his head in his hands, continuing to matter himself in Welsh. “Not often.”

“Frederick.” He fought hard not to burst out laughing at how red Freddie had gone.

“Taine.”

“Will you tell me if I promise to grate cheese into your mouth while naked?” He grinned when Freddie’s head popped up. “And I’m the kinky one?”

“Yes, you are.”

‘How much wanking have you done to this cheese grating fantasy you have?” Taine figured if he had to wake up at an ungodly hour, he might as well amuse himself.

“Taine Afoa.” Freddie attempted to dart by him. “I’m going to sleep.”

Taine caught Freddie by the arm, dragging him into his arms and thoroughly enjoying the warmth of him. “That’s not an answer.”

Cachu hwch.


Welsh Translations:

Coc y gath – The cat’s willy (Or – Bollocks)

Cachu hwch – Pig’s poo (It’s all gone wrong)

Cach – Shit

For more on Freddie & Taine, be sure to check out their story, The Caretaker – Book Two of The Sin Bin & the upcoming Haka Ever After.


Cheese Addicts Anonymous © 2018 by Dahlia Donovan

All rights reserved. No part of this eBook may be used or reproduced in any written, electronic, recorded, or photocopied format without the express permission from the author or publisher as allowed under the terms and conditions with which it was purchased or as strictly permitted by applicable copyright law. Any unauthorized distribution, circulation or use of this text may be a direct infringement of the author’s rights, and those responsible may be liable in law accordingly. Thank you for respecting the work of this author.

Cheese Addicts Anonymous is a work of fiction. All names, characters, events and places found therein are either from the author’s imagination or used fictitiously. Any similarity to persons alive or dead, actual events, locations, or organizations is entirely coincidental and not intended by the author.

Cheese Addicts Anonymous by Dahlia Donovan (PDF Download)

 

Nice Arse (A Sin Bin Flash Fiction)

In celebration of my upcoming Sin Bin release, Haka Ever After. I decided to do a small flash fiction event. Today’s the first one, titled Nice Arse. It features two characters I get asked about a lot — Remi Chardin and his lovely wife, Sarah Chardin.


“Who’s he, then?” Sarah leaned forward in her seat to see over the rows of rugby fans in front of her. “He’s a hairy beast. Nice arse on him.”

“Remi Chardin. Captain of the French team.” Ivan reached a hand out to drag her back into her seat when she stood up. “Heard he’s taking up a coaching position in the next year or so in England. Supposedly he’s friends with some of the British team. He’s a brilliant player.”

“I thought you hated the French team.” Sarah had been shocked when Ivan actually accepted her invitation to the Italy vs. France game in Paris. She hadn’t been surprised when he spent the entire time complaining. “If you’re going to grumble at me under your breath again, why’d you bother coming with me at all?”

No answer.

Each year, she’d watched her brother turn more and more into an angry recluse who closely resembled their father. The trip had been her idea to goad him into a better mood. It hadn’t worked.

Ivan was as unreachable in Paris as at home. Her gaze returned to the bearded Frenchman with a sigh. Well, at least I have someone to ogle with Mr Rain Cloud sitting beside me.

By the time the game ended, Sarah had realised she’d spent the entire time watching Remi Chardin. He stood taller and broader than most of the men on the filed with long, wild dark brown hair that bled into his beard. The French Captain seemed more ancient warrior than rugby player.

“Want to go—”

“No.” Ivan cut her off instantly. “We’re going to the hotel.”

“Already?” She’d assumed they’d see the city a little. “It’s barely four in the afternoon. It’s Paris. I mean, Paris. We can’t spend the entire day in the hotel.”

“And?” Ivan shouldered his way through the throngs of fans trying to exit, leaving an easy path for his sister in his wake. “What’s to see?”

“The Eiffel Tower? Museums? Shops? Actual French macarons and patisserie.” Sarah planned to eat her weight before returning home. “Don’t you want to explore with me?”

Once they made it safely out of the stadium, Ivan stormed off toward the hotel to brood. Moody twit. Sarah had no intentions of wasting the day inside. In the end, she thought it a blessing in disguise since her brother would’ve ruined her fun.

Not wanting to get lost in a crush of other tourists, Sarah wandered the streets around their hotel after seeing the Eiffel Tower. She indulged in an embarrassingly large number of pastries and more coffee than was probably good for her. It had been a dream in her teens to spend weeks in Paris, but she thought she had a better appreciation for the city now in her twenties.

As the sun started to set on the city of lights, Sarah wanted a warm meal before dealing with her brother. Ivan tended to play the protective older brother almost as badly as their eldest brother, George, did. She needed more than coffee and sweets to put him in his place.

She found, of all things, a cosy Irish pub. Midway through her half glass of wine and salmon, a crowd of boisterous men came stumbling inside. Their accents made her think they’d come from London, and she groaned internally when several of them spotted her sitting alone.

Not now, please don’t ruin my beautiful day with your nonsense.

“Buy you a drink, love?”

Sarah lifted her glass. “I’ve got one. Thanks.”

“Buy you another one?”

“No.”

“Stuck up twat.”

Sarah got to her feet, appetite gone. She started toward the door only to find her path block. “Could you move?”

“I just want to buy you a drink.” He had definitely had more than enough liquid courage. “What’s the harm?”

“I don’t want any trouble.” Sarah tried to back away from the drunks only to find herself in a far corner of the pub out of the view of the staff. She cursed her decision to visit a pub and not stick with a fancy restaurant. “Let go of my arm.”

The aggressive drunk leered toward her only to be yanked away from her a second later. He was sent careening into his friends. They stumbled into a wall of sober, muscled men who seemed familiar to her.

With a lot of shouting in French and English, the drunks cleared out fairly quickly. Sarah gripped the table to her left with her hands shaking. She breathed through her need to vomit up her dinner.

Tout va bien?”

Sarah found herself face to chest with Remi Chardin and her half a glass of wine gave her the idiotic courage to blurt out her first thought. “You’ve a really nice arse.”

His dark brown eyes stared intensely at her. “Merci.”

“Can I buy you a drink?” She hoped the dark lighting in the pub hid the faint tinge of pink on her cheeks and the slight trembling of her fingers. “As a way of saying thanks for being my hero.”

“Are you in Paris for long?”

“No.” Sarah found herself being led across the pub to a different secluded corner that had couches. She waved at what appeared to be most of the French rugby team. “Just another day.”

“Pity.” Remi ordered a fresh glass of wine for her and a beer for himself before guiding her to sit with him on one of the leather sofas. “Can I change your mind? I haven’t had enough time to tell if you’re as vibrant as your hair.”

“Ginger’s vibrant?”

“Red. Not ginger.” Remi made the word red sound sexual in a way that had Sarah chugging down her wine. “Surely another day won’t matter?”

And he said day as though he meant week.

Sarah bent forward, with the impulsive courage that had run in her family for years, and brushed her lips against the corner of his mouth. “Want to show me Paris?”

Nice Arse © 2018 by Dahlia Donovan


Nice Arse by Dahlia Donovan (PDF)

 

Cheap, Cheap. Get the Lion Tamer for Cheap.

The Lion Tamer is 99c for the next few days until June 2nd. So grab it while the sale lasts.

Amazon US: http://amzn.to/2CXYESA

Amazon UK: http://amzn.to/2DaBghz

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Kobo: http://bit.ly/LionTamer_Kobo

iTunes: https://apple.co/2m8y7Hh

Nook: http://bit.ly/LionTamerBN

 

And while I’m at it, The Unexpected is free this week!

Amazon US: http://amzn.to/2xOjYEz

Amazon UK: http://amzn.to/2fMnRW2

Amazon AU: http://amzn.to/2xWTqTN

Amazon CA: http://amzn.to/2ySnHkp

Let Them Eat Cake.

Food.

Glorious food.

My stories always seem to feature a lot of tasty treats.

(Or, in the case of The Caretaker and the upcoming Haka Ever After, ALL THE CHEESE.)

I’ll be perfectly honest, half the time, I wind up making myself hungry and get annoyed because I don’t always have access to some of the foods my characters enjoy. One Last Heist was a prime example. Toshiro and Mack indulge quite a bit in the story. I have to live vicariously through them.

Tragic.

Food adds a layer to stories. And I’ve discovered one person’s weird is another’s delicacy.

As an autistic, the smell, texture, spice levels, and even colour of food can affect whether I’ll be able to eat it. I also tend to have weeks and even months where I’ll eat the same meal over and over and over again, much to my hubby’s dismay. =) It’s something I try to stay cognizant of with my autistic characters.

Toshiro’s sister Charlie enjoys having her eggs in a particular way, especially when made by her brother.

The other side of the food coin is weird–odd–gross foods. And I’ll admit that one person’s weird is another’s delicacy.

Here are some of the foods (I find weird) that I’ve tried over the years:

– Blood Sausage.

Ew. Gross. Don’t.

– Jackfruit

Weird texture. Weird on the outside. Tastes amazing.

– BBQ Stingray

Tried this in Singapore. So good. Silky texture and no odd fishy aftertaste.

– Turtle Soup

This one traumatised me for years. My dad made me try his soup. I was horrified. Also, it was rubbery. But, I had pet turtles, and I had nightmares about eating them. lol

What are the weirdest or most unusual foods/dishes you’ve ever tried?

Do you enjoy learning about foods/dishes in the novels you read?