Caddock Stanford, known as “The Brute” during his rugby days, finds himself in a rough spot. He injured his knee, thus ending his promising career in the sport. Then, his beloved brother dies, leaving him custody of his nephew Devlin (He calls him Devil, and it’s adorable.). Caddock doesn’t know what he’s going to do, only that he feels the need to get out of the big city. So, he goes out on a limb and purchases a pub in a small town in Cornwall called Looe, by the ocean…and starts a new life for him and Devlin.
Francis Keen is an interior designer in that small town. He’s got a crippling social anxiety disorder, thanks to a trauma that occurred when he was in college. He’s moved in with his grandmother and his therapy dog, Sherlock. Francis doesn’t think his life is really going anywhere until the realtor asks him to decorate the pub Caddock’s just purchased.
Sparks fly when the Caddock and Francis finally meet, not only between the two of them, but between little Devlin and Sherlock. Together, they learn about each other, the town, and how their relationship will work out in the long run.
I enjoyed this little story very much. It was sweet, low on angst, sexy, and had wonderful characters. Caddock and Francis were perfect for each other. Caddock is an Alpha who protects his nephew with everything he has, but when he meets Francis, his, well…sexual Alpha? comes into play. Francis makes him feel something he may not necessarily understand, but Caddock knows he wants hold him close, love him, and protect him.
Their relationship was a bit of insta love. I didn’t mind this at all. I am a firm believer of love at first sight, and this seemed to fit the story. Even though both men realized their attraction to each other, they didn’t even have their first kiss until chapter nine. It was incredibly sweet, by the way.
“I plan on kissing you.” Caddock towered over him by a few inches. His eyes glinted with what could only be desire. “Now would be the time to punch me for being such a forward bastard”
“I might resort to violence if you don’t kiss me.” Francis hadn’t enjoyed a decent snog in ages.
Precious, am I right? Caddock and Francis made me smile through the entire book.
The background characters in After the Scrum are great, and they fit right into the story. They don’t just take up needless space. As I mentioned, little Devlin is so cute. Francis’s Gran is the best. She loves Francis so much and wants him to be happy. She’s funny as hell too. She always teases Francis about dating and sex. Caddock’s parents are troubling. They don’t approve of Caddock’s lifestyle, and they try to take Devlin away. Thankfully, they come around in the long run. Sherlock is one of the coolest dogs I’ve ever read. He’s Francis’s service animal. He senses Francis’s panic attacks and comforts him through them. He’s also a partner in crime to Devlin. They grow attached to each other right away. Finally, the town. I considered Looe a character unto itself. The residents are quirky and nosy, and they gossip freely. They all know each other’s business, and every time Caddock and Francis get together, everybody knows about it. For example, this is the conversation between Francis and his Gran the morning after his and Caddock’s first date.
“Ruth told me she heard it from her Stevie who heard it from the milkman who heard Janice at the butcher talking to old Mrs. Covington…Something you want to share with your dear old grandmother then?”
I laughed hysterically. I loved the idea of the town being small enough that word could travel that fast. I live in a big city and long for the charm of a small town.
I highly recommend After the Scrum. It’s a wonderful way to spend a few hours. In fact, I read this whole book as I sat in the jury room waiting to do my civic duty. Normally jury duty is boring as all get out, but I had Caddock and Francis to entertain me. Instead of being antsy in an uncomfortable chair, I was able to relax and actually enjoy all that quiet time.
Definitely pick this one up.
Note: There are a few scenes that may be considered triggers. The town drunk seems harmless to most, but he pretty much tortures Francis, and it’s frightening.