Friday, September 14, 2012

Review: Tigers and Devils by Sean Kennedy

Reviewed by Hannah
Tigers And Devils (2nd Edition) by Sean Kennedy
Dreamspinner Press
Novel: 369pgs
3 Pants Off

Football, friends, and film are the most important parts of Simon Murray's life, likely in that order. Despite being lonely, Simon is cautious about looking for more, and his best friends despair of him ever finding that special someone to share his life. Against his will, they drag him to a party, where Simon barges into a football conversation and ends up defending the honour of star forward Declan Tyler -- unaware that the athlete is present and listening.

Like his entire family, Simon revels in living in Melbourne, Victoria, the home of Australian Rules football and mecca for serious fans. There, players are deemed gods and treated as such – until they do something to cause them to fall out of public favour. Declan is suffering a horrendous year of injuries, and the public is taking him to task for it, so Simon's support is a bright spot in his struggles. In that first awkward meeting, neither man has any idea they will change each other's lives forever.

As Simon and Declan fumble toward building a relationship together, there is yet another obstacle in their way: keeping Declan's homosexuality a secret amidst the intrusion of well-meaning friends and an increasingly suspicious media. They realise that nothing remains hidden forever… and they know the situation will only become more complicated when Declan's private life is revealed. Declan will be forced to make some tough choices that may result in losing either the career he loves or the man he wants. And Simon has never been known to make things easy – for himself or for others.

Do you love, or even have an interest in Australian football? Funny, me neither, and yet somehow I got seriously sucked into this book and couldn’t put it down.

In the first few pages we are introduced to Simon Murry, and my opinion of him didn’t get off to a great start as he bored me to death about football, and suddenly I wondered if there was any point continuing with this book. However, then Kennedy makes the smart move of introducing Simon's friends, and with that you are introduced to Simon’s personality away from an incredibly dull subject matter of Australian football.

The dynamic amongst Simon and his friends Fran and Roger allows for sarcasm and humour to open this story and up pull you in. I found I spent most of this book grinning to myself or laughing out loud at the banter amongst the group. The true sparks fly when Declan Tyler is introduced. The chemistry created by Kennedy gives this couple, Simon and Dec, true star power. Their banter and bickering with each other escalates this book to something more addictive than just lust. You are drawn into…god forbid, an actual relationship!

I won’t lie, this book can become maddening. There are times when Kennedy needs to edit the detail as you become frustrated at the length of time it takes to get back to the point. What is even more maddening is being on the side-lines of Simon and Declan’s relationship. You find yourself screaming in your head ‘JUST TALK TO EACH OTHER, BLEEDING MEN!’ However, with that statement you discover the true beauty of this book, and just what Kennedy has brought to the table, you aren’t being lead down a path of none stop passion and sex, as with so many M/M Romance books, you are being let into a ‘relationship’, and with that comes all the frustrations of trying to achieve true intimacy with someone.

The nature of Simon and Declan teasing each other, and the chemistry they have, has a way of keeping you hooked on this book, and you find yourself amused by their interactions. This amusement keeps you going through the undoubtedly exasperating chapters of pure stubbornness.

Kennedy could have skipped over some of the drawn out sports analysis, but all together he has written a true to life story of two men trying to navigate their way through a relationship, and this makes for a refreshing and enjoyable read. The characters can be infuriating at times, but that only keeps this book interesting as the reader relates to what it can take to keep love going through periods of resentment, trials, and tests of strength.

3 Pants Off

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