Tigers and Devils by Sean Kennedy
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.
Why I bought it:
Well I must say that I heard some great things about the book and was encouraged to read this as an introduction to the sub-genre of MM romance. AND I should add that it was a gift; one that is most gratefully appreciated.
Dislike/like (ending on a high note):
I can’t say there was much to dislike about this story. If I really had to find something I just might say that at times I disliked Simon. WHY, you ask? Well keep reading…
The characters! They were so finely drawn that I began to believe they had become real people. Simon was so well characterised that every now and again I wanted to do a ‘Fran’ on him: I wanted to slap him around the head to make sure that he got his SHIT together. Declan was lovely, he reminded me of one of the players on my school’s football team, the silent and serious player. Both characters were lucky enough to have friends who kept them well grounded, which of course brought humour to the plot.
Nup, still can’t think of anything to dislike, unless you count the fact that it was 1.45am before I finished reading and it took a long time for my mind to slow down enough to get to sleep.
Loved: Sean’s style of writing. The language was so readable and the story moved at such a good pace that I cannot remember if I had a break from reading. I may have had a meal stop but I can’t remember ever moving away from my laptop. I enjoyed the fact that the story was set in Australia, I don’t often get the opportunity to read ‘home grown’ fiction. AND of course the story involved Australian football, both the sport and conversation of choice for ‘Stray-yens’ in the winter months.
The plot was exceedingly believable and there were no major sub-plots to get in the way of the story.
When I am reading for relaxation, I much prefer to read dialogue, and this book was written just the way I like. After teaching figurative language to teenagers I try hard to keep away from the flowery imagery contained in the ‘canons’ of literature and (to my everlasting gratitude) Sean delivered in Tigers and Devils. No overly long and convoluted paragraphs giving ‘superlative’ descriptions about a rainy day in Melbourne. Thank God!
So, what I think:
It was a wonderful book and has my recommendation as an introduction to the sub-genre. A truly great read. So, all I can add is: when is Sean’s next book expected to be published?
‘Tasting’ is my/Kris’ version of a mini-review where I talk a (very) little about what I liked and disliked about a book as well as who I think the story will appeal to. Oh, and I’ve added a bit about why I picked up the book in the first place – sometimes this can be interesting to know.
That was one fantastic review – thank you – and what an amazing sounding book!
Does it matter if I know absolutely nothing about Australian Football..apart from the fact that the players wear very short shorts 🙂
Oh, hey Orannia. *dreaming of short shorts and tight football jerseys* Yum.
I'll let the Mumma answer too, but in my opinion I don't think it is necessary. The story focuses more on the culture of the sport as opposed to the details of how the game is played. Sean provides enough context about the former to give readers an understanding about Declan's and Simon's background and conflicts associated with the r/ship.
Mumma, what do you think??
Orannia: No. Anything you need to know Sean described in the book.
Mumma: Welcome to the world of m/m fiction. Just be prepared: Tigers & Devils is EXCEPTIONALLY good and there are very few great like this.
Hi Orannia – Thanks for your nice words, they are much appreciated.
I really don't think that you need to know much about the game at all. Whilst Declan was a player and Simon and his mate Roger fanatics, Sean only touches on the game to enhance the story. I think that you should really give it a go.
What say you Sissy?
Matthew – thank you for your welcome, and for your warning. I think that my entry into reading this sub-genre will be very selective. Much as I am reluctant to say so, I may have to leave it to Kris's judgement.
Orianna, I probably know less than you (we are clueless over here in NA) but it didn't affect my love of the story at all. As Kris said its more about the culture of sport, it could have been soccer, American football, pretty much any macho sport. Although I probably missed some of the subtext about who cheers for who and that kind of rivalry which someone on the inside would “get” it doesn't detract from the story.
So glad you loved it Mumma. Much as it makes you exhausted the next day, there is nothing like a book that can keep you up till the wee hours of the morning reading. I'm sure Kris will steer you right for your next adventure into m/m.
BEST. REVIEW. YET.
Seriously, the Mumma seal of approval!
Orannia, you don't really need to know much about the sport. There's kicking and goal scoring, that's about it.
Matthew, thanks for the kind words!
And Kris… well, I'm still in hiding.
Kris, your Mumma is so cool.
Mumma: Great review. You've managed to capture in a few sentences all that is great about Sean's book.
Great review! I havent had a chance to read Sean's work but this sounds like a great review! I have to put on my list as a must-buy?
Mumma loves M/M. That is the coolio!
Thank you to everyone who answered my question! You've convinced me 🙂
*makes note of title*
Sean: WOW *just thinking to herself here, is it really that good, or is he really that scared of Kris” thanks Sean!
Jenre: (I'm cool) So nice of you… What a shame I cannot tell my students that I've been given the seal of approval Kris's pals.
Ozakie: (I'm coolio) Did you see that Sissy? Thanks so much.
Orannia: Yes, you have to read it, it is a fantastic read!!!!
She does, Mumma, she does.
I don't know thing-one about Aussie Football, and I loved this book, too.
Granted, in my mind I drew an odd sort of parallel between American football without pads and the game mentioned, but only as a method of having a mental reference, and since the story didn't focus on the game itself, it didn't turn out to be an issue.
For me, it was a character-driven piece, full of wonderfully expressed (and not overly flowery) emotions. It's one of those books I know I'll read again and enjoy just as much the second time. *grins*
Wonderful review and very well deserved! 🙂
Hi TC (or is it Tis)
Mumma (who is jetting it to Europe as we speak) wanted me to thank you for dropping by and for your kind words about the review.
I agree with you; Sean has drawn such wonderful characters in this book and the story is definitely theirs – their lives, their romance, their relationship, etc, etc. It's great stuff.
Thanks, TC! Glad you liked it!
And, Kris, Mumma is off to Europe? What a lucky duck!
Hi, Kris… and it's either. LOL
T.C. are my first two intials, and Tis is the short form of my first name, so… yeah. Either one works. 😛
Sean's right. VERY lucky, your Mumma!
Bit nosy of me, wasn't it, Tis. 🙂 I'm (unrepentant) like that. LOL.
The Mumma texted me the other day when she was strolling through London. *I hate her.* She better not keep on doing that when she's on her cruise down the Danube otherwise I'm gonna be seriously pissed!