Tigers and Devils

Rating: 9/10 ★★★★★★★★★☆ 
Title: Tigers and Devils
Author: Sean Kennedy
Genre: Romance
URL: Dreamspinner Press
Price: [US $16.99]
Summary [from the publisher]:
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.

My review:
Declan Tyler is a famous, but closeted, football player. Simon Murray is a film festival director. These two very different men meet at a party that Simon is forced to attend by his best friend, Roger, and his wife, Fran. Declan and Simon hit it off instantly, but they are in for many difficult times ahead.

Because of Declan’s fame, both men have to deal with lots of media attention, which eventually casts a spotlight on Declan’s sexuality and creates problems for Declan and Simon, both within their relationship, and among their friends, families and colleagues. As if this is not difficult enough, Declan and Simon are typical of many men who have a problem with communication. Misunderstandings and hurt feelings are rife, but Declan and Simon really love each other and are determined to make their relationship work. They are very fortunate to have loyal, understanding and supportive friends who stand by them.

Tigers and Devils is a sweet, angst-filled, emotional, humorous and heartwarming romance. While the guys do have sex, it is subtle and non-explicit. The emphasis here is on the relationship. The main and secondary characters are well-developed, interesting, and complex. It is refreshing to read a gay romance with likable female characters. Football is a significant part of the story and helps move it along, but if you’re not a fan, don’t worry. There is just enough detail to give the reader a picture of the sport without bogging down the plot.

Oh, did I mention the story takes place in Australia? And thankfully there are no Americanisms! Sure, I had to look up a few terms, but that certainly didn’t hamper my enjoyment of the story. I loved the glimpse into Australian life and culture.

I loved spending time with Simon and Declan and enjoyed the full-length of this story. My only complaint is that it ended.

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