Tigers and Devils by Sean Kennedy
Review by Lauren
bought a copy, but opinions are still my own
Official Summary: The most important things in Simon Murray's life are football, friends, and film-in that order. His friends despair of him ever meeting someone, but despite his loneliness, Simon is cautious about looking for more. Then his best friends drag him to a party, where he barges into a football conversation and ends up defending the honour of star forward Declan Tyler-unaware that the athlete is present. In that first awkward meeting, neither man has any idea they will change each other's lives forever.
Like his entire family, Simon revels in living in Melbourne, the home of Australian Rules football and mecca for serious fans. There, players are treated like gods-until they do something to fall out of public favour. This year, the public is taking Declan to task for suffering injuries outside his control, so Simon's support is a bright spot.
But as Simon and Declan fumble toward a relationship, keeping Declan's homosexuality a secret from well-meaning friends and an increasingly suspicious media becomes difficult. Nothing can stay hidden forever. Soon Declan will have to choose between the career he loves and the man he wants, and Simon has never been known to make things easy-for himself or for others.
Review: Tigers and Devils had been on my radar for a long time, as I kept seeing it on Amazon and reading a lot of good reviews. It sounded like something I would enjoy, so I finally took the plunge and bought a copy. Boy, am I glad I did! I will definitely be trying to get my hands on the sequel, Tigerland, soon.
Simon works for a film festival, while Declan is a professional football (soccer in American terms) player. The two unexpectedly meet at a party, where Simon is defending Declan to other football fans...not realizing the player in question is actually there and listening to the entire thing. Declan immediately crushes on Simon and the two of them start a tentative relationship.
Personality-wise, Simon is more outgoing and sure of himself. He's out and he's happy about it, even if his family doesn't seem to completely understand. As for Declan, only a few close friends know he's gay and he's definitely not ready to out himself to the public. Despite this, the two men really like each other and want to make their relationship work. It's hard for Simon to continually keep things secret though, and it's just one thing that puts a strain on the relationship.
I love that this is an adult LGBT novel that doesn't read like straight-up erotica. I'm not a prude about books, by any means, but I want to have an actual storyline, with characters that are realistic. Tigers and Devils definitely carries out this requirement. There is talk of adult things, like drinking and sex, but it's never too much or overly explicit. I would say older teens and up would be a nice fit for this novel.
As for the characters, I liked that everyone seemed genuine, even when you wanted to yell at them to wake up. The book is told through Simon's perspective, and I loved that he was aware of his feelings and actions, even if he didn't always do the right thing. For example, he gets into a couple fights with his best friend and while he knows he should apologize or get in touch, he stubbornly refuses for awhile. It just makes you roll your eyes and groan "boys!" While moments like these might frustrate a reader, it just makes the world Kennedy created so much more real. Yes, it's a contemporary novel, but the author makes you believe these people could be real. They are stubborn at times, but they always want the best for themselves and those they love. They fight, but they also make up. They aren't perfect, but that makes them more human.
Obviously you can see that I really enjoyed this novel. It's not an amazing epic, but it's a good story, and sometimes that's all you need. I will certainly be back for more by Sean Kennedy.