Friday, March 29, 2013

Review of: Tigers and Devils by Sean Kennedy - 4.5 Stars

You know what one of the coolest things in the world is?  Finding books by fellow writers’ from your publisher in your local library.  I previously reviewed Felicia Watson’s Where the Allegheny Meets the Monongahela, which I also later found at the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh’s main branch.  So when I found Tigers and Devils by Sean Kennedy – now in its second edition at Dreamspinner and also available in audiobook - I snapped that up.

Tigers and Devils, set in Melbourne and Tasmania, is about Simon, a film festival director, who meets Declan, a star Australian football player, at a party and strikes up a relationship, with plenty of attendant pitfalls of a star/non-star relationship. 

Now, let me say, I know nothing about Australian rules football.  But I know plenty about team loyalty (Steelers and Pens, anyone?) and how tough it can be for a team when their top player is injured.  Sean writes the team fidelity angle excellently. 

Another thing I know well enough is male patterns of communication – or lack thereof!  It’s tough enough making a long-distance relationship work, but when the two parties are male and have a genetic resistance to talking about how they’re feeling about things… they need all the help they can get!  More than once this issue leads to problems with Simon and Declan, as well as with Simon and his best friend Roger.  Nothing like alienating your partner as well as your friend, Simon!  Fortunately, there are some sensible ladies in their lives to bring some logic into the equation.  Love definitely needs a side of logic most of the time.

But they do love one another, Simon and Dec, very much so.  Only thing is, once that love becomes known to the public (Declan deals with being outed with real aplomb), they start to see some of the issues that can come with being out in an industry that values masculinity above just about all else.  When players as well as supporters start invoking Simon to agitate Declan, that he doesn’t handle so well.  And neither does Simon.  When it comes down to it, Simon and Declan’s issues aren’t very different from what any other gay couple might experience, but they have to experience it on a public level and that complicates everything tenfold.

I can’t tell you how many times I wanted to smack Simon upside the head.  He’s a twonk.  But a lovable twonk.  Declan is a bit of a twonk too.  They’re a match made in heaven!  They’re also very real, all of them, and I have a genuine appreciation of that in characters. 

I really enjoyed this read.  I’ve been so wrapped up in coursework that I haven’t read much that wasn’t assigned and/or reported on (and some of it has been such a turn-off to reading!) that it felt really good to just sit and read something I wanted to read and enjoyed reading.  It was well worth renewing it at the library several times because once I actually got round to reading, it was devoured in a couple days.

I also noticed on the DSP site that there is a sequel to Tigers and Devils called Tigerland, released just a few months ago in October 2012.  That definitely made my want list.  Sean also has a number of stories out there, I hope I can fit a lot of them in before long!

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