Tigers and Devils/Tigerland by Sean Kennedy- 2 reviews
TIGERS AND DEVILS (Tigers and Devils #1) by Sean Kennedy
TIGERS AND DEVILS is the first storyline in Sean Kennedy’s contemporary M/M romance series featuring Declan Tyler and Simon Murray. First, let me start by saying, this is NOT an erotic look at an M/M storyline. The loves scenes are mostly implied and everything virtually fades to black. You know our heroes have sex, but there is nothing dirty, graphic or violent when it comes to Declan and Simon’s relationship. This story is about the difficulties that a closeted football (soccer for us in North America) star and his lover face, when he is outed by a vindictive journalist who has pictures of the couple in a loving embrace.
Simon Murray is a young independent film producer whose interests include movies, football and friends. When he reluctantly agrees to attend a house party with his friends Roger and Fran, Simon is shocked to discover that the AFL’s most popular and chronically injured football player Declan Tyler is a guest. But it is Simon’s defense of Declan that pushes Declan to want more from Simon.
Declan is the most popular and gifted player in the Australian Football League, but an injury that refuses to heal will find him on the sidelines too long and anxious to get back onto the field. But Declan has a secret that no one knows. He is gay and to keep the pressure off his career, his team and his family, Declan is unable to come out of the closet.
As the relationship between Declan and Simon deepens, so does their insecurity. Simon continues to protect Declan by never revealing their relationship, but as hard as that is, it is more difficult when friends and colleagues begin to pressure Simon about his secret life. Everyone knows that Simon is gay, but he feels obligated to keep his relationship quiet for fear that Declan’s career will be irrevocably harmed by the information. But is it only a matter of time before photographs of the couple are released showing Simon comforting Declan following the hospitalization of Declan’s father.
Here is where the ride gets difficult. Declan is a quiet, reluctant hero who only wants to play football and live his life with the man of his dreams. But the news media, the journalists and public opinion have a way of snowballing the information and eventually Declan feels obligated to defend his position. Simon and Declan’s personal life becomes fodder for the press and Declan’s own teammates make his on-field life a living hell. Both Declan and Simon have tempers and each is willing to defend and protect the other from emotional and physical harm.
Declan and Simon both have some major issues with insecurity and trust, and this becomes apparent when their relationship becomes headlines news. Declan has a habit of withdrawing and running away, and Simon refuses to talk when his world begins to collapse in on itself. Simon’s need to continuously protect Declan includes allowing Declan’s teammates, their spouses and the public to use Simon as a whipping boy and Simon will eventually withdraw only to explode in a shower of anger and pain when it all becomes too much.
There are some amazing secondary characters. Roger and Fran are Simon’s best friends and will eventually become closer to Declan. They are accepting of Simon’s homosexuality but Roger will have some difficulty accepting Declan as Simon’s lover. There is obviously some bromance jealousy as well with Roger’s protective nature coming through, and it will place a major wall and barrier between Simon and Roger. At times I wanted to smack them both upside the head and say ..”look, he wants to explain. Let him explain.”. It is Simon’s refusal to listen that amped up my stress, as well as Declan’s. Declan’s football teammate and best friend is Abe. Abe and his partner Lisa are so tight with Declan, that they have apartments in the same building and when Declan decides to move back to Melbourne, Abe and Lisa will follow shortly thereafter. Abe and Lisa are immediately enthralled with Simon, and to Simon’s surprise he is readily accepted into Declan’s very small circle of friends. But acceptance by family is another matter.
TIGERS and DEVILS is a wonderful story that focuses on the hardship of a professional athlete when he comes out of the closet at the height of his career. Whether the animosity and hatred would occur in reality, the struggles for a new couple are multiplied when they must live their lives on the front pages and headlines of every news media and gossip column hoping to cash in on the latest tabloid story. Sean Kennedy does an amazing job writing a story that shows how two people can love each other and overcome the odds, when the odds are very high-indeed. The character development is amazing. You are drawn into the storyline from the start and you feel the emotional sorrow and powerful love between two ultimately shy lovers.
TIGERLAND (Tigers and Devils #2) by Sean Kennedy
TIGERLAND is the second storyline (October 2012 release) in Sean Kennedy’s M/M contemporary romance series featuring Declan Tyler and Simon Murray. Tigerland continues approximately 3 years after Tigers and Devils.
Now in a committed relationship, the media hype surrounding Declan’s coming out has all but burned out for Declan and Simon. Their public personas are still very much in demand as Declan is now a sports commentator and Simon is the program developer for gay content at a local television station. But life is about to be turned upside down again, when Declan’s former love comes out on the same day as he retires and brings Declan’s private life back into the media frenzy.
Declan and Simon have had their ups and downs, but the lovers have now moved in together and their careers have taken different paths once again. But it is Declan’s previous love life that will take center stage when Greg Heyward announces that Simon was the reason for Declan and Greg’s breakup and subsequent loss of friendship. The fact that Simon was not around during Declan’s relationship with Greg didn’t matter, but selling books and making a name for himself wreaked of revenge and a jealous former lover. And to Simon’s dismay, another journalist with an axe to grind against Simon will be at the forefront of Heyward’s deceitful autobiography and subsequent media campaign.
There are a couple of secondary storylines. One involves Declan’s former teammate Abe and his partner Lisa. As the story begins we learn that Abe and Lisa are no longer together and Abe is a one-man wrecking crew as it involves his life and his friends. To be honest we are not privy to the problems that led to Abe and Lisa’s breakup but we are aware that Abe is having a difficult time with the loss of his partner and love.
Roger and Fran’s life will take on added stress when the couple try desperately for a baby, but when several attempts and thousands of dollars later there is no success, Declan and Simon will offer a little help, if only to pay the added costs. But it doesn’t help when Simon’s brother Tim’s wife continues to breed with like a rabbit in the woods.
Throughout both storylines, Tigers and Devils and Tigerland, like many of the characters, we begin to question Declan’s silence as it pertains to his private life and Simon’s love. Although he is fiercely protective of his lover, he is reticent to face the media other than to say a few pre-programmed words that rarely mollify the media journalists and rag reporters. Greg Heyward’s attempt to goad Declan at every opportunity will eventually results in a face to face physical confrontation but it will take Simon’s concern about Declan’s silence regarding Heyward’s accusations that force Declan to make a public statement defending his lover and telling the truth about what happened so many years ago.
TIGERLAND is another amazing story in Sean Kennedy’s Tiger and Devils series. With colorful characters, interesting storylines and the right amount of romance, Tigers and Devils is fast becoming one of my favorite series.
Reviewed by Sandy