What makes a book a five-star romance? Well, first of all, all of the things that make any book earn five stars. Characterization, engaging narrative and/ or character voices, carefully paced conflict. For a romance, I'd add these elements specific to the genre: a HEA that is earned by both characters changing/ growing; believable obstacles to the HEA (I prefer obstacles that are rooted in character, rather than external obstacles); emotional struggle; and sexual chemistry, which does not have to mean actual sex.
Tigers and Devils has it all. In case you can't tell from the cover image, it's about two men. Simon (the first-person narrator) is a film-festival organizer and is out; Declan is a star of Australian-rules football and is not.
Things I loved:
*It's long. I miss the days of epic romance (although I don't miss the it's-not-rape-if-she-likes-it), so I'm always happy with a great book that takes longer than two hours to read. It's nice to feel like we're not galloping toward the HEA for a change.
*It's first person. I like the tension of only being inside one character's head. I don't dislike the typical alternating third-person viewpoint of romance--but I am grateful for a change.
*Developed, believable, mistake-making, flawed, funny main characters AND secondary characters.
*The setting--Melbourne, Australia--which was an integral part of the story.
*Simon. He deserves a separate bullet. I loved watching love change him.
I don't have a whole lot of five-star romances, so you can bet I'm recommending this one.