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Tigers and Devils

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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.

376 pages, ebook

First published March 9, 2009

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About the author

Sean Kennedy

56 books965 followers
Sean Kennedy lives in the second-most isolated city in the world, thinks there are thylacines still out in the wild, and eagerly awaits the return of Twin Peaks in 2017.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 813 reviews
Profile Image for Nancy.
557 reviews768 followers
October 21, 2016
Posted at Outlaw Reviews and at Shelf Inflicted

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.

Profile Image for Heather K (dentist in my spare time).
3,859 reviews5,634 followers
May 8, 2013
I am again going to be in the lonely camp of those who didn't love this book.

I was really expecting to love it and for it to be another The Locker Room for me, but alas, it wasn't exactly to my tastes.

What did I like about this book? Many things, really. I liked when the guys were playful and affectionate towards each other. I craved the scenes when they showed some real feelings. I also liked it when Simon was flirty and snarky, but in a cute way. I also dug the idea of a jock and the out-of-shape artsy type. Overall, I enjoyed the reading experience I became invested in them as a couple. However, there were many things about this book that just irritated the crap out of me.

This book is a giant pile of misunderstandings thrown together. That sounds harsh, but I got very tired of the two guys bickering with each other. Simon says something dumb, Declan runs away and ignores him. Repeat, repeat, repeat. I just wanted some honest to goodness communication from the two of them. I know you could argue that part of the book is them trying to mature in their relationship, but I just grew sick of all of the pointless drama. My other main issue is that I didn't really feel the love between them. I didn't get a sense of why exactly they were together. The love felt kind of forced. It honestly seemed like they spent more time fighting then having nice moments. I wanted a more romance. I know that Declan is supposed to be kind of macho or whatever, but they just were not tender enough together for my liking. It reminds me a bit of the relationship in I'll Be Your Drill Soldier. It wasn't enough for me.

I hear that the next book is a better so I think I'll move on with the series. However, I was a bit let down because I wanted this book to be fabulous and it was just so-so for me.
Profile Image for Kaje Harper.
Author 75 books2,513 followers
September 9, 2020
**Amazon freebie Sept 8 2020**
This was so well done and realistic with a touch of humor. The characters made mistakes and didn't always forgive or do the right thing. They met outside pressures and internal conflicts head on, with a determination to make a relationship work, and yet with very natural doubts and concerns. The plot was smooth and true-to-life. The secondary characters added to the feel of a slice of real life. And the love when it came was strong, believable and warm.

Simon is a film festival organizer, a huge Aussie football fan and a snarky, artsy type with a deep resistance to injustice. When he discovers that his impassioned defense of football player Declan Tyler was overheard by the player himself things get awkward. And then he finds out Declan is secretly gay and attraction sparks, and awkward becomes the least of their problems.

This is a fun, sweet, snarky, realistic opposites-attract story. The issues of a closeted athlete are handled well, lightly at times, emotionally at others. There are some great best friend secondary characters and I like that these guys don't operate in isolation. They deal with both supportive and well-meaning but clumsy inner circles, as they try to work out a relationship out of the public eye. But someone as big a name as Declan can't hide forever.

I enjoyed the whole series, but this first book stands alone just fine.
Profile Image for Jordan Price.
Author 137 books2,035 followers
October 24, 2009
I find it ironic that I just told someone two days ago, "There's nothing in the world I care less about than sports," and then I proceeded to get completely and utterly sucked into a book about a regular guy (okay, an arty wanker, which I can relate to) coping with the stresses of being involved with a hugely famous athlete.

I love this book. I'm sad it's over and I can't wait to read it again.
Profile Image for Elise ✘ a.k.a Ryder's Pet ✘.
1,314 reviews2,814 followers
August 21, 2017
⋰⋱⋰⋱⋰⋱*Might contain spoilers* ⋰⋱⋰⋱⋰⋱

The book centers around richmond football fan and director of the Triple F film festival Simon Murray (27) and football star Declan ‘Dec’ Tyler (27). They met at a party where Simon ends up both complimenting Declan and insulting him without knowing that Declan is present; this is the beginning of their relationship. A relationship that is hard because Declan is in the closet while Simon is out, but has to go back in for Declan. There's also the media and the constant fear - that builds up - that they'd be outed. And then it happens...
“Do you want to know what one definition of bizarre might be? Driving to your closeted boyfriend's pretend-girlfriend's house to watch them prepare for a faux date.”

The story was alright. It was cute, stretch over 2 years, I think and had its moments. However, there were no sex details (which I need) and I felt their relationship started too fast, that it because a strong and real relationship before they even knew each other. There's also the missing sex scenes - wait, hadn't I already mentioned it? Anways, overall the book had potential, however it was predictable with little action and twist that made this book just long and somewhat boring. I'm still not sure if I'll continue with the series...
The doorbell rang, and I assumed it was Fran and Roger having come back because
they had forgotten something. I took my time, lacing my boots, and the buzzer became more impatient.
“I’m coming, shithead!” I yelled. Yes, I should have known better. For of course, it was not Roger or Fran. I threw open the door to find Declan Tyler standing there, looking half-insulted and half-amused.
“Got a pet name for me already?” he asked.”

Quick basic facts:
Genre: - (A) Contemporary Romance (M/M)
Series: - Series, Book One
Love triangle? -
Cheating? -
HEA? -
Favorite character? - Simon Murray.
Would I read more by this author/or of series? - Unsure.
Would I recommend this book/series? - Unsure.
Will I read this again in the future? - No.
Rating - 2.5/2 stars.
Profile Image for Elena.
835 reviews87 followers
June 16, 2020
DNF at 26%

Despite being ready to give up at 10%, I persevered because so many of my GR friends love this book and I hoped it would grow on me, but nothing is working. The writing isn’t bad, I like the premise the story begins with, I don’t completely dislike Simon’s voice and I would be interested in finding out more about Declan and that’s about all the positive I can find.
Maybe I would’ve enjoyed it more if I’d read it years ago when I first added it to my TBR, but right now I’m finding it very heavy to get through. Not heavy in terms of tone, it’s just that the good bits in the story are weighted down by a lot of unnecessary additions, like all the page time the secondary characters are getting or the overanalyzing of minor things that could get half the page time to get resolved with the same effect. It doesn’t help that every one of Simon’s interactions with the secondary characters feels exactly the same as the ones that came before and that I find all the secondary characters slightly when not outright irritating, with all their meddling and generally wanting updates every other minute on every aspect of Simon and Declan’s relationship.
The dynamic between Simon, Roger and Fran makes me feel claustrophobic on Simon’s behalf, the guy can’t even have a moment of disagreement with his best friend without receiving a phone call by the best friend’s wife (AKA his other best friend) ten minutes later to try to patch things up. What is this, high school? They’re adults and they’ve been best friends since before you knew either of them, let them figure things out on their own before butting in.
Also, all the giggling from grown people and the constant references to things being “girly” or Simon asking Fran if she thought he had grown a vagina in the last 5 minutes didn’t really help to ingratiate him or the book to me.
Profile Image for Meags.
2,110 reviews370 followers
February 23, 2016
4 Stars

I enjoyed the heck out of this story. I was extremely apprehensive going in, mainly because many reviewers seemed miffed by the long length of the story and the lack of explicit sexy times – as it turns out neither of these things deterred my enjoyment in the slightest.

I loved the relationship development. I found these two characters (Simon and Declan) and all the roadblocks they faced, fairly relatable (weirdly considering the sports and media, and public image themes involved in the story). What I loved was that the story and its characters were grounded in reality; I’m born and raised a Melbourne girl, and I can legitimately imagine this type of story unfolding should a beloved AFL player ever come out/be outed to the public (and let’s face it, the odds that there are some seriously closeted players in this huge league are high).

I don’t know what this says about me, but I truly loved Simon’s character. Sure, he made some mistakes, but most of the time I understood his reactions and, truthfully, I probably would have behaved in the same manner in almost every argumentative situation he found himself in during this book. Like I said, I’m not sure what that says about me, because often Simon came across as a sarcastic little shit, a “mouthy bastard” and a stubborn, somewhat selfish, brat, yet, I found him completely relatable. Sorry, not sorry. Loved him.

I listened to the audio edition (by Paul Morey) for a huge chunk of this reading experience, and although he did a great job, I feel completely slighted by the fact that this Australian story wasn’t narrated by an actual Australian. I missed our accents; it just wasn’t the same listening to this American man talk about his tram ride down Collins Street towards Etihad Stadium. It took me right out of the story at times, particularly because there were soooo many mispronunciations of iconic places, rivers, Street names and even Cities (seriously, it’s set in Melbourne and he couldn’t say Melbourne correctly). I’m not angry, just disappointed.

Anyway, I truly loved this story and a lot of that probably had to do with its Melbourne setting; at every turn of the page I knew exactly where the characters were, having been to all locations countless times in my life. It made for a fun reading experience. As an avid AFL supporter, I absolutely adored the major focus on the sport throughout this story. For something so commonplace in my everyday life, it’s strange to consider that there aren’t many stories about the sport and its athletes – at least that I’m aware of? Rec me, people!
Profile Image for .Lili. .
1,167 reviews260 followers
August 15, 2015
Hours after my original DNF review....

So I couldn't let it go and decided to keep on trucking- I should've left it alone. Omg, these two: it was more of the same. Misunderstandings & makeups--> until the very end. It was so frustrating. As lovable as all the chatacters were, I can't go higher than 2.5 Stars. This story had so much potential, but I can't look past the story being solely based on misunderstandings.


DNF 40%

This is going under "everybody loved but me". It started off cute, but after a while I felt like we weren't getting anywhere. We were just going round and round...

I started to lose interest and there's just too many books in my TBR to force myself to finish. That being said, I would give this author another try. I'll also be refraining from rating it since I didn't finish it.
Profile Image for Heather C.
1,468 reviews213 followers
March 10, 2011
This is one of those goofy-grin books. You know, one of those where you're glad no one else is in the room to see the silly smile on your face. Well, that's how this book was for me. I found myself giggling and the silliest moments. Simon and Declan were so sweet and cute together.

I loved the characters and the dialogue. And the relationships and interactions felt so real to me. I did get frustrated with the main characters a few times because they were so stubborn. But I think that's also what makes them so endearing. Nobody is perfect in real life and we all rely in our friends and loved ones to help us recover from our mistakes.

Very enjoyable read for me. Thanks, Marisa, for the recommendation.
Profile Image for Cadiva.
3,346 reviews307 followers
February 11, 2022
Frustrating at times and very much a PG romance with all the sex scenes happening in a sort of fade-to-black style of writing but still a very good pairing in a believable world.

I liked the Aussie Rules setting and the very real fears for any sportsman dealing with the risks of coming out in such a testosterone-filled environment.

I wanted to punch Simon on many occasions and I found him the less sympathetic of the two MCs as he brought a lot of the angst on himself.

But, having said that, I also found his reactions and behaviour to be true to life and wholly appropriate to the circumstances he found himself in.

There's an able cast of supporting characters who help to build out the narrative and it is genuinely a great read.
Profile Image for Lily.
3,856 reviews48 followers
September 25, 2009
I'm so glad I finally read Simon and Declan's story. I've had this book for a while now but for some reason kept passing it over to read other books. What a big mistake. This was a fabulous story that from page one to the very end had me totally hooked. Told in first person POV from Simon's perspective Tigers and Devils is an entertaining, funny and romantic story featuring two very appealing and likable men. Simon, who is a film festival organizer and Declan, an Australian Rules football player meet at a party where Simon's friends Roger and Fran have dragged him to.

From that first meeting to the end of the story about two years later I was swept away right along with the protagonists through the ups and downs of their relationship. From the sweet moments when two people really start to get to know each other to the intimacy of an established couple, Sean Kennedy brings the characters to life on the pages of his book. Rich in character description and with love scenes that are a wonderful change from the usual erotic sex scenes found in most M/M romance books this is a wonderfully compelling story. The plot is well thought out and has a real and sensible feeling to it. At issue is dealing with a relationship where one of the partners is not just in the closet but is also a highly visible and very popular sports personality.

The many supporting characters found in the book are wonderful additions to the story. The couple's best friends, Roger and Fran, as well as Abe and Lisa, are well developed and interesting characters and along with Simon's coworker Nyssa help to define the protagonists as more than just romantic leads. The complexities of blending together firmly established friendships when two people fall in love and become a couple was also very well written. Another thing that was realistically handled was their relationship with their families. Simon is out to his family and that has caused his relationship with them to become a bit strained and Declan's family has no idea that he's gay. The interactions between the main characters, their friends and families plus a few others are realistic and bring added depth to this story.

Another thing that really made this a very entertaining story was the setting. I really enjoyed the author's descriptions of life in Melbourne, the love for the sport of Australian Rules football the people have and the expressions they use. It's always nice when I read a story set in another country and when the author is able to really bring it to life for me it's even better.

All in all this is a wonderful story. I loved Simon and Declan and they have taken a place on my favorite couples list. This is a book that I know I'll enjoy reading again. A definite 5 star keeper.
Profile Image for BevS.
2,721 reviews2 followers
November 17, 2019

Simon and Declan

I absolutely adored this book, which details the ups and downs in the relationship between Simon, a prickly, cynical and extremely cautious film festival manager and Declan, an Aussie Rules footballer, who is obviously in the closet, but all the things that Simon is not - warm, laid back, personable and rich (and totally hot to boot!). The relationship is fraught with problems as you would expect, and the superb way that the couple deal with everything that life throws at them is so funny, laugh out loud in places, giggling and snorting at others, that I just had to buy the follow-up straight away, and wasn't disappointed by that either.

 photo aussierulesfooty_zps44911fa6.jpg

It has a cast of wonderful characters, Fran and Roger who are Simon's best friends (my faves), Declan's best mate and fellow Aussie Rules footballer Abe and his girlfriend Lisa and last but not least the wonderful Nyssa who is Simon's assistant. Totally loved it!!
Profile Image for * A Reader Obsessed *.
2,133 reviews432 followers
June 11, 2017
3.5 Stars

So I kinda liken this story to the movie Notting Hill.

You've got regular bloke Simon, who meets and falls in love with national, footy superstar Declan, where said relationship has to be hidden because Declan is not out. Eventually of course, everything comes to light and chaos ensues. Simon and Declan not only have to navigate the muddy waters of burgeoning relationship highs and lows, but a very sensational public outing. It shows in all its glory, the strain on friendships, the awkwardness with family, the stress and paranoia of being in the limelight.

Despite its length and despite the gawd awful, fade to black, I really did enjoy this. It continued to surprise me over and over, because just when I thought it would veer off into melodrama or take a turn for the worst due to some stupid miscommunication, it righted itself back up and kept on going (well minus one big incident). Interspersed generously throughout were some smart, self deprecating humor, some slap in your face sobering realism, and a lot of sarcastic, snarky wit.

So overall, I appreciated how these two handled their insecurities, feelings, and problems - all with grounded realism and standout comedic flair. For sure, Simon's droll personality was the shining glory in this, as Declan sweetly loves him for it anyway. I can honestly say I look forward to seeing what's in store for these two in the future.
Profile Image for Elsa Bravante.
1,118 reviews173 followers
August 8, 2016
Si soy honesta y me atengo a lo que me ha gustado le daría dos estrellas, probablemente no las merezca, me ha pillado después de otro libro que he vivido con mucha intensidad y este me ha parecido aburrido y muy plano tanto en la construcción de los personajes como en el desarrollo de su relación, ha sido como una sucesión de cosas y ya está. Solo hay algo que merece la pena del libro, el sentido del humor, muy inteligente y es únicamente por eso que le doy las tres estrellas.
Sinceramente, no lo recomiendo.
Profile Image for Zuzu.
1,017 reviews31 followers
February 23, 2019
I'm not sure how to rate this book. On one hand, I love Declan and Simon when they're TOGETHER and getting along. Unfortunately, their relationship is full of misunderstanding, non-communication and drama which, after a while, started to really irritate me.

I was strongly compelled to read the entire book because I wanted to see how it all played out and to verify they were going to get their heads out of their asses and make it all right. But they were both, at times, so irritating. Especially with Declan running away from situations.

So, for now I'm settling on 3 stars. Even though it "feels" like 4 stars to me. If that makes any sense - guess I'm holding a grudge that the author chose to write their relationship in this way. Could have been so much better with less drama and more affection.
Profile Image for annob.
511 reviews60 followers
May 22, 2023
3.75 stars rounded up. I don't think I'll ever come to like the cover art of this book, but the story inside was good. The first half better than the second which became circle-of-friends heavy, but I came away thinking about this couple with fondness. Set around 2008-2009 would be my guess, and wow how much society has changed for the better in not much time at all.
Profile Image for MaDoReader.
1,365 reviews148 followers
February 29, 2016
No sabéis cuánto llevo esperando encontarme con un sports romance en condiciones, bien, mis plegarias fueron escuchadas el día que empecé a leer este libro, un acierto total. Es un libro divertido, dulce, con unos MC estupendos, que te dibuja la sonrisa en la cara casi desde el minuto uno.

Me ha gustado mucho el tratamiento del outing y de la homofobia en el deporte, creo que está reflejado de forma muy realista, ha habido momentos que me han tenido con el coraz��n en un puño, desde que empiezan a salir hasta el mismo final. Simon es la bomba, se merece haber encontrado a Dec, son perfectos el uno para el otro, deseando estoy empezar el segundo para ver cómo sigue su relación

No había leido nada de Sean Kennedy, y me ha sorprendido el estilo, directo, sarcástico y sin florituras, pero que te atrapa (el libro me ha durado nada). Ahora, momentos hot lo que se dice hot... escasitos, pero es que no hacen falta, te lo estás pasando tan bien con todo lo que les rodea que no lo necesitas.
Profile Image for Jane Stewart.
2,462 reviews847 followers
June 30, 2010
I wasn’t emotionally engaged. It was educational and interesting but not entertaining enough.

Technically this falls within the definition of romance, but it doesn’t feel like romance. It’s done in first person and feels like I’m reading someone’s diary with a lot of conversation added. The narrator has a self-deprecating style which is entertaining at times, but that’s not enough to make me love the book. He was pessimistic, sarcastic, insecure, and whiny. It was like someone talking about their life and telling me “all these things that happened.” I became bored after awhile. I was never in anyone else’s minds or hearts to feel their feelings. I was just inside the narrator’s. I’m not against using first person. It can work if I’m surprised, delighted or laughing. But that didn’t happen here. I was also disappointed when the author used “the big misunderstanding” to separate the couple. One guy says “A” the second guy thinks he means “B” and stomps out. The first guy runs after him to explain but can’t catch him. They are now apart for a long period of time. This felt contrived and not believable.

A minor point: the author misused the words “I” and “me” several times. I’m no grammar maven, and I break rules, but this is too basic and rubbed me wrong every time I saw it.

On the positive side, I believe it was educational. It shows what a relationship is like between two men who fall in love with each other – how they hug and kiss and act with each other. It was not educational about how they have sex; the author did not go into that kind of detail – which may be a positive (or a negative) for some readers.

Simon is openly gay. His job is director of the Triple F film festival showing independent cinema with a large number of gay-friendly entrants. Declan is a football star who has been out most of the season due to injuries. They happen to be at the same cocktail party. Some people are making demeaning remarks about Declan, and Simon comes to Declan’s defense. Simon has no idea Declan is nearby and overhears this. Simon leaves the party. Declan follows him and kisses him. The relationship starts. Declan calls Simon “the arty wanker type.” Because Declan is still in the closet, they must keep their developing relationship a secret.

Story length: 363 pages. Swearing language: strong, including religious swear words. Sexual language: moderate. Number of sex scenes: 3 are shown, but others are referred to. Number of sex scene pages: about 2. Setting: current day Australia, mostly Melbourne. Copyright: 2009. Genre: gay male contemporary romance.
Profile Image for Eva.
363 reviews161 followers
January 16, 2015
Really great book




This book is a sweet, angst-filled, emotional, humorous and heartwarming romance.

I really enjoyed the author's descriptions of life in Melbourne, the love for the sport of Australian Rules football the people have and the expressions they use. I live in Melbourne and I love Melbourne and everything in the book is very true.

I loved Dec and Simon and development of their relationship. They are so good to each other. The sex in this book is not explicit. While the guys do have sex, it is subtle and the emphasis is on their relationship.

Overall great book. I loved it, hope you will too.
Profile Image for Melissa.
1,232 reviews74 followers
October 24, 2019
This is a great story. I loved all the characters and the plot. The story did drag towards the 70% mark and I skipped parts because nothing was happening. The big break up did happen, not as dramatic as I thought, but the reason for it wasn't too surprising. I do recommend.
Profile Image for Bubbles  Hunty Honest & Direct Opinions .
1,314 reviews271 followers
January 24, 2011
I tagged it as stupids just cause these guys pissed me off with how little they communicated, it was just stupid.

That said Simon is just hilarious and very lovable character and i loved his narrations and perspectives of things. I also loved Declan Tyler and all the secondary characters. I would love to read more about all of them, even though the book has a lot of pages it reads really smooth and quick and I was sad when it was over.


Profile Image for Irina.
409 reviews67 followers
April 4, 2015

DNF @70%

Even though it's told by one of my favourite narrators, Paul Morey, I had to put this book aside. I think this is the kind of story I would've enjoyed a few years ago. Now, I got too picky for my own good.

It's still a nice book though - light, sweet and funny. All those YA/NA romance lovers will enjoy it, I'm sure.

Profile Image for Alexandra.
203 reviews16 followers
April 22, 2021
Amazing book

This book has everything I’ve read in other sports romances so far. Great writing, complex characters. There is no sex on page. Very realistic and long but not boring for any moment.
Profile Image for Trio.
2,978 reviews171 followers
March 5, 2022
Best part of the story for me is Simon. What a character!

Sean Kennedy sure knows how to keep it real, and doesn't mince words. Friends, co-workers, and family - all the good and the bad that goes with it. These two boys really know how to do it! Whether they're flirting, funning around, or fighting, they do nothing by halves.

I can definitely see why so many trusted GR friends have been recommending this book to me for years.
Profile Image for JenMcJ.
2,151 reviews312 followers
September 9, 2009
This felt like a very long book. It revolves around a film festival organizer and a football player...but it is set in Australia. Many of the terms were unfamiliar to me. I could figure many of them out, but the biggest one, the one that drives much of the angst and utterly stumped me was football. I am still not sure if Declan played soccer (football elsewhere in the world) or if Australian Football is that game that is sort of a cross between American football and rugby without pads. I still don't know and I have finished the book.

Simon was not really very likeable. I wanted to smack him almost every page of the book. He is absolutely a normal uncomminicative guy that you would have in your family, but not the likely hero of a love story.

This is a romance where any physical aspects of their relationship start as kissing and then move direclty to cuddling or waking up the next morning. Sweet, but no heat in this book.
Profile Image for Kassa.
1,118 reviews108 followers
September 9, 2009
I really must live under my rock because it’s taken me this long to pull out and read Sean Kennedy’s Tigers and Devils. However, in this case I almost don’t mind as I’d skimmed reviews when deciding months and months ago enough to know it was generally well received but not enough to remember specifics on what reviewers commented on. So maybe you’ve heard this all before, but if you’re under my rock with me let me tell you this is a fabulous work of fiction, even romance fiction if you have to further subcategorize it but stop there. This book appeals on so many levels that it reminds me of the quality fiction I come to crave within m/m romance.

Now, why is this book so good you ask? Well there are so many places to start within a book that is nearly 400 pages of intricate problems, complex quagmires, loyal friendships, and complicated relationships all with a mixture of angst, comedy, and typical miscommunication. Throw in a celebrity athlete, the media, fans, and inherent problems within a gay relationship and there is so much going on in this book, the story easily could have been split over several much shorter books and still shone. However, put together as it was, the cohesive and well-written story delves into a variety of problems and issues while showing a reality often glossed over in romances for the sake of tired and overused created drama and tension. Here the author doesn’t need to add any unnecessary melodrama as there is enough within the characters and setting themselves.

The characters were wonderfully three-dimensional with hardly a wasted person in a rather large cast. From family members to co-workers and other athletes, each has a presence and a purpose without feeling thrown in or thrown away. Declan and Simon simultaneously turns stereotype clichés around with their portrayals and yet repeats classic miscommunication mistakes. Told in first person POV from Simon’s perspective, every character is seen through his unreliable perception. Simon is a wholly complex character with qualities that range from insecure, stubborn, introverted, emotional, bumbling, and sarcastic to loving, vulnerable, eloquent, charismatic, strong, capable, and rational. He is often prickly and guarded, preferring to handle his fears and problems internally and by himself than let even those he loves help him. This tendency of his to push people away is self-defeating yet those who see past his exterior realize the depth and worth of the man within, even if he’ll never be an easy man to be with.

On the other hand, Declan is seen as a calm influence that is at ease with his fame and although in the closet about his sexuality, once “outed” he settles rather easily into the new pattern of his life. Declan’s struggles come from his own frustrations and helplessness at problems created for Simon and their relationship by outside factors. He puts up with Simon’s paranoia and insecurity because of the love and devotion Simon offers without Simon even realizing it. If these two have problems, it lands squarely in the lack of communication and the tendency to ignore problems or let arguments slide without resolving the root issue. This causes more than a few downs in their uneven relationship, but their determination to not give up is refreshing when so many fights could easily have been the final blow for not only Simon and Declan, but Simon and Roger as well.

Which leads to the secondary characters of Fran and Rodger, also well rounded and thought out providing important contrast and reality to the story. As Simon’s best friends, their characterization is jaded by Simon’s view point and emotional response to various arguments and comments. Rodger especially is slightly polarizing with his repeated interfering and hurtful comments, but in misguided attempts to help colored by Rodger’s own confused feelings of losing his best friend yet wanting Simon to be happy. Fran and Rodger, as well as Lisa and Abe, are important characters to show the complex nature of friendship in both its ugliness and profound support. Not often are friendships given just as much weight and depth as the main relationship and undoubtedly in this story, each are equal and important.

Interestingly enough I found myself having opposite reactions of the book characters to Simon’s actions. When I thought he was being an unreasonable prick, his friends would simply laugh it off and bring him out of his shell, but when I thought he had a legitimate gripe and was genuinely hurt his friends would tell him he was being a prick and to get over it. This dichotomy definitely had me absorbed and showed the strength of using Simon’s point of view to connect quickly and easily to the reader on several levels. Simon’s personal progression as well as the growth of the relationship through the book was worthwhile for its length. Very rarely do romance stories follow a lengthy scope of a relationship beyond the initial declaration of love and not only was this an examination over years of their life, but the story never shied away from the difficult and painful aspects involved.

Dealing with a celebrity and the media is not always easy and the various positive and negative aspects are shown with clarity and very little need for embellishment. The easy invasion of privacy of an intensely introverted person is even more of a hardship than for someone who may think its fun for fifteen minutes of fame. Showing the strain and difficulties these cause on a relationship was a welcome fresh spin, even if the final drama and resolution was not quite to my taste. I felt the action needed to happen but the resolution felt too easy and off-page considering the amount of included action that had occurred within the story up to then.

The writing was solid and tight with wonderfully descriptive phrases and an authentic Australian dialogue. You don’t have to know about footy to understand the context and it’s absolutely charming either way. I am blessed (or cursed) with having an Aussie best friend who is a huge footy fan so the description at the beginning was a wonderfully real description of a sport taken very seriously down under. Allegiances are not to be lightly taken and the author is clearly a Richmond fan because really no one else would saddle the already beleaguered Simon with that team otherwise. The comedy woven throughout the book from sarcastic comebacks to witty self-deprecation is hilarious and keeps the book as a lighthearted and thoroughly enjoyable read.

If you haven’t read this book, you should. For anyone lamenting the quality of fiction, romance fiction or even m/m romance, you’ll be very thankful you picked this up. There are absolutely no explicit sex scenes with all the action as fade to black and it only enhances the novel’s appeal. This author has shot to my instant buy list with Tigers and Devils and I can’t wait to re-read this story already. One last mention - the cover. I thought the cover was wonderful, artful and fitting for the story. Perfect without the need to add naked men and simple, yet conveys the theme of the book to it's benefit. Well done.

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974 reviews119 followers
October 5, 2012
I love this book, it's been one of the most favorite sports M/M that I've ever read. This one is all about relationships: friends, family, lovers. It was the first MM story that I read that was sex-light and I loved that, sex was alluded to but it was fade to black for the details and that really worked for me. I adored the development of the relationship between Simon, an arty wanker, and Declan, a dumb jock. These two hit it off almost right from the start and they are definitely the case of opposites attracting. The problems start to arise when other people get involved. Declan is a well known athlete who isn't out to his family, his coaches, his teammates or the public.

This is at its core a coming out story. How to deal with the issues surrounding that when you're in the public eye and you're not in control of it and what happens around you and your relationship when when things just start to fall apart.

This story is held together by the narration of Simon Murray, the director of an independent film festival in Melburne, Australia and huge AFL (Australian Football League) fan. Simon is all kinds of snark. He is sarcastic and funny and cute but he's also insecure and stubborn. It's his humor that carries this story and, I think, really elevates it. Declan is an in the closet famous football player plagued by injures and who is playing for a team he doesn't want to be on. He is a kind, sweet, funny man who falls for Simon and is then outed in the most public, painful way.

Most of the fallout of this happens to Simon and at times it is difficult to read the things he's forced to endure. Neither of these men are perfect but they love each other and that just shines through these pages no matter what the issues they have to confront, they're a team.

This book has a fantastic story with rich secondary characters that I came to love. It's an Australian story so be prepared to be immersed in the language and culture, I had to look up a few things so that I could get the references but it really made me just fall into and enjoy the story that much more. I'd recommend this story to anyone who just loves a great story with strong, flawed characters. I'm really looking forward to the sequel.
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