October 29, 2012

Review: Tigerland by Sean Kennedy

Tigers and Devils is one of my favorite M/M books. It’s a story about love and friendship that every Romance fan should read. My love for that book is the reason why I was equal parts excited and weary when I found out that a sequel was in the works. The opportunity to revisit favorite characters is always welcome, yet there was always the possibility that the magic would be lost. I’m afraid to say I was right to worry.

If you haven’t read Tigers and Devils then you should read it first. Tigerland reads more like a long epilogue to the original than as a standalone, and new readers will be completely lost. The story is very simple; it follows the lives of Simon and Declan three years into their happily ever after. They are happy and their friends are struggling with their relationship, some handling it well, some not so much. But overall everything is fine. That is until Declan’s ex comes out of the closet and, well, doesn't really break much havoc in their lives.

I struggled with this book and for a moment even considered not finishing it. Part of it was that sequels are not my thing. Simon and Declan were already in the right emotional place to have a healthy, successful relationship. We see them deal with some external issues but their relationship was never in jeopardy and they didn't have any type of emotional growth. There was no real conflict and the book was too many pages of nothing happening. Not even Declan’s ex threatens the HEA.

With a story stripped of any emotional conflict, everything that made Simon endearing in the original book, I found annoying in this one. He went from clever, cynic and charmingly exasperating, to whiny and irritating. His relationship with Declan was filled with love but settled into the routine and tranquility that comes from being in a long-term relationship. Nothing wrong with that, but I don’t want to read a whole book about it. They are a great couple, though. And it was good to see them happily enjoying each other. 

All the secondary characters were present and dealing with different issues. Abe and Lisa’s own journey was incomplete and didn't make much sense (not only for the reader, but for the other characters). It was almost as if the author didn't know how to include them in the story but couldn't leave them out because they were a huge part of the first book.

The main problem with Tigerland is that there was no need for it. Tigers and Devils had a perfect resolution, and as much as I love those characters and didn't want to say goodbye, sometimes is best to let go than to cling and ruin a great ending. As I said, this was nothing but a big epilogue, and as such it should have been shorter. The book didn't work for me for personal taste, but also because it was lacking a strong conflict. Declan’s ex tries to stir trouble, but tries is the operative word because he doesn't succeed. Declan and Tyler have a strong relationship, and such a small issue won’t make them question it. Good for them as a couple, boring for me as a reader. Of course, if you want to read a book about a two mature guys being in a strong, loving relationship, go ahead and read this because it’s the perfect book about how happy a happy ending can be. But if you want to see character growth and interesting issues, you won’t find it here.

I’m disappointed, but not surprised. Sequels are hard to pull off, especially when the first book has a perfect happy ending. If you haven’t read Tigers and Devils, read it instead of Tigerland.

Review by Brie
Grade: 2.5
Sensuality: McPrude
Purchase: Amazon


After an eventful and sometimes uncomfortably public courtship, Simon Murray and Declan Tyler settled into a comfortable life together. Now retired from the AFL, Declan works as a football commentator; Simon develops programs with queer content for a community television station.  
Despite their public professional lives, Simon and Declan manage to keep their private life out of the spotlight. Their major concerns revolve around supporting their friends through infertility and relationship problems—until Greg Heyward, Declan’s ex-partner, outs himself in a transparent bid for attention.  
Though Simon and Declan are furious with Greg and his media antics, they can’t agree on what to do about it. Declan insists they should maintain a dignified silence, but both he and Simon keep getting drawn into Heyward’s games. Simon and Declan will once again have to ride out the media storm before they can return their attention to what really matters: each other.

Dreamspinner Press. October 15, 2012.

1 comment:

  1. Sometimes characters should be left well enough alone. Sorry this one was a dd for you. I can see how reading about a romance with little to no growth and conflict can bore you.

    I think I probably would have stopped reading so I could hold onto my fond memories of the first book. Hopefully your next read will be more to your liking.


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