Tigerland by Sean Kennedy

Grade: A
Hotness Level: Inferno
Kink Level: No Kink
Genre: Contemporary, m/m, sports
Series: Tigers and Devils #2)
Published: 10/15/12
Reviewed by Anne
306 pages

I first read Tigers and Devils (the book before Tigerland) in December 2012.  It was a book I instantly LOVED and is an all time favorite read of mine.  When I read it, I immediately bought its sequel, Tigerland, but I couldn’t bring myself to read it.  See, it’s not a story about another couple, it’s the same couple from Tigers and Devils, Simon and Declan.  I was so elated that Simon and Declan were finally happy together at the end of book one, that I just couldn’t bring myself to read a sequel where they would surely face more challenges. I just really needed them to be happy together in my head for a while.

So, I got around to reading book two.  I did a reread of Tigers and Devils first, and that was no chore.  Still an incredible read!  I went right on to Tigerland, and I’m kicking myself for waiting so long.  If you haven’t read Tigers and Devils, go read my review here: http://dirtygirlsgoodbooks.blogspot.com/2012/12/tigers-and-devils-by-sean-kennedy.html and then get the book and read it.  You must read it book one before continuing on to book two.  Honestly, Tigerland could probably stand on it’s own, but it’s so much more enjoyable having already met the characters, so don’t deprive yourself!

OK, so, if you’ve already read Tigers and Devils, read on for my Tigerland review.  

It’s few years after Tigers and Devils and Declan has retired from the AFL and is working as a commentator.  Simon is now working at a community TV station developing shows with LBGT content.  Life is good.  Then Greg Heyward, retires from the AFL and comes out of the closet.  He’s Declan’s ex, and he’s decided to write a tell all book about his time in the AFL and, knowing it will sell books and win him time in the spotlight, his time with Declan.  Simon and Declan don’t exactly agree on the best way to handle this news, but they stumble through together.

This was a non-stop read for me.  Well, ok, I had to stop, but I resented it!  I tore through it without really making any notes to write a review on, which is a good indication that it was a great read for me!  Declan and Simon are great together.  Declan is so down to earth and Simon is so dramatic.  They each need to deal with Heyward in their own way, and they support each other, but the friction it causes is stressful.

Fran and Roger are still on the scene and are now trying to become parents.  The opening scene in the book was so hilarious I made my husband read it.  Abe and Lisa are separated, and their relationship is another thread in this story.  Sean Kennedy’s humor is solid throughout the book, but there’s also the heartclenching sweetness that made me love Tigers and Devils.

I highly recommend this book – but read in order!

Her Kind of Trouble by Sarah Mayberry

Grade: A
Hotness Level: Blaze
Kink Level: No Kink
Genre: Contemporary
Published: 4/1/14 
Reviewed by Anne
210 pages

What if the two right people met, but it was the wrong time?  Vivian and Seth meet at their siblings’ wedding.  The attraction is instant.  Neither is looking for commitment, and that works out just fine for them.  A quickie in a limo at the wedding turns into a happy memory for both of them as Seth keeps trying to make it big with his rock band and Vivian moves to the US to work on her career as a designer.

Ten years later Vivian moves back to Australia and suddenly she and Seth are seeing each other all the time.  The attraction is still there, and the timing is still awful.  Seth has grown up a lot.  He gave up on the rock star dream and settled down and bought a bar.  But he still managed to knock up his twenty-something girlfriend before they split up. So now he’s looking at fatherhood with a girl who seems more interested in shopping than the baby due in weeks.   Vivian, who is known in her family as the flighty one, has also grown up and settled down.  She’s co-owner of a new photography/stylist business.  But they keep getting thrown together.  And even though the timing couldn’t be worse and their families don’t really approve, they’re starting to find they don’t just have horny pants for each other, but they actually like each other, too!

This book is going on my best of the year list!  I think Vivian is one of my all time favorite heroines.  She knows who she is and she’s fine with herself, flaws and all.  She likes sex and she’s not ashamed that she does.  But she’s mature enough that her life is not all one night stands and she understands that there are repercussions when you decide to sleep with someone.  She will not put up with slut shaming and doesn’t hesitate to call Seth out on it when he starts down that path.

Vivian’s acceptance of herself and her imperfections helps her appreciate the same in Seth.  And if Seth is a little late to see all that is wonderful about Vivian, we’ll give him a pass because his life is a pretty big mess during most of the story.  It’s an awful time to start a relationship.  It’s messy and probably not smart, but it’s their story, and that’s how Mayberry writes it.  So awesome!

There were a couple small things about the book that bothered me.  I would have been happier with a HFN ending instead of the all out HEA.   It’s also not as hot as some of the books I enjoy, but with the strong plot and characters, I didn’t miss the extra couple sex scenes at all.  And the scenes that were in the book were great!

I’ll just say it right here.  I think Sarah Mayberry is one of the most under appreciated romance authors out there right now.  In my book she’s right up there with Jill Shalvis, Jaci Burton, Shannon Stacey, Ruthie Knox, and Cara Mckenna.  I’d even say she writes stronger storylines than any of these authors.  If you haven’t tried her yet, go pick up one of her stories and try her now!

Her Favorite Rival by Sarah Mayberry

Her Favorite Rival
Grade: A
Hotness Level: Blaze
Kink Level: No Kink
Genre: Contemporary
Reviewed by Anne
298 pages

Audrey and Zach are co-workers. They are both candidates for a promotion, and after a take over of their company, they’re also both at risk of being laid off. Both are driven and hard workers, and both of them are attracted to each other. They’re also way too smart to risk their jobs by indulging in an office romance. They’ve got a lot in common, though, and working together on an important project cracks the ice and starts a real friendship between the two.

Besides a great story between Audrey and Zach, there are wonderful secondary story lines. Audrey’s got a tense relationship with her family, who sees her as an under achiever. Zach is dealing with a troubled mother. Audrey’s got a best friend, Megan, and she’s not just for sequel bait!

Here’s Megan and Audrey in a bar after work discussing who might get laid off:

“I tell you who won’t be going, though – Zach. Fifty bucks he gets a promotion out of all of this.”
Audrey reached for the fries. “He’s not that good.”
“Sorry, sweetie, but he is. He’s smart, he’s good at what he does and he could charm a snake out of its skin.”
Audrey rolled her eyes. “Your’re only saying that because you have a soft spot for him.”
“Yeah, it’s called a vagina.”

There’s some great sexual tension between Audrey and Zach, and some great sex once they make the leap.

I highly recommend this book.  It’s a wonderful example of how good a contemporary romance can be!  Sarah Mayberry is an incredible writer and I love her books!
I also love that this book is set in Australia. There’s nothing special in the relationship that makes it Australian verses American, but I enjoy reading the different setting and slang. Do you have a favorite setting?