A MelanieM Review: Red Dirt Christmas (Red Dirt, #3.5) by N.R. Walker

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Rating: 4.75 stars out of 5

ReddirtheartChristmas1500Travis had been here at Sutton Station for just over a year. We were technically engaged, not that we’d told anyone. He was happy just knowin’ I’d said yes, and I had some head-clearin’ stuff to work through. Knowing I was good enough for Trav was one thing, but knowing if I was good enough to be a husband and father was somethin’ else entirely.

Life at Sutton Station had never been better. Business was strong, Trudy and Bacon’s little baby, Gracie, was a few weeks old now and as cute as a button, Ma’s health was good, and my relationship with Laura and Sam was in a pretty good place. And Travis? Well, life with him was still all kinds of perfect.

But, to Travis’s dismay, Christmas at the Station was just another day. Another day of getting up before the sun, feeding animals, fixin’ what needed fixin’, and checking water troughs all while tryin’ to keep out of the blistering heat.

And this year weren’t much different. Only that it was Travis’s first Sutton Station Christmas. The fact we didn’t go all out with decorations and celebrations baffled him, and if I was bein’ truthful, it disappointed him too.

Which was why I had to make it a special kind of Christmas…

When I first starting reading the Red Dirt Heart series by N.R. Walker, it didn’t take long before I was deeply and permanently in love with every part of Sutton Station, the men, the way of life, even the wildlife from the deadly to the adorable (see one particular wombat).  And at book four, I felt so much a part of their lives that it was painful to see it end, albeit happily and with satisfaction.

So imagine my surprise and delight when I heard that N.R. Walker had returned to red dirt country and the Sutton Station to bring us Red Dirt Christmas.  Yes, I was overjoyed.  Charlie and Travis were coming back for Christmas.  Was it the Christmas present I hoped for?

Well, if it wasn’t it was close.  Red Dirt Christmas takes place before the fourth book, so quite a few events haven’t occurred.  But in many respects we get the best of the story threads.  Charlie’s mother and brother are here. along with Ma and George, Trudy, Bacon and little Gracie and a certain wombat I never get enough of.  Charlie and Travis, one of my favorite couples, are as close as ever  even as Travis is fighting a case of the Christmas blues and homesickness.  It seems that Charlie and Sutton Station don’t really celebrate Christmas and Travis is missing the way his family decorates with all the American trimmings.

To say any more would tempt me to head into spoiler territory.  But what follows is tender, full of laughter and family, and of course, love.  N. R. Walker doesn’t forget to leave out the dangers of living in such a extreme climate and geographical location.  There is an encounter with one of the area’s venomous wildlife as well as one more element to be aware of during their “winter” season, one so costly it was a little scary there for a while for a main character.  All these threads flowing  beautifully through a story I never wanted to end.

Red Dirt Christmas is full of  scenes real, vivid and heartfelt, the people inside were back to feeling like old friends revisited, even when Charlie and Travis where feeling frisky and hot,  it was sexy, warm and loving.  I hope we can talk N.R. Walker back  into these short stories, small glimpses into the Sutton Station from time to time so we can check in on everyone.  There’s Australia Day, Roundup,  Give A Wombat a Hug day…I don’t care.  Any excuse will do.  N.R. Walker, are you listening?  This was wonderful, now can we please have some more?

For those of you who aren’t familiar with the Red Dirt Heart series, what a treat is in store for you.  I have listed them all at the bottom.  I highly recommend them all as must reads for readers of M/M romance.  Like the red dirt of the Northern Territory, this Station and this couple will get into your heart and never let go.

Happy Reading.

A Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words Must Read Series any time of the year:

Red Dirt Heart Series:

Sales Links: |All Romance eBooks | Smashwords |  Amazon | Buy It Here

New Excerpt from The General and the Elephant Clock by Sarah Black

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Sarah Black has finished writing her sequel, The General and the Elephant Clock.  And while we are waiting for its release date, here is another excerpt for those of us who need more of John, Gabriel, Kim and all the rest from The General and the Horse-Lord (posted with permission from Sarah Black):

Living Large in the Beautiful World: Kim and The General Discuss Decorating

At the end of The General and the Horse-Lord, Kim and Billy have gone wild with the General’s credit card, ready to redecorate the house. The new book, The General and the Elephant Clock of Al-Jazari, picks up with John and Kim having a friendly little chat about the new couch.

John pushed open the kitchen door. The jury was still out on the new decorating. He had thought he was sending Kim and Billy out for an extra desk and bed, but that had somehow turned into a re-do of the entire house. He had to admit the kitchen was cheerful. Kim and Billy had painted the kitchen walls bright cream enamel, then painted trim in tangerine and aqua. The curtains were tangerine with cream polka-dots, and there were little cars zooming all over the walls, hand-painted by a bunch of Kim and Billy’s artist friends. The new dining room table was Formica, with stainless silver legs, and the chairs were padded in aqua vinyl. Kim and Billy were very pleased with the kitchen. Gabriel liked it, as well, though he might have been just trying to get along. John was okay with the changes. The kitchen, he thought, was fine. It just didn’t look like his kitchen. It looked like the kitchen of a person who was considerably cooler than he was. The same could be said about the living room.

Kim was waiting for him to come in from his run, and he swooped down on John and wrapped his arms around his waist for a quick hug. “How’s my favorite uncle?”

John studied his face. “I’m fine. What’s happening with you?”

“Not too much.” Kim was head down into the fridge, looking for something to snack on that had not had a face or a mother. He’d explained to John this was his new criteria for healthy eating. “Can we talk about the couch?”

John crossed his arms over his chest. “So talk.”

Kim stood up and leaned back against the counter. “Okay, you have every right to be pissed off. You told me not to get a new couch and I did anyway. I know I spent more money on the redecorating than you had planned. What I want to know is if you hate the couch for itself, or if you’re just mad at me for disregarding what you told me to do?”

John sighed. “The new couch is fine. I admit it’s not really what I would have picked out.” He walked over and stared gloomily into the room. The new couch which Kim had been forbidden to purchase was cream colored Italian leather, a semi-circle with a round ottoman that looked like a giant leather polka dot. It was very sleek and modern. He’d purchased some round maple tables in a pale golden finish to go with it, and the rugs on the floor were also round, in various sizes and shades of cream and pale gold. The whole thing looked very…Danish.

“The thing is, four men can easily sit on the couch at the same time, say to watch a movie together. Two men can lay down on this couch at the same time, like if you and the Horse-Lord wanted to lay down together and read books. It’s extremely comfortable, Uncle John. I just wish you would give it a chance.”

“Okay, I’m willing to give it a chance. And I admit it is very comfortable. With the new rug and the new tables it looks like winter, 1968, has come to Albuquerque. Peter Max in psychedelic white, not really my style, but I’m okay with it.”

“Peter Max? Winter?” Now Kim had his arms folded. “Holy shit! It’s not white. It’s cream! Big difference in tone and temperature. Okay, so tell me what you think would be the perfect couch. Maybe we can figure out how to meet in the middle.”

John thought a moment. “I suppose I’d like a couch that’s a little…browner. Maybe plaid would be good.”

“Okay, no plaid. I’m sorry, but no. A person would have to be deranged to buy a plaid couch. I will see what I can do about brown.” Kim looked around. “We could add some caramel accents, maybe a throw. I want you to like it.” He sounded young all of the sudden. “It’s really important to me that you like it. If you want, I can split the cost of the new couch with you.” He tried to hand John some cash. “I’ve got $275.00 as a down payment on my half.”

“I don’t want your money.” John stared at him. Kim was Korean, with eyes that always gave away what he was thinking. He was totally unable to keep a secret. John couldn’t help but notice the light in his face, like he was about to start laughing. “Wait a minute. Is this the money you made writing term papers for the students in my Political History seminar?” Kim was grinning now, and he shoved the cash back in his pocket. “Are you under the impression you’re too old to spank? Twenty-three isn’t too old.”

Kim was laughing now. “You don’t believe in spanking. Okay, let me and Billy see what we can come up with. Something browner.” He turned back to the garage. “What’s brown, anyway? Dirt? Gravy? Shit?”

“Wood, you knucklehead. Wood and chocolate bars and Gabriel’s hair, all brown.”

The General and the Horse-Lord by Sarah Black

Sneak  Peak to the Sequel to The General and the Horse-Lord by Sarah Black

It’s Here! Riptide Publishing’s Web Hunt for Touch & Geaux!

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Happy Monday everyone!  Today Scattered Thoughts is participating in Riptide Publishing’s Web Hunt for Abigail Roux’s book Touch & Geaux (Cut & Run #7), one of Scattered Thoughts Best Series of…well you name the year and this series will still be at the top of my list.  Scattered Thoughts will be joining the party along with many of your favorite book blogs by posting about the book and including one of my favorite quotes (so hard) from any book in the Cut & Run series. Readers who collect each quote and submit their findings to marketing@riptidepublishing.com will be eligible to win one of two runner-up prizes and one grand prize.  And oh, what a prize it is!!!  But I’m not telling, at least not yet!

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Also on the agenda for today, is Riptide Publishing’s first ever  live chat, with Abi Roux, happening at 12pm EST on April 10, with the RSVP link https://plus.google.com/u/0/b/107747069078430869043/events/crbhmnugf1hbokmj86anv4vaesc?authkey=CLPsidKGwKnvBQ.  I love Abigail Roux (although I will admit I am currently hunting her down with a nerf bat with Ty and Zane’s names on it).  Abigail Roux is a meticulous researcher for her novels, master of memorable dialog, and currently holder of the Evil Queen title, mostly due to Touch & Geaux. Grab the book, read the reviews (yeah, yeah, I know, reverse order but it works for Touch & Geaux), pick up your pitch forks and torches and join me in Scattered Thoughts own hunt.  Those of you who have read the book will understand totally, a toss up between lobbing jewels at Roux’s head or cow plops.  Don’t be left out of the know, you need this book and here is  your chance for prizes too!

For those of you on the hunt, here is the quote I chose:

“Cameron found himself smiling as he thought about the two tough, acerbic FBI agents. “It’s so cute. They’re in love.”
“It’s like watching two kittens fight with machetes,” Julian muttered.
“Julian.”
“What? Its weird!”
“No its not. They’re perfect for each other. Poor Zane though,” Cameron murmured. “In love with Ty Grady.” He couldn’t imagine how frustrating that would be. Then Julian inhaled, and Cameron chuckled slightly. Yeah, he could actually.”
― Abigail RouxArmed & Dangerous

The thing about the Cut & Run series is that there are literally hundreds of quotes that I could have chosen.  Choosing one is like asking which is your favorite child, almost impossible to do.  I did go with funny because to choose the ones where Ty and Zane are emotionally vulnerable is just too close at the moment, more about that later.  I will say that Touch & Geaux is the best of a quality series that keeps improving with each new release.  How that is possible is due to Abigail Roux.  Has she sold her soul?  I know many are wondering…..hmmmmm…how tiny can those horns be?

Later today I wlll blogging about some of my favorite moments from Cut & Run.  Moments that made me laugh like in Fish & Chips (Cut & Run #3) when Ty Grady had to impersonate arm candy Del Porter.  When Ty stepped out after being waxed and bleached, well, my sides hurt just thinking about it. And then there are the moments that had me in tears…so many moments…..starting from the beginning in Cut & Run (book 1) when  we first meet the two men that I have come to care for and follow through tumultuous event in their lives in every book that has been released since.  Touch & Geaux is a milestone among milestones in this series.

Tomorrow I will be posting my review of Touch & Geaux.  You can also find  reviews for the all books in the series included in the links providedCut & Run Book 8 in the review or just look them up. All the books can be found here.

And now for even better news.  You can preorder Cut & Run #8 now at Riptide Publishing.  Here is what Riptide Publishing has to say:

The as-yet-untitled Book 8 of the Cut & Run series, availabe to pre-order for 25% off in ebook and paperback or 30% off in print and ebook combo for one week only as our thank-you to the fans for taking Stars & Stripes into the DABWAHA finals!

Please note that the release date is approximate and subject to change.

On Sunday, April 14, 2013, this page will be taken down. When it returns again in late 2013 or early 2014 for new pre-orders, the ebook will be full price again, so take advantage now of our special DABWAHA celebratory sale!

So those are the details, now let’s get hunting!!!   Touch & Geaux is a “must read, must have” for Scattered Thoughts and you don’t want to be left out in the cold.  Read my review tomorrow and stay tuned for Scattered Thoughts Most Fav Cut & Run moments…..who knew Monday could be so fun?

Here is the buy link for Touch & Geaux http://riptidepublishing.com/titles/touch-geaux ???????????????????????????????????????

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Too Careful By Half (a Roughstock story) by BA Tortuga

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Rating: 5 stars

Too Careful By Half, a Roughstock StorySam and Beau are both still dealing with the aftermath of Sam’s brain injury during a bull ride.  Beau is still so scared that he almost lost the man he loves, that he has been treating Sam as though he were made of glass, something he never would have done when Sam was healthy.Sam too is trying to deal with his brain injuries, his communication problems as the words he wants to say aren’t the words that comes out of his mouth, and on top of that, Beau is acting like he is going to break apart at any second.  And Sam has had enough.  Six months into his rehab, and Sam is ready for a trip back to normal, and that includes their more than healthy sex life.

How do I love these Roughstock stories and their cowboys?  Let me count the ways. First comes their authenticity.  When the words rolls out of their mouths, it is never less than perfect.  BA Tortuga has the finest ear I know of for regional slang and sentence structure so when her cowboys talk, I know that is what the cowboys sound like from their accents to the word choices.  Just perfection in every way.  Secondly, especially when it comes to her long established couples like Sam and Beau, the reader gets that they have been together for a while, its there is the way they move about each other, the touches they pass back and forth, and the “knowing” of each other that BA Tortuga has built into her story.  It’s as effortless as watching any long term couple you know relate to each other, small gestures, non verbal communication, it’s all there.

I have followed this pair from the beginning through the shock and pain of Sam’s accident in the ring so each new glimpse into their  post accident life is a treasure for me.  Here  we find them six months after the bull stomped on Sam’s skull, and they are dealing with the changes in their lives the best way they know how.  Everything they do and feel comes across so real, that when Beau runs his hand gently over the scarred skin of Sam’s head and feels the divot where part of his skull had to be removed, we feel his pain and sadness just as acutely as he does.  And when finally Sam gets Beau to “hunt his ass in the dark” like they used too, well let’s just say we are grinning and whooping with them too.

BA Tortuga continues to give us characters that breath, bleed, and leap off the pages and into our hearts.  Don’t miss a single installment!

This is a short story that never feels like one.  Instead it feels a little like visiting old friends, you know, just stopping by for a drink and talk.  It’s comfortable, it’s heartwarming, and most of all, it feels like coming home.

Here are the Roughstock stories not in the order they were written but grouped according to pairing:

Roughstock: File Gumbo – Season One (Sam and Beau)

Roughstock: And a Smile — Season One (Coke and Dillon with Sam and Beau mentioned)

Roughstock: And a Smile — Coke’s Clown (Coke and Dillon, with Sam and Beau)

Cowboy Christmas: A Roughstock Short (Coke and Dillon)

The New Guy, a Roughstock story (Coke and Dillon)

The Retreat, a Roughstock story (Coke and Dillon)

Roughstock: Blindride — Season One

Starting the Roux, a Roughstock story (Beau and Same)

Doce, A Roughstock Story: The Ten of Wands – Roughstock universe

Give it Time: the Seven of Wands – Roughstock universe

Shutter Speed, A Roughstock Story: the Seven of Pentacles – Roughstock universe

Amorzinhos, A Roughstock Story

Leather Work and Lonely Cowboys, a Roughstock story (Sam and Beau)

Too Careful By Half, a Roughstock story

Review of Ghosts in the Wind by Marguerite Labbe

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Rating: 5 stars

Dean Marshall and Andrei Cuza have been together 10 years, a anniversary they just finished celebrating.  These years together have not come without their own difficulties and challenges, especially with regard to Andrei’s Romany tribe who had disavowed him. Then there is the stress of Andrei’s job which to find and rescue abused and stolen children.  But they are happy and their love stronger than ever, as is the expectation they will spend the rest of their lives together.

But fate and an enraged criminal change all that.  As Andrei races to save a group of abducted children, Dean stops to help a women and her children stranded by a flat tire by the side of the road.  Unbeknownst to her, the woman’s estranged husband has followed her intent on retrieving his children.  The encounter ends with the man killing Dean and his wife and fleeing with his children.

When Dean wakes up, he is standing by a sheet covered body, watching as paramedics rush about the scene as policemen take notes.  He doesn’t understand by they won’t listen to him until a young girl appears and tells Dean that he is dead.   Her name is Ileana and she is Andrei’s dead sister come to help Dean because she didn’t want him to be sad.  While still not accepting the truth, Dean knows he has to get to Andrei because the two  missing children need his help, so Dean sets off to figure out how to accept his new status with Illeana’s help.

Andrei is shattered when he gets the call about Dean’s murder.  Everyone in his life either rejected him or left him until Dean and now he is dead.  Andrei believes his life is over until Dean and his little sister appear before him.  Andrei has been haunted by ghosts all of his life and one of his biggest regrets is that he feels responsible for his sister being caught in limbo unable to move on.  Their sibling love was so strong that when her illness killed her, she didn’t want to leave her brother alone and she didn’t understand the ramifications of staying in limbo.  For those spirits who  linger controlled by the strong emotions they held in life are hunted by Jackal Wraiths who consume the souls of the spirits they hunt.  A spirit only has so many chances to move on before they are stuck in perpetual limbo something the little girl never understood.

Now between his grief, rage,  and his guilt, Andrei’s love for Dean and Illeana must prove to be the emotion to rule his actions.  Dean is insistant that he not move on before the children are found, Illeana won’t leave Dean or Andrei and the strong emotions swirling around are sure to bring the Wraiths if the trio is not careful.  Andrei must figure out not only how to catch the murderer  and bring the children to safety but how to say goodbye to the only man he has ever loved before the time runs out for all of them.

This is listed as a Bittersweet Dreams title, a genre I usually stay far away from.  Lucky for me and you, that would be the last place I would list this book.  In fact bittersweet is a word that would not ever come to mind when I think of this amazing story of love, its all encompassing and enduring nature.  Timeless love is perhaps more accurate, because it doesn’t matter whether it is the love you hold for your partner or the love of a sibling, not even death changes the power and depth of your feelings for them.  Above all else, this story is about  love.

Marguerite Labbe pulls you into Dean and Andrei’s relationship right from the start.  Dean and Andrei are waking up and move right into a sensual scene of morning sex, that is hot and loving and feels so true for two men in an established relationship.  We get descriptions of their little mannerisms and small details that heighten their commitment to each other as well let us know that sex plays an important part of their lives.  I fell in love with both characters immediately without having the background knowledge that will come later in the story.  I felt how deeply they loved each other which made what follows all the more shattering.

Labbe does a remarkable and heartrending job of letting us “watch” as Andrei enters a building filled with pedophiles and the children they have abducted.  The police are coming but the danger and the anxiety starts ramping up as he reaches the children he comes to rescue.  Our hearts are in our throats for Andrei as the danger increases by the moment and the children are so very vulnerable and hurt.  Then we turn back to Dean on his way back from a successful business meeting and sees a woman in distress at the side of the road.  Back and forth we swing between the men and their disparate scenes, and our stomach starts to get queasy  and our eyes to tear because we know whats coming.  And come it does.  In the splashes of blood, and tears and cries of pain and loss so unbearable that you shatter along with Andrei.

But there is always the presence of Dean and young Illeana to shore us up. So real, so genuine are all the characters including the children, that their situation seems as real as Andrei’s.  They pull us back from grief and involve us in the plight of the two missing children as well as their own as times starts to run out before Dean too is stuck in limbo.  The author gives us so many outstanding elements, each as complex and expertly executed as the next,  in this story.  We have the otherworldly strand that involves Dean, Illeana, and the Jackal Wraiths which is very scary as well as vividly described, truly the stuff of nightmares.  Along side of this, Margueritie Labbe hauls us into the hunt for the murderer and the missing children.  My god, this was so well done.  As the police give up on finding the children, Andrei, and Dean know better.  And the race is on with just themselves and a friendly detective to continue the hunt which turns into a real knuckle biter itself.  Oh and did I tell you a hurricane is coming?

And throughout all this both Dean and Andrei must find a way to say goodbye.  Yes, I sobbed buckets of tears with this story,from beginning to the end.  But by then the tears of pain and loss had turned into tears of joy and happiness.  Yes, you read that right.  Joy and happiness about a story of murder and lovers separated by a criminal act.  The ending is perfection and one you will treasure, turning back to it over and over again.

Really, this is an exceptional book.  I raced through to the end, gobbling up each and every word, heart pounding, pulse racing, and yes, throw in some head throbbing to go along with the red eyes and runny nose.  And then I did it all again because I was afraid I had missed something the first time.  Yes, you can count on there being another reading in the future.  Because this book will haunt you, mesmerize you and leave you thinking once you have finished.  Don’t take my word for it.  Go buy this book, do it now.  Get some tissures and prepare to be enveloped in a love that knows no boundaries, even death.

Cover.  This cover by Reese Dante is one of the top ten for 2012.  Lush, haunting, just perfect in every way.

Review of Tigerland (Tigers and Devils #2) by Sean Kennedy

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Rating: 4.75 stars

Declan Tyler and Simon Murray hope that the drama of the past couple of years is finally behind them, leaving them to enjoy their lives finally settled and happy.  When Declan Tyler retired from the AFL, it was terribly hard on him but he returned to the sport as a commentator and seems happy.  Simon has moved on from his job coordinating the movie festival and now  works as a producer for the Queer Sports cable show. Then Greg Heyward, Declan’s closeted ex decides to retire and come out of the closet.  In the past Greg has brought Declan and Simon nothing but pain and problems and this is no different.  Greg is determined to stay in the spotlight one way or the other and dragging Declan back into the drama with him is one way to accomplish his goals.

But Declan  wants to rise above Greg’s tactics, even when Greg starts spreading lies to the press about his relationship with Declan and the reasons they split up, hurting Simon in the process.  Simon wants Declan to stand up to Greg, not only for himself but for their relationship.  Unfortunately the silent treatment that Declan is using only goads Greg on to greater lies and more public exposure for the couple.  And that starts to upset their relationship, leading to arguments and misunderstandings that horrify their friends and families.  Will the adversity they face strengthen their relationship, deepening their commitment to each other   or will the stress and strain force them apart as it did in the past.

Tigerland is the long awaited sequel to Tigers and Devils, published in 2009, and it lives up to all my expectations.  I loved the original novel Tigers and Devils which introduced us to Declan Tyler, renown footballer and Simon Murray, who works at the Melbourne film festival.  From the moment they meet at Fran and Roger’s party (Simon’s friends), the two men clash, miscommunicate, come together, part and reunite  while conducting a romance that melts your heart.  Declan and Simon were two lively wonderful characters that grabbed onto the reader and never let go, even after over 300 pages. So having a chance to catch up with them again made my heart beat a little faster, even with the idea of more Australian Rules football, which as an American I never quite grasped.  Team loyalty to the extreme, check. Understood that completely while letting some of the totally Australian bits fly over my head. The other elements of the story that were grounded in Melbourne were delightful and made me want to fly down under immediately.

Now we pick up their story a year or so later, and the same qualities that made me love Tigers and Devils are front and center once more.  Sean Kennedy’s characters still leap off the pages, full of life and dealing with all the problems that comes with commitment to another person, and close proximity to family and friends.  All the people we grew to love from Roger and Fran (Simon’s friends) and Abe and Lisa (Declan’s friends), and all the family either could want are back again.  After everything that occurred in the first novel, Simon and Declan have settled into living with each other and their relationship has grown much stronger. Both men have changed professions and while Declan is no longer on the playing field, he is still very much a part of the game as a well known commentator, a fact that helps provoke Greg’s schemes to remain in the spotlight by pulling Declan into a media blitz with him.   Greg Heyward is a character we are also familiar with from the pain he caused Declan in the first story and his appearance here threatens all the hard won stability of Simon and Declan’s current status.

From event to event, Sean Kennedy clearly understands couple dynamics and let us see the stress and strain that Declan is putting on Simon with his refusal to publicly repudiate Greg’s claims about Simon and their relationship while still playing football.  There is never any doubt that these two men love each other and that their established partnership is one of respect, passion and a love that has grown deeper over the years. But even the strongest bonds can be tested and we watch as Simon and Declan deal realistically with the onslaught of public attention and lives returned to intense media scrutiny.  Kennedy gets is all so right that Tigerland has superseded Tigers and Devils in my affections, something I never would have predicted happening.

Simon remains one of my all time favorite contemporary characters.  I love his intelligence, his sense of humor and his unwavering loyalty both to his man and his football team.  Simon is such a multidimensional persona that he had to have a partner of equal strength to be his  match and Declan is certainly that for him.  When Declan makes the decision not to “sink to Greg’s level of behavior”, he makes it without consulting Simon, and the aftermath of that poor decision reverberates throughout the story to the point that the reader becomes very frustrated that Declan is not listening to Simon when he tells Declan that he tactic is not working for him.  But never fear, Declan more than redeems his actions in the end and  in a manner totally in keeping with his personality and his respect for his partner.  I just loved this.

There is, however, one part of Australian culture I was not familiar with and quite frankly shocked by.  According to Sean Kennedy, when a couple gets  married, it is law that the following words, well Sean Kennedy put it the best:

“But then the celebrant said those words which are like a knife in the heart to any queer person attending a marriage ceremony: Marriage, according to law in Australia, is the union of a man and a woman, to the exclusion of all others, voluntarily entered into for life. To the exclusion of all others.”

I can’t imagine that a ceremony binding two people together is used officially to remind the GLBTQ community that they are not equal and their bonds will never have the status of those automatically given to a heterosexual  couple.  I guess in a time when even the terms man and wife are no longer commonly used, and more countries are legalizing gay marriage, I am surprised that Australia would continue to institutionalize inequality in such a hurtful manner.  I was and still am shocked by this knowledge as I thought Australia more progressive than that.  I can only hope that as Maryland prepares to vote in the upcoming election that all the polls are correct  and Maryland will become the next state to legalize  Marriage Equality.  Next Maryland, then the USA, and perhaps more will follow the countries that came before.  Kudos for them, prayers for us, and hope for all others that exclusion will be a thing of the past.

At any rate, if you loved Tigers and Devils, pick this one up immediately.  If you are unfamiliar with the series,  start from the beginning with the first book and then go on to this one.  I am not sure if there will be another. If not I am more than content with this latest visit to a couple I have never forgotten.

Cover: Catt Ford did the wonderful cover art for Tigerland.  I loved it.