Author: Sean Kennedy
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Rating: 4.5 stars
Received from Publisher
Blurb: Young Australian Micah Johnson is the first AFL player to be out at the beginning of his career. Retired professional football player Declan Tyler mentors Micah, but he finds it difficult, as Micah is prone to making poor life choices that land him in trouble. Nothing Dec can’t handle. He’s been there, done that, more times than he’d like to admit. Being Simon Murray’s partner all these years has Dec quite experienced in long-suffering and mishaps.
As usual, Simon thinks everything is going along just fine until his assistant, Coby, tells him a secret involving an old nemesis. Simon and Dec’s problems mash together, and to solve them, they must undertake a thousand-kilometer round trip in which issues will have to be sorted out, apologies are finally given, and a runaway kid is retrieved and returned to his worried parents.
Review: Tigers on the Run is the third book in the Tigers and Devils series, following the lives of the narrator, Simon Murray, and his partner, ex-AFL football legend Declan Tyler. The book starts with a flashback to Simon before Declan came on the scene and the start of Simon’s adversarial relationship with his nemesis, Jasper Brunswick. It was the perfect re-introduction to the character of Simon, not only acting as a reminder of his personality, but it also illustrates how far he has grown since being together with the mostly calming influence of Dec. The humour is also there right from the start – inherent to the book and the characters without becoming slapstick or taking over the story.
Eight years after their story first began, Simon and Declan have settled into a confident and stable relationship. They have their disagreements and moments of doubt, but not about the love they have for each other. That part is never in doubt. Even if Simon is sometimes unsure as to how he managed to snag and keep Declan, he now knows the truth of the matter is that Declan does wholeheartedly and unreservedly love him, for whatever reason. Simon is his same delightfully snarky, sometimes exasperating, funny, often overly dramatic, loving self. Okay, he may not be as noble as Declan Tyler™, but at his core is a good man who tries to do the right thing, even when he doesn’t really want to. Yes, he does grumble about it, but he still does it. Because the story is narrated by Simon, I don’t feel I’ve ever got to really know Declan as much as I’d like to, but I still find him sweet, quietly funny and just who Simon needs. He is till sometimes prone to running from confrontations with those he loves and doesn’t always see the impact his need to help everyone else has on Simon or even himself.
In this instalment we are introduced to a new character in young football hopeful Micah Johnson, who is part of Dec’s youth footie group that he mentors. At seventeen, Micah is out and proud and could possibly end up being the first player openly out of the closet from the very start of his career. If he doesn’t self sabotage his chances for being picked to play in the A League before he even gets there. Micah has a chip on his shoulder the size of Uluru and his less than stellar attitude isn’t doing him any favours. You’d think that would make him an unsympathetic character, but as you learn the challenges he faces in his life at home and, more so, at school, it’s understandable that a hurt teenager is likely to lash out in the ways he does. When Micah takes off, his distraught parents contact Declan in the hopes he knows where their son might have gone. Thus begins a road trip down the Victorian Great Ocean Road. With Simon, Simon’s friend Fran, his assistant Cody and his arch-enemy (and Cody’s new boyfriend, oh the betrayal!) also insisting on coming along for the ride, it makes for entertaining times! The snapshot road trip conservations were truly laugh out loud funny.
Simon Murray may be full of snark, but he’s definitely not as tough as he acts. It’s mostly just a cover that hides a big heart and that’s what makes me love him. Simon and Declan are one of my all time favourite couples. Both of them have their faults, but together they balance each other out and I really love how sweet they are with each other. There are some wonderful moments between them. They’re the kind of couple that, in real life, should be annoying because of how obvious it is that they genuinely adore each other, but it’s not. It’s completely endearing and impossible not to like them. Not that it’s always smooth sailing. Conflicts happen, because in real life couple’s do get hurt feeling sand communication can break down at times. But I’m glad things weren’t dragged out just for the sake of it to create some drama.
I felt the Jasper Brunswick, enemy number one thing got a little over the top, but really, it’s a very small niggle in a very enjoyable read.
This was a great story, by what makes this series truly special for me is the well-crafted and completely believable characters. Every one of them is complex and layered. Even Jasper Brunswick isn’t all bad. Okay, he is mostly and arse, but not completely. But every single one of them feel like you people might meet or know. And OMG, that ending!! I really need the next book. Immediately, please, Sean Kennedy!