Title: Divisions (Out of Position #3)
Author: Kyell Gold
Length: approx. 158k words
Genre: m/m Contemporary Romance
Heat: 3 – Sexy & Mild
Sex Frequency: 2 – Few and Far Between
Keywords/Tags: Anthropomorphic, Series, Illustrations, Sports, Football, Athletes, Established Relationships, Family Issues, Homophobia, Youth Gay Suicide, Gay Activism
Rating: Really Liked It!
**This review contains spoilers for those who haven’t read Out of Position and Isolation Play**
It’s been over a month since Devlin Miski came out publicly, and no other professional athlete has followed suit. Dev just wants to put it all behind him and play football, helping his Chevali Firebirds win their first-ever division title. If only his teammates—and everyone else—could just let it go, he’d be fine. But there’s one teammate in particular who seems determined to make his life difficult…
And for his boyfriend Lee, the past is never laid to rest. If it isn’t his parents’ troubled marriage, it’s an old friend pulling him back into gay rights activism. Lee could make a splash by getting Dev to promote gay rights, but he knows it would distract Dev from football. So he has to balance the pressures of the outside world against the needs of his relationship, and even for a clever fox, that’s a tall order.
In this third volume of Dev and Lee’s story, the tiger and fox continue to explore their relationship. Personalities clash and dreams are on the line as Dev and Lee navigate their very public lives and try to stay true to themselves.
Back when I was reviewing at Jessewave’s in early 2011, this is the series that brought Kyell Gold and anthropomorphic fiction to my attention. I fell in love with Lee, the fox who dressed up as a vixen to seduce a straight jock and Dev, the tiger who ended up falling for him. Their lives and relationship continued on in tumultuous fashion after graduation when Dev was drafted into professional football and Lee sacrificed his gay activism for his love of football and became a professional scout. The visibility in the sport forced him back into the closet and their relationship suffered. They endured, however, only to be publicly outed by Lee’s ex best friend and have since tried to make the best of their relationship and Dev’s career as a professional gay athlete. Dealing with homophobic teammates, homophobic fans, and family troubles have made their relationship stronger as Divisions opens, and we reconnect with the two in a much more stable relationship than in the past.
Though their relationship is stronger in this third installment to the series, they still have problems going on in their own lives and just like in the past much of the story is seen from their different perspectives while apart. Lee is dealing with a crisis of career. Now that their relationship is public, he has to be careful working in the same sport that his boyfriend plays in. And should he even still be working towards a career as a scout? What happened to his days of activism, when he wanted to make a difference? At the same time, his family has fallen apart around him. He’s close to his father once again and they’re working to make their relationship stronger, but it has really only happened because of his parent’s new separation. And the direction his mother has taken is even more upsetting when he learns that the organization that spreads hate he’s been considering taking up activism to work against has their own hooks in her, turning her into an even more intolerant mother than she previously was.
Dev has his own problems. Now out of the closet and past his problems with his own team, their newfound camaraderie has made them a winning team that is headed towards the Division Championships. All of that is jeopardized by a new member brought to the Firebirds who seems determined to make his life difficult. Dev just wants to play football and he doesn’t want to be made into a gay role model, something that his teammate and Lee with his reemerging activism can’t seem to let go.
I’ve been excited to read this book for two years now, ever since I read the first two and I wasn’t disappointed. The difficulty with an ongoing series is how so many different strands of a story become interwoven and then are left dangling when each book ends, and Kyell Gold did an excellent job taking up those strands and weaving them into the continuation of the complex relationship that I love. What I love so much about Lee and Devlin is that they have their own lives. It’s so much more of a real life relationship that what we’re usually given with romance plots, where a couple disappears into one another. They’re given their own lives that at times perfectly mesh with one another and are at times completely at odds. Lee and Dev have to reconcile those things and always work on their relationship, or at least actively work so that it isn’t destroyed among all the people that are trying to drive a wedge between them. Many of those people are back, some malicious (like Lee’s past activism friend Brian) and some whose intentions are unknown, like Dev’s new teammate.
The influences that surround them, especially in the wake of Dev’s coming out press conference, serve to make Lee realize what an opportunity they have to help gay youth, especially other young athletes. The modern day epidemic of gay suicide and bullying take stage in this book as Lee learns that one of the young men who wrote to thank Dev after coming out on national television is reported to have committed suicide. This affects Lee deeply, having corresponded with the youth and now understanding the full impact of their actions, or in Lee’s fears, their inaction. This is further compounded by the knowledge that the “family values” community his mother has apparently taken up with may have had a direct impact on the young football player and his reasons for taking his own life. Though only one part of the whole story, this subplot took front and center stage of this novel. It is indicative of the one central issue that stands between Lee and Dev and that is how they react differently to such issues. Dev, of course, just wants to play football. And with good reason, he’s naturally one that almost tries not to be affected by such issues, on top of which if he does consent to putting more time into his public image and philanthropy, it could kill his career. This, of course, drives Lee insane. He’s naturally a crusader and feels some guilt for letting his relationship and his love of football to dictate his life and career away from activism. Could he have been helping all along? What could he do now? Could he dismantle this organization meant to spread hate and lies and manipulation with the power his lover now has in the spotlight? Is it worth it to possibly sacrifice his relationship with Dev to save young lives? Their fundamental differences are continually pitting them against one another. In a sense, they deal with it well, but in many ways they’re prolonging the issues — I assume until the next (final?) book, which is only one of the reasons that I’m even more eager to read it.
When I find a book I love, I feel like a salesman. That’s really not my personality, but when you love something you want to share it. I want to get all of you to read a certain book. In many ways, I felt that way with the first two books I reviewed in 2011. I hadn’t heard of Kyell Gold at that time and I wasn’t really sure that many people in the m/m romance community had at that point, though I know Kyell had popularity in other communities. I feel like Kyell Gold is a widespread name now in our genre, something I’m very happy about, and I no longer really need to sell this series to all of you reading my reviews. If you’re reading this, chances are you’ve already heard of Out of Position and may have even read it. If you have, I know you’ll want to read this new book, because I can’t imagine anyone reading about Dev and Lee and not getting as hooked as I am.
Divisions is available to purchase at Sofawolf (follow the link on the title, then click to make Adult visible in upper right corner) in both Softcover ($20) and Hardcover ($40). It isn’t available as an ebook at this time. It is available to buy in Softcover at Amazon today.